Effects of deployment on military children:
My 14yo son is at an age now where he needs his father around to help with everyday "teenage boy" and school issues (that moms can't help with).
Both boys are at stages where they respond better to dad's authority (by mere presence) than to female authority.
Both boys need more direct male interaction now (activities, socialization, etc).
My 14yo now understands better what dad is doing when he's deployed, and it worries him. He doesn't understand why his dad has to help other kids-"why those parents can't protect their own kids?"
How can the military help families deal with deployment:
Deployment is only part of the problem. Even when the soldiers are not deployed, they're still not at home (gone for 3 weeks here, 6weeks there, a school for 4 weeks here, training someone else to deploy for 3 weeks there...all over and above regular and irregular long hours). All these smaller absences add up; the family, as well as the soldier, have to deal with the soldier constantly coming and going, never able to actually reintegrate back into the family and household, since he's always got one foot out the door.
Add to this the effects of 4 deployments: the boys don’t understand why dad doesn’t wrestle anymore, or why he can’t handle loud sudden noises, or even what is normal everyday noise or background noise for us. Many of our extended family and friends actually don’t understand why, when the house gets busy (people/kids over, for example) dad goes to the bedroom to escape the over-stimulating “busyness.”
There are many nontraditional aids, holistic practices, non-western therapies that heal the entire mind-body-soul, that have been used for centuries, and are medically proven, but they’re not available to service members unless the service member can afford to pay out of pocket (acupuncture and other forms of Chinese medicine, hypnosis and meditation, shamanic healing practitioners, for example). Teaching simple meditation and yoga breathing can benefit soldiers immensely, not just at home, but when they’re away from home as well. Make holistic, non-western practices, healing, and therapies available to the military and their families!
How do Changes (deployments, PCS, other service member extended absences) affect the family:
Being a military family is just a way of life, not so different than families whose parents travel and/or work long hours...there are many people who look forward to moving, as change can pick you up out of present situations and new can be refreshing-but even positive change-is still change-and can still be stressful, or even distressing. My oldest is Aspergers, and my youngest is cognitively delayed, so change (especially big change) can be hard for them. This is part of why I retired-with my husband constantly gone now, my kids need someone who they know is always going to be here; their lives are fairly routine, consistent. We tend to avoid “Family Support” or “Family Readiness” anything, since, despite all positive intentions, those associations often are fraught with drama, soap operas, or are just often not the kind of situations I want take my kids into (special needs, or not
Entire families need productive consistency (not to be confused with rigid, unbending structure); enable and promote productive routine and consistency.
Entire families need to cope with everyday life stress, and holistic, non-western practices, especially things like meditation and yoga breathing, can benefit entire families.
What, if any, impact has being a military spouse had on your ability to pursue a career? Please select only one answer that best reflects your experience.
How has being a military spouse affected your career?
Being retired military myself, and a graduate level student, I consider myself autonomous as far as my career, generally. Though being a military spouse has other considerations:
1. I have to leave my job to handle all appointments, stay home with a sick child, or solve problems when the school calls.
2. Because handling everything is routine for me, I sometimes don't even think to ask my husband if he can handle something when he is home, which annoys him.
Military families need mind-body-spirit healing and coping tools, many of which are found in non-western practices. Most of what is available thru military channels is only a temporary fix, or it addresses only part of the wound (drugs/medicines for example), when science knows that much disease and stress, strength and healing is psychosomatic. The military needs to make accessible and promote those therapies and practices that have been around for centuries that do facilitate whole-person health, instead of just writing prescriptions and sending people only to counselors, who often cannot promote internal healing. Alternative, holistic therapies and practices are really practices for a healthy life that I believe can make families and service members strong every day, and these practices are an amazing complement to western medicine.
Holistic, mind-body-spirit health: our service members and families are proud, but sometimes it is easy to forget our service member's greater purpose when you are dealing with the everyday of life, especially life after so many deployments and constant absences. The service member and families also need time to reintegrate with each other without more absences so soon after return from deployment.
What is your suggestion for a program that Blue Star Families or another military support organization could launch that could significantly improve the lives of military families?
Teach, promote and facilitate mind-body-spirit healing and strengthening techniques to make Army families (including the soldiers) Army Strong. There are incredible practices that are available, such as meditation, shamanic journeying, yoga (yoga has many meditative qualities, in addition to being exercise), and hypnotherapy/self-hypnosis that people can PAY to learn, for DVDs/DCs, and to attend in group empowerment sessions, but the military does not help with any of these expenses, and does not promote these practices, many of which can be learned and practiced daily at home, and are enjoyable and empowering to do with a group.