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Help on the home front: addressing the mental health and well-being of National Guard and Reserve families

University of Michigan to host first-of-its-kind national conference focused on unique needs of Reserve Component military families April 25-26

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Researchers, clinicians, military leaders and policy makers will come together next month at the University of Michigan for the National Research Summit on Reserve Component Military Families, a first-of-its-kind national conference focused on the unique and often unaddressed mental health and wellbeing needs of National Guard and Reserve military families.

As military members cycle through the deployment process, their children and families can face high rates of stress and adjustment challenges. National Guard and Reserve military families are embedded in communities, often living far from military installations and military-sensitive resources.

While successful intervention programs have been launched across the country to support military families, there remain few opportunities for clinicians and researchers to share and discuss this information on a national scale, with none focused specifically on the special challenges faced by Reserve Component families.

The National Research Summit on Reserve Component Military Families will take place on April 25-26 at U-M and represents an effort to increase discussion and awareness surrounding the challenges faced by the families of National Guard and Reserve members.

“There is not a professional home for those invested in helping National Guard and Reserve military families,” says conference chair Michelle Kees, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at U-M who also has an appointment at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. “This summit aims to fill that void and offer researchers, clinicians, military leaders and advocates a place to discuss the latest research and innovative interventions for Reserve Component military families.”

The two-day conference, organized by the U-M Depression Center’s Military Support Programs and Networks (M-SPAN), will feature cutting-edge research presentations, panel discussions with military leaders and national organizations, workshops focused on different aspects of the military family dynamic including children, parenting and couples’ relationships, and smaller work groups, with ample opportunities for networking. 

M-SPAN’s programs have been developed by faculty and staff from the U-M Depression Center and Department of Psychiatry – many of whom also have appointments at the Ann Arbor VA -- in collaboration with the Michigan Army National Guard and Michigan State University

The goal of the conference is to highlight successful and innovative ways to reach military families, and to also establish a framework for a national network of collaborators moving forward.

“We expect this event to be a catalyst for building future collaborative relationships, and advancing the science and services for military families,” Kees says.

Keynote presentations will be delivered by Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler and Kathryn Power of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Vice Admiral Robin Braun, Chief of Navy Reserve, and Brigadier General Marianne Watson, Director of Manpower and Personnel at the National Guard Bureau will also present as part of a Military Panel on the changing landscape for military families. The conference will conclude with an address from Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The audience for the conference, which will be held at the Michigan League, includes: researchers, military leadership, national advocacy organizations, and clinicians.  Military service members, veterans and family members are welcomed

The registration fee is $195, with waivers for service members, veterans and their families.  For more information, please visit,

U-M Depression Center:

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