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Military children with absent parents at risk for social problems

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Kelsey Skillman's dad, Brad, has been in the military since she was an infant.  The Navy officer is now on his eighth deployment.

"I haven't really known a dad who is not in the military, so it seems really normal to me," Skillman said.

Kelsey is now 23. She and her two brothers grew up worrying and missing him whenever he went overseas. "It is kind of hard when no one understands what you're going through," Skillman said.

A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics says children whose parents serve during wartime are at an increased risk for social, emotional and behavioral problems. It calls on pediatricians to help families  find resources.

"One in four kids who have a loved one with a wartime deployment will show signs of depression and one in three will have excessive worrying and about one in two almost half will have trouble sleeping," said Dr. Andrew Garner with UH Case Medical Center.

During the last 10 years, about 2 million children have been separated from a parent on active duty. "What we know is that some of those effects become more severe the longer the service member has been gone," said Joyce Raezer with the National Military Family Association.

The separation also takes a toll on the caregiver at home. "Things are a lot more stressful for that person no matter how good she looks on the outside," said Jacey Eckhart, a military wife.

The Skillmans now have another loved one in the military. Kelsey's brother Sam is a cadet at West Point. "They really love their jobs and it's for a really good purpose -- that's just in them -- it's who they are. But they also really love you too and they are doing it for you," Kelsey Skillman said.

And they cherish the times they're all together.

Susan McGinnis - CBS News

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