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Projects Aim To Help Michigan National Guard Members

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EAST LANSING (WWJ/AP) - Two projects led by a Michigan State University professor aim to help Michigan National Guard members and their families in the transition from active duty to civilian life.

The East Lansing school announced earlier this week that the work by Adrian Blow and others is getting $1.5 million in funding.

With the first initiative, funded by a $1.3 million grant from the Department of Defense, Blow and colleagues will study resiliency in military families, working directly with National Guard veterans and their spouses and parents.

The research team will survey more than 600 members of a National Guard infantry unit that just returned from a year’s deployment in Afghanistan, as well as spouses and parents. Two more surveys will be given, after one and two years. In addition, in-depth interviews will be conducted with 40 families during the three-year life of the study. The project is expected to help the military improve reintegration efforts and prevention and treatment programs.

With the second initiative, Blow will lead an effort to train as many as 1,000 mental health counselors to work with military families. Clinicians will receive training on war-related issues ranging from traumatic brain injury to substance abuse to suicidal thoughts. The project is funded by a $200,000 grant from the Detroit-based Ethel and James Flinn Foundation.

Thousands of members of the Michigan National Guard have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some face post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, unemployment and other challenges.

“Reintegrating back into civilian society can be more challenging on many accounts than the actual deployment itself,” Blow, MSU associate professor and a family and marriage therapist, said in a release.

Blow has worked with civilian soldiers who have been deployed as many as six times. Some were unable to find work when they returned. Others developed marital problems while they were at war. Others had difficulty adapting to roles performed by the spouse during deployment.

“The soldier may think, ‘I’m coming home and getting a break,’ but the spouse may be thinking the same thing – ‘It’s time for me to get a break,’” said Blow.

But most families have pulled together and persevered through the difficult times – lessons that can help inform future reintegration efforts.

“It can take about a year, but the majority of families work through the stress of reintegration,” said Blow. “Most of the cases are about strength and resilience, about families dealing with big transitions and, sometimes, traumatic events.”

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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