CRYSTAL CITY, Va. -Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) officials facilitated a breakout session during the 2009 FORSCOM Family Readiness Group Training Symposium today, Oct. 8, about a program designed to help concerned professionals and parents support military children through challenging times.

MCEC Executive Director Mary Keller and MCEC member Patricia Shinseki talked about Living in the New Normal (LINN), a system for educating adults how to empower military children to cope with issues of separation, parents with multiple deployments and losing a parent in combat.

"Your children are courageous, and like you they are serving too. They understand that service means a lot of sacrifice," Shinseki said. "We also understand by promoting an environment of resilience, which is the ability to bounce back, we are going to be able to help children thrive throughout this period (of a nation at war)."

The LINN system is comprised of three components: professional development, resources and public engagement. The professional development component includes a graduate level, two-day institute that is designed for guidance counselors, school psychologists and other concerned professionals and a one-day, practicum training that provides hands-on and practical resources for childcare first-responders. The resources component includes literature lists of vetted books related to resilience, trauma and grief in children and helpful websites to provide the most current and relevant information. The third component consists of public engagement activities.

Shinseki said the principles guiding the LINN system are as follows: recognize and encourage the courage of children, acknowledge the positive attributes of military children, promote an environment of resilience, understand children grieve, refrain from victimizing children who grieve, and respect their cultural traditions, belief systems and privacy.

We help kids not only by listening with our ears but also by observing with our eyes and understanding with our hearts that children grieve, she said.

Keller told FORSCOM FRG leaders that the use of children's literature is a paramount component to the LINN system. She also advised FRG members to bring and read children's books during FRG events to aid in helping children to express how they feel.

"Honestly, what we want to do is help (children) to grow and thrive; bottom line," Keller added.

FRG leaders attending the FORSCOM symposium were very familiar with the need for such a system as most-if not all-are parents. Clark Hoffman, a Fort Lewis, Wash., Family Readiness Support Assistant, looked forward to sharing information about the LINN system with Families at his installation.

The Living in the New Normal session was enlightening, Hoffman said. This program helps parents to identify when their children need extra support.
Also from Fort Lewis, Corrina Jones agreed programs such as LINN can be an asset to Army Families.

"My children are 20 and 21 now and went through two deployments before they moved out," she said. "LINN helps parents stop and realize troubling situations in their children's lives.

Jones didn't realize until this year that one of her children struggled with depression all through high school due to her husband's deployments.

The MCEC is a non-profit organization with the goal of "leveling the playing field" for all military children as they transiA,A!tion from one school to another and from one community to another. For more information about MCEC or LINN, visit the MCEC Web site at

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16