The pages of human history daubed in bloodshed related to World Wars I and II, Holocaust in Germany and Nanking massacre etc ask the crying question. How to make this Planet Earth heaven-like? The answer is simple and direct. Eyes full of understanding, hearts full of love and the life that refuses conflicts-enough-these alone are enough! In these devastating man-made calamities who suffer most? Those who have fought and died have gone to a land from where no one ever returns. The brunt is borne by the survivors, the family members of the soldiers, especially the children. Even during the peace times, the problems of the military children are much different from the children of civilian work force. When the guardian or the senior member of the family is at a distant place or posted in a front and is constantly exposed to dangers at the most unsuspected moment, the peace at his home remains only superficial. “The psychological stress of living in a home where a parent is deployed cannot be minimized. Besides coping with the sadness and loneliness of missing a parent, there is the 24/7 stress of worry and concern for the well being of the parent soldier.”(Our Military…) How the military children shape their day to day life in he absence of constant companionship and care of the important member of their family who in the normal course takes responsibility for the growth of their personality and what are its effects on their psyche?
The wise saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. To say it one sentence, the military children grow under tough circumstances. This, however, need not be construed in the negative sense. Even though the problems of the civilian and military children can not be divided into two water-tight compartments the essential difference between then upbringing of the military and other children is obvious. The soldier’s life is subject to strict rues and regulations and they must abide by the service contact. Many of their free aspirations are restricted, and the time-table of their activities needs to fall in line with the demands of the service and, ipso-facto, it has the telling effect on the life and activities of children. A soldier works to the demand and discipline of his unit, and when he can not remain present for important family functions, the children know why their dad is absent! They have accepted the fact gracefully but with a tinge of reserved sorrow. It is the important duty of the Government to maintain the routine of childhood, as the normal reward for stress and life-long sacrifice being made by the military personnel.
Whatever may the quantum and type of facilities provided to the military children, they grow up without the ‘affectionate benefit’ of their parent being at home. One can not say that they live the normal lifestyle. The involvement of the parent in their day to day activities is absent. Human beings, as a rule, do not function well under stress. Even for normal problems related to the family life, interaction with friends and neighbors, domestic purchases, the absence of the deployed military parent is felt. Psychologically, the children surmise that something is missing from their lives. The level of stress sometimes is so much that they are unable to explain their genuine problems. They are worried, afraid without any strong reason and feel overburdened. Young children may cry for no reason. They may turn fearful, panicky, nervous and irritable. The parents, teachers or other observers who have professional interaction on their lives, may find it difficult to understand the root cause affecting their day to day dispositions.
The life of military children is closely linked to the life and movements of their service member parent. As the parent moves from one assignment to another in a different territory, the family and children face the transition problems. A compact known as “Interstate Compact on Education Opportunity for Military Children” has been adopted by 10 States. This procedure is developed by “ the Council of State Governments, education and military family experts, and the Department of Defense, addresses common problems that affect military students as a result of frequent moves and deployments……The education of our military children is a critical quality of life measure for our military families. It is so important that it directly impacts military recruitment, satisfaction with assignments, retention, and ultimately, readiness.”(Military…)
It is estimated that nearly 1.5 million children of military families study in schools apart from those sponsored by the Department of Defense. As compared to their civilian counterparts, military families move three times as often. There is another program initiated by the federal government. “Military children living in the United States generally attend a local public school and have a portion of their educational expenses paid by the federal government through the Department of Education’s Impact Aid program. Currently, Impact Aid provides $ 900 million per year in subsidies in approximately 1,400 local education agencies (LEAs), which enroll 1.2 million eligible children. Children of military parents constitute 416,000 enrollments and account for 36 percent of program funding.”(Buddin, 2001, Summary ix) The materialistic civilization deeply impacted by industrial and internet revolution has changed the social values. The concept of family and the close bonds that were hallmarks of the family life in most of the countries/societies a few decades ago are not the same at present. The concept of traditional martial races is getting diluted and the outlook and regard of the children to their parents has undergone a sea of change. Interstate transfers transfer from one part of the globe to another part, are quite common even amongst the civilian professionals and by comparison the impact on the minds of children of their parent being in service is much less now. The concept of providing support to the military children has undergone changes in keeping up with the modern trends, budgetary controls and the need to cut costs. The traditional services provided directly by departments of military are being privatized and outsourced to civilian service providers. In keeping with the democratic trends in the recruitment of the military personnel, it is observed that military recruits “ come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and they represent a wide variety of family types, including single parents, dual career military couples, and families with eldercare responsibilities.”(The Military….) One sees gradual decline in the issues that affect the psyche of the military children and the civil children as for their lifestyles. The impact of absence of the parent from their day to day life is much less, as they observe a good chunk of their pals from the civilian side undergoing identical ‘suffering.” Mother/Father of the children too has stress but he/she has an important role to play to recognize and treat children, apart from their normal responsibilities as parents. One way to de-stress them is to actively involve them in tutoring, fine arts and sports. Make them accept some responsibility to give a sense of participation. The problems of Military Children are not difficult to identify. They may relate to “Sleep Problems, Eating Problems, Academic performance deteriorates, Withdrawal from friends, family and social gatherings, Feelings of being left out and that no one likes him/her, Complaints of persistent headaches and/or stomachaches, Sad and/or melancholy mood, Nervous, anxious, fearful or phobic for a few months.”(Our Military….) To provide them with opportunity to explore new ideas in the field of their liking is the best alternative to emancipate them from stress. When they are exposed to the ways of the world and come out victorious, it helps to sharpen their personality and they evolve as tough and righteous individuals as they grow. A qualitative improvement in their power of discrimination occurs.
All children deserve amenities for the growth of their personality and facilities that help them to improve their ‘standard of living’ and ‘standard of life.’ But Military Children have a special case for being entitled to extra facilities. The life of his parent is at the call of the Nation. He may be called upon to do precarious duties, in the interest of national security, that a true soldier is expected to perform. So one finds exclusive programs targeted for the benefit of Military Children only. “The Scholarships for Military Children Program” was created in recognition of the contributions of military families to the readiness of the fighting force and to celebrate the role of the commissary in the military family community. It is the intent of the program that a scholarship funded through contributions be awarded annually for each commissary operated by the Defense Commissary Agency worldwide.” (Scholarships….) Many ancillary programs that benefit the families are promoted under this umbrella, such as 30 % rebate in the goods purchased through the approved manufacturers, “Home Away from Home”, for providing medical facilities etc. In the present enlightened times, no one will appreciate maltreatment of the children of the military families, as a worried home front is not conducive for the optimum performance by a soldier. Military Children what they get present and perhaps much more!
Military HOMEFRONT Delaware is the tenth state to adopt the “Interstate Compact on Education Opportunity for Military Children.”
www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/ – 75k –Retrieved on August 3, 2008
Our Military Kids, Inc.: Ask Jane, advice for military parents. As a psychological counselor, I recognize the value and importance of Our Military Kids’ mission –
www.ourmilitarykids.org/programs/ask_jane/index.html – 15k – Retrieved on August 3, 2008
The Military Family: A Practice Guide for Human Service Providers – Google Books Result by James Ashworth Martin, Leora N. Rosen, Linette … – 2000 –
books.google.co.in/books?isbn=0275965406…Retrieved on August 3, 2008
Buddin, Richard: Impact Aid and the Education of Military Children:
Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: RAND Corporation (May 25, 2001)
Scholarships for Military Children
www.militaryscholar.org/ – 11k – Cached – Retrieved on August 3, 2008