Service, Family, Strength

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Abigail Gerwirtz, Ph.D., L.P., presented the speech of the “Results of the After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools” (ADAPT) study in the Century Theater of the Memorial Union Thursday, March 22.

ADAPT is a program that Gerwirtz tested in order to find out if the methods would work to help military families with children under the age of 18 with their mental health and adjustment. She also studied if it would help the parents of those children with parental mental health and impactful parenting.

“The work that they do is absolutely critical for the safety of our nation,” Gerwirtz said. “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have, since 9/11 2001, have resulted in the deployment of about 3 million soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.”

Half of those 3 million come from the Reserves and National Guard. According to Gerwirtz, the nation has relied on these service men and women more during the recent years than at any other time.

Gerwirtz said they interviewed a lot of people at the start of this project to learn what they need to work on. One family that they interviewed had a discussion at the start of 2001 about retirement, but they decided to re-op their contract for seven more years, with the mother re-contracting on July 11, 2001.

“I will never forget. Both mom and dad were in the National Guard and they had three children under the age of 10, and between them, they had deployed five times in the last 10 years,” Gerwirtz said.

Gerwirtz said they focus on National Guard members in the study because they are generally at home, they are enlisted for long periods of time and they are more likely to be parenting.

“A lot of providers in civilian communities simply do not understand anything about what it is like to be deployed and what it is like to have a military lifestyle,” Gerwitz said. “A lot of kids are in school where they are the only child of a service member and school teachers really do not understand what it means when a parent is deploying and is gone.”

Gerwirtz said ADAPT will help families that are in these situations so they can get the help and service that she believes they deserve.

Gerwirtz wants to thank the hundreds of National Guard and Reserve families that partnered in this study.

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