12 Tips for Helping Teens Deal With a Parent’s Military Deployment

12 Tips for Helping Teens Deal With a Parent’s Military Deployment

A parent’s military deployment affects the children, no matter what age they are, including teenagers. And it’s often up to the remaining parent to deal with the fallout. Here are some helpful tips for helping teens cope. 

  1. Talk it Out

Once you know there is an upcoming deployment, sit down as a family and discuss how your teen feels. If your teen doesn’t want to open up, that’s okay. You can do the talking. Discuss how things may change when the other parent deploys, such as a shift in responsibilities or a change in a certain routine. Be ready to listen if your teen voices concerns or fears. 

  1. Plan Ahead

Before a parent deploys, it’s important that he or she spends some quality time with the children. Don’t leave this up to chance. Plan ahead and make sure your teen has time — even if it’s just a few hours — with his parent before the deployment occurs. 

  1. Give Your Teen Something to Hold On to

Before the other parent deploys, try to figure out something he or she can give your teen to hold on to, as a form of comfort. It could be a letter, a picture or an item that has special significance, such as a family heirloom.

  1. Check in Periodically

During downtimes, try to get a conversation going with your teen with the goal of getting him to share how he is feeling. Do more listening than talking. Don’t be offended if your teen doesn’t want to talk or share feelings. But do keep trying every now and again. 

  1. Reach Out to Others

Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people who are close to or interact regularly with your teen, such as teachers, coaches or even a school counselor. Explain a parent has been deployed and ask them to let you know of any signs they might notice that would indicate your child is struggling. 

  1. Keep Routines in Play

Just because one parent is gone doesn’t mean that you should change up routines. Instead, you should strive to keep the routines as stable as you possibly can. Believe it or not, a teenager can find comfort in keeping her routines. 

  1. Enable Communication

Make communication between your teen and the parent who is deployed as easy as possible. Consider email, texting, phone calls and video chatting as ways to help your teen stay connected. Try to be as flexible as possible. If getting to talk to a parent who is dearly missed means your teen will have to go to be an hour later on occasion, so be it. 

  1. Listen

Always be willing to listen to your teen, no matter what. If you seem like you don’t have time to listen or talk, then your teen may turn away from you. Even if your teen just wants to have a light conversation, tune in. Don’t try to turn every conversation into a counseling session. 

  1. Validate Their Feelings

A teen who is stressed and anxious can feel a wide range of emotions, and it’s your job as the parent to help your teen realize that the emotions are a normal response to the situation. You can share your own feelings about the deployment to help your teen gain a different perspective. 

  1. Keep Things in Perspective

If your teenager is struggling with a parent’s deployment, it’s probably unwise to share every piece of information you have about military actions that may be occurring. If your teen reads or watches the news, he may have questions for you. Choose your words carefully, and try to keep him from latching on to information that has a negative spin. 

  1. Share Tips for Handling Stress

Think about the ways that you deal with stress — also known as your coping mechanisms — and make some suggestions to your teenager. Journaling can be a good outlet to help relieve stress and anxiety. If your teen enjoys drawing or painting, that can serve as another good way to relieve stress. Exercising and listening to music can also be helpful. 

  1. Make Sure Your Teen Knows She’s Not Alone

Look into military youth programs for teens who are struggling with and feeling anxious about their parent’s deployment. You can also help your teen connect with a counselor. “Talk therapy can be extremely helpful in helping a teen “re-pattern” his or her thoughts, transitioning from anxious thoughts to new, healthy, and productive thinking,” according to Paridigm Malibu, a center that offers teen anxiety treatment

 

Signed into Law: The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act

Signed into Law: The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act

Patricia Kime, writer for Military.com, reported early last Wednesday that after decades of negotiations, President Donald Trump signed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act into law late Tuesday.

The sailors, Marines and other service personnel who served off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam have been fighting for the passing of H.R. 299 for decades. Before this legislation, the specific diseases connected to Agent Orange exposure exposure were recognized only for ground troops. This new law extends that recognition to all those who served off of the coast of the Republic of Vietnam and Cambodia between January 1962 and May 1975.

This change in legislation stands to benefit an estimated 90,000 veterans who were exposed to the chemical herbicide agent produced by Monsanto in the 1960’s. The medical conditions of these veterans who served off the coastline will now receive the same considerations as ground troops and will have their disability compensation fast-tracked. Agent Orange-associated illnesses range from respiratory cancers to Parkinson’s, heart disease and certain types of diabetes. 

Veterans who have previously had claims denied are now eligible to resubmit along with those who were deployed in the Korean Demilitarized Zone from 9/1/67-8/31/71. An additional group covered by this new legislation is the children of veterans who served in Thailand from 1/62-5/75 who were born with spina bifida. 

Not everyone is celebrating this new legislation. The Military-Veterans Advocacy group has some significant concerns about the wording of H.R. 299. The bill covers Blue Water veterans that were up to 12 miles off the shores of Vietnam and Cambodia. The concern of the Military-Veterans Advocacy group is for the Blue Water veterans who are outside of this perimeter of the predetermined area but still within the South China sea and subject to the waters and chemical runoff of the heavily impacted Mekong River. Military-Veterans Advocacy has previously filed a lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of the Blue Water veterans over the denial of benefits. 

Rep. Mark Takano, (Democrat, CA) is one of the original drafters of the legislation. He also chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Takano has been quoted as saying that Congress has now “righted a terrible injustice.”

“We can finally tell the tens of thousands of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War but wrongly denied benefits that justice is finally coming.” 

While the signing of the legislation should absolutely be viewed as a victory for all Blue Water veterans, this win does not mean the end of the war. Provisions are now in place for tens of thousands of additional veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. However, the work is not complete until every benefit is available to every exposed veteran, no questions asked.  

With additional benefits come additional costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these changes could cost as much as $1.1 billion over 10 years but the Department of Veterans Affairs has a much higher estimate of $5.5 billion. Non-disabled veterans can expect additional fees on VA-supported home loans (less than a percentage point).