Monday, April 1, 2013

Military Children at Risk

In the year 2010, almost 2 million American children had at least one parent in active military duty.  A new study from the University of Iowa, suggest that these deployed parents put their children at risk of becoming alcoholic or drug abusers.  These children of the sixth to 11th grade had an increase of alcohol use, using marijuana, prescription drugs and other illegal drugs as compared to children of the same grades and age groups of non-military families.  A professor of biostatistics says, “We worry a lot about the service men and women and we sometimes forget that they are not the only ones put into harm’s way by deployment, their families are affected too.”
As a child myself, a part of a military family, I discovered alcohol and eventually graduated to harder drugs.  My parents were not at fault for doing what needed to be done while in the military, yet I didn’t understand why for instance my father was always gone, deployed to different countries, active duty in different states and practically never at home until he completed his 20th year in the military.  It was somewhat stressful for me, having to worry whether he would come home, or how to explain I even had a father.  Alcohol was my first step, I felt stronger, and could be the “man of the house”, yet as even though my father had eventually received his discharge from the military, I went along feeling like a stranger and began using street drugs, with the feeling I was no longer the needed.
The University of Iowa study goes on to show how living arrangements of these children change once the parent is deployed, many of them not living with a natural parent.  “They may go to live with a relative, but many go to live with others outside the family”.  They are disassociated from the family and by reason because of their change; they are most affected by drinking and drug use.  There are limited support groups and resources for military families whose children are affected by this risk.  I think that if such resources and support groups had existed when I was young, I would have grown into a completely different person of a more normal stature, as it took me many years after compounding what drug me through the city streets, I would have aged with understanding and morals of some regard instead of the derision it took me many years to overcome.  Hopefully the schools of these military children will have the insight to lend these children assistance and help them grow with understanding. 

Written by Donald S 

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