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Report: Long Deployments Put Military Children at Increased Risk for Mental Health Problems


...mental health issues seemed to increase with the length of deployment.

There's no doubt that elongated military deployments put stress on families. Aside from physical separation from their loved ones, individuals sometimes face PTSD, injuries and other various stresses.

But, the challenges faced may also have a deep impact on the children of deployed servicemen and women. A new study published in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine suggests that the impact of parents' long military service may be profound on the minds of young kids. According to The Huffington Post:

Children with one or more parent on long-term deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan have a higher chance of mental health problems, according to a new study out this month. Recent estimates suggest that more than 44 percent of active duty members have kids.

Using data from more than 300,000 children who had at least one active-duty U.S. Army parent between 2003 and 2006, researchers found that the length of deployment played a significant role in overall mental health.

The study found that mental health issues seemed to increase with the length of deployment. This was particularly true for boys and girls whose parents were deployed for more than 11 months.

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During the time period studied, nearly 17 percent of children were diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The conditions that were most common were: depression, anxiety, behavior problems and sleep disorders.

This is not the first time this subject has been studied. Back in November, another study released by the journal Pediatrics also suggested that children with deployed parents are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders and behavior problems. According to ABC News:

[The study] tracked health claim records during 2006 and 2007 of nearly 650,000 children ages 3 to 8 and found that those with a parent deployed within the two years had an 11 percent higher rate of clinic visits because of mental health or behavioral issues than military children whose parents were not deployed. Researchers also noted the rate of visits increased as the child grew older.

This research also seemed to indicate that children with deployed fathers faced more problems than those with deployed mothers, though both experiences posed challenges for young people.

Deployment is no easy issue to contend with. Some remedies have been created to help children deal with this challenging issue. That said, additional research will shed light on the problems that are occurring so that experts can better meet the needs of children and families, alike.

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