Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

20 Beyond the Base: Military/Civilian Coordinated Responses to the Challenges of Families Impacted by Military Service

Thursday, January 12, 2012: 3:30 PM-5:15 PM
Wilson (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Work, Family, and Family Policy
Symposium Organizer:
Kathleen West, DrPH, University of Southern California
Kathleen West, DrPH, University of Southern California
The United States has been at war for ten years now, fighting new types of wars, on two "fronts" with an all-volunteer Armed Forces. Nearly 2 million men and women have deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in Iraq, including over 500,000 National Guard and Reserve personnel. Nearly 2 million American children have at least one parent serving in the military. Additionally, the military continues its commitment to lead humanitarian missions in disaster situations: most recently the Haiti earthquake, the Deep Horizon Oil Spill, and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. As a result of this unprecedented operational tempo, servicemembers and their families on the "homefront" face multiple challenges that require attention from social work and allied professions. To respond effectively to the challenges facing families impacted by impacted by military service, civilian service providers must coordinate efforts with their military counterparts to ensure continuity of care across the multiple systems returning service members traverse as they rejoin their families and civilian communities. Understanding military culture and the challenges faced by servicemembers and their families is an imperative first step to support service men and women within our communities as they respond to the rigors of multiple deployments. The four papers comprising this session highlight not only critical issues faced by servicemembers and families impacted by military service, but how civilian providers in communities across the nation are collaborating with the military to address issues affecting military families across the lifespan. The presentations include: 1) data on programming designed to increase resiliency among very young children in the context of military-specific stress and trauma – a very relevant subject given the large increase in this population; 2) descriptive and evaluative results from a specialized support, intervention, and referral unit for military-impacted school children within the Los Angeles Unified School District, where, despite having no nearby installation, the effect on National Guard and Reserve families has been profound, yet systematic attention to their needs scant; 3) longitudinal data on the relationship between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Intimate Partner Violence, as well as “behaviors that support mutuality and respect and couple resiliency in the face of multiple deployments” and 4) military-specific research and practices in rapid assessment of psychological injury with important implications for practical applications in civilian community contexts. Each author provides suggestions for practice as well as policy implications and recommendations based on their work. In total, these presentations point the way for the field of social work to equip itself to build on the resiliency of families impacted by military service, as well as to competently and accurately support their needs with an improved understanding of the challenges faced by this underserved and growing population.
* noted as presenting author
Military Stress First Aid: Practical and Community Implications
Richard Westphal, PhD, Psychological Health Consultants
Working with Military Families and Children In School-Based Settings In Los Angeles County
Deborah Johnson-Hayes, LCSW, Private Practice; Susan Shershow, LCSW, Private Practice
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