The Strengthening Bridges Project connects the services of two GSPP clinical entities—the Sturm Center, a behavioral health center for Veterans, Service Members, and their families, and the CUB Clinic, serving families with infants and young children from pregnancy through elementary school—to integrate services, training, and outreach to specifically meet the needs of military and veteran family members.
Housed within the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver and supported by the Caring for Denver Foundation, this integrative program aims to offer high-quality, evidence-based, developmentally-appropriate and confidential behavioral health services to Military and Veteran families and children in the Denver area.
The overarching mission of the Strengthening Bridges project is two-fold:
- A) To train psychology graduate students to support the mental health and developmental needs of Veterans, Service Members, families, children, and new parents with a focus on promoting resilience
- B) To provide direct psychological services to military and Veteran family members
The Strengthening Bridges Project is timely due to current negative impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, recent conflicts, and the overall social and political unrest affecting our country and the world.
The Strengthening Bridges Project aims to reinforce and focus on building the resiliency of these families. Research indicates that:
- Military and Veteran children who felt supported by others and by their community show increased resiliency
- Behavioral health support can improve attachment relationships in families
- Early intervention with the treatment of trauma, postpartum mental health difficulties, deployment, and parenting-related distress is important to prevent long-term functional difficulty
Dandelions are able to grow and bloom just about anywhere their roots are planted. They symbolize happiness, joy, perseverance, endurance and hope. That is why they are the perfect representation of a military child. Just like dandelions, military children can grow and bloom anywhere. No matter where life blows them, they are able to take root and thrive.
Children of Service Members experience the trials and tribulations of military life just as much, if not more, than their parents. They feel the pain of separation during deployments, the struggle of multiple moves and always leaving friends behind all while dealing with the standard growing pains of being a child. Children in military and Veteran families have increased rates of behavioral difficulties, peer difficulties, and adjustment concerns in school due to the unique stressors these families experience. Early detection of parental distress in military and Veteran caregivers minimizes the negative impact on children’s mental health and the family unit as a whole.