Children who have parents serving in the military encounter problems that civilian youngsters do not, and a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that their health can suffer as a result. Researchers hope the new findings will highlight the challenges military children face on a daily basis and spur new understanding among the healthcare community, according to the report published in the journal Pediatrics. 

Psychological and physical toll
More than 2 million children have had a loved one deployed during the last decade, and numerous studies have shown the significant impact it can have on their well-being. Specifically, researchers have found that approximately one in four military children experience symptoms of depression, an estimated one-third of youngsters report excessive worry while one out of every two had problems sleeping. The AAP says that it is up to children's doctors to be particularly attuned to the challenges military kids face.

"Pediatricians play a critical role in identifying how well or poorly a child or family responds to a major stressor such as an extended deployment, and can provide the necessary education and support, including referral to a mental health professional when needed," said Dr. Benjamin S. Siegel, the report's co-author. 

Obstacles continue past deployment
Although a great deal of attention is paid to what impact a parent's deployment has on a youngster's well-being, when it is over there are still significant challenges, especially as their parent works to transition back to civilian life. For instance, approximately 20 percent of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which could place undue strain on children. Additionally, frequent moves can make it difficult for them to assimilate into new schools and towns. 

Sacrifices recognized
It may be not be easy being part of a military family, but the sacrifices made my children have not gone overlooked. In April, which is designated as the Month of the Military Child, there were a number of events dedicated to honoring the youngest members of the community. For instance, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, paid tribute to five teenagers in particular who not only navigate the oft-challenging military life, but also gave back to the community.