According to a new study published on Friday, the babies and toddlers of soldiers returning from deployment are at higher risk of abuse for the first six months after the parent returns home. That risk increases with more frequent deployment of the parents.

USA Today reported the study was conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and published in the American Journal of Public Health. The researchers examined the families of more than 112,000 soldiers who had children 2 years old or younger between 2001 and 2007, during the height of the Iraq War. The team looked at reports of abuse by a soldier or a caregiver which had been confirmed by the Department of Defense, as well as medical diagnoses from the military.

Of the 4,367 victims from the families of 3,635 soldiers, the researchers found that abuse and neglect doubled during the second deployment when compared with the first. The study also found that when soldiers deployed twice the rate of abuse and neglect was the highest and usually came from a caregiver other than the soldier.

David Rubin, co-director of the hospital’s PolicyLab and the report’s senior author, told USA Today the study was the first to “reveal an increased risk when soldiers with young children return home from deployment.” Rubin said the study shows the “potentially devastating consequences for some military families.”

Veterans returning home from war have long been the victim of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a consequence of the horrors of war. In the past few years, the American public has become all too aware of the trauma inflicted upon men and women who believe they are fighting for freedom. While the government’s own statistics state that 22 veterans commit suicide everyday, the reality is the number is closer to 30.

Earlier this year a study published in the Annals of Epidemiology examined all 1,282,074 veterans who served in active-duty units between 2001 and 2007. The L.A. Times reported:

“The analysis matched military records with the National Death Index, which collects data on every U.S. death. It tracked the veterans after service until the end of the 2009, finding a total of 1,868 suicides.

That equates to an annual suicide rate of 29.5 per 100,000 veterans, or roughly 50% higher than the rate among other civilians with similar demographic characteristics.”

Both of these studies highlight an unfortunate side of war that is becoming increasingly difficult for Americans to ignore. Not only are the endless wars of aggression causing blowback leading to a rise in anti-American sentiment, but the actions of the U.S. government are hurting our own people who believe they are fighting for something just and moral.

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