Childhood Traumatic Grief Resources for Military Children and Families

Military children also serve our country. Since 2001, thousands of military children have experienced the death of a parent during America’s longest war. Many other children have lost their service siblings, cousins, and other relatives. These children may develop traumatic grief responses, including intrusive images of their loved one’s death or trying to avoid these thoughts; negative thoughts and feelings about the death, and physical symptoms, such as trouble sleeping and difficulty concentrating and feeling calm. These can interfere with the child’s ability to recall comforting memories of the person who died and make it more difficult to grieve. Traumatic grief may interfere with everyday activities, such as being with friends and doing schoolwork. There are unique aspects of military family death that those who care for or work with grieving military children should know.

The NCTSN has listed below many resources to help parents, caregivers, and other adults understand the signs of childhood traumatic grief in military children, help these children cope with their grief, and locate a mental health professional.

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NCTSN Resources for Military Children and Families

Helping Military Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Parents (PDF) 
Gives information on the feelings of military children dealing with the death of someone close to them and what you can do to help.  

Helping Military Children with Traumatic Grief: Tip Sheet for Educators (PDF) 
Offers information on the feelings children dealing with trauma and grief responses and how you can help them.

Traumatic Grief in Military Children
This series provides culturally competent materials for educating families, medical professionals, and school personnel on how to best serve military children who are experiencing traumatic grief.

Traumatic Grief in Military Children: Information for Educators (2008) (PDF)
Traumatic Grief in Military Children: Information for Families (2008) (PDF)
Traumatic Grief in Military Children: Information for Medical Providers (2008) (PDF)

Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma: Child Traumatic Grief Webinar Speaker Series

Childhood Traumatic Grief: Issues and Interventions Related to Military Children  
In this webinar, Heather Campagna and Robin Goodman address child traumatic grief within the context of a military family including why a military death is different, the use of TF-CBT, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.


Additional Resources 

Mental Health America, Helping Children Cope with Loss Resulting from War or Terrorism (PDF)
Overview of how to assist children who are coping with loss as a result of war or terrorist acts. Includes toll free number for accessing additional resources (800-969-6642).

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
800-959-TAPS (8277) (24-hour hotline)
Comprehensive resource for all who are grieving the death of a loved one serving our country.