Long-term military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan has resulted in an unprecedented use of reserve forces from the National Guard and Reserves. Since 9/11/01, more than 850,000 reserve component troops have been deployed to high-risk security areas and war zones. Families are also cycling through these deployments, with robust evidence showing that children and spouses are experiencing high rates of mental health symptoms, adjustment difficulties, and stress associated with the deployment cycle. Because of geographic dispersion and challenges inherent to balancing the competing demands of both civilian and military life, reserve forces and their families face different stressors and mental health needs than their active duty counterparts. This project will establish a forum for discussing these unique needs, the inaugural National Research Summit on Reserve Component Military Families: Best Practices and Dissemination Strategies. In collaboration with the Michigan Army National Guard and the National Network of Depression Centers, this conference is the first of its kind to bring together researchers and clinical providers nationally who are invested in the mental health of children and families from the reserve component. The National Research Summit will (1) offer opportunities for dissemination of the latest innovative research on reserve component military families;(2) expose community practitioners to evidence-based treatments for military families;(3) set the trajectory for the development of the field of reserve component military family research nationally;and (4) foster professional networking and collaborative relationships to support further research on military families. The conference will highlight pivotal research findings on the effects of reserve component military deployment and combat-related stress on children, parenting, family dynamics, and couple relationships, and showcase promising evidence-based clinical interventions and military-tailored dissemination strategies. Special topics also will be addressed: female service members, parents of service members, spouses/partners, and resiliency.
Given the surging numbers of reserve component military service members deploying and re-integrating into civilian life, and the emerging evidence of significant negative mental health outcomes and relationship distress in children and families, the proposed project has important public health implications. The National Research Summit offers a unique opportunity to researchers, clinicians, trainees, and military community stakeholders to identify what is known in the existing research, identify gaps in knowledge and, together, set the national agenda for reserve component military family research.