Citizen-Soldier Program Gets Additional Funding

The Department of Defense is putting $3 million into the UNC-led Citizen-Soldier Support Program to strengthen outreach to the families and loved ones of those serving in the Army and Air National Guard and the reserve components of the armed services.

CSSP began as a national demonstration program in March 2005. Since receiving initial funding it has worked to mobilize statewide support for military families from a variety of community organizations.

The program has conducted training for school psychologists and health-care professionals; worked with faith communities; and partnered with parks and recreation departments, libraries and extension agencies to create services for the soldiers and their families.

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 and a formal military support system. CSSP aims to create a network of community support for families before, during and after mobilization.

Citizen soldiers account for more than one third of the troops deployed in Iraq. North Carolina alone has more than 25,000 members of the National Guard and military reserves.

Other states are looking at CSSP as a possible model for their own programs. With this funding UNC 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.

“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,” Chancellor James Moeser 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.”

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

CSSP was developed originally by Orthner and Allison Rosenberg, associate vice chancellor for research at Carolina. UNC 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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