WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2012 – A new Defense Department website is connecting military children -- whether it’s across town or across the world -- who are dealing with a loved one’s deployment. The website, Military Kids Connect, offers military children an online community where they can learn about deployments, recognize and share feelings, and develop coping skills.
Psychologists from the DOD’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology developed the site to build on military kids’ strength and resilience, especially as they deal with the unique stressors of military life.
Ten-year olds Jason and John Carlson stare intently at the family computer as they play an online game together. They are comparing two photos to identify the differences, but the photos are not ordinary scenes.
A service member puts on a headset with a screen for each eye. He’s given a joystick that’s built with low-frequency vibrations and sounds, mirroring the vehicle he drove while on the battlefield. As he navigates through the virtual combat world, his head movements are tracked with an orientation system. Pre-fabricated smells mimicking burning rubber and weapons firing are released into the air, and the service member ventures into virtual war.
Even as military officials continue to work on easing the stigma of seeking help for mental health issues, many service members remain loath to admit they suffer post-traumatic stress disorder or have suicidal thoughts, according to a study published recently in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
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