Film to help families of deployed warriors

Darci Marchese,

WASHINGTON – Everyday life can be challenging for families who have loved ones at war, but the holidays are especially tough.

Now several groups have come together to offer some help and support to military families left behind.

Paul Allen’s independent film production company, Vulcan Productions, produced a documentary titled “This Emotional Life.”

It’s a compelling look at what spouses go through before, during and after challenging deployments.

Bonnie Benjamin Pharris with Vulcan Productions says they worked with the military, veterans organizations and the Department of Defense to produce the documentary that first aired on PBS.

The film was then turned into an educational DVD and handbook that’s being distributed to military families for free.

Dr. Michael Kilpatrick with the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Help and Traumatic Brain Injury is excited to see the video since “people don’t know where to turn for support.”

Many times military families live far from other relatives and the support isn’t there. He says the new tool kit offers some great guidance for the spouse left behind.

“The spouse that stays home has to become the manager of the hearth and home if you will,” says Kilpatrick.

Statistics show the average age of service members in Iraq and Afghanistan have children 5 years old or younger. Spouses left behind must become single parents.

Many times, Kilpatrick says “the children often feel that they’ve done something wrong and the parent has left them and there’s a lot of acting out that may go on.”

The impact of deployments are real.

Statistics from the Department of Defense show young children in military families are about 10 percent more likely to see a doctor for a mental difficulty when a parent is deployed. Wives of servicemen sent to war are significantly more likely to develop mental health problems than those of husbands who stay home.

To help combat some of the lasting effects, the video is being distributed to 200,000 military families through corporate donors and the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

For more information and to receive a free toolkit, click here.

(Copyright 2010 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)

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