In Brief  |   July 2014
Supporting Our Military Families: A Case for a Larger Role for Occupational Therapy in Prevention and Mental Health Care
Author Affiliations
  • Alison M. Cogan, MA, OTR/L, is Doctoral Student, Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Southern California, 1540 Alcazar Street, CHP-133, Los Angeles, CA 90089; acogan@usc.edu
Article Information
Mental Health / Military Rehabilitation / Departments / The Issue Is …
In Brief   |   July 2014
Supporting Our Military Families: A Case for a Larger Role for Occupational Therapy in Prevention and Mental Health Care
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2014, Vol. 68, 478-483. doi:10.5014/ajot.2014.009712
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2014, Vol. 68, 478-483. doi:10.5014/ajot.2014.009712
Abstract

More than 2 million U.S. military servicemembers have deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq since September 11, 2001. Unlike during prior conflicts, many servicemembers leave spouses and children behind. Long, multiple deployments cause strain on family at home, with new challenges arising when servicemembers return from combat and reintegrate into family and civilian life. In World Wars I and II, occupational therapy practitioners played a significant role in supporting servicemember reintegration. However, their presence in program delivery in this practice area is limited. Occupational therapy researchers and practitioners can make a valuable contribution by helping families tailor daily activities and routines to address challenges and optimize health and wellness. However, barriers such as reimbursement for services, workforce availability, and access to military families have limited the profession’s full engagement. Advocacy is needed to help establish occupational therapy as a key component of the mental and preventive health care teams serving military servicemembers.