Hill AFB families have access to unique mental health resources

Oct 20, 2022, 7:01 PM | Updated: 9:43 pm

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — Hill Air Force Base and the Davis School District have united to help military students and families get mental health resources that are unique to their needs.

The alliance is bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding to the Davis School District to make sure military children are better understood.

The money will be used to hire support staff who have been in their shoes.

Sometimes those who make sacrifices are back at home wondering if loved ones will come home safe.

“It’s really hard,” said Jenn Rupp. “It’s huge. That’s the constant in the back of their minds.”

She grew up in a military family and then raised three sons in her own military family.

“You think you’re going to be at a duty station for like three years and you find out, ‘Sorry, you’re moving in six months.’ You’re uprooted mid-school year,” she explained.

Now she’s a military educational therapist with the Davis School District and works with kids who remind her of what she experienced.

“They the ones that have to give up things to go to a new area, a new placement,” she said.

It’s tough on parents too.

That’s why Francesca Suarez is making sure military families in the Davis School District know what resources are out there to help them. She lives on base with her husband and two sons.

“Yes, my husband has 21 years active duty service for the Air Force,” Suarez said. “When you’re a dependent to an active duty military, it’s tough to find that community, that network of trusted faces.”

Jenn Rupp grew up in a military family. (Jenn Rupp) Jenn Rupp said it was hard to grow up in a military family and then raise her own military family. (Jenn Rupp) Jenn Rupp is now a military educational therapist with the Davis School District. (KSL TV) Francesca Suarez with her husband. (Francesca Suarez) Francesca Suarez is making sure military families in the Davis School District know what resources are out there to help them. (KSL TV)

Suarez and Rupp are now there to be those faces and help fill a long-time gap in the community.

“They come with their unique personal experiences,” said Casey Layton, director of responsive services at the Davis School District. She said it’s something the district hasn’t really had before.

Rupp said, “Military kids are super resilient. They’re super adaptable.”

They get there through strength and sometimes shared experiences with others. Aside from working directly with military kids, four therapists and advocates will work district-wide to help students understand what their military-family classmates go through.

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Hill AFB families have access to unique mental health resources