Back to Top Skip to main content

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:

Children's Health | April Toolkit | Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Coronavirus | Month of the Military Child | Month of the Military Child Image Library

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...

Month of the Military Child 2021

Video
4/5/2021
DHA Seal

The Defense Health Agency supports military children from around the world during Month of the Military Child 2021.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Month of the Military Child | Children's Health

Got Your 6: Step Up

Video
3/18/2021
Got Your 6: Step Up

“Got Your 6” is TRICARE’s COVID-19 vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, three times a month. It includes the latest information about DoD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability for a DoD-affiliated, and TRICARE beneficiary audience.

Recommended Content:

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

TRICARE | COVID-19 Vaccine | Together, We Are Stronger

Video
3/15/2021
DHA Seal

In the past year, we've faced challenges, and we've done it with courage. Now, hope is on the horizon. Get vaccinated, and let's take care of each other. Together, we are stronger: www.tricare.mil/CovidVaccine

Recommended Content:

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

Secretary of Defense Video to the Force on COVID-19 Vaccinations

Video
2/24/2021
Image of soldier looking through COVID vaccine information laid out on a table

The Secretary of Defense addressed the entire workforce to encourage informed decision-making with regards to coronavirus-19 vaccination.

Recommended Content:

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

MHS Minute: A Path Forward in 2021

Video
2/10/2021
DHA Seal

Want to know more about what MHS organizations and partners did in 2020? For a full look at the MHS Minute series, click here: https://shorturl.at/eDL14

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

LTG Place Vaccine Roll-Out Video

Video
1/18/2021
DHA Seal

DHA Director LTG Ron Place talks about coronavirus vaccines, their safety and efficacy, and encourages everyone to do their own research to get vaccinated.

Recommended Content:

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

MHS Minute: December 2020

Video
12/28/2020
DHA Seal

See how MHS is leading a phased approach to offer 11.1 million Department of Defense personnel the first COVID-19 vaccines. To learn more about the safety and efficacy behind COVID-19 vaccines, go to: https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Combat-Support/Public-Health/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccine-Efforts.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

MHS COVID Response

Video
12/21/2020
DHA Seal

The men and women of the Military Health System spent 2020 working to protect beneficiaries' health during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are just a few of our accomplishments.

Recommended Content:

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

Heroes Behind the Mask

Video
12/17/2020
DHA Seal

A tribute to those across the Military Health System who deserve recognition and thanks for their hard work during this pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask | Heroes Behind the Mask

COVID-19 Response

Video
11/27/2020
DHA Seal

Army Pfc. David Alvarado, assigned to the Javits New York Medical Station (JNYMS), talks about their position at JNYMS in support of the Department of Defense COVID-19 response, April 24, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need. (U.S. Army Video by Cpl. Rachel Thicklin.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask

COVID-19 Response2

Video
11/27/2020
DHA Seal

Army Spc. Sean Colangelo, assigned to the Javits New York Medical Station (JNYMS), talks about their position at JNYMS in support of the Department of Defense COVID-19 response, April 23, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need. (U.S. Army Video by Cpl. Rachel Thicklin)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask

How Can Vaccine and Antibody Studies Move So Quickly and Still Be Safe?

Video
11/3/2020
How Can Vaccine and Antibody Studies Move So Quickly and Still Be Safe?

This video provides a detailed overview of the processes that have been implemented to accelerate the pace of the COVID-19 vaccine and antibody studies, and what is being done to assure safety.

Recommended Content:

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

The Importance of Enrolling Diverse Participants in COVID-19 Studies

Video
11/3/2020
The Importance of Enrolling Diverse Participants in COVID-19 Studies

This video discusses why enrolling diverse participants in COVID-19 studies is critical for ensuring that, when we find a vaccine, we have enough data from populations who are most affected by COVID-19 to determine vaccine safety and efficacy.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

MHS Minute: Heroes Behind the Mask

Video
10/8/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

In the face of a global threat, healthcare heroes across the MHS have donned their mask, and served on the front line of the battle against COVID-19. Tune in to this month's "MHS Minute" to learn more!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask

The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Video
9/4/2020
The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Labor Day pays tribute to the American workforce. This year, we pay tribute to the Military Health System Workforce.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 4

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.