Operation Homecoming helps educators combat the stress of a post deployment home

26 Apr 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Grant

Leaders at seven districts across Onslow and Craven counties, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station’s New River and Cherry Point attended Operation Homecoming April 24 and 25 to learn new ways of helping children handle the stress of being a military child.

The school leadership conference presented an opportunity for instructors to learn detailed information and real life stories of military children suffering post deployment issues.

During the first day of the conference attendees interactively discussed and engaged in activities to better understand the root cause of children’s stress. The parent being home after back to back deployments can trigger stress in the spouse and child, but even continued contact during a deployment is stressful for some. The following day the community leaders walked through a Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility. The MOUT facility presented the attendees a better understanding with what stressors service members may bring home through a question and answer period with Marines who manage the facility.

Deployments are scaled back causing more service members to be home with combat stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other combat related issues that wane on family members.

Military children are very resilient, most people focus on the service member and don’t realize the child may be struggling or going through stress. Many services are available for the children struggling with stress.

Counselors who specialize in child behavioral issues provide services to children struggling with post deployment stressors and also help with situations involving the loss of a parent.

“A school counselor runs deployment groups and also an open door policy for any child struggling,” said Lori Howard, principal for Clive Erwin Elementary in Jacksonville, N.C.

Howard, along with Denise Gartner, vice principal of Clive Erwin, attended the conference because roughly 30 percent of their students are military children.

Instructors and supervisors never really know when an individual or child is struggling. Attending the conference increased general awareness and taught everyone about all the services offered, added Howard.

“Helping any child is important. We know we have to take care of the emotional stress the child is going through before learning can continue,” said Howard.