Caring for military children in the 21st century

Heather L. Johnson, Catherine G. Ling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: Civilian healthcare professionals provide approximately 2/3 of the healthcare for the 2 million U.S. military children. The President of the United States has made their care and support a top national security priority. The purpose of this article is to arm NPs with information necessary to care for the 21st century military child by providing current data on military family life, deployments, and the impact on children and their health-seeking behaviors. Data sources: Literature collected from sources identified through searches of PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycInfo covering the periods from 2003 to 2012. Conclusions: Military children are both resilient and vulnerable. While frequent moves build resilience, combat deployments increase the risk for abuse, neglect, attachment problems, and inadequate coping. The risk is highest right after the service member leaves for deployment and immediately upon return. Children's reactions to deployment differ by age, gender, and individual temperament. There is an 11% increase in outpatient visits for mental or behavioral health issues during deployment. Implications for practice: Healthcare professionals can support the physical and mental health of children by normalizing expectations and using the I CARE (Identify, Correlate, Ask, Ready Resources, Encourage) strategy to facilitate prevention and encourage early engagement with available resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-202
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral health
  • Children
  • Combat
  • Deployment
  • Family
  • Military

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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