Officials Work to Lessen Impact of Deployments on Children

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2009 – Defense Department officials are working aggressively to reduce the impact of multiple deployments on the children of military families.  “The department recognizes that these multiple, long-term deployments are really tough on families,” said Barbara Thompson, director of the Pentagon’s Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth.   Deployments since fighting began in Iraq and Afghanistan have affected nearly 2 million military children, and about 234,000 of those children currently have at least one parent deployed, according to a 2007 Defense Manpower Data Center report.   Surveys of active-duty and reserve-component spouses in 2008 included questions regarding military children. The responses of the more than 13,000 active-duty spouses and more than 16,000 reserve-component spouses reinforced the officials’ anecdotal knowledge of the effect of deployments, Thompson said.   “It indicated that children were showing fear and anxiety,” she said. “Some were having behavioral issues in school, and some were coping well with the deployments.” And in testimony before a Senate Armed Services Committee subcommittee, Thompson added, “it was very clear that spouses were concerned about the cumulative effects of deployments on their children.”


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