Military students face unique challenges during deployment

I recently read a moving op-ed piece by Melissa Seligman about the challenges faced by a military spouse when trying to communicate with her husband during a deployment. In her experience, the written word and mailed communication gave her an outlet to say all she wanted to say, and share things that couldn’t be shared by shaky phone connections or frequently interrupted Skype or web chats.

Deployments aren’t easy on anyone, but students face their own set of challenges, when one of their parents is deployed.

  • A December 2009 study revealed that teens with a deployed parent have increased stress levels. Of course, you should consult your family physician if you are experiencing severe symptoms or stress-levels, but there are lots of easy, great ways to relieve some stress.
    • Physical activity. Running, working out or even stretching and yoga are proven ways to increase endorphins and reduce stress.
    • Writing or blogging! You can write and share experiences about what’s bothering you, get feedback or practice writing to your parent. Even if you never show or send your letters, the act of writing can help.
    • Drawing, painting or building. Getting creative can help you express yourself. A lot of people find working with their hands to be a great form of meditation.
  • Getting homework done. If mom is your go-to person for math and she isn’t around, and no one proofreads a paper like dad, it could be hard to figure out where to go for help. So, how do you keep up your grades?
    • As a military family member, you can connect for free to an expert tutor at Tutor.com
      to get help with any math, English, science or social studies homework. Tutors
      can help proofread essays, help you study for a test and even brainstorm
      suggestions for an upcoming projec
    • Form a study group—your friends may not always know what to do on a Friday night, but I bet some of them are really good at subjects you may be struggling with. And if you find one subject easy, chances are you have a friend who could use some extra help as well.
  • It’s hard to balance chores with extra-curricular activities. It’s hard enough balancing homework loads with your household chores, but when a parent is deployed, you may have to pitch in more than usual.
    • Talk with your at-home parent and ask for some priorities and flexibility. Maybe you can trade a time-specific chore (walking the dog) for something that can be done at any time (vacuuming).
    • Plan ahead! Ask your guidance counselor or activities coordinator for next semester’s upcoming schedule of clubs and events. Are there clubs you could join that you wouldn’t have considered and actually fit better into your schedule?

We hope that these suggestions will help with the challenges that students face, but I am sure there are some I haven’t considered. What do you consider your greatest challenge as a student with a deployed parent?

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