Brats: Military Deployments in the War Research Proposal

Pages: 11 (3249 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

¶ … Brats: Military Deployments in the War on Terror

The legendary advantages of being a "military brat" have been heralded for decades, especially in being able to see much of the world with the military parent. Previously the term just applied to the children of full time military personnel. However, with the increased use of National Guard and Reserve personnel in overseas deployments, the children of these citizen soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have also been added to the roles of the brats. During the Cold War years of peace, children many times followed their parents overseas on deployments. However, as combat deployments have increased in recent years, children and wives have been left in place. Therefore, this subculture has been under unprecedented pressure in recent years. The group is shaped by frequent overseas movements, the absence of one or both parents, authoritarian family paradigms strong patriarchal authority, a militarized family unit and the threatened loss of a parent in a combat zone. While it is true that non-military families also exhibit many of these same attributes, the military subculture is unique and tightly knit communities where the above traits are considered normal. Expectedly, this military culture can have very long-term impacts upon children. It is the opinion of this author that the War on Terrorism has markedly increased the pressure on families, increasing family violence and negatively impacting the well-being of children.

As grown adults, the military brat can many times share a combination of positive and negative attributes growing from their globe-trotting childhoods. In addition, the negative effects of their parents' combat deployments have impacted them for years afterward. Some of these children find it a struggle to develop and maintain deep, long lasting relationships, making the military family members feel like outsiders to the "normal" civilian culture. The transitory lifestyle they possess can hinder the potential for building concrete relationships with other people and developing emotional attachments to specific places, which may later develop into psychologically developmental disorders. However, most of them assimilate quickly and very well as they must do so much on each move.

Literature Review:

What is new is the length of the military combat deployment and its effects upon the lifestyle of the military family. In "Trauma Faced by Children of Military Families

: What Every Policymaker Should Know," the authors provide information that is very critical for policymakers in the U.S. government who have to come to grips with the new dynamics of the military family as dictated by the War on Terror. As mentioned above, reservists now are in the mix. Both active duty military personnel and National Guard and reservists experience multiple deployments due to the War on Terror. The authors provide a very large body of research that has been accumulated that deals with the behavioral health problems faced by these military personnel as the result of these deployments and conflicts. After nearly a decade of war, this research shows this negative impact upon children, youth and families of military personnel. The children of military families often experience multiple sources of stress before and during their parent's deployment and also at home. Without the appropriate mental health and support systems, the children of military personnel may be at a very significant disadvantage compared with peers in non-military families.

The children of military families consistently experience abnormally high rates of mental health, trauma and related problems. Military life sometimes can be a source of psychological stress for children. Multiple deployments, frequent moves and having a parent injured or die is a reality for many children in military families. The issues that these deployments cause for military children include:

1. Changes in school performance, striking out in anger, worry, hidden emotions, disrespect of parents and people in authority, a sense of loss and symptoms that are consistent with depression.

2. High levels of sadness were exhibited by children in all groups.

3. Depression was to found in 1 in four children.

4. Parents reported that one in five children coped poorly or very poorly to deployment separation (Sogomonyan and Cooper)

Obviously, the War on Terror does not seem to be ending soon. In addition to outside agencies, the Rand Corporation has been tasked by the Federal Government to study the emotional needs of children as the military deployments grow longer. According to the Rand, children in military families may suffer from more emotional and behavioral difficulties when they are compared to other comparable American youths. Older children and girls were found to suffer the most when a parent is deployed overseas. The Rand study was based upon a study of 1500 children from military families from across the United States that surveyed both the children and the non-deployed parent or other caregiver ("Science News").

What stuns this author is that these discoveries are seen as being something new. Data from older deployments, such as Operation Desert Storm would have provided valuable information as well. In "Providing Family Support During Military

Deployments," Bell and Schumm refer to a large body of information about the stresses of large-scale military deployments. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, military deployments of extended length increased. Engagements in Panama, the First Gulf War, deployments in Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo gave extensive information regarding all aspects of the family and extended military deployments. For the authors it has been the open-ended nature of the deployments that has caused the majority of the issues. Prior to the end of the Cold War in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the majority of the deployments that were on a long-time basis were limited. In addition, the deployments had a set date when they were to end. Also, whether or not the deployments enjoyed public support also affected the emotional well-being of the families of the deployed soldiers.

A number of factors contributed to the successful adaptation of the families to the deployment. The families with the most resources (financial, social and emotional) adapted the best. The authors saw that this type of family that was subjected to multiple, open-ended deployments will increasingly take on the characteristic of episodic separations. Some are apt to be routine and without event, but just as many would be dangerous. The lessons learned by individual families, unit leaders and by community human service providers have helped to develop a professional, military culture and community support system to sustain the military family and help promote military readiness during the deployments (Bell and Schumm, 139-150).

"The mission of the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) in the Department of Defense is to prevent, identify, intervene, and treat all aspects of child abuse and neglect and spouse abuse (Nelson, 51)." This program is the first line of support for the military family active duty civilian and military members. The philosophy is that if the family is taken care of, then the military member will be able to keep their minds on their job and not to have to inadvertently worry about their families in a combat zone.

Due to the increasing use of the reserve components in the present War on Terror, the Family Readiness Group (FRG) is becoming more important in the mission of the U.S. military. The FRG website keeps a wealth of information about this group and their support for military families. The group is command-sponsored. The organization of family members, volunteers, soldiers and civilian employees that are associated with a particular unit. They are organized at company and battalion levels and fall under the purview of the unit commanding officer. The FRG's are established to provide activities and the support to facilitate the flow of information. They also increase the resiliency of unit soldiers and their families to provide practical tools for adjusting to military deployments and separations and also to enhance the well-being and esprit de corps within the unit. The FRG activities emphasized will vary depending on whether the unit is in pre/post deployment, deployed, or in a training/sustainment period at home station. Since one of the goals of an FRG is to support the military mission through provision of support, outreach and information to family members, certain FRG activites are essential and common to all groups and also include member meetings, staff and committee meetings and a number of other activities. Ideally, all Army units, active and reserve, sponsor FRGs as an avenue of mutual support and assistance and as a network of communications among the family members, the chain of command, chain of concern and community resources. Historically the FRGs were informal. They developed out of military family support groups as well as less formal officer and enlisted wives clubs, telephone and social rosters, volunteer groups and clubs. Modern FRGs are a fully defined and officially supported function within the U.S. Army and includes men, women and children from throughout the military community ("Army Readiness Group Family Readiness Group").

In "Balancing Work and Family Demands in the Military: What Happens When Your Employer Tells You to Go… [END OF PREVIEW]

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