URBANA, Ill. – Military families still experience deployments, though not by the massive numbers they experienced between 2009-2013. Many of these families deal with the effects of injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Leanne Knobloch, University of Illinois communications professor, interviewed military youth age 10 to 13 years about their experiences during a family member’s deployment. She and her research colleagues found that during deployments these youth experienced changes, challenges, and opportunities.

Changes included adopting more responsibilities, grappling with shifts in daily routines, missing family traditions, and dealing with emotional issues. Their biggest challenges, Knobloch says, are missing absent family members, being responsible for more household tasks, maintaining positive relationships with siblings and the at-home parent, and problems managing daily routines.

They also reported positive outcomes from the opportunities they experienced: more self-sufficiency, new or unique experiences, and strengthened family ties.

University of Illinois Extension hosts children of veterans for a week of camp each summer, with support from Camp Corral, a nationwide nonprofit serving the children of wounded, ill, or fallen veterans. In 2010, Golden Corral founder, James Maynard, and his daughter sought ways to provide meaningful support for military families.

Andy Davis, Illinois Extension educator and Memorial camp director, has seen the positive benefits of having children interact with other children who share the same experiences can have. Since 2005, Davis has managed team-building programs for middle school, high school, university, and professional participants, and says it is an honor for him to serve the military-connected campers he meets. 

Registration is now open for the Military Family Camp on July 1 to 3 to be held at 4-H Memorial Camp near Monticello. Register at www.campcorral.org/camper-application.

SOURCE: Leanne Knobloch, University of Illinois, College of Communications
WRITER: Linda Hughes Kirchubel, University of Illinois Extension Communications Writer

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.