November 13, 2005

Shaken Up

paint_shaker.jpgI was listening to the radio the other night on the way to the gym. Turned out to be "Married to the Military," a documentary from American Radioworks about the challenges of life in a military town, Fayetteville, NC, home to Fort Bragg. The few minutes I caught were especially relevant to dads.

  • Obviously, it's a tiny percentage, but kids near NC's military bases are twice as likely to be murdered by their parents as kids in other parts of the state.
  • Military parents are often quite young and lack crucial family support systems nearby. The extensive military-provided support resources are often under-utilized or under-publicized.
  • Soldiers often proved wary of programs they knew about, too:
    "We used to have a smaller program that was called Boot Camp for Daddies. It was trying to teach a father how to take care of his child. Well, if you think about it, soldiers don't have a real attractive view of their boot camp. So we changed the name to, you know, Babies 101 for Dads, and then we had an increase in the number of people who came to that."

    Getting good attendance at the dads' class could save lives. McEvoy of the Child Advocacy Center says Fort Bragg and the surrounding communities have higher than average rates of shaken baby syndrome.

    McEvoy explains, "Babies that are shaken or thrown against the wall or on the floor of that type of thing. And a lot of people just don't know not to shake the baby."

    Read or listen to the whole program at American RadioWorks. [publicradio.org]
    Don't shake babies. I repeat, DON'T. SHAKE. BABIES. [dontshake.com]

  • 2 Comments

    Great post. Thanks for the thoughts. Really apprecaite the info. I had to link it on my site. Great job...

    There are resources but many Soldiers that live the "warrior ethos" still have a hard time seeking help. A friend of mine in my old Marine reserve unit went to Iraq when his daughter was four months old and when he came back, eight months later, she was frightened of him because she had no idea who he was. My friendís wife was home alone with (2) very young kids but all she kept on saying was that she couldn't have imagined if he had been in the Army and had been deployed IN COMBAT for 18 months. They both said the adjustment back to home life was very difficult and took many weeks. This coming from a 35-year-old very well adjusted Middle School teacher.

    Dealing with the stress and anxiety as a young 20 year old would be exceptionally difficult with few financial resources (the pay for an E1-E4 is $1235.10-$1957.80 per month with a about $200 for combat pay if you in a war zone). A lot of this boils down to a support structure back home that is there (sometimes), but often not utilized. The financial burden can spiral out of control and can lead to terrible problems in the family. Not only is the child abuse rate high, but it also appears that the suicide rate is rising as well (though it is still lower than the general population). It appears that the military is addressing these problems but the longer this war lasts, the problems will only continue to mount.

    ìFighting them over there so we donít have to fight them hereî may be a nice camping slogan but there are quite a few casualties on the home front that will never be counted and that have no voice.

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