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Researchers aim to improve lives of military families with special needs
Date:11/3/2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. Raising a child with a mental or a physical disability is tough work for any parent. But just imagine the added stresses for a parent on active duty in the U.S. armed forces: Possible deployments to war zones, base reassignments and recurrent training pose even more challenges to securing quality care and therapy for a special-needs child.

Similar hurdles face military personnel who give care to disabled spouses or parents.

Now, researchers at the Beach Center on Disability at the University of Kansas are analyzing military policy and developing recommendations to be enacted across all branches of the U.S. military, with the goal of strengthening military families facing these exceptional circumstances.

"Our work focuses first on analysis of policy within the Department of Defense and the four branches of the military the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy," said Rud Turnbull, the Ross and Marianna Beach Distinguished Professor of Special Education, who leads the research team. "Secondly, our work involves conducting a literature review and interviews with service members to determine what constitutes best practices in supporting families. We'll bring this research together to make recommendations to the Department of Defense."

The work by the KU group, funded by a $260,000 grant from the DOD's Office of Community Support, will benefit special-needs families of armed services personnel around the world, across all branches of the military and up and down the chain of command.

"The rank of the military person is irrelevant," said Turnbull, who is a veteran of the active and reserve Army. "We've been dealing with a retired four-star general in the Army, and we've been dealing with shaved-head recruits. Likewise, the duty station is irrelevant. While we've conducted our interviews exclusively within the continental United States, our work also applies to personnel outside the U.S. For example, a mil
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Contact: Brendan Lynch
blynch@ku.edu
785-864-8855
University of Kansas
Source:Eurekalert

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