Saturday, June 09, 2007

Perspective: Military kids having harder time dealing with the 'new normal'

For kids in the military, the prospect of war has always been part of the package, almost expected. Moms and dads have to go away from time to time.

But as the war in Iraq rolls into its fifth year, the escalating cycle of combat deployments is wearing on the children and their families, said Jennifer Gutierrez, counselor at the Reeces Creek Elementary School in Killeen.

At Fort Hood, the 1st Cavalry Division is now in its second yearlong tour in Iraq, and the 4th Infantry Division will start its third this year.

"We see children who are very, very angry with the multiple deployments because Dad is gone on this third tour and when he comes home, Mom will be gone for her second," said Ms. Gutierrez, counselor at the school of 750 first- through fifth-graders in Killeen.

Officials at the Killeen Independent School District, where 52 percent of its 30,000 students have at least one military parent, have had to develop programs to help children cope with the fears of separation and loss stemming from multiple deployments. Teachers and counselors whose spouses are going off to war again must deal with both their needs and the needs of their students.

"Military families are now living in the new normal," said Judy Picot, coordinator for counseling services for the Killeen schools.

Read the rest at the Dallas Morning News