Military families know how difficult deployments are, and the American Red Cross wants to help them deal with the stress.
The Red Cross is training 58 mental health professionals this week in Washington, D.C. in its program Coping with Deployments: Psychological First Aid for Military Families, developed specifically to help military family members respond to the stress and strain surrounding the deployment of a loved one.
"After this training, instructors will be able to provide military families with information and resources they can use to cope with deployments, including resiliency strategies and the action steps in providing psychological first aid," said Bob Porter, the lead facilitator for the training. Porter, a retired clinical social worker, has been a disaster mental health volunteer for the Red Cross for 17 years.
Although military families are already a resilient group, the Red Cross wants to build on this by showing adults and children ways to improve their inner strength and adaptability. Learning basic psychological first aid will also help them provide immediate support when they see someone in distress.
Red Cross Disaster Services was instrumental in designing Coping with Deployments. The Red Cross also worked closely with subject matter experts from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, including active duty, National Guard and Reserve commands, to develop the final curriculum. This is the only national-level course specifically designed for military families-including parents and significant others-that bridges all lines of service and provides hands-on tools to help families cope with deployments.
Coping with Deployments was first introduced last fall. Currently, the Red Cross offers the course in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Following this week's training, the Red Cross will have doubled its cadre of course instructors and will offer the program in all 50 states.
"The Red Cross has a proud history of supporting service members, veterans and their families, and we strive to keep pace with the changing needs of the people we serve. Our goal is to provide military families with resources on how to deal with the stress of deployments, especially for those families who are living away from a military installation," said Sherri Brown, senior vice president of Service to the Armed Forces at the Red Cross.
Military members and family members, youcan contactyour local Red Crossto find out if this course is available in your area,to request the course be available or to obtain more information.
I am told that the Red Crosscurrently offers the course in AL, AK, CA, CO, FL, HI, ID, MN, NE, NH, OH, OR, PA, TN, TX, WV and DC. They will be offering the course across the country by June.