A recently posted feature on CNN called “The Uncounted” draws attention to the impact of military deployment and mental health on military and veteran families. Among the stories we hear is that of a teenager in a military family, Kristi Anne Raspperry, who describes the development of her own symptoms of depression and anxiety when her father returned from a deployment with post-traumatic stress disorder and her family struggled to cope.
Kristi’s painful story is an important reminder to all of us that behind the media coverage on the mental health impact of military deployments are children and families who may also be struggling. In this revealing portrait, Kristi describes some of her most difficult moments, as well as her path to getting treatment. We also see her father respond to Kristi’s story in a written statement.
An important takeaway here is that parental mental health can impact children’s mental health. And in military or veteran families who experienced a deployment separation, this may create a risky family dynamic. More needs to be done to support military families coping with mental illness, including parenting training.
That’s why we are excited about recent developments in this area such as Dr. Ellen DeVoe’s work to develop and test the Strong Families Strong Forces intervention for military families with very young children. There is also a new online resiliency training course for military families called FOCUS World that provides support and training around common family challenges after deployment.
Suzannah Creech, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior at Brown University, Providence VA Medical Center. Her research focuses on the mental health of veterans and veteran families.
The contents of this post represents the views of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Brown University, the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.