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Activity title

The Impact of Military Life on Children from Military Families

Activity Reference

HFM-258

Panel

Human Factors and Medicine

Security Classification

PUBLIC RELEASE

Status

Awaiting Publication

Activity type

RTG

Start date

2014

End date

2017

Keywords

Children, Deployment, Military Families, Military Life

Background

Children in military families experience various stressors associated with the demands of military life, such as parental absence and frequent relocation. The demands of military life affect every stage of a child’s life and may disrupt normal childhood development. Family separations due to deployment or other military related duties have been shown to be an important source of stress for military families. Family separations have been found to have a negative impact on the children of military personnel, including on their psychological well-being, the development of their identity and attachment styles and their relationships with their parents. Some of the negative outcomes include higher levels of internalizing behaviour, greater psychopathological symptoms, decreased academic performance, intense feelings of sadness, loneliness, abandonment and anger, and acting-out behaviours. Despite the evidence that the stressors related to military life may have serious implications on the well-being of children in military families, there has been very little research conducted in this area. Moreover, the existing research mostly assesses the well-being of children from the parents’ perspective. Further research is required to address this gap and, specifically, to examine the types of military stressors and their impact on children’s well-being, and the roles of risk and resilience factors that explain the variance in children’s well-being. In addition, research should assess the children’s perspective, directly examining their views and opinions. Research should identify children at greater risk of experiencing negative outcomes and psychopathological symptoms. Finally, this research should provide recommendations regarding the most effective practices and resources that can be directed towards more vulnerable children from military families. Moreover, the well-being of children in military families is an important CMP priority, and one that is likely to affect important organizational outcomes, such as retention and operational effectiveness of the service member. The output of this technical group will coordinate knowledge and research efforts and identify policy implications related to the children of military personnel. The outcome of this TG will help the military organizations and the service providers to identify the most effective ways of providing support to military families and their children in order to help them successfully adapt and meet the demands of military life.

Objectives

1. To identify key questions and issues within this topic and develop program of work to address them; 2. To identify and evaluate current data sources; 3. To define the term ‘well-being’ for children from military families; 4. To initiate collaboration between nations; 5. To identify differences and similarities in the well-being of children from military families across different nations. 6. To serve as a forum for active collaboration of surveys and metrics to guide current and future work.

Topics

• The identification of unique aspects and challenges associated with research conducted with children (research conducted directly with children requiring parental consent vs. research conducted with parents, collecting data on children indirectly); • Identification of the main risk factors associated with development of psychological problems among children in military families and resilience factors that can protect children against the negative impact of stress.

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