Struggles of the Military Family

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Over 2 million children in the U.S. have at least one parent in the military. Such families have long been known to carry additional burdens, including frequent moves and changing schools, and this is particularly the case when a parent has been absent from home during a lengthy deployment. Jennifer Trautmann, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, a nurse practitioner who spends her Fridays in clinical practice at Fort Belvoir in Alexandria, VA, has seen the stresses of that challenge. “Families with small children often struggle with deployment and reintegration after deployment as it comes

at such a critical time in young children’s development,” says Trautmann. In general, children from military families “have significantly more mental health problems” than their civilian counterparts, according to “Impact of Deployment on Military Families with Young Children: A Systematic Review,” written by Trautmann, Deborah Gross, and a colleague. These include anxiety, depression, attachment difficulties in young children, and suicidal thoughts and substance use in older children. In addition, the authors reviewed studies that found “deployment was associated with increased parent stress, child behavior problems, health care utilization, and child maltreatment.”

Publication: Nursing Outlook, November 2015

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