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Hero Missions was developed to address the overwhelming needs and vulnerabilities that children of wounded, ill,  injured veterans suffer from.  Research indicates that when a veteran is injured, either visibly or invisibly their children often times suffer from a multitude of profound, long-lasting consequences such as stress, anxiety, depression, poor academic performance, and behavioral problems.

When an wounded, ill, and injured veteran exhibits visible injuries their children are likely forced to take on new roles and responsibilities within the family unit including caregiver, which is typically what the child needs most, but is likely not receiving.  The increase in responsibilities coupled with the emotional disturbance of witnessing a parent in constant debilitating pain typically elevates the child's stress and anxiety levels leaving the child in an unhealthy and unstable life pattern.

Moreover, when a wounded, ill, and injured veteran exhibits invisible injuries the consequences to their children pose even more complex challenges.  The children of the injured veteran tend to be confused and extremely vulnerable because invisible injuries such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression and health risk behaviors (i.e. increased use in alcohol and/or prescription drugs, and suicidal behavior) dramatically change the veteran's personality and behavior without changing his or her physical appearance. This phenomenon of looking the same, but not acting the same is known as injury duality, and it is very troubling for children to comprehend.  Thus many children of injured veterans will exhibit or develop symptoms of depression, acting out, disobedience, tantrums, feelings of embarrassment about the injured parents appearance or behavior, feelings of isolation, or may even become detached and withdrawn from a healthy society.

Hero Missions is very much needed because most current services for children of wounded, ill, and injured veterans focus only on the needs of the veteran rather than those of their families including their children.  The severity of stress, the proximity of wide range exposure to traumatic experience, the caregivers' functional capacity, and the available social support systems all play a crucial role in the outcome for the injured veterans children.  Although children tend to be extremely resilient and while children of combat injured veterans are developing an enormous amount of strength, our purpose is to ensure that they also have all the necessary resources to provide them with a successful outcome in life.


Summer Duncan


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