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Secondary PTSD in Children of Service Members: Strategies for Helping Professionals
Christine R. Cook, Andrea A. Slater-Williams, and Lynn R. Harrison
Military deployment affects not only the military service member, but also individuals surrounding the troops. Upon initiating the writing of this manuscript, the three authors discussed their various counseling efforts in relation to working with military members and their families. It is of note that although all the authors have worked with family members at various stages of deployment, and two have facilitated deployment groups for children, the services for families tended to focus on pre-deployment concerns and issues arising during deployment. None of the authors had facilitated groups for children after the deployed parent had returned. This is of particular significance because secondary post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in the post-deployment stage. Additionally, service members are often completing multiple deployments (Huebner & Mancini, 2008) and therefore services need to be continued for children throughout deployment and long after post-deployment. This article will review the deployment cycle, define PTSD and secondary PTSD, discuss possible impacts on children, and review strategies and resources recommended for practitioners working with this population.