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War worries Hill Field students

CLEARFIELD — For many students at Hill Field Elementary, the threat of war means Mom or Dad might be deployed.

Principal Shauna Lund said she sees that concern in the classroom, when discussions about the Constitution become personal, and with student achievement. She said one student suddenly started missing assignments.

"As I'm talking to him he just started crying and said 'I'm just worried about my dad,' " Lund said.

About 100 parents attended a presentation Thursday night at Hill Field Elementary School that aimed to help families better handle children's anxieties when a parent is deployed.

The information session was offered in partnership with Hill Air Force Base and Davis Behavioral Health.

Lund said the school held the event to let parents know there are resources and a network of support, as well as information to help them better understand their child's behavior.

Joan Newton of Oklahoma attended the event with her daughter. She took care of her two grandchildren once before when her daughter was deployed for six months.

Her 2-year-old granddaughter was almost potty trained when her mother left and she reverted back to old ways, and her 10-year-old grandson also struggled.

"(We) would have conflicts because he was missing his mother," she said. "It's hard on the kids. They're scared, they're upset, their routines are disturbed."

Newton said she feels a little more prepared in the event she has to handle the situation again after attending the presentation.

Davis Behavioral Health counselor Marty Hood told parents to listen to their children, be aware of what children see and read in the media and to be prepared for difficult questions, such as "Is Daddy going to have to kill families?"

She said children often become angry or fear the other parent will also leave and become clingy.

Parents should try to keep as many routines as possible and give their children a lot of affection, she said.

"You can't fix it for them . . . but you can help them cry. You can be there for them," she said. "Their lives are changing dramatically and they have no say about it."

Representatives from HAFB told parents about resources in the Family Support Center such as telephone and e-mail programs, teleconferencing and child care assistance.

Parents Michael and Roseann Shea attended the event because Michael is on a team that will be deployed soon. While he's been away before, this time will be different, Roseann said.

"We don't know if we'll be able to talk, how long he'll be gone, where he'll be," she said. "It's a whole different type of going away."