March Forum Focuses on Mental Health Needs of Military Children and Families
March 1, 2009
Children whose parents are deployed in overseas combat are more likely to have high levels of stress and traumatic situations at home. Yet studies show a dearth of resources for families coping with the psychological challenges of a parent at war or returning from the battlefront.
In March the Texas Children's Mental Health Forum discussed the needs of military families and children, at a time when the nation's active-duty military includes the highest percentage ever of parents serving overseas. Nearly half of military and National Reserve personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have children.
"The military is taking steps to respond to the mental health needs of service men and women, but deployments also cause extraordinary stress on children and families," said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
State Senator Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso opened the meeting by speaking about the issues and bills he is sponsoring to address them. Other speakers included national, state and local mental health and education experts as well as military family members.
"We know that children experience strain when they are separated from someone as important in their life as a parent. The return of a parent can be difficult, too, particularly as the returning parent deals with his or her own recovery from injury or emotional trauma," said Eileen Garcia-Matthews, executive director of Texans Care For Children, a nonpartisan nonprofit child advocacy organization.
The Hogg Foundation and Texans Care For Children host the monthly forum. Scott and White Healthcare provided funding for the March meeting.