School-Based Effort in Florida Aids Gulf Veterans, Families

By Mark Pitsch — March 27, 1991 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Education, counseling, and veterans’ groups in Florida have formed a statewide counseling network to assist returning veterans of the Persian Gulf war and their families.

The school-based project, Operation Open House, will provide counseling and referral services for families that are reuniting after a separation caused by the deployment of troops for Operation Desert Storm.

“The homecoming will not be smooth for everyone,” said Pat Tornillo, president of the Florida Education Association/United, which is helping to organize the network.

“Many returning Americans will need more than a pat on the back and a parade down Main Street,” he said in announcing the project this month.

Operation Open House, which is expected to be operational within a month, is thought to be the first such statewide network established to assist military families with members returning from the Gulf. More than 30,000 Floridians were deployed to the Middle East during the crisis, the project’s organizers said.

School districts located on or near military bases around the country, meanwhile, have independently begun to counsel reuniting families.

For example, officials of the Killeen Independent School District in Texas, near Fort Hood, said their efforts at counseling students with parents at war had evolved into sessions for families reuniting after the conflict.

Students asked that Killeen’s support groups remain in operation, said Bob Massey, a district spokesman.

“The questions have shifted to ‘How do I relate to my mom or my dad when they come back?”’ he said.

Legislation pending in the Congress would allocate federal financial assistance for educational and support services for military families affected by the Gulf deployments.

Lawmakers late last week were considering a wide-ranging package of special benefits and services for Gulf veterans and their families.

Pressures of Reunion

Schools across the country have counseled students with parents stationed in the Gulf since the deployments began last August. (See Education Week, Jan. 16, 1991.)

But some psychologists say more stress may be created when families reunite after such a separation.

With one or both parents deployed, the roles of remaining family members change dramatically, said Charles Figley, a professor of psychology with the Marriage and Family Therapy Center at Florida State University, one of the groups in the Operation Open House network.

Children become closer to the parent they have daily contact with and may demand more freedom from the parent they have been apart from, Mr. Figley said. At the same time, he added, the parent remaining behind has likely assumed the role of the other during his or her absence.

“Some of the spouses don’t share all the difficulty that they’ve gone through in the absence of the other,” he said. “In the process [of reuniting], they will be dumping all this on the trooper when he or she returns,” a situation that can raise tensions for spouses and children alike.

The Florida network will be located in selected schools, where a staff liaison will coordinate counseling services. Those schools will publicize the services in the communities for which they are responsible.

Officials do not expect the project to cost districts additional dollars, and they plan to solicit the federal government for assistance.

In addition to the fea/United and the fsu therapy center, other groups involved include: the Florida Teaching Profession-National Education Association, the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, the Florida School Boards Association, the Florida Association of School Administrators, the Florida School Counselors Association, the state department of veterans’ affairs, and the American Legion.

A version of this article appeared in the March 27, 1991 edition of Education Week as School-Based Effort in Florida Aids Gulf Veterans, Families

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP