Parents’ PTSD Can Affect Children From Military Families

By: Chinh Doan Email
By: Chinh Doan Email

FORT HOOD (February 22, 2013)—The post-traumatic stress disorder that affects veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may also impact children from military families, a local non-profit organization that works with public school students says.

Communities In Schools works to meet the needs of local children on and off campus, and site coordinators say the children of war veterans who are dealing with PTSD could have issues of their own.

"Lots of stuff is changing for them and the parent they get back may not be the parent they remember leaving so it can be scary too," CIS Site Coordinator Tiffany Romer said.

Romer said sometimes children will show symptoms that mirror the parent's symptoms including anxiety or anger.

"A lot of their emotions can show up in symptoms like all of the sudden they're having these headaches and stomachache that can't be pinpointed and there's no medical reason that can explain them."

It was six years ago when Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham first realized he needed help after his PTSD started to affect not only him, but also his family.

"You know the normal things that kids do and the normal things that people do were suddenly sort of an annoyance and I found myself really withdrawing I think so that I wouldn't affect the kids and if they were affected by anything it was just from me not really being here though I was here and kind of checking out as a dad," Grisham said.

While Grisham is getting help through therapy and an online blog that focuses on military issues other soldiers are facing, other families may not be as lucky, according to CIS, because of a lack of funds and presence in more schools.

“We're only in two elementary schools in Killeen and two middle schools on base, we're in no middle schools off base," CIS Executive Director Mary Erwin Barr said.

Barr said the need is growing as more troops return home from Afghanistan to care for their mental health as well as the mental health of their families.

"We need to be on every campus on Fort Hood and actually sometimes the percentages off base of military are staggering in themselves, I mean you'll have civilian campuses with well over 50% of the kids (from military families)," Barr said.


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