(NAPS)—Children face significant challenges when a soldier returns from war with severe injuries. After the stress of parents’ deployment, the recovery process can last for years, deeply affecting children.
Sometimes they have to travel to the hospital where the parents recover, changing schools and leaving their friends behind. Sometimes they watch their parents learn to walk or talk all over again. Sometimes their parents are angry and anxious as they cope with the post-traumatic stress that often follows combat.
The U.S. Army recognizes the impact of these challenges and is taking proactive steps to help families.
Each year, the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) hosts a symposium where wounded soldiers, veterans and their families gather to prioritize the top challenges facing the wounded warrior community. During the weeklong event, the children ages 6 to 17 attend Operation Purple®, an urban adventure camp hosted by the National Military Family Association.
“For the first time, I didn’t feel alone,” said 12-year-old Savannah Cramblett, whose mother sustained significant injuries while on active duty in Iraq. “My friends at school don’t understand what my family is going through, but the kids at Operation Purple® camp did. I enjoyed the horseback riding, trip to Sea World and even swimming. These are memories, I will never forget.”
“AW2 Advocates recognize that parents’ injuries affect children deeply,” said AW2 director, Col. Jim Rice. “They work closely with the families to connect the children with organizations that provide a wide variety of resources for military children, such as counseling, sports and recreation activities and tutoring. The AW2 Advocate also encourages family members to discuss their feelings about the injury and recovery—it’s important for families to heal together.”
In spite of all the challenges, many children develop a stronger appreciation for their parents’ military service and resilience in facing an often overwhelming situation.
At the camp, one child wrote on a poster, “I love my dad because he loves me, takes me to the pool and lost his foot for my freedom.”
Cramblett added, “My mom looks like an ordinary person, but she’s amazing. She fought for our country and she’s so strong in spite of her injury.”
For more about the Army’s efforts to support wounded warriors and their families, visit the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) blog at http://AW2.army live.dodlive.mil/.