Saluting the Military: Resources for Counselors

flag-lBy Sabrina Bong

As one of the youngest on both sides of my family, I have grown up admiring my wonderful older cousins. All of them have, in their own way, blazed a trail for me, and I have always dreamed of “impressing” them as I’ve grown up. However, several of my cousins deserve recognition for not only being excellent role models, but for serving their country.

In addition to having both grandfathers serve in the military, several of my uncles and cousins have followed suit, and for that, I am forever grateful and proud of them.

Though my family is always close to my heart, the Fourth of July is an opportunity for me to really think about what my grandfathers, uncles, and cousins have fought for: freedom, liberty, happiness, safety. The holiday also gives me time to think about everyone in the military and how this service affects families around the world.

Recently, I was browsing on Pinterest (my latest addiction) and found several pins that give talking points and book suggestions for children whose parents are in the military. It was encouraging to see that people were discussing this important topic. While I can talk about having family serving overseas, it’s harder for me to completely understand what a child is going through when their mom or dad is deployed.

Though I have not used some of these particular books or activities, I do believe some of them may come in handy for educators and counselors. Below is a list of books, activities, and blogs that can be helpful when talking with military children.

  1. Hero Mom / Hero Dad – by Melinda Hardin. Both of these books discuss the roles of a mom or dad who is in the military and some of the different jobs they may do while they are deployed. However, the book also stresses that one of the most important jobs they perform is that of a mom or dad, no matter how far away they are. (I would recommend this book more for elementary school students.)
  2. Night Catchby Brenda Ehrmantraut. Again, this book talks about how difficult it is for children who have parents who are deployed far away. This book follows the tale of a boy and his father playing “catch” with the North Star, since no matter where they are, they are still sleeping underneath the same stars. This book is more geared towards elementary school students as well.
  3.  Dealing with Deployment: A Small-Group Curriculum for Elementary and Middle School Students – by the American School Counselor Association. This curriculum was developed by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to explore students’ feelings when parents are sent overseas. The curriculum can be used for a small group or can be adapted for individual sessions.
  4. Deployment: Strategies for Working with Kids in Military Familiesby Karen Petty, PhD. This handbook offers strategies and tips for counselors and educators who are working with students who are separated from their parents, whether through deployment, death, or divorce. This is more based for elementary school students, but could probably be adapted to use with middle school students.

If you are curious about any more of these resources, you can visit School Counselor Blog (where I get a lot of my resources and tips.)

May you all have a happy Fourth of July! Thank you again to all of my family members who served: I am so proud to call you mine!

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