|Story & Photo by Paul D. Prince, U.S. Army Forces
Command Public Affairs
CRYSTAL CITY, Va. — Military Child
Education Coalition (MCEC) officials facilitated a breakout session
during the 2009 U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Family Readiness
Group (FRG) Training Symposium Oct. 8 about a program designed to help
concerned professionals and parents support military children through
Military Child Education
Coalition (MCEC) Executive Director Mary Keller and MCEC member
Patricia Shinseki speak to the U.S. Army Forces Command
(FORSCOM) Family Readiness Group (FRG) leaders attending the
2009 FORSCOM FRG Training Symposium about Living in the New
MCEC Executive Director Mary Keller and MCEC member Patricia Shinseki
talked about Living in the New Normal (LINN), a system for educating
adults on how to empower military children to cope with issues of
separation, parents with multiple deployments and losing a parent in
“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 Web
sites 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,
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
The MCEC is a non-profit organization with the goal of “leveling the
playing field” for all military children as they transition from one
school to another and from one community to another.
For more information about MCEC or LINN, visit the MCEC Web site at