Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Children’s well-being contributes immeasurably to force readiness

Military personnel wearing face mask in the back of a truck Members from all different squadrons on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, came together to put on a parade for the children on base April 30, 2020. April is Month of the Military Child throughout the military (Photo by: Air Force Airman 1st Class Helena Owens, 36th Wing Public Affairs).

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Children's Health | Coronavirus | Month of the Military Child Toolkit | $name

Military service members are not the only ones serving their country. Their families – especially their children – do so as well, showing resilience, support, and strength.

In April, the Department of Defense celebrates military children for their essential role in the force's readiness – and the Defense Health Agency joins in that celebration with its "Celebrating the Mighty" campaign.

"Military kids are the cornerstone of military families worldwide," said Kelly Blasko, who has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is the DHA's Connected Health Branch lead for mobile health clinical integration. "Helping ensure their health and mental well-being enables military parents to focus on serving the country."

Patti Johnson has a doctorate in clinical psychology, specializing in pediatrics, and supports the DHA's Behavioral Health Clinical Management Team.

"Military children and youth show their resilience each day by making sacrifices small and large in support of the mission success of their service member parent," she said. "Their health and well-being contribute immeasurably to the readiness of the force."

Challenges: Glass half full

Military children face unique challenges, including psychological challenges related to military life, explained Blasko.

However, Johnson said, they also experience relatively unique events in comparison to their non-military peers that can positively impact their development and functioning.

"Military kids are more likely to move multiple times during their grade-school years and have a parent absent for long periods of time in potentially dangerous locations," said Blasko. "Unfortunately, they also may learn about difficult topics like injury or death at an early age, but they tend to also learn how to function well in stressful situations."

Though these factors may greatly stress military kids' mental health, their resiliency depends on the support they receive. Preparing for deployment as a family can help families handle the stress and changes of separation, noted Blasko.

Still, separations are not new for military kids. Because of continuous permanent changes of station or parental deployments, they know how to keep connected through letters, video chat, and other means, she added.

Additionally, living in geographically diverse locations - whether in the United States or other countries - exposes them to people who have different world views, perspectives, histories, and knowledge sets, added Johnson.

"This widens their opportunities to learn about different backgrounds, cultures, experiences, languages, and so on," she said. And "while moving frequently can provide some challenges, research suggests that as a result of military relocations, many military-connected children develop advantageous social skills needed to readily connect and engage with peers as well as adults."

Their experiences encourage many military-connected children to embrace positive military values such as patriotism, honesty, selflessness, and honor, said Johnson. "The adoption of positive core values likely contributes to enhanced self-worth and promotes healthy social and emotional development in many military youths."

This can result in kids with strong resilience skills that help them adjust and cope with military-related stressors, explained Johnson.

"These resilient kids adapt to new environments, put themselves out there to make new friends, and sometimes pick up more responsibilities at home," added Blasko.

Said Johnson: "Overall, the military lifestyle can be a very positive experience for many military-connected children. Military lifestyle experiences can instill a sense of responsibility, independence, tolerance, and maturity."

However, both experts agree that for some, it can prove stressful, and parents and other important adults should be aware of this possibility and provide support as needed to help all children adjust to this lifestyle.

A mother wearing a face mask and a child sitting on the ground
To celebrate Month of the Military Child last year, children at the Fort Drum School Age Center and Chapel Child Development Center, about 85 miles north of Syracuse, New York, participated in a sidewalk chalk art project (Photo by: Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs). 

The whole family must adjust to many new experiences, so planning, communicating openly, creating new routines, and having a plan for keeping connected to the deployed parent are important, explained Blasko.

These can include letter writing, preparing care packages, and connecting via technology when possible, added Johnson.

Other ways families can assist children adjust to deployment and other military-related stressors include:

  • Developing and maintaining healthy family routines and traditions.
  • Maintaining boundaries and limits for children; they need to know that parents and other adults are in charge and can provide for their social and emotional needs.
  • Helping children and youths sustain friendships and other social supports.
  • Helping children and youths sustain normal activities such as church, clubs, sports, etc.
  • If possible, keeping children in the same school during deployments. If the family moves during deployment, preparing the child and ensuring a smooth transition by requesting school record transfers, researching the new school online, visiting the new school, principal, and teacher(s) ahead of time.

"Parents and other caregivers also need to find ways to take good care of themselves so that they are physically and emotionally available to support their children," said Johnson.

COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, military children have faced additional stressors. For Blasko, COVID-19 just created another type of separation.

As pediatric COVID-19 vaccines are closer to becoming available and the country looks forward to reintegrating into activities outside the home, she recommends the following strategies to help military children ease out of the pandemic lockdown:

  • Keep educated as a family of the required precautions needed for leaving the home, socializing with friends, and going to school - perhaps even have a "COVID-19 family rules" cheat sheet.
  • Establish a schedule and routine for going to school regardless of whether it's virtual or in-person: Set times to wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, transition to school, and homework.
  • Regular exercise, good sleep, and great food are a foundation to help us all cope. If we feel better, we can cope with whatever COVID-19 brings our way.
  • Find creative ways to have fun even during quarantines.

Resources for military families

There are multiple resources available for military children, youths, and families:

  • Installation-based recreational resources, sports teams, psychoeducational or support groups, child and youth services, and family support services are available to help them connect to the military community.
  • Military Kids Connect and Sesame Street for Military Families are online resources for military children and youth with multimedia information and activities to help them cope with the military lifestyle and its challenges.
  • National organizations, such as the Military Child Education Coalition, National Military Family Association, Blue Star Families, etc. provide educational resources and information for military-connected youths and families.
  • Military and family life consultants are available on most installations to assist families with adjustment issues and coping strategies.
  • Military One Source offers online resources and can connect families to professionals who provide short-term counseling to children, youths, and families.
  • Many military treatment facilities offer behavioral health services to children, youths, and families.
  • TRICARE providers are another resource for families with mental and behavioral health concerns.

You also may be interested in...

Army Public Health Center provides update on Long COVID risks

Article Around MHS
12/1/2021
COVID19 Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: How to Keep Babies Safe While Sleeping

Article
11/24/2021
baby boy asleep on his back in a crib

Don’t co-sleep with babies; that’s a SIDS risk factor teaser

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Children's Health

JTF Coyote begins pediatric COVID-19 clinics as adult booster vaccination numbers increase

Article Around MHS
11/23/2021
Military health personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The Vermont National Guard now supports the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccinations for youth in the 5 to 11 age group and booster clinics for the general adult population.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

DHA Form 236: Pediatric (5-11 years) COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Immunization Documentation

Form/Template
11/12/2021

This form is used to determine if the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to the pediatric patient

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Children's Health | Immunization Healthcare

MHS Reaches 6 Million Doses of Vaccine Against COVID

Article
11/10/2021
Airmen of the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, receive COVID-19 immunizations as a part of the federal mandate at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, Oct. 2, 2021. The 139th Medical Group oversees the operation. .

Military passes 6 million mark for COVID-19 shots administered across the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

COVID 19 Vaccine Is Now Available for Children 5 to 11

Article
11/9/2021
5-year-old girl in mask reads a book by herself

COVID-19 vaccines for 5-11 year olds are ready now through MHS

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

More Than 95% of Active Duty Have Received COVID-19 Vaccine

Article
10/15/2021
Female hospital corpsman gives a COVID-19 vaccine injection to a sailor in her left arm

Service members continue to line up for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

USECAF receives insight into COVID19 vaccinations at Reserve wing

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visits with 433rd Airlift Wing members at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.

Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visited the 433rd Airlift Wing here to meet with Reserve Citizen Airmen leaders on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Oct. 2, 2021.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

Mask Mouth Does Not Exist, Dentists Say

Article
10/6/2021
A bunch of children wearing face masks walk on a city street.

Mask mouth doesn’t exist, Internet chatter to the contrary, dentists say.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Compassionate Caring with COVID Vax Commitment

Article Around MHS
10/6/2021
A  female doctor poses for a photo.

When pregnant patients have an appointment with Lt. Cmdr. Megan Northup at Naval Hospital Bremerton, they get more than a qualified and caring OB/GYN physician.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Health Promotion duo optimizes health on Incirlik Air Base

Article Around MHS
9/30/2021
Air Force Capt. Sydney Sloan, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion element chief (right), and Air Force Senior Airman Gloriann Manapsal, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion technician (left), promote making healthy choices at the Sultan’s Inn Dining Facility on Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

The 39th Operation Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion team provides and integrates evidence-based programs to optimize the health and readiness, even during these unprecedented times.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Shots are Now Available – What You Need to Know

Article
9/30/2021
Containers of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Each vial contains six doses for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.

Booster shots are now recommended for millions of people – but many others will have to wait for additional approvals.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Myths & facts about the vax - debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths

Article
9/29/2021
Myths and facts about the vax

The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear … approved COVID-19 vaccines work.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Retired colonel leads Fort Irwin COVID response mission

Article Around MHS
9/28/2021
Army Col. Richard Hopkins, the COVID-19 response coordinator with Weed Army Community Hospital, collects paperwork from a Soldier who received the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination event.

Retired Army Col. Richard Hopkins volunteered under the Army’s COVID-19 Retiree Recall Program to return to service as the COVID-19 response coordinator for Weed Army Community Hospital and Fort Irwin, California.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

ARNORTH military support to FEMA begins in Tennessee, continues in five states

Article Around MHS
9/24/2021
Prepared COVID-19 vaccine shots wait to be administered to an Airman. Members of the 134th Air Refueling Wing were eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines during Unit Training Assembly here May 2nd, 2021.

At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, approximately 20 military medical personnel deployed to Tennessee to support civilian healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients in local hospitals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 43

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.