Download - What Military Teens Want You to Know Toolkit

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    introduction ......................................................................................................... 3

    1. pride .......................................................................................................................................................................... 5We are proud of our parents.

    2. war ..................................................................................................................... 6

    We think about war and we know what it means.

    3. transition .......................................................................................................... 8

    We move. A lot.

    4. responsibility ................................................................................................. 10

    We take on a lot of responsibility.

    5. community ........................................................................................................ 12

    We live in the community.

    6. recognition ...................................................................................................... 13

    We appreciate recognition of our familys service.

    7. diversity .......................................................................................................... 14

    We value diversity and new experiences.

    8. separation ....................................................................................................... 15

    We miss our parents.

    9.belonging .......................................................................................................... 16

    In a lot of ways were just like other teens.

    10.kids serve too ................................................................................................. 17

    We serve too.

    references........................................................................................................... 18

    contents

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    Each summer, the National Military Family AssociationsOperation Purpleprogram provides a free week of camp formilitary youth around the world. Like many other summer

    campers, these youth may go kayaking and climb rockwalls. They may hike and fish. But they all have something incommona parent serving in the Armed Forces. Most arechildren of active duty service members. Some are childrenof National Guard or Reserve members. Some have parentswho have been wounded in combat or are battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. And some are coping with theservice-related death of a parent. We asked them all to tellus the best and hardest parts about military life in a popularactivity called the Top Ten list. The messages in this toolkitsummarize what they said.

    NMFA created this kit to give the people in military teens

    lives a way to help them manage the stressors and affirmthe positive aspects of military life. These people maybe teachers, school counselors, coaches, community orreligious youth group leaders, neighbors, family friends, orrelatives. Weve also included an explanation of points thecampers shared and some resources for you to incorporateinto your own activities and programs, as well as in yourday-to-day interactions with the military teens in your life.

    The tips and resources in this kit are primarily for youths aged11 to 18. Through our work, we found this group struggles themost with deployments, and military life in general, but littleinformation is available about how to help them.

    The tips in this toolkit were developed from responses to TopTen lists compiled from more than four years ofOperationPurple camps. It is not a scientific study, but the result of oneopen-ended question about military life posed to 10,000military youth. Not surprisingly, these kids had a lot in common.The Operation Purple program serves military children,especially children of deployed, wounded, or fallen servicemembers, many of whom commented on the challenges ofdeployments.

    Lengthy, and often times multiple, absences have taken atoll on our military youth. They miss their deployed parentMany feel like no one understands what theyre goingthrough. Some are separated from extended family and maybe living in foreign countries. Since most military childrenattend civilian schools and many military families dont liveon a military installation, these youth are surrounded bypeers from their civilian neighborhoods. Thats ok, exceptwhen they see news of a roadside bomb near where their

    dad or mom is deployed and theyve got a test at schoothat day. Or theyve dropped a sport because they have topick up their younger siblings from school, a task mom ordad used to do before being deployed.

    Of course, they also see the positive in those challengesBecause theyve moved so much, theyve learned how tomake friends easily. Theyve seen many parts of the UnitedStates and in some cases several foreign countries. Teensare proud of their military parent and proud of their familyservice. Mostly what they told us though is they need peoplein their community to know what theyre going through.

    Military life and statisticsThere are about three million people serving in the ArmedForces. There are nearly 1.8 million children of active dutyNational Guard, and Reserve parents. Deployments are notnew to military families, but since 9/11 many parents havebeen deploying, sometimes on multiple tours, to combatzones for months or more than a year at a time. Servicemembers also frequently go on Temporary Duty (TDY)which can range from a few days to six months. Separationhas become a way of life for these families.

    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) statesprofessionals who become familiar with the particularrisks that can compromise a military childs health anddevelopment can reduce the stress military youth faceThe NCTSN also states those at a high risk for stress includeyouth who have endured multiple deployments, those whodo not live close to military communities, and NationaGuard and Reserve youth. Todays world requires everyoneto be engaged with the community of youth who supportour Nations Armed Forces.

    Along with the tips youll find in this toolkit, the bestthing you can do for a military teen is know who they

    are and be there when they need someone to talk to.

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    ychildmoves

    sixtoninetimesb

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    duation.

    fact:

    introduction

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    introduction

    National Guard and Reserve deployments have an additionaleffect on their youth. When these service members deploy,their entire family becomes active duty and they are entitledto the benefits and resources of active duty families. Forsome, that means their health care switches to military

    physicians. Everyones pay is affected. The service memberssalary will change from their civilian jobs salary to themilitary pay and benefit system.

    Its important to remember that each Servicethe Army,Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guardis unique.Each one plays a distinct role defending the Nation, andeach has a reserve component that traditionally serves oneweekend a month and two weeks of training a year. SomeServices deploy more than others. Some deploy longer thanothers.

    Given the different nature of each Service and of active or

    reserve status, what these teens said about military life willnot apply to all youth equally. Rather, each point is a themethat emerged from their collective voices. Also, each tip is just a start. As someone who works with youth, we hopethis will help you generate new ideas to meet the needs ofmilitary teens in your community.

    TriWest addresses many of these topics on their website,www.triwest.com. For additional resources visit www.tricare.mil.

    About the National Military FamilyAssociation

    The National Military Family Association, the only nonprofiorganization that represents families of all ranks and Serviceand prepares spouses, children, and parents to better deawith the unique challenges of military life. The Associationprotects benefits vital to all families, including those othe deployed, wounded, and fallen. For nearly 40 years, itstaff and volunteers, comprised mostly of military familymembers, have built a reputation as the leading experton military family issues. For more information, visiwww.nmfa.org.

    About Operation PurpleOperation PurpleCamps are a program of NMFA that providea free week of summer camp to children of the deployedwounded, and fallen. Kids range in age from 8 to 18. Theylearn coping skills, bond with others who understand whatheyre going through, and de-stress through the healingenvironment of the outdoors. Camps take place each summerThe program began in 2004 and served 1,000 military kidsFour years later, through the generous support of corporateand nonprofit sponsors, the program reached 10,000 youtin 37 states and 7 countries.

    For more information, visit NMFAon the web at www.nmfa.org

    Morethan600,000m

    ilitarychildrenare

    middleschoolandhig

    hschoolagekids.

    fact:

    Over1millionmilitarychildrenattendU.S.Publicschools.

    fact:

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    1. pride

    We are proud of our parents.

    many careers where teens learn how toidentify an aircraft or explain rank. The military culture is so uniquethat being part of it makes you feel kind of special. Throw in termslike American hero and its easy to see why teens say they areproud of the job their parents do for the country. Teens have com-plicated emotions relating to their military parents sometimes, forexample, resenting parents for missing important events while atthe same time being proud of the work they are doing. Militaryteens overwhelmingly name their military parent as a positive rolemodel. As someone who works with teens, you know these yearscan be tumultuous. Ensuring they have a support structure whenthey may not have extended family or their military parent aroundis critical. Strengthen the bond with parents with these strategies:

    Invite the military parent to your organization to talk aboutthe role they play in the Service. This can be especially helpfulwhen the parent comes home from a deployment. It gives theteen a chance to show how proud they are of their parentwithout saying a word.

    Distinguish between the parents service and politics of war.Youth are able to separate the two and be proud of their

    military parent without necessarily agreeing with the countrysdecision makers. Understand that military families, like manyfamilies, are divided in their position on the war. Still, politicalstatements can be taken negatively if they are perceived tobe against the Service. Using statements that recognize theduty of a service member such as, While our service membershave done incredible work, and then talking about the biggerissues of politics and American involvement in global conflictshows you are sensitive to the division between duty anddebate.

    Military kids understand the value of service to others. Developthat understanding by letting them lead a community serviceevent.

    Highlight local heroes like firemen and police officers, alongwith military service members, to show military youth theyare part of an even larger supportive community of publicservants who live with some uncertainty about safety andabsence from the family. Invite those teens, along with militaryteens, for a roundtable discussion about public service.

    Create a column in your organizations newsletter, blogor magazine that discusses military life. Let military teenscontribute personal essays.

    Resources:NMFA Family of the YearAward nominate an extraordinarymilitary family for a cash prize and a trip to Washington D.C.at www.nmfa.org/familyaward.

    My Hero: Military Kids Write About Their Moms and Dads by AllenAppel and Mark Rothmiller Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) youthtell heartwarming and candid stories about their military parents.For more information about the ASYMCAs annual art and essaycontests go to www.asymca.org .

    NMFA Very Important Patriot(VIP) Award program servicemembers and their family members who are at least 18 yearsold are eligible to be nominated for the VIP award. VIP winnersexemplify extraordinary volunteer service to their military orneighboring community. Nominate a VIP at www.nmfa.org/vip .

    There arent

    My mom wouldnt be in Iraq ifshe wasnt thinking of us.

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    2. war

    We think about war and we know what it means

    only see war on the news and can separateit from our daily lives. Military youth cant always do that. Theirparents go to war. The news is real life for them. Deployed parentscan be gone for as long as 18 months at a time and serve mul-tiple deployments. With the unprecedented deployments of theNational Guard and Reserve, its especially important for schoolsto be aware of those teens going through the transition to activeduty life and a deployment at the same time.

    Military teens understand the realities of war. They worry if the de-ployment will be extended or if their parent will be different whenhe or she returns. But they also feel for the parent at home. Theymay take on responsibilities the deployed parent used to carry,such as getting younger siblings to school and sports or helpingwith homework. These teens have a lot on their minds in additionto normal concerns like friends, sports, and school. Here are waysto ease the worry during this time:

    Be honest with them. Teens and pre-teens know the realconsequences of war, but they can also grasp facts thatyounger children cant, such as the understanding that mostpeople return uninjured, the concept of just how long a yearis, and the usefulness of practical coping strategies.

    Connect with the parent at home. That person will give you abetter picture of what the teen is going through.

    Understand the emotional cycles of deploymentAnticipa-tion of Departure, Detachment and Withdrawal, EmotionalDisorganization, Recovery and Stabilization, Anticipation ofReturn, Return Adjustment and Re-negotiation, Reintegrationand Stabilizationand how each phase can affect a teen.

    Be aware of even casual discussions about war. Naturally,military youth will take perspectives on conflict a little more toheart when their mom or dad is deployed or fighting.

    Distinguish between the parents service and politics of war.Youth are able to separate the two and be proud of theirmilitary parent without necessarily agreeing with the countrysdecision makers. Understand that military families, like manyfamilies, are divided in their position on the war.

    Listen to them. Having a person outside their home whoknows the situation gives the youth a safe place to talk aboutthe deployment. Many times a teen wont share informationwith their parent who is still at home for fear of rocking theboat.

    Be sure the onsite school counselor knows if a teens parent isdeployed.

    Send care packages from your group to the youths deployedparent.

    When possible, be accommodating with class work due datesDiscuss the students work habits and work load with theirparent or caregiver. There might be an activity affecting theirperformance that should be considered. However, keepingthings routine is often best.

    Work with your school system to establish a policy thataccommodates families dealing with separation good-byesand reunions as well as Rest and Recuperation (R&R) leave.

    Be neutral. Language is powerful. Using terms like parents foback to school nights, fairs, or permission slips automaticallyassumes every teen has two parents at home or even just oneparent at home. Create an environment where single parentsand grandparents feel welcome.

    Most of us

    Be safe a little bit longer.

    Resources on page 7

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    Resources:Parents deployment draws mixed emotions from teens byBarbara L. Micale, Virginia Tech National Capital Region can be foundat www.research.vt.edu/resmag/ResearchMagJan06/deploy.html.

    Resilience in a time of War by the American PsychologicalAssociation - Tips for Parents and Teachers of Teens athttp://apahelpcenter.org/dl/resilience_in_a_time_of_war-tips_

    for_parents_and_teachers_of_teens.pdf.

    National Child Traumatic Stress Network identifying militaryyouth who are at high risk for traumatic stress and informationresources for educators and mental health professionals atwww.nctsnet.org/nccts/nav.do?pid=ctr_top_military.

    Children, Youth and Families Education and Research Network researched-based information for parents, teachers and familysupport leaders working with children of service members atwww.cyfernet.org/hottopic/warres.html.

    American Academy of Pediatrics Support for Military Children andAdolescents at www.aap.org/sections/uniformedservices/deployment/

    index.html.

    Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists a comprehensiveguide on how deployments uniquely affect children and teens ofreserve component service members at www.nmfa.org/site/DocServer/SOFAR_Children_Pamphlet.pdf?docID=6661.

    Learn about the emotional cycle of deployment and ways teensmay react at www.hooah4health.com/deployment/familymatters/emotionalcycle.htm.

    Its hard when he deploys,so I have to keep busy.

    2. war

    We think about war and we know what it means

    I hope its not

    him onthe news

    getting hurt.

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    3. transition

    We move. A lot

    Family and furniture are about the onlythings that stay the same in a military familys life. By the time the kidsgrow into teenagers, theyve attended several schools, have madenumerous new friends, and memorized half a dozen new address-es. Military teens say they like meeting new people and traveling tonew places, but they also say moving is one of the toughest thingsabout military life. In fact, military children will say good-bye tomore significant people by age 18 than the average person will intheir lifetime. National Guard and Reserve families can be on the

    move, too. When a deployment comes, they may relocate closer toa support network of friends and family for the year. Additionally,children of single service members may have to move in with agrandparent or other relative when their parent deploys. Often-times this means changing schools and leaving friends behind.These circumstances can pose risks for isolation and can affect ateens academics and extracurricular activities at a time when col-lege is on the horizon.

    These strategies may help them get settled:

    Find or create activities that bring military parents, teens,teachers, and other community leaders together. Youll buildawareness in the community and show military teens they

    have a support network right awaytheyre not alone!

    Sports, music ensembles, and other extra-curricular activitiesmay be the few constants in your military students life and away to make new friends fast. When possible, be lenient withtryout dates and admission cut-offs. Many military familiesmove during the summer and often miss tryouts for fall sportsor activities.

    Help teens to focus on their relationships now and not whattheyll lose in a future move. Ask your military student if theyreinvolved with clubs or sports and help them get connected intheir new situation.

    When its time to move, get their class, group, or house ofworship involved in keeping the relationship going throughemail and social networking sites. Start your own Facebookgroup!

    Create relationships with the local military installation or reservecomponent units through cooperative activities. The militaryis bursting with professionals using the latest technology and

    medicine who might be willing to talk about their jobs. Whenthere is a move or deployment, you are connected with thisimportant resource and can get new teens plugged into theimilitary resources right away.

    Schools can create a welcome wagon packet filled withinformation for students transferring in the middle of theschool year. Contacts for local resources or even populahang outs help new students get acclimated to the area morequickly.

    Start afterschool clubs for kids with deployed parents.

    Create a parent buddy system for newly relocated families anda student peer support group that matches new arrivals withstudent mentors who can make sure they learn to navigatetheir new school and dont have to eat lunch alone.

    Work with other groups like yours to swap best practices onserving the military community.

    School counselors should ensure all transcripts from previousschools are current and in the students record.

    Moving made me more adaptable.

    Resources on page 9

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    Resources:Military Teens on the Move Tips and advice for teens, withstories from teens at www.defenselink.mil/mtom/t4_41.htm.

    National Network of Partnership Schools NNPS providesresearch-based guidance on engaging parents, schools, andcommunity leaders to create student success in schools. NNPSprovides technical support for program development to schools

    serving children from military families as part of the MilitaryChild Initiative at www.partnershipschools.org.

    Third Culture Kids World (TCKWORLD) children who grow upoutside their home or parents culture are called Third CultureKids. Read the stories of TCKs at www.tckworld.com .

    State Department Information on children in transition from aForeign Service perspective at www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c21995.htm.

    Department of Defense sponsored site with sections for teens,parents, and educators at www.militarystudent.dod.mil.

    Military Child Education Coalition provides parents and

    educators with training and resources to ease studentstransitions at www.militarychild.org.

    Sometimes when you move, you leavewithout saying goodbye to your friends.

    3. transition

    We move. A lot

    Military kids have

    to learn to adapt tonew situations.

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    4. responsibility

    We take on a lot of responsibility

    When military parents go away for de-ployments or Temporary Duty (TDY), their family responsibilities fallto the caregiver at home. Its common for teens and pre-teens toassume at least some of those responsibilities. Theyll even stifletheir own emotional needs to shield their at-home caregiver from

    additional stress. Or they may rebel against the at-home caregiver.

    Military youth have expressed pride about gaining independenceand maturity when they have to increase their load, but its easy forthese responsibilities to become a burden. Unknowingly, parentssometimes add to this burden and assign adult responsibilities asa means to show confidence when actually it creates too high anexpectation. For instance, telling a son that he is the man of thehouse is a tall order with big shoes to fill. Here are some ways tohelp them keep a balance:

    Help youth feel confident in their abilities. Suggest a CPRor time management course. Conduct a study skills class toboost homework efficiency. Appropriate instruction will helpthem feel better prepared to deal with their extra duties.

    Watch for signs of stress. Dropping grades, looking distractedor tired in class, and loss of interest in activities can all be redflags that the teen is doing too much. Ask them how theyredoing.

    Provide practical time management tools like a daily planner orcreate a fun bag filled with helpful items like sticky notes. Mixit up with reminders to take a break. Nothing says relax likean iTunes gift card or trip to the movies with some friends.

    Let them be kids when theyre with you. Teenagers still have

    the child inside of them who just wants to have fun. Give thema safe place where they can unwind.

    Ask how their school, house of worship, or club can support thefamily. Mowing the lawn, carpooling, tutoring, or babysittingyounger siblings are ways to shoulder some of the tasks themilitary youth may have taken on while dad or mom is awayBe specific with your offer. Saying, Wed like to have youfamily over for dinner this week, feels less like charity thanDo you need help with meals?

    Keep a list of referral services handy. There are a lot oforganizations that offer reduced-cost practical assistancesuch as finding child care for parents with deployed partnerslawn care, or mental health counseling. Some are listed in theresources section below.

    Most of my grades dropped becauseI was thinking about my dad, becausemy dads more important than school.

    Resources on page 11

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    Resources:Military OneSource a 24/7 comprehensive, free resource formilitary families provides referrals and information for everythingfrom moving, to counseling, to car repair services.Visit www.militaryonesource.com.

    The Role of Responsibility How much is too much by Gail Pirics an article discussing how to give pre-teens appropriate levels of

    responsibility. Read it at www.preteenagerstoday.com/resources/articles/responsibility.htm.

    Personal stress management guide for teens from the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics at www.aap.org/stress/teen1-a.cfm.

    GreenCare for Troops Coordinates local lawn andlandscaping for families of deployed service members atwww.projectevergreen.com/gcft.

    Our Military Kids activity grants for children of National Guardand Reservists who are deployed or wounded. Visit www.omk.org.

    National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral

    Agencies special section on child care for military parents atwww.naccrra.org/MilitaryPrograms.

    USA Cares providing financial and advocacy assistance tomilitary families at www.usacares.org .

    Apply for the teen to attend one of NMFAs popular OperationPurple summer camps at www.operationpurple.org.

    4. responsibility

    We take on a lot of responsibility

    Mom will be in her roomand we hear her crying.

    There are alot of things

    my dad wouldnormally do,

    like taking outthe trash or

    mowing the lawn.Now I haveto do it.

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    5. community

    We live in the community

    Did you know nearly 95 percent of military teensdont attend Department of Defense schools? Only about 35 per-cent of active duty military families even live in military housing.Though children of service members are part of the unique militaryculture, they spend most of their time in the local community. Theyplay sports, join clubs, and even see doctors in your neighborhood.Also, there are more than 700,000 National Guard and Reserve kidswho might never live on a military installation. These families lookwithin their community for friendship and support. But to reachour military youth, we have to know who they are and understandthem. Here are a few ways to get started:

    Poll the teens in your group to see how many of them havea military connection. You might be surprised by the number.Even if they dont have a parent in the military, many mayhave brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, or grandparents who areserving.

    Familiarize yourself with military life. Learn the differencesbetween active duty and reserve component service. Lookat the uniqueness of each service branch Army, Navy, AirForce, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

    Read blogs and books that have firsthand accounts aboutmilitary life. Youll be surprised by the diversity of experiencesalong with the common challenges and rewards of militarylife.

    Download a copy of NMFAs Military Child Bill of Rights atwww.nmfa.org/BillofRights and use it as guide to supportmilitary teens you know.

    Know where military teens live in your community, includingNational Guard and Reserve youth. You can search for localinstallations using the resource listed below.

    Survey your friends and coworkers. Ask who is or has been

    in the military. Talk to them about their experiences and askabout their childrens experiences.

    Schools can assign literature that examines military life andfeatures teenage characters. Talk about the book with a classor group. Ask military youth for input about whats the sameor different in their lives from what they read.

    Educate your group about reaching out to the new kid. Militaryteens are often told to make new friends, but the communitymust reciprocate to make the connection happen.

    Resources:National Military Family Association find information on militaryfamily life and issues affecting military children at www.nmfa.org.

    Listing of all military installationsorganized by service athttp://apps.mhf.dod.mil/pls/psgprod/f?p=107:7:453 955382099448.

    Resource list of National Guard Family Assistance Programs in allstatesthe support provided by the family assistance centers isavailable for families of all military Services in the communitiesserved. The National Guard also sponsors specialized activitiesfor children and teens that may be an option for families living farfrom a military installation: www.guardfamily.org

    Military Brats and Other Global Nomads: Growing Up in Organi-zation Families by Morten Ender, sociology professor at the U.S.Military Academy at West Point.

    Booklists for military families of all ages check out the sectionson books for teens and adults at www.booksformilitarychildren.info. The site was created by a military spouse who is also alibrarian and mother of four children.

    Our parents are serving our countryand we have a hero.

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    7. diversity

    We value diversity and new experiences

    There are nearly 500 U.S. military bas-es around the world. Some active duty families havelived in popular locations like Germany, Japan, and Italyfor several years at a time. Teens and pre-teens may have evenpicked up a foreign language or two during their mom ordads tours overseas. Even if they havent lived overseas, ac-tive duty families have experienced many parts of America.The Armed Forces also closely represents the racial makeup ofAmerica. Between moving and the diverse nature of the Service,

    military youth have grown up in an environment that refl

    ects thereal world.

    National Guard and Reserve teens know what its like to havea parent suddenly switch jobs and deploy overseas, then re-turn changed and make the transition back to their civilian life.No matter the Service, military youth have embraced the posi-tive parts of change. What an incredible life lesson to learn soyoung! Draw from their experiences this way:

    Use them as classroom resources. Globetrotting teens canoffer a priceless first-hand perspective about other culturesand places to other students.Ask them to share treasuresacquired from other regions, countries, or cultures.

    Military youth are used to seeing leaders who work with lotsof different people. Tap into their observations and ask themto be mentors. They can help new kids become oriented tothe area, serve on diversity councils at school, or help bringmulticultural students into clubs and extracurricular activities.

    Include military youth as part of your organizations advisorygroup or teen panel. As local and world travelers, they bring avaluable diverse perspective that should be counted.

    Help graduating teens who may have spent a significant

    amount of time in foreign countries research colleges andprofessions they may not be familiar with. Get them involvedin organizations that help them find their talents, whetherthat be in a military career like their parent(s) or anotherprofession.

    Contact your state representatives and then support your stateby joining the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunityfor Military Children, which recognizes and supports themobile military family and values a worldwide education.

    Resources:4-H Military Partnerships 4-H has special programs for thedevelopment of military youth. Check out the services atwww.4hmilitarypartnerships.org.

    Future Business Leaders of America helping teens build leadershipskills and confidence for more than 60 years at www.fbla-pbl.org.

    MCEC Teen Stories Watch military teens talk about what its liketo live in other countries in the video Student 2 Student atwww.youtube.com/MilitaryChild.

    www.Myclubmylife.com a teen social and educational site fromthe Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where more than 80 percent ofmembers are minorities.

    To learn more about the Interstate Compact on EducationalOpportunity for Military Children visit www.csg.org/programs/ncic/EducatingMilitaryChildrenCompact.aspx.

    Military Community Youth Ministries, www.mcym.org, is anondenominational Christian Ministry reaching out to militaryteens in more than 40 military communities.

    Military kids make friends faster.

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    8. separation

    We miss our parents

    Military teens said they missed their militaryparents and in more ways than one. First, service membersare gone a lot. Deployments take parents away for monthsat a time. Temporary duty, training, or necessary separations,such as a family staying behind so children can finish the schoolyear, also bring absences. Birthdays, holidays, and family vacationsoften occur without the service member parent present. Then,there is another kind of missing called ambiguous loss. Returningfrom a combat deployment, the parent may be a different person.Those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or physicalinjury may have striking differences from when they last saw theirteen. Military teens miss the parent they had before the deployment,but its not something they can really explain or change. This iscompounded by the natural, personal changes a teen experiencesduring adolescence. You cant bring the parent back, but you canuse these strategies to strengthen the teen/parent bond:

    Have teens write to deployed parents about their dailyliveswhat theyre doing in school, sports, clubs, or house ofworship.

    Teens need peer groups. If youve surveyed your organizationand know who the military teens are, create a group just for

    them and those who support them.

    Use social networking platforms to reach them in the placeswhere they already hang out.

    Tell them its ok to ask for help.

    Work with the school to establish times for phone calls if thetime zone difference is interfering with the teens opportunityto talk to their deployed parent.

    Dont let teens miss out on special activities or rites of passage.While a parent cant be replaced, the event can still be treasured.Ask an uncle to attend a father/daughter dance or arrange to

    video tape special events like graduation ceremonies.

    Include the deployed parents e-mail address on your PTA,sports booster, or youth group parent e-mail list so theycan receive your newsletter and other information about theactivities that mean a lot to their teen.

    Understand that teens facing a parents deployment orcelebrating their return may need to find a new balancebetween family time and their normal routine. Follow thefamilys lead: be flexible in allowing for absences from activitiesto accommodate family reunions while also realizing the teenmay need time with peers as they and their family adjust afterthe service members return.

    Resources:Finding My Way: A Teens Guide to Living with a Parent Who HasExperienced Trauma by Michelle D. Sherman, Ph.D. and DeAnneM. Sherman.

    Battlemind - a multimedia resource designed by the Army to pre-pare service members and families for deployments and reunionsCheck out the videos, files and worksheets created for teens atwww.battlemind.army.mil .

    Tip sheets for parents, teachers, and administrators about how tobuild connectivity for military students academic success at

    www.jhsph.edu/mci/resources/School%20Connectedness.

    Operation Military Kids at www.operationmilitarykids.org.

    Psych First Aid for Military Families is a PowerPoint presentationgeared at providing helpful techniques for dealing with families incrisis. Visit www.usmc-mccs.org/cosc/conference/sessions.cfm andfind the presentation in Tuesdays agenda.

    American Academy of Pediatrics developed a site dedicated tothe support of military children and adolescence atwww.aap.org/sections/uniformedservices/deployment/resources.html.

    Im turning into a teenager and hes nothere to help me on my way as I change.

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    9. belonging

    In a lot of ways were just like other teens

    Whats normal? Whatever it is, its somethingteens strive for during adolescence. And even though theymay use military acronyms in their speech or have traveledto five states and two foreign countries before their 16thbirthday, they are teens just like all the rest. They want tofit in, make friends, and have fun. One way to deal with thechallenges of military life is to help them see what they havein common with other teens. It gets their mind off themselvesfor a while and they may even find coping strategies from other

    teen groups. Also, maintaining a sense of normalcy is key togetting through deployments. Here are suggestions that can bringmilitary teens and other teens together:

    Offer a class about transitions. Many children can benefit fromthis advice.

    Dont treat military teens differently. Changing your behaviortoward them may signal pity and insincerity and no one likesthat. In one military teens words, Dont cozy up to me. Thatscreepy.

    Older siblings of large families, single parent homes, orfamilies in rural areas often have extra responsibilities. They

    could swap stories with military teens about how they juggleit all.

    Teach all teens how to deal with change or loss. Whether its abreak up or a big move, change is a part of life that everyoneexperiences.

    Teens of deceased or disabled parents can share experienceswith military teens whose parents are injured or suffering fromtraumatic memories.

    Expand their horizons. Do an exercise that emphasizes what allteens have in common. Explore teens lives in other cultures.

    Create a buddy system that brings new teens into a communityquickly. This could be through a school, house of worship, orclub.

    Organize a travelers club. Military teens will make new friendsand find something in common with other non-militaryfamilies who share a diverse traveling experience.

    Resources:Learn how to start your own peer support program for transition-ing students and view a list of S2S programs in your area atwww.militarychild.org/child-student/student-2-student.

    Learn about a successful Student 2 Student program that broughtnew kids into a community through student and teacher partner-ships at www.kdhnews.com/news/story.aspx?s=26829.

    Take a course from the Military Child Initiative for people interacting with military youth at www.jhsph.edu/mci/training_course.

    Visit a teen social and educational site from the Boys & GirlsClubs of America at www.myclubmylife.com.

    Teen L.I.N.K.S. (Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge andSkills) Modeled after a Marine program for Marine spouses, thisprogram has been tailored for military teens. Contact your localMarine base for information on how you can connect a Marineteen with this support group.

    Boys & Girls Clubs of America Military Support with more than350 military youth centers around the world, this is a place wheremilitary teens can feel at home, no matter where that is. Visitwww.bgca.org/partners/militaryfor more information.

    Sometimes I feel like I want to quitand just be normal for a bit.

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    10. we serve

    We serve too

    Strength, perseverance, and sacrificeare words we associate with our troops. But these are the same traitswe see in military teens. They send care packages to their military parentwhen they are fighting overseas. They take on new tasks when situationschange in their families. They grow up with a sense of community andservice to country. While they do it for their family, theyre sustainingtheir service member for America, too. Celebrate their achievements.Recognize their efforts to the country. Use these strategies as an op-portunity to empower all youth and the powerful contributions they can

    make in their communities:

    Celebrate the Month of the Military Child in April.

    Support legislation that provides new opportunities formilitary youth.

    Send them to an Operation Purple camp.

    Nominate them for awards.

    Download a copy of the NMFA Military Child Bill of Rights at www.nmfa.org/BillofRights and use it as a guide to support militaryteens you know.

    Tell them youre proud of them! Sometimes they just need tohear that theyre doing a great job for their family and theircountry.

    Resources:Locate an Operation Purple Camp near you visitwww.operationpurple.org.

    Information about Month of the Military Child can be found atwww.eu.dodea.edu/features/080401_militaryChild.php.

    Military Child Education Coalition at www.militarychild.org.

    Operation Military Kids visit www.operationmilitarykids.org.

    Boys and Girls Clubs of America National Youth of the YearProgram BGCA members are recognized for overcomingobstacles and making outstanding contributions to theirschool, family and community at www.bgca.org/YOY.

    Our Military Kids - activity grants for children of deployedNational Guard or Reserve service members and those of thewounded at www.omk.org.

    Being a military kid teachesyou to be strong.

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    2005 Department of Defense Demographics report

    2006 North Carolina School Resource Guide

    Blum, Robert. Best Practices: Building Blocks for Enhancing School Environment. Johns Hopkins BloombergSchool of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 2007

    Boss, Pauline, PhD. About Ambiguous Loss. www.ambiguousloss.com/four_questions.php

    Children and Responsibility. National Association of School Psychologistswww.amphi.com/~psych/responsib.html

    Interview with Dr. Joyce Epstein, Director, National Network of Partnership Schools and the Center on School, Family, andCommunity Partnerships; Principal Research Scientist, and Research Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University;Co-investigator on Military Child Initiative

    Micale, Barbara. Parents deployment draws mixed emotions from teens.Virginia Tech National Capital Regionwww.research.vt.edu/resmag/ResearchMagJan06/deploy.html

    Military Personnel. Longer Time Between Moves Related to Higher Satisfaction and Retention.GAO Report to the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member,Subcommittee on Defense, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate

    National Child Traumatic Stress Networkwww.nctsnet.org/nccts/nav.do?pid=ctr_top_military

    National Network of Partnership schools www.partnershipschools.org

    Office of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Installations and Environmentwww.acq.osd.mil/housing/housing101.htm

    Pirics, Gail. The Role of Responsibility How much is too much.www.preteenagerstoday.com/resources/articles/responsibility.htm

    Resilience in a time of War. The American Psychological Associationhttp://apahelpcenter.org/dl/resilience_in_a_time_of_war-tips_for_parents_and_teachers_of_teens.pdf

    School Connectedness - Improving Students Lives. Military Child Initiativewww.jhsph.edu/mci/resources/School%20Connectedness

    Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservistswww.nmfa.org/site/DocServer/SOFAR_Children_Pamphlet.pdf?docID=6661

    Third Culture Kids. State Department www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c21995.htm

    references

    2500 North Van Dorn Street Suite 102 Alexandria, VA 22302-1601

    p: 800.260.0218 www.nmfa.org

    S d b