Military Children and Families
Military children are our nation's children. Living in either military or civilian communities, in urban, suburban, or rural settings, military children experience unique challenges related to military life and culture. These include deployment-related stressors such as parental separation, family reunification, and reintegration. Due to frequent moves, many military children experience disrupted relationships with friends, and must adapt to new schools and cultivate new community resources. Some children also experience the trauma of welcoming home a parent who returns with a combat injury or illness, or of facing a parent's death. Recent research reveals an increase in military child maltreatment and neglect since the start of combat operations and deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Research also indicates that although most military children are healthy and resilient, and may even have positive outcomes as a result of certain deployment stressors, some groups are more at risk. Among those are young children; some boys; children with preexisting health and mental health problems; children whose parents serve in the National Guard, are reserve personnel, or have had multiple deployments; children who do not live close to military communities; children who live in places with limited resources; children in single-parent families with the parent deployed; and children in dual-military parent families with one or both parents deployed.
Equipped with the right tools, military parents can serve as a buffer against the challenges their children face. Professionals in health care, family service, education, recreation, and faith-based services who work with military families can also help reduce the distress that military children experience, and can foster individual and family resilience. In part that means becoming familiar with the particular risks that can compromise a military child's health and development.
Care of our nation's military children helps sustain our fighting force, and helps strengthen the health, security, and safety of our nation's families and communities. Gathered here are resources about military families for caregivers, service providers, and children.
The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress —an NCTSN member site—and FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress)—a project co-sponsored by the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress—perform research on, develop resources about, and provide assistance to military families. Learn more by clicking here.
To find out more about traumatic grief and military children click here.
- Traumatic Grief in Military Children: Information for Educators (2008) (PDF)
- Traumatic Grief in Military Children: Information for Families (2008) (PDF)
- Traumatic Grief in Military Children: Information for Medical Providers (2008) (PDF)
Military Families Knowledge Bank
The Military Families Knowledge Bank (MFKB) is an online database of resources for and about members of the military, veterans, and their families. MFKB provides access to a wealth of web resources on family functioning and support, social and government services, PTSD and traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and other issues.
NCTSN Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma
The Learning Center offers free online trainings on issues of importance to military children and families and the mental health and medical professionals who serve them. Users can listen to podcasts, view multimedia presentations, and earn free CE credits after registering.
Upcoming Military Families Seminar Series (March-June 2012) (PDF)
Military Child Initiative
- Building Resilient Kids
Web-based course for school administrators, support staff and teachers to help students meet life's challenges with resilience, focusing primarily on students from military families.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Academy of Pediatrics
- Military Youth Coping with Separation: When Family Members Deploy
Video produced in conjunction with the United States Army Medical Command for older children and adolescents with a family member who has been deployed. Copies may be ordered online.
- Mr. Poe and Friends Discuss Reunion after Deployment
Animated video produced in conjunction with the United States Army Medical Command for school-age children with a family member who has been deployed. Copies may be ordered online.
Association of the United States Army
- Your Soldier, Your Army: A Parent's Guide
Book in which an Army spouse and mother shares her experiences in dealing with the stress of deployment
>En Español: Su Soldado, Su Ejército: Guía Para Padre (PDF)
- Website: http://www.deploymentkids.com/
Activities, games, and tips for children whose parents have been deployed.
Military Child Education Coalition
- Living in the New Normal: Supporting Children through Trauma and Loss
Strengths-based program for educational and youth specialists that provides support for military children in times of uncertainty, trauma, and grief.
- Military Parent Information
Information and links for parents whose children are undergoing school transitions.
- Becoming a Caregiver for Your Adult Son or Daughter
- Preparing a Child to See an Injured Service Member for the First Time
National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- For Veterans and the General Public
Resources on deployment, homecoming, women in the military, and PTSD.
National Military Family Association
- Operation Purple
A free, week-long overnight camp for children of military families.
- Resources for Wounded or Injured Service Members and their Families (PDF)
Our Military Kids
Organization that provides grants to programs serving children of deployed and severely injured National Guard and Reserve personnel.
- Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes
Videos and other resources to help families cope with the military deployment of a loved one.
SOFAR (Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists)
- The "SOFAR" Guide for Helping Children and Youth Cope with the Deployment and Return of a Parent in the National Guard and Other Reserve Components (PDF)
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS)
Resources—including a hotline, kids' camps, and peer support programs—for those grieving the death of a loved one serving in the armed forces.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
- Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF)
Resources from the VA for OEF/OIF veterans and their families.
Zero to Three
- Military Projects at Zero to Three
Information for parents and mental health providers on the needs of very young children of military parents.
American Academy of Pediatrics
- Support for Military Children & Adolescents
Materials to help pediatricians provide support to youth in military families.
Center for Deployment Psychology
Promotes the education of psychologists and other behavioral health specialists about issues pertaining to the deployment of military personnel.
Defense Center of Excellence (DCOE) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
DCOE maximizes opportunities for Service Members and Families to thrive by leading a collaborative global network promoting resilience, recovery, and reintegration for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.
New York University Child Study Center
- Caring for Kids After Trauma, Disaster and Death: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, 2nd Edition (PDF)
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences - Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
Articles, reports, research tools, guidelines and other materials on traumatic stress.
United States Department of Defense - Military Health System
A partnership of medical educators, medical researchers, and healthcare providers that works to ensure the delivery of healthcare to all Department of Defense service members, retirees, and their families. The MHS promotes a fit, healthy and protected force by reducing non-combat losses, optimizing healthy behavior and physical performance, and providing casualty care.