Military Family Resources

The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) trains behavioral health professionals to provide high-quality, evidence-based care to Service members, Veterans and their families. An individual's military service often impacts spouses, partners, children, siblings, parents, and other relatives in a myriad of ways. It’s important for providers to become knowledgeable of their unique challenges and concerns and to have helpful resources and educational tools ready to share with them.

The CDP is pleased to offer you an array of military family, couples and children resources including links, books, blogs, apps, reports and articles. We encourage you to incorporate these into your work with family members connected to the military. Additionally, Service members, Veterans and their families can use this webpage directly and discover many resources and tips for themselves and others.

The following are websites that behavioral health providers may find useful.
The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense (DoD), the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) or the Henry M. Jackson Foundation of the linked websites, or the information, products or services contained therein. The DoD and the Center for Deployment Psychology do not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this website.

Military Family Resources

● After Deployment: Wellness resources for the military community, including sections on Families & Friendships and Families with Kids

● Blue Star Families: Blue Star Families was founded by military spouses in 2009 to empower families to thrive as they serve by connecting them with their civilian neighbors - people and organizations – to create strong communities of support. The Blue Star Families Annual Military Lifestyle Survey provides a comprehensive understanding of the experiences and challenges encountered by military families to help inform national leaders, local communities, and philanthropic actors.

● Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) is one of the nation’s oldest and most highly regarded, academic-based organizations dedicated to advancing trauma-informed knowledge, leadership and methodologies. The Center’s work addresses a wide scope of trauma exposure from the consequences of combat, operations other than war, terrorism, natural and human-made disasters, and public health threats. CSTS is a part of our nation’s federal medical school, Uniformed Services University (USU), and its Department of Psychiatry.

● Coaching into Care:  1-888-823-7458; This national telephone service offered by the VA aims to educate, support, and empower family members and friends who are seeking care or services for a Veteran It helps them learn to talk to their Veteran about getting mental health care as well as find services at VA facilities and in their communities to assist the Veteran. The calls are free of charge and managed by licensed psychologists and social workers.

● F*O*C*U*S: Since 2008, FOCUS (Families Overcoming Under Stress) provides resilience training to military children, families, and couples. It teaches practical skills to help families and couples overcome common challenges related to a military life. It helps build on current strengths and teach new strategies to enhance communication and problem solving, goal setting and creating a shared family story. A webinar about the program is available here.

● FOCUS World: This site offers an online version of the FOCUS military family resilience training, as well as private place for parents and children to chat online 

● Give An Hour: Provides free and confidential mental health care to those currently serving in the military, veterans (regardless of discharge status, deployment status, or era of service), and their families. It includes national networks of volunteer licensed mental health providers capable of responding to both acute and chronic conditions.  Give an Hour does not provide emergency services.

● Hidden Heroes: A national registry for  military caregivers to connect them to helpful resources and support. The organization works to raise awareness of the issues military caregivers confront and to find solutions for the tremendous challenges and long-term needs they face. With its goal of sustaining  military caregivers, it provides  testimonials and personal stories as well as a vetted directory of resources, links and opportunities to join a private Facebook group and get involved.  It also funded Rand Corporation’s report on military caregivers published in 2014, which highlighted this underserved population.

● Make the Connection: Make the Connection is an online resource designed to connect Veterans, their family members and friends, and other supporters with information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting their lives. It is a collection of videos of Veterans and their family members sharing real stories of strength and recovery. The website also contains useful information and local mental health resources.

● Military Family Research Institute: The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University conducts research on issues that affect military and veteran families and works to shape policies, programs and practices that improve their well-being. Founded in 2000, MFRI envisions a diverse support community that understands the most pressing needs of military and veteran families. To achieve this, MFRI collaborates to create meaningful solutions for them. This internationally-recognized organization is located at Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

● Military OneSource: DoD-funded program that provides comprehensive information on all aspects of military life at no cost to Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve Component members, Veterans, and their families. The site contains policy and programmatic information, helpful resources, products, articles and tips on numerous topics related to the military experience, including helping couples and relationship issues.

● National Center for PTSD: Considered one of the world’s leading research and educational centers of excellence on PTSD, the National Center for PTSD provides numerous educational resources for health care providers as well as Veterans and their families on trauma and PTSD. It offers handouts, apps, videos, testimonials, courses, and many other educational materials on trauma and PTSD based on current research,. Users can select resources to fit their needs and address their questions.

● National Military Family Association: This is a “go to” sources for Administration Officials, Members of Congress, and key decision makers when they want to understand the issues facing military families.

● National Veterans Foundation: Provides crisis management, information and referral needs to all U.S. Veterans and their families through a toll-free helpline (888-777-4443). Available outreach services provide veterans and families in need with food, clothing, transportation, employment, and other essential resources.

● Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers: This VA program offers support and services to caregivers of eligible post-9/11 Veterans seriously injured in duty.  It was designed so caregivers can help Veterans stay in their homes and out of long-term facilities.  Benefits may include a financial stipend; access to health care insurance; mental health services; caregiver training and respite care. Due to criticisms about the program’s unclear processes, it was evaluated and then revised in 2017 including training more staff about the program and clarifying who qualifies/why a caregiver is determined ineligible. 

● Real Warriors: Multimedia public awareness campaign designed to encourage help-seeking behavior among Service members, Veterans, and military families coping with invisible wounds

● Today’s Military Today’s Military is a comprehensive website offering information and resources for decision-making to guidance for families and educators. Today’s Military offers real-life stories of the journey from joining the military, what to expect in training, to benefits, career information, and answering questions for parents and educators.

● Vet Centers: Opened as storefront counseling centers embedded in communities following the Vietnam War, 300 Vet Centers are located throughout the country and often staffed by Veterans. Vet Centers offer counseling services to Veterans and families with specialized focus on mental health care to war-zone veterans, MSA survivors and bereaved family members. The goal is to offer a welcoming, hassle-free experience (e.g., accommodate walk-ins) that is less bureaucratic and stigmatizing than VA hospitals/clinics.

● Veterans Crisis Line (24/7): 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text 838255, services provided for deaf and hard of hearing. Provides 24/7 free confidential support for Veterans in crisis and their families and friends. One can call, chat online or text for help. Signs of crisis, warning signs and self check quiz are provided. Website and operators will connect you with local resources. What to expect when you make a call to Crisis Line is shared.

● Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program: DoD-wide effort to promote the well-being of National Guard and Reserve members, their families, and communities, by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle

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Military Children Resources 

● Military Child Education Coalition: Organization that is focused on ensuring quality educational opportunities for military children affected by mobility, family separation, and transition. The site includes professional trainings, resources for parents and professionals, and hosts an annual conference about the military child

● National Association of School Psychologists - Military-Connected Families: The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is a professional association that represents more than 25,000 school psychologists, graduate students, and related professionals throughout the United States and 25 other countries. The NASP works to advance effective practices to improve students' learning, behavior, and mental health. Our vision is that all children and youth thrive in school, at home, and throughout life. On the Military-Connected Families page educators and counselors will find a PowerPoint of best practices for school psychologists with military children, a webinar on challenges military children face in school, and articles, podcasts, and additional outside resources. 

● Military Kids Connect: Online community for military children (ages 6-17) that provides access to age-appropriate resources to support children dealing with the unique psychological challenges of military life

● Military One Source 0 Pre-K to 12 Education 

● National Guard Family Program:  The National Guard Family Program provides information specific for National Guard families and children with the aim of supporting and educating families throughout the path of their service. The program accredits family programs that serve the National Guard families and incorporates a service provider network for families.

● Operation Purple Camps: Program of the National Military Family Association that offers military-connected children a free week of summer camp where they can connect with other military children. Camps are open to military children with a parent or guardian from any service branch (including National Guard and Reserve). Priority is given to children who have a parent that has been wounded, ill, or injured, or will have a parent deployed during a 15-month deployment “window.” 

● Our Military Kids

● Penn State School Resources About Military Families: A website linking military-connected school personnel with evidence-based resources and support.  The site contains on-line learning modules, toolkits, and publicly available resources.

● Sesame Street for Military Families: Nonprofit educational organization that has developed multiple military family initiatives, including the multimedia outreach initiative “Talk, Listen, Connect” to help military families cope with the challenges of deployments/homecomings and build resilience (DVDs can be ordered through Military OneSource), and a toolkit for military families transitioning out of the military and back into civilian life

● Zero to Three: Nonprofit organization focused on ensuring babies and toddlers have a strong start in life that has multiple initiatives supporting the health and development of infants and toddlers in military families

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Reports and Articles

These lists are not all-inclusive. Other resources and books are available for Veterans and their family members including personal stories by military-connected individuals. The Center for Deployment Psychology does not implicitly endorse any resource by including it in this list.

● Blue Star Families Reports
● Community Support for Military Children and Families Throughout the Deployment Cycle This PDF is available from Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS)
● The Deployment Life Study: Longitudinal Analysis of Military Families Across the Deployment Cycle: This study examined how deployment affects the health and well-being of military families over the course of three years.  The study conducted by the Rand Corporation aimed to identify skills and tools that military families use to handle the stresses associated with deployment.

Military Family Books

  • After the War Zone: A Practical Guide for Returning Troops and Their Families (2009, DaCapo Lifelong Books) by Laurie B. Slone and Matthew J. Friedman.
  • Back from the Front: Combat Trauma, Love, and the Family (2007, Sidran Press) by Aphrodite Matsakis.
  • Courage After Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families (2009, Ulysses Press) by Keith Armstrong, Suzanne Best, & Paula Domenici.
  • Courage After Fire for Parents of Service Members: Strategies for Coping When Your Son or Daughter Returns from Deployment (2013, New Harbinger Publications) by Paula Domenici, Suzanne Best, & Keith Armstrong.
  • Down Range: To Iraq and Back (2005, Wordsmith Books) by Bridget C. Cantrell and Chuck Dean.
  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (2013, Bantam Books) by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
  • Once a Warrior Always a Warrior: Navigating the Transition from Combat to Home Including Combat Stress, PTSD and mTBI (2010, Globe Pequot Press) by Charles W. Hoge.

Military Couples Books

  • Acceptance and Change in Couple Therapy: A Therapist's Guide to Transforming Relationships (1998, W. W. Norton & Company) by Neil S. Jacobson and Andrew Christensen.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD: Harnessing the Healing Power of Relationships (2012, Guilford Press) by Candice M. Monson and Steffany J. Fredman.
  • Couple-Based Interventions for Military and Veteran Families: A Practitioners Guide (2012, Guilford Press) edited by Douglas K. Snyder and Candice M. Monson.
  • Enhanced Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Couples: A contextual Approach (2002, American Psychological Association) by Norman B. Epstein and Donald H. Baucom.
  • Handbook of Counseling Military Couples (2012, Routledge) edited by Bret A. Moore.
  • The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection (2004, Brunner-Routledge) by Susan M. Johnson.
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert (2015, Harmony) by John Gottman and Nan Silver.
  • Vietnam Wives: Challenges of Life with Veterans Suffering Post-Traumatic Stress (1996, Sidran Press) by Aphrodite Matsakis.

Military Children's Books

Elementary School Reading List
A Paper Hug (2006, Self-published) by Stephanie Skolmoski. Ages 3-8.
Have you ever said good-bye to someone very dear? Here’s a story about a little boy who figured out the best gift to give his dad, who was leaving to serve his country … a paper hug.

Coming Home (2014, Feiwel & Friends) by Greg Ruth. Ages 4-7.
Every day, soldiers leave their families to protect others. We love them, we miss them, and we wait for them to come home. They are our heroes. Coming Home is a powerful story of a boy watching for his military parent to come home. This beautifully illustrated picture book uses very few words to convey its touching story.

Hero Mom (2013, Two Lions) by Melinda Hardin. Ages 5-8.
The moms are the superheroes in this book. They may not leap over tall buildings, and they may not have super-human speed. But these moms construct buildings, fly planes, and make tanks roll. They do all kinds of things to help create a safer world. These superheroes are moms. Military moms. Hero moms.

Middle School Reading List
100 Days and 99 Nights (2008, Scholastic) by Alan Madison. Ages 9-12.
In a timely but not politically charged way, Alan Madison looks at the way a family copes with having a parent away on a 100 day, 99 night military tour of duty through the eyes of the very lovable Esmerelda (Esme) Swishback McCarthur. Esme wants to be good while her dad is away. In fact, she feels like it’s her duty to be good. But being good can be hard, especially if you have a little brother like Ike. By following Esme’s story as she awaits her father’s return, readers will see how heroism can translate to every member of a family. As Esme introduces her stuffed animal collection that is alphabetically arranged, from Alvin the aardvark to Zelda the zebra, she also relates her family’s military life and her father’s deployment.

Possum Summer (2011, Holiday House) by Jen Blom. Ages 9-12.
Possum Summer is an uplifting novel about a girl and her father whose fractious relationship is healed by the hard lessons they learn about love and letting go. 11-year-old P (short for Princess) longs for a pet, but her father insists that all animals on their Oklahoma farm earn their keep. While he’s away on combat duty, P rescues an orphaned opossum that she names Ike. When her father is injured and her world falls down around her ears, P knows she must find it in herself to betray Ike’s trust and force him to survive in the wild – no matter how much it kills her to do it.

Spanky: A Soldier’s Son (2012, Createspace Independent Publishing Platform) by Sue L. LaNeve. Ages 7-12.
Dad’s last words before being deployed to Afghanistan, “Make me proud,” send Spanky into a tail spin as he struggles to get a special girl’s attention, fend off a bully, show his skills on the outdoor ed camping trip, and live up to what he thinks Dad means. Ultimately, he must face his fears and learn the true meaning of friendship and heroism.

Young Adult Reading List
Alice Bliss (2011, Pamela Dorman Books) by Laura Harrington.
Alice Bliss is 15, and her father is deployed to Iraq. When Alice learns that her father Matt is being deployed to Iraq, she’s heartbroken. Alice idolizes her father and loves working beside him in their garden, accompanying him on the occasional roofing job, and playing baseball. When he ships out, Alice is faced with finding a way to fill the emptiness he has left behind. Told in alternating viewpoints between Alice and her mother Angie.

Great Falls (2016, Candlewick) by Steve Watkins.
Shane has always worshiped his big brother Jeremy. But three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken their toll, and the easy-go-lucky brother Shane knew has been replaced by a surly drunk who carries his loaded 9mm with him everywhere and lives in the basement because he can’t face life with his wife and two small children. When Jeremy shows up after Shane’s football game and offers to take him to the family cabin overnight, Shane goes along – both to get away from a humiliation on the field and to keep an eye on Jeremy, who’s AWOL from his job at Quantico and seems to have a shorter fuse than ever. But as the camping trip turns into a days-long canoe trip down the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Shane realizes he’s in way over his head – and has no idea how to persuade Jeremy to return home and get the help he needs before it’s too late.

My Story: Blogs by Four Military Teens (2010, Beaver’s Pond Press) by Michelle D. Sherman, Ph.D. and DeAnne M. Sherman.
A series of blogs by four military teens that highlights their feelings and experiences before, during, and after parental deployment. It provides support and education for all military teens and pre-teens by honoring their unique joys and sacrifices, addressing their fears and hopes, and exploring how parental deployment affects their lives. Although the four teens in My Story are fictional, the stories are real – the blogs are a compilation of real-life experiences of military kids the authors have been honored to meet and learn from. The blogs in My Story address issues such as:
•    Pride in parent’s military service
•    Sadness, anger, and confusion regarding deployments
•    The excitement of homecoming
•    Challenges of reconnecting after deployment
•    Finding a "new normal"
•    Teen depression
•    Dealing with parent’s emotional and physical challenges (e.g., PTSD, substance abuse, injury)
•    Divorce
•    Resilience and post-traumatic growth

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Military Family-Related Blogs

●    Military Children and Traumatic Brain Injury - Books to Help Parents by Jenny Phillips

●    Staff Perspective: Military Couples and Relationships by Dr. Regina Shillinglaw

●    Contextualizing the Resilience of LGBTQ Military-Connected Couples by Dr. Kaleigh DeSimone

●    Managing Relationships During Times of Uncertainty by April Thompson

●    Staying Connected During Deployment - An Age-Old Challenge for Military Families by April Thompson

●    Military-Civilian Community Integration - The Impact on Military Families by Dr. Marjorie Weinstock

●    Through the Eyes of a Military Child by Dr. Lisa French

●    Military Familiy Deployment Cycle Challenges by Dr. Marjorie Weinstock

●    Tiger Cruises and Navy Families by April Thompson

●    The Deployment Life Study by Dr. Marjorie Weinstock

●    Career Path of a Military Spouse by Erin Ottenwess

●    Making it Work - One Deployment at a Time

●    Military Family Appreciation  - A Focus on Military Spouses by Dr. Lisa French

●    Military Couples - Challenges and Survival Strategies by Dr. Caitlin Cook

●    Dynamic Relationship Model for Couples Experiences PTSD by Dr. Deb Nofziger

Apps for Military Families

●    FOCUS on the Go!: App that brings the FOCUS military family resilience skills to families in a portable format (free on both iOS and Android platforms)

●    The Big Moving Adventure: App that is geared toward helping young children (ages 2-5) manage the stress of moving to a new home. The app also contains a section for parents with additional tips and suggestions to help families as they relocate (free on both iOS and Android platforms)