Family-Focused Interventions and Resources for Veterans and Their Families

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Abstract

Accelerated by the decreasing military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, many military members are currently transitioning out of active duty into civilian life. Many of these new veterans have recently experienced combat deployment(s), and some are struggling with the aftermath of combat exposure, separation from family, and reintegration stressors. These challenges often follow these military families as they enter the civilian world, a time with its own major life changes vocationally, socially, and interpersonally. Although numerous resources have been developed to assist service members during their transition to the civilian world, relatively fewer exist for partners, children, and broader family systems. Family psychoeducation is a nonpathologizing, strengths-focused model of care that has documented benefits in the arena of mental illness. This article describes some manualized family psychoeducational programs and online and phone-based resources that may be useful to veteran families during this time of change. The programs and resources described herein are all available for free, primarily online. Because of a wide variety of barriers and limitations for family based care in the Veterans Affairs health care system, veteran families are and will continue to seek mental health care in public sector settings. Community providers can enhance their military culture competence by familiarizing themselves with these resources and drawing upon them in working with transitioning military families.

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