At-risk military kids 'anxious and depressed' upon return of deployed parents

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- A happy reunion when a parent comes home from deployment is only one moment in what’s often a long period of adjustment for military families. This is why organizations like D.C.'s Child Trends studies the impact on young children in military families.

There can be a lot of difficulties, stresses, and strains associated with re-integrating that service member back into the family – especially when there are children involved.

“Young children are very sensitive to stress, anxiety, and depression on the part of their parents, so if they see their caregiver anxious or depressed that's going to impact that child as well," says clinical psychologist Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, who works with military families.

“Many families are a bit anxious about 'how will we now be as this new family that wasn't the family that was there when he left the first time or she left the first time.'"

One mother we spoke to says it was difficult for her kids after their dad finally came home from deployment. It took a while to realize that whenever he left home to go to work in the morning, it didn’t mean he would be gone for another year.

But there is a fix, which comes through understanding, knowledge, education, and support -- as well as organizations like Child Trends that help put all the pieces together so that military families don't have to suffer.