The Military Program

Coping with the Loss or Absence of a Parent Deployed in the Military Program

Since 9/11 over 1 million children have had a parent deployed in the military. This program also uses an active Socratic discussion format to help children identify feelings associated with losing a parent who is killed in action, coping with a parent who returns home disabled, or coping with the absence of a parent who is deployed. Strategies for actively coping with and altering feelings associated with incapacity such as helplessness are highlighted. A story-telling program and DVD presentation in which the true story of a friendship between a wild dolphin and a human is presented.

Aspects of the story that involve the human and dolphin ways of coping with loss, death, and being reunited with an injured loved one are emphasized. An activity program in which children rehearse strategies for coping with grief, loss, and anxiety about a deployed loved one is followed by a brief summary discussion. This program has a component in which teenagers who are from families of active military personnel can learn to run the program for other younger children from active military families. We have discovered that training teenagers to run the program with adult supervision not only provides education and intervention for the younger children, but also empowers and consolidates the self-esteem and coping mechanisms among the teenaged leaders. Running time: 70-90 minutes.