Local Researchers receive funding to study and improve the adjustment and well-being of military families

November 10, 2010

Contact: David DeGarmo or Debbie Wetherald 541-485-2711

EUGENE, Ore. — (Nov. 10, 2010) Drs. David DeGarmo and Marion Forgatch senior and emeritus scientists (respectively) at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) and will collaborate with researchers at the Veterans Administration (VA) and the University of Minnesota (UMN) to address this country’s urgent need to understand how deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq affects the families of our newest generation of National Guard and Reserve veterans. These studies will look at the mental health effects of deployment on veterans in the field and their family members at home. Together these projects will help address the significant stressors of military families to better understand and improve long-term adjustment upon return home by implementing and evaluating a post-deployment parent training program.

Supported by funding from the Health Services Research and Development Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs, DeGarmo will serve as lead methodologist and evaluator on a four year study headed by Dr. Melissa Polusny at the VA looking at nearly 2,000 soldiers and their families to examine mental health and changes in well-being: pre-deployment, on active duty, and
post-deployment. The primary mental health focus is to examine effects on parenting roles and child adjustment. Secondary aims focus on the effects of multiple deployments on a couple and examining gender differences in post-deployment mental health. This study will facilitate the development of strategies to reduce stress and enhance family support for veterans.

Forgatch and DeGarmo will also work with Dr. Abigail Gewirtz at UMN on a grant entitled, “After Deployment: Adapting Parenting Tools (ADAPT).” Gewirtz, the principal investigator on the study, is an expert in trauma, resilience and children’s health and will work to assess child stress during deployment. Forgatch, who has disseminated the OSLC-developed Parent Management Training – Oregon Model (PMTO) on a wide scale in Norway and Michigan through her organization Implementation Sciences International Inc., will contribute her extensive knowledge to help adapt and implement the PMTO model to focus on the specific needs of military children and parents. IRIS Media, a local Eugene business focusing on video-based educational curriculums, will help produce and develop the PMTO into a program adapted specifically for military families. Funding for this component of the research comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and a NIDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant.