Study says soldiers’children are resilient
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ARLINGTON, Va. — Soldiers’ children deal with deployments better than expected, a recent Army War College study has found.
The study comes less than two months after a RAND Corp. study found that military children “experienced greater emotional or behavioral difficulties than their civilian counterparts.”
The war college study, while acknowledging that deployments do cause some degree of stress for children, found “an unanticipated and remarkable resiliency in most Army adolescents in dealing with lives marked by multiple deployments.”
Of the 559 children surveyed, 56 percent said they coped well or very well with deployments. Only 17 percent said they were coping poorly or very poorly.
The study was conducted by researchers Leonard Wong and Stephen Gerras, both retired Army officers.
Michelle Sherman, a child psychologist who specializes in military families, said the tough times that servicemembers’ children go through can be the cause of both problems and resiliency.
Children who are worried about how their parent are doing will naturally be more anxious, but the experience also allows them to draw on strength that perhaps they weren’t aware of, she said.
Also, young children of servicemembers are used to their parents being away, said Patricia Driscoll, president of the Armed Forces Foundation, a nonprofit group that gives cash grants to wounded servicemembers and their families.
“A lot of these kids were born during the war and their fathers, their mothers are going back and forth in multiple deployments so this is actually their norm, they don’t know anything else,” said Driscoll, who wrote a book about traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Driscoll also said it isn’t fair to compare children of military families to civilian ones because they deal with different emotional issues.
“What I see a lot of these kids dealing with, the problems that they’re dealing with, is more of the family dynamic: Not so much mom or dad is not here; it’s more of the emotional issues with mom or dad coming home as a kind of different person,” she said.