Can You Predict Resilience?

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The end of a deployment is an exciting time for a military family. But life doesn’t always pick up right where it left off. For most families, the adjustment is challenging as the Service member weaves back into the family-fold. Called reintegration, this transition back to daily life can last months or even years.

Although the difficulties of reintegration are well-known, the factors that lead to a successful experience are less so. Samueli Institute is working to understand, track and perhaps predict resilience as part of its Central Evaluation of Resilience Programs (CERP) efforts.

Developing a Forecasting Model

On June 23, 2015, subject matter experts met at Samueli Institute in Alexandria, VA, to review the prototype of a forecasting model that addresses successful reintegration of warriors back into civilian life following combat deployment.

Experts included those who understand the military population and have firsthand experience in what helps and hurts successful reintegration. To ensure that the model accurately represents the reintegration process, the outputs are relevant to essential outcomes, and that the input variables are practical, experts represented a variety of subject matter areas.

An Inter-Disciplinary Approach

This work builds on Samueli Institute’s 2012 needs assessment that showed that resilience competency and resilience-building efforts for Service members and families must be the responsibility of every leader, and fully integrated into all aspects of military and family life throughout all military professional and deployment life cycles.

Then in 2013, nearly 40 researchers and academic leaders came together to reflect on the current state of knowledge surrounding resilience. This inter-disciplinary approach ranged from a variety of scientific fields including systems biology, mathematics, engineering, psychology, neuroscience, immunology and psycho-neuroendocrinology. The model presented at the June 2015 meeting is a result of combining these approaches using a semi-qualitative tool.

Supporting Service Members

By understanding what factors add to resilience and those that detract from it, leaders can better support reintegration of the Service member into family, garrison activities, and civil society following combat deployment.

In addition, effective support programs targeted at these factors could be developed to better prepare and support military families as they undergo the potentially challenging and multi-faceted process of reintegration.