Approximately 2.6 million service members have been deployed and 2 million children in the U.S. have lived through a parent’s deployment in support of Post 9/11 conflicts. As service members begin their reintegration process, many are confronted with mental health issues. Approximately 20 percent or 300,000 of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression according to a recently released RAND Corporation study. (1)
Today it is estimated that some 40% of veterans will use community, non-VA settings for their health care (2). In a recent study, conducted by RAND, aimed to assess the readiness of those mental health providers working in community settings, it was found that only 13% of providers met the threshold to deliver cultural competence and evidence-based care to our returning veterans, service members and families (3). It is essential that clinicians be aware of the challenges facing those who are returning home and the re-integration issues that affect military families.
The post-deployment reintegration phase also brings disruption to the family re-organization and equilibrium achieved during the military parent’s 8-12 month absence, raising the unique challenges of re-establishing the family unit, its routine and relationships following deployment. These challenges are magnified when the parent returns home with PTSD or TBI.
The impact of PTSD and/or TBI on military families and relationships is often overlooked. The invisible wounds of war can impair communication, increase family conflict and risk for divorce, impair parenting and decrease intimacy. It is imperative that clinicians not only treat veterans but address the needs of military family members as well.
The military family course will be an on line, multi-session course with the MGH Academy. All courses will be available on line, on-demand, and will be offered free of charge for CEs and CEUs.