April is the Month of the Military Child. We’ll be featuring several posts this month that celebrate and explore the lives of the 1.8 million children under 18 currently living in military families. Our first post is a round-up of important data points shared at the recent Building a Grad Nation Summit held by the America’s Promise Alliance. The point we walked away with was that military kids need our help. Need some ideas on what to do? Go to www.serve.gov. And check out these facts below to understand what military kids are going through.
- Military Families are Everywhere: Trying to find military families isn’t that simple. Two million kids have gone through a parental deployment. 70% of military families live off-base, and many do not identify as military at school. When these parents deploy, however, it means that support organizations, often can’t find them.
- Smallest Force in the Longest War: Part of the problem is in numbers. Less than 1% of the total U.S. population is in the military. That’s 40% smaller than the size of our armed forces at the end of the Cold War. At the same time, we have been at war for the longest period in our history. Over 900,000 military kids have endured multiple deployments.
- Studies Show Stress over Deployments: The Rand Corporation did the first study of the effect of deployments on military kids and found that kids are stressed by deployments, especially girls. This upset Hayli Charlesworth, who wrote a long letter, ending, “”I know exactly what message you’re trying to send — that girls are not as strong mentally as boys — which I for one think is so untrue. Some girls are stronger than boys. I am out of paper but I am so not finished here.” (link to letter: http://www.stripes.com/news/military-update-military-kids-react-to-rand-stress-study-1.101747)
- Communication Technology Helps … Sometimes: Researchers are looking at how deployment impacts the entire family. Family members can have different responses to simple services like Skype. In one family, the deployed father loved it, but it upset the kids, making it problematic for the mom. Everyone has their own reactions, and they’re not necessarily obvious.
Are you a civilian who helps out a military family? Let us know how! And military families, how can neighbors and communities help out?
-Jennifer Marsh, Tutor.com for U.S. Military Families Client Services Manager