Children’s mental health and war

New scientific surveys show that the government is not only willing to sacrifice thousands of veterans on the altar of greed and expansionism through wars, but their children as well.

Science Daily reports that the children of soldiers deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Why does the military always name their actions the opposite of what they are?) for longer times were more likely to have mental health issues than those whose parents were not deployed.

We have known for a long time that children of soldiers deployed in our imperialist wars are more likely than others to have mental problems, but this study brings us up to date on our recent conflicts. The authors say, “As troops face dynamic and evolving threats (e.g., an increasingly sophisticated array of roadside explosive devices) the need to anticipate the psychological consequences for their children and to offer timely intervention becomes increasingly important.”

Alyssa J. Mansfield, PhD of the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and colleagues conducted the study, which involved 307,520 children 5 to 17 years old. 51,355 were found to have mental health issues, “most often for stress disorders, depression, behavioral problems and sleep disorders.”

For kids with at least one parent deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, the study found that the longer the deployment or redeployment, the more likely it would be that a mental problem would be found in a child.

The study turned up 6,579 children of parents from Iraq deployments who were diagnosed for “acute stress reaction and adjustment disorders, depressive disorders and behavioral disorders.”

“Similar to findings among military spouses,” says the report, “prolonged deployment appears to be taking a mental health toll on children.”

There is clearly a problem, but with a simple solution: Either don’t deploy soldiers who have children to combat zones or do not allow people with children to join the armed services in the first place. What is more important? Killing people overseas, or being killed by them, or having happy, mentally healthy children (and adults) at home?

I’m afraid we all know the answer to that one.

Photo: Thomas Hawk // CC 2.0


Thomas Riggins
Thomas Riggins

Thomas Riggins has a background in philisophy, anthropology and archeology. He writes from New York, NY. Riggins was associate editor of Political Affairs magazine.