Staff Captain Sven Loik of the German Hardship Foundation and Board Member Rainer Krotz of the Catholic Family Foundation now symbolically presented the book at a meeting in Berlin to Military Vicar General Reinhold Bartmann for the Catholic Military Chaplaincy, Military Dean General Matthias Heimer for the Protestant Military Chaplaincy and Andras Hecker for the Jewish Military Chaplaincy. Starting in April, the new children's book will be used by the military chaplaincy, the medical service, the psychological service of the German Armed Forces and the social service of the German Armed Forces in their work with soldiers' families when there is a corresponding psychological strain on parents.
The volume is designed for children aged four to eight and was conceived and implemented by Dr. Peter Wendl, Alexandra Ressel and Peggy-Puhl-Regler on the part of the ZFG together with the illustrator Ilonka Baberg. Expert advice was provided by Oberstarzt Prof. Dr. Peter Zimmermann from the Psychotrauma Center of the German Armed Forces. “Anxiety and depression are highly prevalent medical conditions in our society. Members of the armed forces in particular may be exposed to specific stress situations in their jobs – such as deployments to crisis areas or years of commuting and long-distance relationships. If a parent actually has a mental illness, it also affects the family environment and, in particular, the children", explains Dr. Peter Wendl.
In an age-appropriate way, the book explains why mom or dad appear to have changed and are often sad. In this way, the team of authors wants to help children to better classify their own perceptions and articulate needs and fears. Wendl says: "Children have the most limited possibility to actually comprehend strong changes in their parents and therefore not infrequently look for the blame on themselves or become more and more silent because they do not want to disturb their sick parents."
When reading the book to their children, however, also adult relatives and those affected can receive impulses for themselves or the therapy work can be complemented by the book. In addition, it is a concern of those involved to counteract a general social insecurity with clinical pictures such as anxiety, depression or even trauma.
The book also continues a ZFG children's book series that was launched several years ago in cooperation with the Catholic Military Bishop's Office (KMBA) and addresses topics such as weekend relationships and challenges of deployments abroad. In her most recent annual report, Dr. Eva Högl, the German Bundestag's Commissioner for the Armed Forces, explicitly cites this series as an example "of the commitment of pastoral care to assist soldiers with children in their everyday lives." The ZFG has been cooperating with the KMBA for more than 20 years to research the effects of the soldier's profession on partnership, family and upbringing, as well as for the accompaniment of families and couples in the context of deployments abroad, long-distance relationships or phases of crisis.
All members of the Armed Forces can order a free copy of the book from their military parish office, the Armed Forces Hospital or Medical Support Center, the Social Service or the Armed Forces Psychological Service starting in April, while supplies last. The book can also be purchased in bookstores via ISBN: 978-3-451-71705-5.
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