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Bring strength to your military home

JBLM program helps couples fighting their own battles

Group therapy sessions allow veterans enrolled in the Strength at Home programs to talk about their emotions in a safe place. Photo courtesy

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Dr. Casey Taft was wrapping up his residency at a Veterans Administration hospital when 9/11 happened. Soon after, he became aware of reports about the difficulties military families were experiencing after deployments.

In 2002, the issue of intimate partner violence (IPV) came to light when four women were killed by their husbands, three of whom had deployed to Afghanistan in special operations units.

"Back then, there was very little work done to understand the problems military families were experiencing," Taft said. "There were no programs developed specifically for them. At that time, I realized that this was a huge gap in services that needed to be addressed."

To help change this situation, Taft became the primary developer and then director of Strength at Home, a program designed to help military couples deal with military and deployment stress, and prevent the escalation of conflicts and abusive behavior.

He is also a clinical research psychologist at the National Center for PTSD within the VA Boston Healthcare System, and he is a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine.

"It is a program to help military couples deal with military and deployment stress, and prevent escalation of conflicts and abusive behavior," explained Taft.

Strength at Home began almost a decade ago when both the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Defense funded Taft and his small team to work with experts in the field surrounding the de-escalation of violent behavior.

"We spent many years developing our programs and offering them to military families," continued Taft, "and as far as I am aware, our programs are the only ones shown effective in randomized, controlled trials."

As to program specifics, Strength at Home is a skills-based intervention for couples which is completely anonymous of the chain of command. Couples can get help without the worry anyone in the unit would know. 

The intervention pairs a veteran with a traumatic stress-related disorder with an intimate partner, relative, or friend and provides education about the impact of trauma on relationships and the skills to strengthen those relationships.

"We help couples develop insights into difficulties they may be having; we help them strengthen already positive areas of their relationship; and we teach them how to deescalate situations and communicate more effectively," Taft said.

Classes typically run for 10 to 12 weeks on weekday evenings for small groups of couples.

Veterans, active-duty, Guard and reservists are eligible to participate.

"I have witnessed so many couples make enormous changes on a weekly basis from participating in the program," concluded Taft.

"They get as much from each other as they get from us, and ‘powerful' is the best way to describe what I have witnessed."

For some couples there is the added bonus that they may be eligible to receive up to $300 for filling out questionnaires to help Taft and his colleagues evaluate the program.

To learn more about the Strength at Home program, Taft asks that interested individuals call directly at 253.967.2202 or send an email to

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