Army wants to get message out to spouses: Help is available
August 2, 2007
Soldiers and families: Get ready to be bombarded with mental health awareness campaigns.
On Wednesday, a Pentagon-funded study revealed that Army children are more vulnerable to abuse and neglect when a parent is deployed.
While such results are not surprising, it has prompted some Army officials in Europe to boost efforts to spread the word that help is available, said Army Capt. Lindsay Teplesky, officer-in-charge of medical social work at the U.S. Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
“It’s common sense. When half of the parent unit is gone … it’s going to create a higher stress environment,” Teplesky said of the study results, which revealed that mothers married to soldiers were three times more likely to have a substantiated report of child mistreatment when their husbands were deployed.
A summary of the study is available at http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/298/5/528.
U.S. Army Europe and Installation Management Command-Europe offers a number of programs for spouses of deployed soldiers — often services that are underutilized, said Jack Gillund, and IMCOM spokesman. “We need to get the word out that help is there,” he said.
The Family Advocacy Program is designed to break the cycle of abuse by identifying abuse and neglect as early as possible and providing treatment and support services for affected family members, he said.
“We don’t consider them to be bad parents,” said Lt. Col. Fredrick DuBois, chief of social work services at Landstuhl. “We don’t judge their actions. We try to provide assistance.”
On the Navy side, sailors have been hit with longer and riskier deployments, said Karen Karadimov, director of Fleet and Family Support Center in Naples, Italy. More and more serve alongside ground troops in Iraq.
The Navy has expanded services, both for families and the called-up sailors.
“Now we’re reaching out to all commands of people deploying to make sure they get the pre-deployment briefings, provide services to their families while they’re gone, and make sure they aren’t forgotten when they return,” Karadimov said.