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Crossroads of the Marine Corps

Study shows long-term effects

25 Apr 2014 | Lance Cpl. Sarah A. Luna Marine Corps Base Quantico

Dr. Barbara Craig, M.D., director of the Armed Forces Center for Child Protection at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, presented a class about The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study at the Volunteer Education Center on April 25, 2014.

Based on an ongoing study that has followed 17,000 people over almost 20 years, results have shown how experiences as a child can carry on to adulthood.

“This is the first study that shows  these adverse childhood experiences usher in social cognitive impairment that precede making bad life choices and also leads to chronic illness and early death,” said Craig.

The study covers seven types of experiences that fall under two categories: abuse and household dysfunction. Experiences include psychological, physical, sexual and substance abuse; mental illness, treating mother violently and criminal behavior in the household, according to the presentation PowerPoint.

Craig said it’s important for the providers to know about adverse childhood experiences and how important it is for them to find out if there is a history of them. She said those experiences need to be addressed before they go on and address whatever their issues are as adults.

Staff Judge Advocates, social workers, new parent support program, Family Advocacy Program, child-care providers and providers from Families OverComing Under Stress were present during the class. Some were shocked to know what may trigger some habits.

“The class was very informative,” said Farrah Cordero-Sanchez, a Family Advocacy Program clinician. “I didn’t know about the ACE studies, and I’m definitely going to be asking more background questions with my cases and share the knowledge with other professionals.”

Adverse childhood experiences are now known to affect service members and their families. A service member can have higher levels of depression if they experienced things as children. Children of service members can have increased heart rates when their parent is deployed, according to Craig.

“What I’m seeing now through my 40 years of experience is, the military is getting much better about having social programs and recognizing that it’s OK to seek help if you’re having problems with things,” said Craig. “I’ve seen the military still focusing on readiness, safety and training, but also now focusing on these social issues because you can’t have healthy functional service members if their home life is a wreck.”

For information on The Adverse Childhood Experiences, visit For information on the next ACE Study class, email Craig at


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