Reed-Fitzke and Duncan Receive Grant to Help Identify At-Risk Soldiers

Reed-Fitzke and Duncan
Reed-Fitzke (right) and Duncan

NCFR members Kayla Reed-Fitzke, Ph.D., LMFT, and James M. Duncan, Ph.D., CFLE, DAV, have received a Society for Military Psychology Member/Affiliate Research Grant to conduct research into how to help at-risk soldiers get the support needed to be safe and successful early in their careers. The $2,500 grant will help fund the research project, "Identifying At-Risk U.S. Army Soldiers: A Person-Centered Approach to Adverse Childhood Experiences." 

Dr. Reed Fitzke, an assistant professor in the University of Iowa College of Education’s Couple and Family Therapy Program, is the principal investigator. Dr. Duncan, an adjunct professor in the University of Arkansas School of Human Envionrmental Sciences, is the co-investigator.

This study seeks to identify at-risk early career service members by using a novel, person-centered approach to examine adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), combat-related stressors, and mental health. Adverse childhood experiences include verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, as well as family dysfunction, such as an incarcerated, mentally ill, or substance-abusing family member; domestic violence; or absence of a parent because of divorce or separation.

Dr. Reed Fitzke says the research is critical because more than 3.5 million individuals serve in some capacity in the U.S. Armed Forces. As service members train and progress through their military careers, they will be confronted with numerous stressors, such as future deployment overseas, she says. Empirical evidence indicates that ACEs are a critical public health concern because they are linked to mental health disorders and several leading causes of death, she says.

“Given the military’s desire to to maintain mission readiness and respond to rising global threats quickly, it is imperative to identify areas of intervention early in the service member’s career to help promote optimal functioning and health,” Dr. Reed Fitzke says. “Using ACEs to help identify at-risk soldiers will bolster targeted intervention efforts.”