A Pennsylvania mental health agency has received more than half a million dollars in grant money from the federal government to expand its services for military families.
“KidsPeace” near Allentown, Pa., has run a website for teens for more than a decade. Kids can find articles, resources, listen to pod casts, and send in questions and concerns. Their questions are answered by a professional counselor within 24 hours. With the federal grant dollars, “KidsPeace” will expand this model and add a section directed toward military kids.
Dr. Julius Licata, who heads the organization’s web efforts, said the website allows kids to post questions and issues anonymously, which makes them feel comfortable.
“They can talk about the things that they are going through that they don’t want to share with other people,” said Licata. “They can talk about some of the things in their lives that they don’t understand, they feel very free to open up and talk because nobody knows who they are. This gives them the ability to know that there’s someone who cares, someone who is listening.”
Licata says military children face many challenges–a parent’s return from a war zone, long deployments, maybe even the loss of a parent. There’s also a sense of disconnect because military families tend to move a lot.
“They don’t have the bonds that some of our kids that have been in the same place most of their lives have, having their friends with them all the time and so they feel very alienated,” he said.
Having resources and support available online is a practical approach for this mobile group, said Licata. “KidsPeace” also will expand its existing website for parents to address issues facing military families.