Children of Veterans Experience Trauma Secondhand

Children of Veterans Experience Trauma Secondhand, Advocates SayEducation Week describes why children of veterans can have difficulty in the classroom due to secondhand trauma and how a trauma-sensitive school can help.

“Wednesday’s shooting at Fort Hood has once again shined a spotlight on the mental health of veterans returning from combat.

The suspected gunman had a self-reported traumatic brain injury after he returned from a tour in Iraq in 2011, the New York Times reported, and military officials were in the process of evaluating him for post-traumatic stress disorder before he killed three people and wounded 16 others before turning the gun on himself. The mental-health issues of veterans are often swept under the rug due to lack of funding, a lack of public understanding, and a backlog of veterans’ benefits claims waiting to be processed, advocates say. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 11-20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTSD.

And many of the children of those veterans will likely suffer, too, military family groups say. Secondary traumatic stress, while not included in official diagnostic manuals, is common for children and spouses of military veterans, they say. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network defines secondary traumatic stress as “the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another. Its symptoms mimic those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Accordingly, individuals affected by secondary stress may find themselves re-experiencing personal trauma or notice an increase in arousal and avoidance reactions related to the indirect trauma exposure. They may also experience changes in memory and perception; alterations in their sense of self-efficacy; a depletion of personal resources; and disruption in their perceptions of safety, trust, and independence.'”

Continue reading on the Education Week site, to learn more about the secondhand trauma experienced by children of veterans, and how trauma-sensitive schools can help.

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