WASHINGTON (CBS NEWS) – A new report is highlighting the stress that military children face while their parents are deployed.
Kelsey Skillman’s father Brad has been in the military since she was an infant. The Navy officer is now on his eighth deployment. “I haven’t really known a dad who is not in the military,” Skillman said. “So it seems really normal to me.”
Skillman is now 23 years old. She and her two brothers grew up worrying and missing their dad whenever he went overseas. “It is kind of hard when no one understands what you’re going through,” Skillman added.
But a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics said that children whose parents serve during wartime are at an increased risk for social, emotional and behavioral problems. The report calls on pediatricians to help families find resources.
“One in four kids who have a loved one with a wartime deployment will show signs of depression,” said Dr. Andrew Garner with UH Case Medical Center. “One in three will have excessive worrying, and about one in two — almost half — will have trouble sleeping.”
During the last 10 years, about two million kids have been separated from a parent on active duty. “What we know is that some of those effects become more severe the longer the service member has been gone,” explained Joyce Raezer with the National Military Family Association.
The separation also takes a toll on the caregiver who remains back at home. “Things are a lot more stressful for that person,” said military wife Jacey Eckhart. “No matter how good she looks on the outside.”
The Skillman family now has another loved one in the military. Kelsey’s brother Sam is a cadet at West Point. “They really love their jobs, and it’s for a really good purpose,” said Skillman. “That’s just in them. It’s who they are. But they also really love you too, and they are doing it for you.” The family makes sure to cherish the times that they can all be together.