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9 Things I Learned in 90 minutes

11/18/2015 Published by: Amy Soupene

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Categories: Special Topics

Are you aware that today is Children’s Grief Awareness Day?  Seeing as how November is also Military Family Appreciation Month, it is fitting and appropriate to discuss military children and their challenges. Tragedies happen in life and how we respond to them determines whether we will be forever stunted with grief or if we process that grief and learn to live a new normal.

 

 


 

 

"When I created this, I was thinking of all the tears I had shed when my mom and dad were deployed, that’s the reason I chose a teardrop to draw, but I know they were going for a reason, to support America which is why I decided to make it into an American flag."
 
EMILY
Grade 7, Heidelberg Middle School • Heidelberg, Germany • US Army

 

 

 

 

The manner in which children understand and react to grief is vastly different than adults.  Military-connected children encounter many changes, some of them devastating and traumatic. A parent’s deployment, injury, or death will forever change a child’s life.  A recently released webinar by the National Children’s Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) explores the topic of Responding to Traumatically Bereaved Military Children in Educational Settings: Barriers and Opportunities.

I completed this free webinar and found it both heart-breaking and fascinating.  Four experts on military-connected children and/or bereavement shared their knowledge.  9 pages of notes later, I’m here to tell you this was 90 minutes well-spent.  For those of you with Master’s Degrees, you can earn 1.5 CE credits for free!

The MCEC’s own, Dr. Mary Keller, was one of the panelists and spoke about militar-connected children from the educational perspective.  Other panelists include: Vanessa Daley, Program Manager from Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Dr. Marlene Wong of the LAUSD/RAND/UCLA Trauma Services, and Funda Yilmaz, LPC, an NCTSN Individual Affiliate.

So what were my 9 significant findings?  I’m happy to share.  I would absolutely adore to hear yours!

  1. Military-Connected Students often incur unexcused absences and are penalized for getting necessary medical/mental health services or attending military functions that directly affect them.
  2. There is no time limit to grief.  However, many students are expected to adjust and move on long before they are ready.  Sadly, some students are bullied or punished for lingering grief.
  3. Psychologists, Counselors and other physical/mental health staff are often the first to lose their jobs due to cut-backs.  These are the very people that we rely on to give special attention and offer programs to the affected or special education students.
  4. Affected students represented every branch of the military; Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, as well as, the Reserves and National Guard.
  5. Schools receive federal impact dollars from the government to support these students.  However, there is no consistent manner, such as a Military Student Identifier, for school districts to identify these students. 
  6. Over 90% of military-connected children live and attend public schools within the United States.
  7. There are approximately 1.2 million military-connected children in grades K-12, 75% of which are under 13 years of age.  Their parents’ average age is 27-30 years old.  These are young families, whose children move on average 6-9 times from kindergarten to twelfth grade.  It is more than likely they will not have the family and community supports they need.
  8. Over 2 million children have had a parent that served in Iraq or Afghanistan at least one time.  But these are not the only places where the military serves that can cause worry for a child.  For many military kids their parent has been deployed for over half of their life.
  9. Military-connected students live in almost every zip code of the United States.

That list is just a cursory overview of the information that was contained within the webinar.  It was full of amazing information.  If you’d like to understand military children and their families better please take the time to listen.  I found that you can stop and start the webinar, as needed, even if you need to walk away and come back another day.  I just kept track of where I stopped so I could pick it up again when I returned.

I do hope you take the time to listen and learn.  Military kids count on all of us.  I welcome your thoughts on the webinar.  What was the most surprising thing you learned?  Please share!

Participate in the Webinar

 

Best wishes, Amy

 

 

***Help us get the word out about SchoolQuest™ by liking us on Facebook!   Please visit our Homeroom on-line community and join the discussion. We’d love to hear what your thoughts are about this important topic!  SchoolQuest™ is an initiative of the Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC®).   Follow us on the MCEC® Twitter feed . . . for the sake of the child!  

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