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Media Advisory: U of M symposium explores impact of deployment on military families and youth

Contacts: Wendy Huckaby, U of M Extension Center for Youth Development, huckaby@umn.edu, (651) 239-7554
Preston Smith, University News Service, smith@umn.edu, (612) 625-0552
Media Note: Interviews with Angela Huebner and other panel participants can be arranged prior to event.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL (2/17/2011) —The University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development will hold a free public symposium, "Exploring the impact of deployment on military youth and families: Recent research findings," on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at the McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St. SE., Minneapolis.

The symposium will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 23. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.

In the coming months, 2,500 members of Minnesota's National Guard will be deployed. More than 15,000 Minnesota youth have been personally affected by military deployment. Children's lives are often turned upside down when military family members and loved ones are mobilized for war or active training.

The Extension Center for Youth Development's 4-H program delivers Operation: Military Kids (OMK), which supports military youth in Minnesota in discovering positive ways to cope with deployment. Minnesota does not have military bases which often provide such support systems.

Angela Huebner, associate professor in human development at Virginia Tech, will present findings from several studies on the experience of parental/spousal deployment since Sept. 11, 2001.

A panel discussion, moderated by Jim Deidrick, National OMK project coordinator, will follow. The panel includes:

  • Abi Gewirtz, assistant professor in the Department of Family Social Science and the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota.
  • Amber Runke, Minnesota 4-H and Operation Military Kids program specialist.
  • Capt. Jackie Stenger, Minnesota National Guard State Family Program director.

Huebner's recent work has focused on stressors adolescents face in military families. Her scholarship has appeared in Journal of Adolescent Health, Family Relations and Youth & Society. Huebner has also provided therapy to military families. She completed her bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and her master's and doctoral degrees in family studies at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Gewirtz recently received a $3.2 million grant to develop a web-based training program that will help the families of our troops better adjust to a new life back home. The program, "After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools/ADAPT," will work closely with Minnesota Army National Guard (MNARNG) personnel, to develop and test the parenting program among 400 MNARNG families in which at least one parent has been deployed. Earlier research led by one of the project's co-investigators, Dr. Melissa Polusny, showed that worries about family were an important predictor of soldier well-being during deployment, and that effective parenting during the period of reintegration was diminished among soldiers suffering from symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Teen speaker Kiana Kelii, a member of the Minnesota Military Teen Panel and whose father is in the MN National Guard will provide a glimpse into the home-front experience of deployment.

As a part of the university's effort to support military families in Minnesota, this symposium will bring together representatives from youth-serving organizations, military organizations, counselors, social workers, educators, researchers and policy makers to explore how to respond and provide for this critical need.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For more information, go to:
www.extension.umn.edu/youth/training-events/events/impact-of-deployment.html.

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