Although many service members have parents who are a key part of their support system, i.e., mothers and fathers who are very supportive of and strongly impacted by their son’s or daughter’s military service and life, resources and tools focused on their unique needs and concerns are challenging to find. Why are parents of service members often left out of the picture? One reason is that in most circumstances, these military-connected individuals do not qualify as military dependents as defined by the Department of Defense.
When you do an internet search to find resources or tools for parents of service members, see what pops up. Usually the results are confusing because website links and information related to military families and military parents, i.e., service members with children, show up. After more digging, you will eventually find some resources aimed at this particular population of parents—more than you would have discovered a decade ago—but they remain limited and hard to identify.
Recently, I found the website, Today’s Military, which has a helpful section for parents of service members that is worth spotlighting. If you go to https://www.todaysmilitary.com/parents and then click on Support for Parents, you will find useful suggestions and a video for connecting parents of adult military children with one another. Most of Today’s Military website appears to be a recruitment tool to help parents understand and support their adult child’s decision to enter the military and choose the right branch by educating them about the benefits of military service. But the section on Support for Parents provides links to groups and organizations that can help parents meet others who are on the same journey they are. While specific resources are not provided for emotional struggles or concerns related to having a military son or daughter, the recommendations and video in this section are a good starting point for those mothers and fathers who are seeking more general guidance and support as their adult child pursues a career in the military.
Below are tips taken directly from the Support for Parents section of Today’s Military website that you can pass along to parents of service members in your practice.
Supporting yourself is equally as important as supporting your child. Fortunately, there are millions of other military parents whom you can connect with for advice and support.
Connecting With Other Parents
To begin, we recommend finding fellow military parents at the local level:
Social media is also a great way to connect with other parents:
At the national level, established, well-known support groups also exist for military parents of various Service branches.
The video shared in the Support for Parents section of Today's Military (also provided below) is especially helpful. It has testimonials from a variety of parents with military sons and daughters who describe how they benefited by connecting with other parents who have walked in their shoes. In the video, different parents talk about joining groups like Blue Star Moms, Family Readiness Groups, and Facebook Groups, etc., and how important it is to develop a strong support network.
The opinions in CDP Staff Perspective blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science or the Department of Defense.
Paula Domenici, Ph.D., is a Director of Training and Education for the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. She oversees the development of courses and training programs for providers on evidence-based treatments for service members and veterans.