Perspective: Children of war
While her dad served a long deployment in Iraq, Whitly Hunt was at a party where she saw a girl with her own father, hugging and kissing him, seeing and smelling him the way Whitly could not.
Distressed and lonely, the 15-year-old from Ft. Sheridan told her stepmother what had happened. Her stepmom gave T-shirts Hunt's dad had left behind to all three of their girls. From that moment, her dad's shirt was either on Hunt's headboard or wrapped around her shoulders where she could bury her face in it, his essence triggering powerful memories of roughhousing and video games.
The sadness and difficulties military children such as Hunt face when their parents are deployed have often been overlooked, experts say, even though more than 40 percent of the nation's more than 2 million active-duty and Ready Reserve personnel have children.
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