Fort Liberty school psychologist: Deployments always tough on children

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Thursday, October 19, 2023
Fort Liberty school psychologist prepares for potential deployments
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With tensions on the rise in the Middle East, concerns about deployment of U.S. troops to the region hit close to home in North Carolina.

FORT LIBERTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- With tensions on the rise in the Middle East, concerns about the deployment of U.S. troops to the region hit close to home in North Carolina.

The Pentagon has announced that 2,000 troops have been placed on heightened alert, meaning they would need to be ready on a 24-hour notice instead of the normal 96-hour notice.

So far, no official orders have been announced for soldiers at Fort Liberty, but the local community is already preparing to support military families if that happens.

For four decades, Dr. Mark Pisano has been a school psychologist working with the Department of Defense in Fayetteville. He said that after years of quiet, those military families could be tested.

"They're realizing that there's going to be that separation again like it was when we were deploying every six or seven months like during Operation Desert Storm," he said.

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Pisano said tackling a deployment is always a difficult subject for children. Pisano has worked alongside Sesame Street for a military family curriculum and also has "mommy and daddy dolls" with a uniform that a child can insert a family photo and carry around with them.

He said that unlike in past conflicts, technology is both a blessing and a curse. Though access to scary images of war is more accessible than ever, advanced technology is also making it easier for families to keep in contact during a deployment.

"It could be a mother or father in a tank, you know, when they're talking with their child about a test that they have tomorrow or whether or not the son made the football team," he said.

Pisano said communication with teachers is key, especially in civilian schools. He said it's important for parents to let a school know about their situation, because symptoms of the stress and anxiety of having a parent deployed such as lack of focus in school could be mistaken for ADHD and it's important not to get an improper diagnosis and that the school is looped in on the full picture.

He also said it's important for the civilian community to be understanding and supportive, something he said that luckily in Fayetteville tends to be the case.