Military deployments have many sides to them when it comes to the emotional toll, particularly for married couples with children. The separation and absence of a parent or parents is shown to have a direct impact on the mental health and well-being of children.
“It's proven that there's a mental health crisis among military children, even more so than just our general population because of the stressors they go through,” said Amy Schweizer.
She is married to an active-duty U.S. Marine and has three children. She’s dealt with deployments and the anguish trying to comfort her kids knowing her husband will be gone for long periods of time.
“They are going through the same things that we do as adults, so we're worried about their safety, we're stressed because we're doing everything by ourselves. There's kind of all these unknowns, and so they feel that as well just without the tools to handle it,” Schweizer said.
That’s why she decided to write a children's book to help military kids understand what they’re feeling and to give them guidance to help them manage.
“Putting into terms or they hear it, they're like, okay, like they can recognize I felt that way too,” she said.
The book entitled ‘I Will Be Okay – Adventures of a Military Kid’ was a pandemic project and she self-published on Amazon.
“I really love for everyone to share it as a tool,” she said.
The book takes the main character, Roman, through levels of separation, anxiety, and the feeling of loneliness when, due to distance, his grandmother can’t pay a visit. The character is then introduced to soccer to interact with more kids and get his mind off of his father being gone for so long.
“So, it's good for them to be exposed to those peer situations so that they form a sense of community, even though of course, they don't realize that as a child,” Schweizer said. “That's what we're fostering as parents is to give them support and, in this situation, just by having fun and playing soccer.
She adds that being active also directly helps with the child’s mental health and overall well-being. In addition, meeting other kids who are going through the same thing puts life events into more perspective.
Aside from the new children’s book Amy Schweizer also runs Tiny Troops Soccer.
“We have (it) in 17 states and on a couple bases overseas as well,” she explained.
It’s a youth soccer program that focuses on serving military children and their friends, according to the website.
Amy used to play for the Cincinnati Lady Hawks USL women’s league in 2004 and now uses her love of the game to help keep kids active and incorporates it as another tool in the toolbox to help military kids get through deployments.
“Just kind of as a feel-good story that okay, it was feeling weird. I wasn't sure how I was feeling but I see that it's settled down and everything's gonna be okay,” she said.