Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

As America viewed the first massive deployment of its all-volunteer force at the beginning of the first Persian Gulf War, one journalist commented:

When this war is over, Americans need to do some serious thinking about the all-volunteer armed forces, the one legacy of the Vietnam War with which the nation seemed comfortable. Among other things, we have to decide whether a single parent, and, in many cases, both parents, should be deployed in war zones.
Is the nation's reliance on an army of volunteers worth the emotional grief that comes from ripping military parents away from their children? Do the children of American servicemen and women have to be the first casualties of war?

The composition of the United States force that deployed to the Persian Gulf at that time confronted the American people with a specter that many found agonizing—a significant number of children, sometimes very young children, were left at home without a parent. Although military deployment of soldiers has always entailed emotional disruption of families, in past wars, the American military was made up mostly of unmarried young males. Thus, military deployment was not nearly as likely to leave large numbers of children at home without a parent. This Article addresses the new harsh, adverse consequences of foreign deployment of military forces for military personnel, and especially for some of their younger children. Part II addresses these consequences and how they were brought about by changes in the population of the armed services. Part III addresses adverse consequences of depriving very young children entirely of the presence of their parents. Part IV concludes with a proposal that Congress restrict the power of the military to deploy both parents or a single parent of preschool children.

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