Saturday, January 15, 2011: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM
Florida Ballroom I (Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Symposium Organizers: Ruth Paris, PhD, Assistant Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA
Discussants: Anthony Hassan, EdD, Director, Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Symposium Theme: This symposium brings together social work scholars from four different institutions and two different countries to present current research in the area of military service members, veterans, and their families, including family consequences of PTSD, social support and resiliency, and intervention development. Presentations incorporate the results of three different studies, and include both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The first paper reports research findings from a study of offspring of Israeli veteran fathers with and without PTSD. Long-term consequences of living with a father who suffers from PTSD were examined and the two groups were compared on response to terror attacks. Results revealed that offspring of PTSD veterans showed a higher level of distress giving further validation to the concept of secondary traumatization. The second paper focuses on a program for US military families who have children with developmental disabilities and the usefulness of a standardized inventory to assess support and resiliency within that population. Military families with special needs children reported lower support and resiliency than counterparts without a special needs child. Findings are discussed in the context of testing and refining assessment tools to inform and monitor practice. The third and final paper reports findings from a Community-Based Participatory Research program to develop and test a home-based intervention for US military families with very young children. Both qualitative and quantitative findings were used to inform the development of an 8 module home-based therapeutic program. This paper demonstrates how the CBPR approach to intervention development encourages strong ecological validity and practical relevance for military families. After the presentations an expert on military families will serve as a discussant.
Importance: Outreach, support, and mental health services to military members, veterans, and their families around the globe have increased with the Global War on Terror. This symposium presents timely research that details the needs and experiences of the diverse military population and should inform new programs. Intergenerational consequences of war-related PTSD are increasingly common, but mechanisms of transmission and protective factors are not well understood. Reliable assessment tools measuring support and resiliency are crucial to inform and monitor supportive services. In addition, collaborative approaches to building treatment programs maximizing participants' input offers the best likelihood of creating valid and feasible interventions for military families. Social workers are involved in the provision of mental health and social services for military members and veterans. Increasingly, they are also involved in the research to develop evidence-informed practice.
Implications: In order to effectively address the psychological and social support needs of military service members, veterans, and families social workers must be accurately informed about the intergenerational consequences of psychological disorders such as PTSD, support strategies that enable optimal functioning during the course of deployment and later years, as well as the best strategies for developing effective evidence-informed interventions. This symposium presents social work research which can be used by practitioners to develop programs aimed at mitigating the impact of combat stress and trauma on individuals and families.
* noted as presenting author