Military children are our nation's children. Living in either military or civilian communities, in urban, suburban, or rural settings, military children experience unique challenges related to military life and culture. These include deployment-related stressors such as parental separation, family reunification, and reintegration. Due to frequent moves, many military children experience disrupted relationships with friends, and must adapt to new schools and cultivate new community resources. Some children also experience the trauma of welcoming home a parent who returns with a combat injury or illness, or of facing a parent's death. Recent research reveals an increase in military child maltreatment and neglect since the start of combat operations and deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Research also indicates that although most military children are healthy and resilient, and may even have positive outcomes as a result of certain deployment stressors, some groups are more at risk. Among those are young children; some boys; children with preexisting health and mental health problems; children whose parents serve in the National Guard, are reserve personnel, or have had multiple deployments; children who do not live close to military communities; children who live in places with limited resources; children in single-parent families with the parent deployed; and children in dual-military parent families with one or both parents deployed.
Equipped with the right tools, military parents can serve as a buffer against the challenges their children face. Professionals in health care, family service, education, recreation, and faith-based services who work with military families can also help reduce the distress that military children experience, and can foster individual and family resilience. In part that means becoming familiar with the particular risks that can compromise a military child's health and development.
Care of our nation's military children helps sustain our fighting force, and helps strengthen the health, security, and safety of our nation's families and communities. Gathered here are resources about military families for caregivers, service providers, and children.
More resources and information from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network