April 22, 2009
By Samantha L. Quigley
WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service) – It’s no secret that deployments put stress on a family, and the National Military Family Association has developed a new “Operation Purple” program at no cost to military families.
The association created Operation Purple summer camps in 2004 as a way to help children of military families struggling with the stresses of war. A new program helps military family members re-establish their roles through family retreats.
“The intent of it was to bring the family together so that they could tell their deployment story as a family and really build on the experience of bringing the family back together after the deployment,” Michelle Joyner, NMFA’s director of communications said.
“This was just helping families [with] the reintegration piece of re-establishing the family roles, [which] was done through writing this deployment story as a family unit,” she added.
Based on a six-week program that the FOCUS Project at the University of California at Los Angeles has been using with the Marine Corps, the first two Operation Purple family retreats were held in Port Angeles, Wash., and Sausilito, Calif., in March. NMFA worked with the FOCUS Project to come up with a concept that would be beneficial for military families and could be accomplished in a long weekend, Joyner said.
With support from the Sierra Club, military families bonded and enjoyed a number of outdoor activities in the national parks where the retreats were held. Activities were guided by four master’s-degree-level clinicians experienced in working with families, said Patricia M. Barron, NMFA’s director of youth services.