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Erin Williams

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month As It Relates To Arkansas Military Families

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month As It Relates To Arkansas Military Families

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, ASA HUTCHINSON, Governor of the State of Arkansas, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the laws of the State of Arkansas, do hereby proclaim October 2017, as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month across the State, and I urge my fellow citizens to join together and allow the residents of Arkansas to recognize those bereaved mothers, fathers, and other family members, support them through their grief, and work to prevent the causes of these deaths in the future.

“…allow the residents of Arkansas to recognize those bereaved mothers, fathers, and other family members, support them through their grief…”

Earlier this week, Governor Hutchinson stood before a group of mothers and fathers and declared that October 2017 be recognized as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month” in Arkansas. Regina Binz, founder of the non-profit Holy Sews proudly witnessed Arkansas align in solidarity with all other states in recognition of President Regan’s 1988 proclamation by the same name. The official gathering was to highlight the upcoming 2017 Wave of Light Ceremony to be held on October 15 at 6:00 pm on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol. The annual ceremony is attended by anyone who has been touched by pregnancy or infant loss. By having state officials participate in such ceremonies, it draws public awareness to what is all too often a private and lonely grief.

Although there has been a sharp decrease in the infant mortality rate over the last 50 years, Arkansas still ranks higher than the national average. As of 2015, Arkansas ranked 4th highest according to the CDC.

What does this mean for Arkansas military members and Veterans?

“With numbers like these, it is impossible that you or a loved one has likely not been affected.”

According to the March of Dimes, 10-15 out of every 100 pregnancies end in miscarriage (10-15%.) Some studies indicate that number could be even higher and approach the 50% mark. With numbers like these, it is impossible that you or a loved one has likely not been affected. Every pregnancy is unique and presents its own set of challenges, however, in the case of a military family those challenges are quite broader. With spousal deployments and the other rigors of military life, stress to the mother and baby most certainly increases. Miscarriage and infant loss rates could quite possibly be even higher in military families, although there are no publicly documented statistics.

How is it that something that occurs so often is still so shrouded in private grief?

Community efforts such as governors standing before their constituents to publicly address this issue hopefully lessens the stigma. When the stigma is lessened, the burden of the bereaved can be lifted. Knowing that there is a community surrounding them makes stepping out of the shadows somewhat easier.

If you or someone you care for is suffering from the grief left in the wake of either a pregnancy or infant loss, there is help. An ARVets Military and Family Case Worker can assist you in finding guidance and resources.