U of M Program Helps Military Families Adapt to Civilian Life

Updated: 11/15/2013 7:44 AM KSTP.com By: Todd Wilson

The University of Minnesota is taking a look at the resilience of military families.

When a KSTP crew stopped by the Heffron's home, Matt and Arika were hanging out with their four kids. They appear to be your average Minnesota family. But, it's taken a lot work for the Heffrons to get to this point.

"My first deployment, Arika and I were basically still friends, just barely dating, so that was the first experience. The next time around we were engaged, and then the third time around we were married and already had two kids," Matt said.

Matt is a Major in the Minnesota Army National Guard Reserve. He's been deployed to Bosnia, Iraq and Kuwait. The family has dealt with separation, loneliness and readjustment.

"I think it was difficult for him. It was obviously hard for him to have been away from the kids and not have those special moments to share day by day," Arika said.

To help this family reconnect, the Heffrons got involved in a project called ADAPT. The goal is to learn about family resilience and to develop tools to support military families as they cope with the stress of deployment and reintegration.

Abi Gewirtz runs the program. "They really find it helpful, they share wisdom and tips and challenges," she said.

The biggest challenge for Arika? "Being able to let go and let him take back over the head of the household."

Matt says his family is a work in progress. But he says, don't worry, this Minnesota family is up for the challenge.

The ADAPT Program is looking to add 45 more military families to the project. If you are interested here's a link to their website