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News Release

For immediate use 

Dec. 22, 2005 -- No. 638

Congressional funding for Citizen-Soldier Support Program
will support national expansion of training efforts

CHAPEL HILL – The 2006 U.S. Department of Defense Appropriations bill approved Dec. 22 includes $3 million for the Citizen-Soldier Support Program (CSSP) to strengthen its outreach to the families and loved ones of the Army and Air National Guard and the Reserve Components of all of the armed services.

CSSP, a collaborative program led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, began operating as a national demonstration program in March 2005. Since receiving its initial Congressional funding, the program has worked to mobilize statewide support for military families from a wide variety of community organizations.

U.S. Rep. David Price, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, led efforts to secure funding for the program in the House, with bipartisan support across the North Carolina delegation, university officials said. U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre’s efforts were pivotal in his role as a member of the Armed Services Committee. Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr championed the program in the U.S. Senate.

"We are grateful for the strong, collaborative support North Carolina’s entire Congressional delegation has demonstrated on behalf of the Citizen-Soldier Program," said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser. "Delegation members recognized the importance of the program for North Carolina’s military families and made it a top funding priority.

"We have seen the difference that this new program is making in the lives of the North Carolina men and women who serve our country’s Guard and Reserves and their families," he said. "Our hope is that this program may one day serve as a model for other states, and this new funding will go a long way toward accomplishing this goal."

Still in its early stages, the program has conducted trainings for school psychologists and health-care professionals, activated numerous faith communities, and partnered with parks and recreation departments, libraries and cooperative extension agencies to create services benefiting citizen soldiers and their families.

CSSP also is working with local government officials to encourage endorsement of the program and build morale for military personnel and their families.

"We still have more work to do in North Carolina to connect the services we are mobilizing to the families that need them," said Dr. Dennis Orthner, program director and professor in UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Social Work. "This will be a priority in the coming year."

One of the challenges facing the program is making families of citizen soldiers aware of the services currently available to them within their own communities. CSSP has received generous cooperation from the family programs of the National Guard and the military reserves, which represent CSSP’s link to military personnel and their families. For example, the Adjutant General of the N.C. National Guard, William Ingram, has played an integral role in developing and promoting the CSSP concept in North Carolina. A future program goal is to strengthen relationships with the military family programs and work with them to communicate most effectively with the families, Orthner said.

Other states are looking at CSSP as a possible model for programs they hope to launch.

"Many states are trying to address the same issues as we are in North Carolina," said Orthner. "They are seeking help to mobilize their own communities to be more effective in supporting the families and troops from their neighborhoods."

With this funding, UNC-Chapel Hill plans to develop a national technical training and assistance center that will build on CSSP accomplishments in North Carolina and assist other states in their efforts to mobilize local support of military families.

Citizen soldiers account for more than one-third of the troops deployed in Iraq, leaving behind loved ones and families when they are mobilized. North Carolina alone has more than 25,000 members of the National Guard and military Reserves.

While active duty military personnel often live on military bases, citizen soldiers maintain civilian jobs until mobilized and can live hours away from the nearest base or formal, military support system. CSSP aims to create a network of community support for citizen soldiers and their families before, during and after mobilization.

To accomplish its goal of statewide implementation, CSSP employs five community program liaisons who work locally surrounding the areas of Asheville, Greensboro, Charlotte, Rocky Mount and Wilmington. The liaisons work closely with organizations and support service personnel employed by the National Guard and Reserve to transform existing community support into acts and services that help citizen soldiers and their families.

The Citizen-Soldier Support Program was originally developed by Orthner and Dr. Allison Rosenberg, associate vice chancellor for research at UNC-Chapel Hill. UNC-Chapel Hill coordinates the program, in partnership with N.C. State University, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro, East Carolina University, Duke University, Virginia Tech, UNC-TV and Bryn Mawr College.

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Note: Orthner can be reached at (919) 247-4399, (919) 247-4399 (cell) or orthner@email.unc.edu Rosenberg can be reached at (919) 672-3442, (919) 672-3442 (cell) or allisonrosenberg@unc.edu.

News Services contact: Deb Saine, (919) 962-8415