Across the US, families of troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Uganda and other hot spots are emailing photos of their holiday feasts to their loved ones overseas — and asking them to respond with pictures of their own holiday celebrations.

The strategy is part of a UCLA-developed program aimed at easing the wear and tear on military families who are grappling with challenges of multiple deployments and combat-related injuries, all of which can stir destructive and difficult-to-control emotions.

“It’s really important to somehow keep the deployed parent salient in the minds of their children, and to incorporate the absent parent into holiday rituals,” said Catherine Mogil, a UCLA child psychologist.

A new study about that program shows that it really does help improve people’s ability to bounce back from challenges. The report will be published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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