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Worry for the Kiddos

"I know that there are children out there that won't be developing problems for a good while. But once they come back and go off active duty there's no help from the military for our families, and that greatly concerns me.”

That statement was made to me last week by Laura Stultz, wife of the Army Reserve’s top general. We were discussing the challenges the Reserve and Guard, in particular, will be facing as the Soldiers come home and the budgets start shrinking.

Stultz is the voice of experience. When her husband, Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, returned from Desert Storm in the early ‘90s he came back to a very troubled 9-year-old. Their son was full of anger. He would start crying for no apparent reason in school and get teased by his classmates. They thought his emotional turmoil would get better when dad came home. Instead, it got worse.

The early 1990s were not a resource rich time in the Reserve’s history, and Stultz did not know to expect struggles from her son or what to do about them when they came. Eventually the family ended up in counseling, trying to understand what it was their son was feeling.

Now, with a drawdown coming and resources dwindling, both Stultz and Lt. Gen. Stultz are worried that families will find themselves in the same positions they did. Not all deployment related problems show their heads at convenient times, when the Soldier is still activated, counseling is still easily available and you know where to go for help.

The good news is that the Reserve’s leaders see the problem coming down the track and are trying to figure out something to do about it. The bad news is they do not yet really have a plan. So far their best solution is running an address collection campaign to make sure their monthly magazine is hitting as many families as possible and a new survey to see what kinds of resources families are looking for.

Here’s the question: if you were leaders with increasingly limited resources, what would you do?

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