The hidden casualties of war – New study reveals the effects on children of wounded service members

WASHINGTON – A first-of-its-kind nationwide assessment, “Study on Children of Seriously Wounded Service Members,” reveals challenging trends that can have a significant impact on the social and psychological development of children of wounded service members. The study, commissioned by the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, was conducted by the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research, part of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) at the University of San Diego.

Five trends prevailed from the study that can impact the 52,000 children in the United States that are living with a parent who has been wounded in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. When not addressed, these challenges can have a lasting impact on children’s social, emotional, and academic development.

Initial communication about the injury

Many parents, while mindful of protecting their children, lack the tools or techniques for how to communicate, so discussions often don’t adequately prepare children for the short- and long-term consequences of their ‘new normal’.

Understanding severity of the parent’s injury

Invisible wounds, such as post- traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and depression, can be difficult to comprehend and can impact family dynamics and parent-child relationships, influencing a child’s self-esteem and overall development.

Loss of childhood

Caring for a seriously physically wounded parent may require children to take on taxing caretaking duties by necessity, interfering with their activities, development and perceived normalcy. This means growing up early and taking on responsibilities many of their peers do not understand.

Diversion of attention

When the injured parent needs significant care giving, it diverts parents’ focus away from the child to the parent in need. Following this, providing adequate childcare can become a struggle and may leave children with a sense of loss of both parents.

Social and community isolation

Not only are children of wounded service members often physically isolated from the military communities that support them and understand what they are going through, they also experience social isolation from their peers, given drastic differences in their day-to-day lives compared to peers.

“These children are struggling with the particular challenges of not only of being part of a military family, but readjusting to a ‘new normal’ when a parent comes home with a life-altering injury,” said Dr. Mary Jo Schumann, associate director at the Caster Center and co-principal investigator of this study. “These challenges are compounded by the isolation many of the children face, and it’s disconcerting that there are not many programs that provide direct short- and long-term support to these children.”

While over 400 organizations exist to-date to assist seriously wounded service members and their families, the majority of the programs focus on the wounded service member, and often do not address the long-term issues of children and families.

“This study proves what the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation has believed for a long time, that military children and spouses are often the hidden faces of huge sacrifice,” said Margaret B. Davis, president and chief executive officer, Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. “These families have already sacrificed so much for this country. It’s our job, along with our partners, to work together to address the unmet needs of these families and provide them with the support they require to be well.”

The study’s researchers concluded that there is an immediate need for a variety of focused programs to meet the needs of family members, especially children. The following resources, programs and services are researcher recommended to more effectively address the unique challenges and needs of children and spouses.

• Create focused programs that ultimately hone in on the needs of both parents and children to develop long-term resiliency strategies

• Provide children with peer-to-peer social support

• Offer mentoring programs for parents and children

• Provide communication at the right time and in the right manner

• Develop a central database of support programs and services that will ultimately help to reduce the negative impact of challenges identified in the study.

10 Responses to "The hidden casualties of war – New study reveals the effects on children of wounded service members"

  1. Lee   March 26, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    So wouldn’t be just easier if we had honest and moral politicians who could work things out through communication and instead of having war?

  2. Ron   March 28, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    An honest and moral British Prime Minister named Chamberlain attempted this procedure in Munich in 1938 with a man named Hitler. It didn’t work.

  3. Route 66   March 29, 2014 at 3:50 am

    RON – A dishonest and immoral President sent his Secretary of State to lie to the United Nations, and started an UNFUNDED MUTLI-TRILLION $ WAR ON WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION; got in bed with his chummies and fell asleep at the mortgage, finance, and banking wheel…and was part of the World wide Financial and Economic Debacle of 2007-2008. However, Ron ( Fallbrooks\’ Mr Know It All Idealogue ), in the rhetoric of it all, so many victims and losers come from the ranks of soldiers and families.. (US CASUALTIES 7800-+; 30, 000-+ maimed/traumatic brain injuries/handicapped PTSD, ETC ETC, ETC – THOSE ARE JUST OUR FIGURES..IT\’S RATHER Peculiar thst there is very little reporting ofthe same casualties of Coalition Forces)…

    Americans pounded their chest and to show how tough we are, we SENT 18-19-20 YO KIDS TO FIGHT OUR WARS ….its The American Way…its what we help us get out bad economy – to line the pockets of military suppliers and Cronnie Capitalist Friends (see also, Halliburton) – in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, right? But hey, maybe its Obamas fault ( said with sarcasm for the blinded Idealogues) because we voted for a President born in Kenya (!), and a Muslim who kneels 5 times a day to the orayerful wailings of a special Mullah in tge special minaret he had built in the whiteHouse !?!

  4. Lee   March 29, 2014 at 10:53 am

    @ #2 Ron

    You mean to tell me that there are actually people in this world who are ignorant enough to believe that there is such a person as . . . an honest and moral politician?

    I truly pity you. Please let me know what Kool-Aid you’re drinkin’.

  5. Lee   March 29, 2014 at 11:20 am

    War is old men talking and young men dying. (Or being maimed to the point of going through heck for the rest of their lives.)

    Young folks, don’t fall for the lies of old people!

  6. Really?   March 31, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Yeah, it was all Bush’s Fault.

    "We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them."
    Sen. Carl Levin (d, MI), Sept. 19, 2002.

    "We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
    Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.

    "Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
    Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.

    "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seing and developing weapons of mass destruction."
    Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002.

    "The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons…"
    Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002.

    "I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
    Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002.

    "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years . We also should remember we have alway s underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
    Sen. Jay Rockerfeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002,

    "He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do."
    Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002.

    "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
    Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

  7. DR DR   March 31, 2014 at 10:07 am

    @#6 Really? Thank you for sharing this.

    Isn’t this kind of, sort of, being said about Iran? We know they are being built but being a Muslim country and all – no one has the ‘b…." to do anything about it?

  8. Terry Leather   March 31, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Who profits if there’s a war with Iran?

    I think that’s pretty obvious. It’s people who make protest signs, effigies of Bush, giant puppets, and anti-war bumper stickers. Dude…It’s so hard to get the people out to the barriers to protest these days, especially with such high employment, so the protest industry needs wars to sell their wares.

    I bet if you look who’s behind the push for war with Iran, it’s definitely Big Protest.

  9. Lee   April 1, 2014 at 8:14 am

    @ #8 Terry Leather

    Peace activists want war?


  10. Really   April 1, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Your sarcasm detection gene seems to be defective.


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