WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 17, 2011) -- For those Army family members who put off completing the Global Assessment Tool survey due to the sheer number of questions, the folks who run the program listened and brought down the number of questions from 260 to 80.

Additionally, a Common Access Card will no longer be needed to access the Global Assessment Tool, or GAT, or the modules it offers. Family members will need internet access and be enrolled with the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting Systems or sign on through Army Knowledge Online to gain access to the GAT.

Dorothy Benford, the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness family program manager, said the Family GAT was off-line for a few months so her team could whittle down the number of questions to a more beneficial and manageable number.

"We want to get more families interested in taking the GAT and that they'll then follow up with the modules that address areas that might help them with improving their resiliency," she said. "These modules help families become more resilient, which adds to their Soldier's resiliency, and hopefully the parents will then pass on to their children the role of resiliency in a military family."

Benford said the more families know about their weaknesses and their strengths, the better they will be able to handle stressors that affect their lives.

The GAT provides family members with a baseline measurement in the four dimensions of strength, which include emotional, social, spiritual and familial. It provides an opportunity to track self-development and growth in those areas over time. Family members can take the GAT, enroll in modules and retake the GAT in 90 days to see how they're progressing.

Benford said the new 80 question format should take only 20-25 minutes to complete, and hopes the shortened participation time will encourage members to immediately follow on with the modules. Modules include instruction in finance, home schooling and others which she is charged with developing.

Benford said a recently added development module can help spouses and their Soldiers understand the challenges and special needs of an exceptional child family member.

"Sometimes Soldiers don't always know what they're supposed to do, so this is a kind of how-to-do and what-to-do module," she said. "It goes through things like schools for children with special needs and the medical issues they face."

Another module she put together focuses on the male spouse and their challenges as they transfer from duty station to duty station with their Soldier wives.

"Every installation has a spouse employment assistance program, but I don't think there's enough attention paid to the diversity of male spouses and how difficult it is for them," she said. "This module is tied to making them aware of that program and what it can offer them."

Benford added that the Army Family Services Centers which have served as the conduits for working with Army families have been stepping up to the plate by conducting classes taught by master resilience trainers.

The Family GAT can be found online at https://www.sft.army.mil/SFTFamily.