Children of War Veterans Deprived of Their Childhood


“Many children of Veterans with PTSD are deprived of a carefree childhood. Real emotional closeness is difficult for many of us, and in our homes we are over-protective and over-demanding. Our children grow up afraid they will never measure up to our expectations, and we tend to emphasize achievement as ‘the golden rule’.

I attest to being instrumental in forcing my teenage daughter into maturity at a young age. I wanted her to ‘get and early start’ on life. It boiled down to my lack of patience in living with her, with what I thought were useless years of childhood. She finished high school at the age of fifteen and was into a career school at sixteen. The problem is this: We have difficulty accepting child-like behaviour because we’re afraid it leaves our kids too vulnerable.

When our family members see us isolating ourselves and numbing our emotions, they begin to believe that this is the way life is supposed to be lived. The wife forgets how to laugh, and our children grow up afraid of making any loud and sudden noises, which are a natural part of growing up. As a result, they begin to avoid intimate contact because they quickly learn that they invariably get hurt when they get close to someone they love.”

This is an excerpt from the booklet, ‘Nam Vet – Making Peace with Your Past’ by Chuck Dean.

Over the last three CBN Conferences in Virginia Beach , it has become increasingly clear that there is a real need for Point Man to begin expanding our realm of ministry. The area of neglect has been information that will help veterans and their wives understand exactly how their children have been affected by PTSD in the home.

In the book, ‘Vietnam Wives’ by Matsakis, we found a list of common psychological or behavioral problems in children of Vietnam Veterans suffering from PTSD. They are:

  1. Low self-esteem (83%)

  2. Developmental difficulties in school (79%)

  3. Aggressiveness (77%)

  4. Impaired social relationships (69%)

  5. Symptoms similar to those of the Veteran (65%)

  6. Feeling responsible for the Veteran’s emotional well-being (57%)

  7. Ambivalent feelings towards the mother (42%)

  8. Preoccupation with power and death (28%)

  9. Nightmares, daydreams, or other forms of preoccupation with events which were traumatic to the Veteran (22%)

  10. Hatred of people from other countries, especially those from where they served (14%)

  11. Self-mutilation (10%)

Another area of hardship is when children either become step-children to a Veteran, or a Veteran divorces and keeps his kids and remarries a woman who has absolutely no idea what she is dealing with. The step-child issue is one that can be difficult to deal with without the grace of God in your life. Before Chuck and I had the Lord in our lives, I had no idea at all with ‘his’ kids. We each had our own kids when we married, and since we each had custody of our children we automatically had a houseful! I never did let go of the attitudes of ‘yours’ and ‘mine’.His kids were always a pain to deal with, one was over-emotional and ec we had caused centric and the other was quiet and brooding (mine of course were the perfect children!) I was always so into my ‘own thing’ I didn’t give much thought or attention to the wounding in their lives which was manifesting in their words and actions.

The more I would ask the Lord to change my heart in every area, the more He would give me compassion, understanding and love for the children. As I sought the Lord to help me care more for my husband’s and children’s well-being than my own (with no thought as to whether they were his kids or my kids) I began to really SEE the wounding, pray over and break generational curses when needed, repent for the wounding we had caused, seek their forgiveness and then witness real victory.

Although the Lord has healed Chuck of his PTSD, there is still a lot for us to deal with as far as the children are concerned. The wounding has been deep and God shows us different areas one at a time to open up, to get the infection out, pour on the healing balm of Gilead, and sew back up with the Word of God.

I believe that for many Veteran Couples the beginning of the road to recovery is being confronted with the mess we’ve made of our children and crying out to God to help us straighten them out. As we begin to reach out and minister to our own children, instead of being so engrossed in our own problems, true restoration begins. Beginning to deal with the by-product of a dysfunctional family may not be an enjoyable venture, but as we seek the Lord’s grace and mercy and healing virtue in the lives of our children as well as the family as a whole, we begin to see the awesomeness of our God.

Philippians 1:6 says, “…that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion”. God would not put you on the path of recovery (through articles like this one, Homefront Meetings, conferences, etc.) if it were not His will for your family to receive His healing! As we begin to seek Him for the healing of our children, let’s remember what it says in James 1:2-5, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him”. In faith, we must cry out to God for wisdom. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”.

It is time for us all to give up! We can’t do it without the Lord – just look at the mess we’ve all made on our own! Whether you have a relationship with Jesus already or not, let’s right now pray a prayer of total surrender to the Great Commanding Officer – surrendering not only ourselves, but our husbands, our kids, and our families as a whole…

Dear Lord – I’ve tried for too long to do this on my own and I know that I can’t do it anymore without you. Right now I CHOOSE to surrender my life and my will, my husband ___________, and my children___________ and our family as a whole into your care. Forgive me for trying to live my life apart from you and denying your love for me through your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray for wisdom and understanding of your will and your Word as you guide our family through the healing you have for us. Show me, through your Holy Spirit, the wounding in my children. Lead us, by your Holy Spirit, through the healing process, that we may give You the honour and glory. In Jesus Name I pray, AMEN.