Last month the CIR team celebrated the end of the Reintegration Partnership Project with the 1-140th Aviation Battalion of the California National Guard. With the assistance of the LA Jewish Federation, CIR provided lunch to 300 service members that we have been working with since July of 2011. The event was the culmination of the 20-month project consisting of a training and research study designed to support soldiers and their family members after a 1 year deployment to Iraq. The luncheon included a short program featuring Captain Matthew Jackson and Colonel David Hall who shared their appreciation for the services and opportunities provided by the USC team. Colonel Hall also presented Dr. Anthony Hassan, the Director of CIR, with a plaque in recognition of CIR’s dedication to the unit.
Dr. Hassan shared his enthusiasm over the unit embracing the USC-CIR team as part of their reintegration support system. During his speech, he shared some of the lessons learned from both the training and research aspects of the project. For instance, CIR learned that 40% of the unit was unemployed, PTSD levels were low, and that mental health challenges tended to emerge at the 6-9 month post-deployment mark.
Dr. Hassan was happy to share that the unit had an overall positive and healthy transition, despite some challenges. He informed unit that their feedback led to creation of the RPP Telehealth counseling program, which offers free online therapy to all unit members who are interested. Finally, he also informed the unit that their feedback shaped CIR’s new focus on addressing veteran unemployment, inspiring a partnership with Warner Brothers Inc. and the 1st Annual USC Veteran Hiring Fair.
The RPP project was able to break ground in new areas. To date, very few studies have evaluated unit-level interventions in the post-deployment phase, especially those focusing on the California National Guard. We anticipate that once the data is analyzed, the findings from the study will lead to new policies and help inform future reintegration programs for service members and their families.