Editorial: Children need support when parents deployed

While Hoosiers in the armed services become veterans in the military, their children quickly become veterans in resiliency. They learn to deal with change, and they yearn for more stability.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, 44 percent of active duty military personnel are parents. In Indiana, more than 18,000 children have a parent in the armed services. While that is just 1 percent of all Hoosier youth, Indiana’s military children face added challenges because they are scattered across the state instead of living together in a military community.

“Military children who are geographically isolated feel that people don’t understand, and that sometimes can be really lonely,” said Kathy Broniarczyk, director of outreach for the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University. “They hear comments like, ‘Oh, isn’t that cool. Your dad gets to carry a gun and shoot people.’ Well, if my dad is shooting at people, then someone is probably shooting at him. That type of thing can be unsettling for military youth.”

Trevor Lear’s dad served in combat in the Air Force. “I wasn’t sure if he was going to come back or not,” recalled Lear, who is a sophomore at Purdue. “For a lot of (military kids) that’s one thing that we all share — that concern that the last look that we gave them as they turned and walked out the door is really the last look.”

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