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Navigating the Choppy Waters of Deployment for Navy Children


By: LIFELines

Navy children may often learn to navigate the world's military waters, but when a parent's deployment creates waves of emotion, stress and trauma, it can get choppy. With Sailors undergoing lengthy deployments in dangerous locales, even the closest knit families experience turmoil and discomfort in the absence of their loved one. Fortunately, Navy children are not alone. Thanks to a multitude of solid support systems, counseling resources and youth mentorship programs, Navy children have a leg up while they await their Sailor's return.

The Global War on Terrorism is increasingly challenging when it starts to hit home for Navy and Marine Corps families around the world. While emotions can run the gamut, many children experience anxiety, lack of concentration, anger, detachment, and sleep disturbances. While these may sound like classic emotional responses in times of stress, it is important that these children have a support system tailored to their particular circumstances, particularly from a resource that they can trust and find common ground with.

The National Military Family Association is a wonderful resource that makes coping with the stresses of lengthy deployments among its specialties. Their website, NMFA.org, features an easy-to-follow guide called "Deployment and You," offering links to checklists, Frequently Asked Questions, and community support programs. It also features articles tackling the subject of children and deployment, and NMFA is the organization that sponsors Operation Purple, a program that offers free summer camp sessions to military children. Operation Purple is a great opportunity for children to meet others in similar situations while learning about the importance of community, team building, and staying strong for Sailor while they are serving their country. Many local bases offer Family Readiness training, which can greatly help you you're your family close together even during deployment. The Fleet & Family Support Centers of Hampton Roads in Virginia, for example, offer Family Readiness training courses and many other resources for coping with the deployment's uniquely stressful implications.

Perhaps one of the best and easiest to follow quick-resources is an excellent online pamphlet, Parent's Guide to the Military Child During Deployment and Reunion. This pamphlet, sponsored by the Educational Opportunities Directorate of the Department of Defense, is a no-nonsense and clearly written guide of what to expect and how to generally cope with deployment's stresses on a child. Highlights include a breakdown of the emotional phases of deployment and a myriad of incisive and accurate Frequently Asked Questions.