215532 Evaluation of the Minnesota Air National Guard reintegration program: Assessing the effectiveness and implementation over multiple deployment cycles

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Julie Tomaska, MSPH, PhD(c) , College of Health Sciences, Walden University, Minneapolis, MN
Jennifer Kuhlman, MEd , 148th Fighter Wing Airman & Family Readiness Program, Minnesota Air National Guard, Duluth, MN
Issues: In recent years, the military has relied heavily on National Guard service members to function in an Active Duty capacity. This continual deployment tempo poses unique issues among the Air National Guard whom go from a combat zone to their civilian homes and jobs in a matter of days. The initial adjustment and transition is not the only problem that they may face. Other major areas of concern are posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, anger issues and other mental health conditions. Traditionally, small Air National Guard units are not equipped to address all of the emergent needs of a large returning unit. Description: This program evaluation sought to identify and address any gaps in service within the Minnesota Air National Guard Reintegration Program. Lessons Learned: The structure of the current reintegration program was unable to adequately serve returning unit members due to lack of reintegration personnel, time constraints and program funding. Member level barriers to success included the stigma associated with help seeking behaviors and the possible impact on their military career. Recommendations: Based on the program evaluation, changes were made. These include: streamlining the reintegration process, the formation of focus groups, the addition of reintegration staff, and the implementation of two new studies investigating reintegration issues as well as child behavior and family adaptability across the deployment cycle. From a systems perspective, streamlining the reintegration process was a cost effective way to deliver programming and allow a more private venue for unit members to ask for assistance.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1)Discuss issues surrounding the reintegration of National Guard members and their families upon returning home from a combat zone. 2) Describe the problems Air National Guard units face during the reintegration process. 3) Identify the components of a successful reintegration program. 4) Assess expected outcomes of a redesigned reintegration program.

Keywords: Veterans, Evaluation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently a PhD Candidate in dissertation status at Walden Universityís College of Health Sciences studying Public Health with a specialization in Epidemiology. I designed and implemented this program evaluation. I hold a Bachelors of Science in Social Work and a Masterís of Science in Public Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 4254.0: Mental Health Issues