Supporting Military-Connected Children Through Transitions www.MilitaryChild.org
Learning Outcomes Participants will…. • Learn facts and information about the military child and military culture • Recognize and address the social, emotional and academic issues associated with transitions of the military-connected child • Develop a list of resources to assist the military child/family in the school setting www.MilitaryChild.org
frequent moves deployments/separations reintegration profoundly changed parents
Military Facts & Numbers • All volunteer force since 1973 (40 years) • About 1.4 million service members on active duty • Army • Navy • Marine Corps • Coast Guard • Air Force • About 1.4 million service members in National Guard/ Reserve Forces • Army National Guard (states) • Air National Guard (states) • Army Reserves • Navy Reserves • Marine Corps Reserves • Air Force Reserves • Coast Guard Reserves www.MilitaryChild.org
Military Facts & Numbers • Entire military = <1% of entire US population • <25% of 17-24 yr olds meet standards to enter • (medical, educational, legal) • All branches • 50% are below age 25 • 85% male • Rural, less affluent • Ethnic minority backgrounds over-represented • High school degree or equivalent • 70% have at least some college credit • About half are married • 10% are dual-military marriages • Marry younger than non-military counterparts 5
Generally true situations • Active duty service members & their families • Live on or near a military base • More immersed in military culture • More likely to have access to and utilize military support systems • Health care • Family support centers • Confounding factors: • Size of the military installation • Size of the surrounding community 6
Confounding Factors • Size of the military installation • Ft Huachuca, Arizona –small community, 1 high school, 90% military connection in most neighborhoods • Size of the surrounding community • Ft Belvoir, Virginia – multiple opportunities in choices of where to live, which schools to attend – military presence is more dispersed. 7
Generally true situations • National Guard & Reserve members & their families • Live and work in communities across the country • Less likely to have ready access to military-specific support mechanisms • Families may be less likely to feel connected to the military culture – but depends on career path prior to Guard/ Reserve service • “Daddy’s Hobby” 8
Who Are the Military Children? (from Promoting the Resilience of Military Children Through Effective Programs, Center for Naval Analysis, Nov 2012) • Four million children currently connected with the US military • Half of them have one or more parents on active duty • Rest have parents who are veterans of the last decade’s wars • Most are very young; only one in five is a teenager www.MilitaryChild.org
Who Are the Military Children? (cont) • 37% are under age of 6 • 35% are ages 6-12 • Military children live in nearly every zip code in the country • Usually attend public schools in civilian communities • May live with grandparents during periods of parental deployment • Rely on older siblings and other extended family for care www.MilitaryChild.org
What makes someone a military connected child? • A child who cares deeply and worries about someone in the military who could be Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve, Retired, or a Veteran of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard • Parent • Sibling • Extended Family (Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins) • Step-parents • Close family friend • Teachers or coaches (Think about the possibility of deployment for a star coach or the ONLY AP Calculus teacher in a high school.) www.MilitaryChild.org
Distribution of Military-Connected Children by Type of School Environment 13
Please write on your index card: • Best friend • Favorite activity • Local restaurant • Mentor www.MilitaryChild.org
Grief How do you define grief?
Grief: In common terms, it is a heartfelt longing for what we had before and is no longer…. “There is no short, orderly or pain-free way through grief” Military Widow Joanne M. Steen
Helping Children Grieve & Grow A Guide For Those Who Care By Donna O’Toole with Jerre Cory ..we have written a CAN-DO booklet for you. When a child is grieving there is much you can do to provide the conditions that will promote growth. To help a child grieve and grow is a great undertaking. Thanks for being there.
A loss can be of a person, a place, an animal, an object, or even a dream or a hope. 6 categories of childhood loss: Relationship loss Loss of objects that give comfort & connection Loss of a secure, familiar environment Loss of self Loss of skills, abilities and competencies Loss of familiar habits and routine
What can you do now? Be there. Acknowledge the loss by recognizing and naming it To identify a child’s loss is a way to show that the child’s experience is important and real. Primary loss Secondary loss
Think of Developmental Stages using a camera lens. Children may not know the language of death, grief, and loss. Use children’s literature to give them context. When Dinosaurs Die
Physical reactions Mental reactions Spiritual reactions Behavioral & social reactions Feelings – emotional reactions
The Emotional Cycles of Deployment7 stage cycle Published in 2006
Anticipation of Departure Alternately feel denial and anticipation of loss Tempers may flare Attempt to take care of all the items on a Family pre-deployment checklist Striving to make time for "memorable" moments Stage 1 may begin again before a couple or Family has time to renegotiate a shared vision of who they are after the changes from the last deployment
Detachment and Withdrawal Service members become more psychologically prepared for deployment, focused on mission/unit May create emotional distance within the marriage Sadness and anger occur as couples attempt to protect themselves from the hurt of separation As this stage happens more often and more frequently, marital problems may escalate. When a husband or wife must repeatedly create emotional "distance", they may gradually shut down their emotions. It may seem easier to just feel "numb" rather than sad. This lack of emotional connection with a spouse can lead to difficulties in a marriage. How might this impact the child?
Emotional Disorganization With back to back deployments, you might think that this stage of adjusting to new responsibilities and being alone would get easier Although a military spouse may be familiar with the routine, (s)he may also be experiencing "burn-out" and fatigue from the last deployment Many feel overwhelmed at starting this stage again
Recovery and Stabilization Here, spouses realize they are fundamentally resilient and able to cope with the deployment. They develop increased confidence and a positive outlook. With back to back deployments, spouses may find it hard to muster the emotional strength required Many resources are available to provide needed support
Anticipation of Return This is generally a happy and hectic time spent preparing for the return of the service member Spouses, children and parents of the service member need to talk about realistic plans and expectations for the return and reunion
Return Adjustment and Renegotiation Couples and Families must reset expectations and renegotiate roles Open communication is key to successful adjustment and renegotiation Families must be prepared to deal with the effects of combat stress on the returning service member Troops with combat stress are often irritable, guarded, and want to be alone Some may use increased alcohol or drugs in an attempt to "numb" the emotional pain they experience Attempts at renegotiation may result in increasing marital arguments
Reintegration and Stabilization Couple and Family stabilize their relationships anew Presence of combat stress can severely disrupt the stabilization process Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move immediately upon the return of the service member complicates reintegration Back to back deployments create stress as Families stabilize only to begin the deployment cycle again This stage can take up to 6 months, which may overlap with restarting stage 1
Practical Application Knowing the stage of deployment and deployment history can provide valuable information on feelings, emotions and behaviors in the school or sports setting Each child will have a unique deployment situation Cannot make assumptions about deployment experiences or timelines based on others or personal experiences Obtain and maintain a detailed and documented timeline Anticipate what the child may be about to experience When is “testing” in relationship to the cycles of deployment SAT, ACT, College applications AP end of course testing National Standards testing
Let students hear you say: The emotions you experience during the cycles of deployment are a normal reaction to an abnormal situation unique to the military.
Positive Effects of Deployment • Both active duty and Reserve component spouses report positive changes in their children due to deployments. • (ADSS 2008; RCSS 2008) • Active duty: • Closeness of family members • Pride in having a military parent • Increased level of responsibility • Reserve Component: • Pride in having a military parent • Closeness of family members • Increased level of responsibility
Social Support • Supportive social relationships are a resilience factor critical to healthy family coping • (Spera, 2008; Wiens & Boss, 2006) • Spouses who report more social support also report less stress. (ADSS 2006) • Children and adolescents who feel supported by others cope better. • (Perkins & Borden, 2003) • Sense of community is predicted by unit support and informal community support. (Bourg & Segal, 1999;Bowen et al., 2000; Burrell et al., 2003; Rohall & Martin) • National Guard and Reserve families are widely dispersed and typically do not have access to the same level of informal community support • (Carroll et al., 2008; Faber et al., 2008; Wisher & Freeman, 2006) • Although 70% of Reserve component spouses report that support from their military community is important when coping with deployments. • (RCSS 2008)
Communication • Consistent and regular communication of Service member to family while on deployment is critical to sense of connection and family resiliency • (Bell et al., 1999; Wiens & Boss, 2006) • 91% Spouses report communication with a deployed parent an important factor in their child coping with deployment. • (ADSS 2008; RCSS 2008) • Problems communicating with family while on deployment predicts greater stress for the Service member and his/her family. • (Ender, 1995) • 70% of active duty and 69% of Reserve component spouses report having technical problems with communication during deployment. • (ADSS 2008; RCSS 2008)
Take Away Messages from Research • There are signs of increasing stress on spouses and children relative to length of deployment, safety, number of deployments. • Potential for greater marital stress = interventions which target marital strengths and enhancement BEFORE the service member returns • Target Strengths of families and individuals to develop and support their resiliency and well-being • Target Positive effects to build strength and continued resiliency
The Profoundly Changed Parent Visible and Invisible Injuries PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
Traumatic Brain Injury • Neurologic injury • Possible physical, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional symptoms • Range • Mild • Moderate • Severe • Penetrating • Battlemind Training System Office
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) • Type of concussion • Results from a “blow to the head” • Does NOT result in obvious physical injury • Don’t have to be knocked out to have a mTBI • May be dazed, confused, had your “bell rung” • If knocked out, for less than 30 min • Battlemind Training System Office
Symptoms of mTBI • Headache • Confusion • Dizziness • Blurred vision or tired eyes • Ringing in the ears • Change in ability to smell or taste • Sensitivity to sound or light • Nausea/vomiting • Irritability (possibly anger or aggression) • Fatigue • Change in sleep patterns • Mood changes • Trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking • Battlemind Training System Office
Invisible Injuries Hardest for children to understand Why does a parent seem angry or sad? Why does he forget things or just seem “out of it”? Help the child understand an injury may change the way a parent feels, talks, and acts. Validate the child’s confusion, and make sure that he knows he is not to blame. Sesameworkshop.org/tlc
Physical Symptoms of PTSD Fatigue and/or weakness Chest pain Pounding heart Breathing difficulty Sleep problems (insomnia or nightmares) Muscle tremors or twitches Grinding of teeth Profuse sweating Headaches Diarrhea/Intestinal upsets Battlemind Training System Office – List not all inclusive
Behavioral Symptoms of PTSD Withdrawal Pacing & Restlessness Emotional outbursts Anti-social acts Suspicion & Paranoia Inability to rest Loss of interest in hobbies Alcohol consumption Substance abuse Battlemind Training System Office – List not all inclusive
Emotional Symptoms of PTSD Anxiety or panic Guilt Fear Denial Irritability Depression Intense anger Agitation Apprehension Isolating & withdrawing from others Battlemind Training System Office – List not all inclusive
Create a Personalized Stress Management Plan http://www.fosteringresilience.com/about.php
Dealing with Stress Positive Coping Strategies You feel better for a long time STRESS You feel awful Negative Coping Strategies You feel better for a short time From Building Resilience in Children and Teens by Kenneth Ginsburg www.MilitaryChild.org
Creating Your Personal Stress-Management Plan Following is a 10-point plan to help you manage stress. Part 1: Tackling the Problem Point 1: Identify and Then Address the Problem Point 2: Avoid stress when possible Point 3: Let some things go Part 2: Taking Care of My Body Point 4: The Power of Exercise Point 5: Active Relaxation. Point 6: Eat well. Point 7: Sleep well. Part 3: Dealing with Emotions Point 8: Take instant vacations Point 9: Release emotional tension. Part 4: Helping a little can make your world better . . . and help you feel better Point 10: Contribute.
Whole Person Wheel Spiritual Inner strength Connection with God, nature Purpose Physical Healthy body Self-control Active Relational Love for others Friendships Social Who I Am Emotional Respond vs. react Positive feelings Expressive Intellectual Imaginative Learning Thoughtful Logistical Daily responsibilities Time management Priorities
Instructions to complete the Whole Person Wheel 1. Fill or outline to the first circle if you have goals in this sector. 2. Fill or outline to the second circle if you address your goals daily. 3. Fill or outline to the third circle if you consistently accomplish your goals.
Things You Can Do To Promote Well-Being and Understanding Host a “hero day” highlighting service members, police, firefighters, nurses, and other people whose job is to help others. Create a board in your classroom, office, locker room, or house of worship recognizing service members. Invite the military parent to your organization for Veterans Day or Memorial Day to talk about the Armed Forces. Display the member’s Service symbol in your office or on the child’s classroom door to show students having a parent in the military.
Things You Can Do To Promote Well-Being and Understanding • Celebrate military-themed months: • April: Month of the Military Child • May: National Military Appreciation Month • November: Military Family Month • Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day • Talk about personal strengths and how to use them during a big change in their life. • Find out the dates of the parent’s departure, R&R, and return from deployment. • Understand that children whose parent has poorer mental health may experience more emotional difficulties and more challenges with academic engagement