Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler joined researchers, clinicians, military leaders and policy makers at U-M last week as part of a discussion to better address the mental health and wellbeing needs of National Guard and Reserve military families.
U-M hosted the first-ever National Research Summit on Reserve Component Military Families last Thursday and Friday, bringing together a broad mix of civilian and military advocates to discuss the unique challenges faced by reservists and their families.
As military members cycle through the deployment process, their children and families can face high rates of stress and adjustment challenges. Unlike active members of the military however, Reserve Component families are often located far away from military bases, limiting their access to care and services located there.
The two-day conference was chaired by Michelle Kees, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at U-M, and fostered conversations about the best ways to better help this population.
“Sixty-three percent of military families live in the community. That includes reserve and active component. Yet, the majority of programs are on installations. That’s a huge discrepancy,” Kees told military reporters at the conference.
“I’m a big supporter of the movement for resiliency programs, and integrating these programs into our communities and creating public-private partnerships. With our [Reserve component] families living in 4,000 communities nationwide, we can’t just have programs on installations. We have to work with our community providers. We have to be able to work with our local area to build the supports and build the programs in place.”
Chandler, who was the Summit’s keynote speaker, said the work being done by Kees and others at U-M and as part of the Military Support Programs And Networks, or M-SPAN, should serve as a model to the rest of the country for how to help Reserve Component families in their communities.
“This is a national issue that will not solve itself. It’s going to take the will of everyone to solve the challenges that service members have,” Chandler said before the Summit. “M-SPAN and the University of Michigan have that will. The collaboration they’re coordinating between academics, government and communities, it’s extremely impressive. How the state of Michigan supports its guardsmen, it might help other states help their service members.”
For more coverage from the Summit, including a story and photos, please visit United States Army website.