Devin Varejcka is a high school student who suffered when a parent was deployed by the military. Now he is sharing his experience with others: "We've really kind of lived it, and we just want to get it out and tell people about it so other kids don't have it as hard as we did."
Devon and his peers from the Nebraska National Guard Teen Council poured out their stories of military family life, its trials and its traumas. The wounds were still fresh...
Devin Varejcka: "During my middle school years, you know, everything's changing and stuff, and I didn't have my dad to tell me what exactly to do, and and how to deal with it."
Listening to the stories at UNK's annual Child Welfare Conference were social work students, the counselors of tomorrow.
The conference explored the emotional cycles of deployment under current military campaigns, and helped future social workers better understand the issues and experiences of military families and their children.
More frequent deployments of undetermined length produce anxiety for youngsters, and the over 100 UNK social work majors who attended the conference will be soon be positioned to intervene.
UNK social work lecturer Nadine Stuehm spoke about her student in attendance: "They will be in various agencies, child welfare safe centers, mental health institutes, and so they may not work directly with military families per se, but every agency we work with has those children."
The conference struck an emotional chord with front line tales from military members and their children.
UNK student Tasia Aden: "I think everyone in the room connected with their stories. The teen council is what I think got everyone to hear what they were feeling and how it impacted their life."