Twice a day, Koen Hughes's medicine alarm goes off. He yells across the kitchen to his father, a retired Army Staff Sgt, an Iraq war veteran. He suffers from such a severe brain injury that it is hard for him to remember things such as whether he showered, and even HOW TO shower. Koen, who is 10, is always by his father side to make sure he has taken his anti-seizure pills, double checking his medicine box, and squinting as he monitors his father's behavior. Koen's father is what he calls a "wounded parent."
In households nationwide, hundreds of thousands of wounded parents have come home from wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, and their children struggle with navigating these 'invisible wounds'--traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which together can afflict an estimated 30 percent of the 2.7 million former troops.
I decided to look at war/terror is a different aspect for this blog. I am specifically interested in the effects that war may have on children. We are taught that if we go into the army, we are given so many benefits, it is a life-changing experience, financial conflicts are taken care of, etc. However, we are not presented with the information that it can negatively affect your life post-war. This article is specifically interesting because it provides not only Koen's story but several children's experiences with a parent that has returned from the war. I think the biggest impact on children is that they are forced to almost take on a parental role, and lose some of the child that they are. For example, depending on the extent of the parent's injuries, children may not be able to run to their father and yell "Boo!" in a jokingly matter because of them being afraid of their parent's reaction. Going into the military may offer some positive benefits, but it is important to think of your life post-war, especially if you have children at home.