Special-Needs Military Families
The Beach Center on Disability at KU is analyzing policy and developing recommendations to strengthen military families who are raising a child with a mental or a physical disability, or who give care to disabled spouses or parents.
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Researchers aim to improve lives of special-needs military families. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I’m Brendan Lynch.
The Beach Center on Disability at KU is analyzing policy and developing recommendations to strengthen military families who are raising a child with a mental or a physical disability, or who give care to disabled spouses or parents. Co-director Rud Turnbull is leading the effort.
Turnbull: Our work focuses first on analysis of policy within the Department of Defense and the four branches of the military — the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. Secondly, our work involves conducting a literature review and interviews with service members to determine what constitutes best practices in supporting families. We’ll bring this research together to make recommendations to the Department of Defense.
Turnbull says the team’s recommendations should improve services for anyone serving in the armed forces who cares for a disabled relative.
Turnbull: The rank of the military person is irrelevant. We’ve been dealing with a retired four-star general in the Army and we’ve been dealing with shaved-head recruits. Likewise, the duty station is irrelevant. While we’ve conducted our interviews exclusively within the continental United States, our work also applies to personnel outside the U.S. For example, a military base in Korea or Germany would benefit from our work because those installations abroad have responsibility to the families of their military personnel.
The research, funded by a $260,000 grant from the Department of Defense, aims to achieve four goals: enhance mission readiness, ease the burdens of redeployment, advance retention, and aide recruitment efforts.
Turnbull: Part of the motivation here is our sense of responsibility to armed forces personnel. We recognized the great need that they have. This is more a matter of patriotism than practically any other work we’ve done, because it deals with the armed forces when they are involved in combat in the Middle East or in stressful duties elsewhere. I’ve respected the military ever since I served, and, personally, this is my payback to the military for what it did for me while I served on active duty for nearly two years.
For more on special-needs military families, log onto Research Matters dot KU dot EDU. At the University of Kansas, I’m Brendan Lynch.
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Researchers aim to improve lives of military families with special needs