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Be There for Your Children: Seek Care for Psychological Health Concerns

father holding son

Source: U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Eric Provost, Task Force Patriot PAO

By Real Warriors Campaign

Military parents experience unique pressures, including managing separations, reintegration and frequently moving from place to place. Military parents also have to balance service and family responsibilities, such as adjusting to living on base, making new friends, preparing for their children to change schools and organizing child care. Experiencing stress as a result of these factors may be common in military life. In addition, if a service member has been deployed or otherwise separated from his or her family, these experiences can continue to affect them after returning home.

The pressures military parents face can have an impact on the whole family, and children respond differently depending on their age and maturity level. To maintain or regain a stable family environment that will positively benefit military children, service members may need to seek care or support for psychological health concerns. The mental health of a child’s caregiver can have an impact on a child’s well-being, emotional development, ability to develop relationships with family and peers and academic success.1

Sheri Hall is a military wife and mother of two who has supported her husband through multiple deployments, PTSD and suicidal ideation. Mrs. Hall understands the challenges, pressures and experiences military children face and suggests:

When it comes to raising resilient kids, it all comes down to family communication – creating those opportunities to talk with your kids, answering any questions they have honestly and letting them know you are there for them. Above all, don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it.”

Service members can engage in help-seeking behaviors with their children and spouse so that the road to seeking care does not have to be done alone. In fact, building resilience as a family helps protect the psychological health of children who may struggle with change.2 Families can use family fitness tools to build resiliency:

  • Physical. Exercise can relieve stress and help you and your family stay healthy. Exercising as a family can also help bolster family connections.
  • Psychological. Have regular family dinners to talk about the day and strengthen bonds or talk with a family therapist or health care provider about fears or concerns.
  • Social. Get involved in activities through a local military family support group to stay informed and strengthen your social network.
  • Spiritual. If spirituality or religion is a source of support for your family, stay with it. Whether it’s personal practices or support groups, the support of friends can make coping with psychological health concerns easier.

You should know that you can reach out to your family, unit and chain of command for support. Reaching out is a sign of strength that benefits yourself, your family, your unit and your service.

If you are experiencing signs of stress or coping with psychological health concerns, don’t wait, seek care now. The Real Warriors Campaign, at provides psychological health resources for families to help children cope with a parent’s separation. The campaign provides information on other types of support that may be related to the separation including articles on how to find child care in a new community, prepare a pre-deployment checklist, gather important documents, as well as identify community and military resources. Service members, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, veterans and military families can confidentially speak with a trained resource consultant 24/7 through the Real Warriors Live Chat feature or by calling 866-966-1020.

1 Sogomonyan, F., & Cooper, J. (2010, May). Trauma faced by children of military families. National Center for Children in Poverty. Published May 2010.
2 Help Your Family Face Challenges Successfully: Building Your Family's Resilience. (n.d.). Military OneSource.

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