Seeing a parent deploy for several months at a time is very difficult for children of all ages. Kids may feel alone, isolated, and resentful toward the military for taking away their parents. These feelings can seriously affect a child’s happiness and growth, but there are programs out there to provide extra support.
The National Guard’s service member and family support division funds the Teen Panel, a state-by-state program that helps kids cope with deployment. The goal is to connect military kids and bridge the gap between service members, their families, and their children.
The Oregon Military Teen Panel was created in 2010 and now has 14 kids representing all seven regions of Oregon. Panel members serve two-year terms, meet once quarterly, and participate in monthly conference calls. They also get involved with community service work in Oregon and Idaho, and even plan annual youth and family events such as the State Youth Symposium and Month of the Military.
The program in Oregon, and all other participating states, helps the teens understand military culture more and connect with others going through the same hardships. Many kids could be going to school with other military kids and not know it. This program helps bring them together and use each other for support.
Much like how service members and veterans need each other to exchange experiences and vent, military kids need each other, too. They need someone who understands their situation with a similar perspective—someone who really “gets it.”
Has your family taken advantage of this program or a similar one? Are programs like this promoted enough? Does there need to be more focus on supporting military children?
Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.