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Program created by Minnesota researchers to help military family receives national attention

Updated: August 12, 2019 06:17 PM

A program created by Minnesota researchers to help military families is getting national attention. The ADAPT program helps families develop skills to deal with life after deployment. ADAPT stands for "After Deployment Adaptive Parenting Tools."

Amanda Hooper was a sergeant in the Army. She served for eight years, and is now a civilian, wife and mother.

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"When you get done with deployment or you have PTSD and go to a women's clinic, no one hands you a pamphlet and says 'By the way, being a mom is really hard and because you have PTSD it's going to be really hard, so good luck.' No one tells you that," she said.

But the military is working on that. The ADAPT program is part of an effort to support members of the military and their families. Hooper and her family participated in the 14-week program. They learned skills to help them understand one another better.

University of Minnesota researcher Dr. Abigail Gewirtz and her team developed the program in 2010. She said her team has researched how effective it is.

"The improvements in parents' self-efficacy lead to reductions in parents' own feelings of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicide," she said.

Gewirtz recognized the need to support not just military members, but their entire families. Local military leadership agreed.

Retired Gen. Greg Haase oversaw Minnesota's 133rd Airlift Wing and witnessed the benefit of the ADAPT program. When he transferred to work at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., he advocated to expand it.

"I am hopeful we can institutionalize this within the greater service organizations," said Haase. "All of them. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines."

Now the Department of Defense is interested in the benefits of the ADAPT program. The DOD is supporting Gewirtz's latest studies at Fort Bragg and three other instillations around the country.

Gewirtz said, "These are families who serve and sacrifice for our nation, and they deserve the best resources we can offer."

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