MFRI’s “War and Family Life” reviewed in scholarly journal

A 2016 research text, part of Springer’s Risk and Resilience in Military and Veteran Families series, has garnered praise for its fresh perspectives in the study of military-connected families.

The Journal of Family Theory and Review recently contained a review on “War and Family Life.” Each chapter in the book was based on a presentation given at the 2013 International Research Symposium on Military and Veteran Families.

“The editors and contributors to this book are to be commended for their efforts to extend the focus of military research beyond service members and veterans to include family members,” wrote reviewers Heidi Cramm, assistant professor at Canada’s Queens University and Deborah Norris, associate professor at Mount Saint Vincent University, also located in Canada.

According to Cramm and Norris, “War and Family Life” expressly moves beyond the descriptive state of military family research to tease apart the multiple, complex factors at play in the daily lives of military families.

This unique resource provides findings and insights regarding the multiple impacts of military duty on service members and veterans, specifically from a family standpoint. Broad areas of coverage include marital and family relationships, parenting issues, family effects of war injuries, and family concerns of single service members.

“It is also refreshing to read research (e.g., Chapters 5 and 6) that offers perspectives other than those often reported in the military family literature, for example, the negative sequelae of PTSD on military families, particularly decreased family functioning and decreased marital satisfaction (Lambert, Engh, Hasbun, & Holzer 2012; Monson, Taft, & Fredman, 2009),” the scholars wrote.

“War and Family Life” was edited by Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI, and David Riggs, executive director of the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP). The book was published by Springer in 2016.

The Journal of Family Theory and Review is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the National Council on Family Relations.

MFRI book highlights post-9/11 lessons learned from supporting military families, veterans

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University recently released “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families,” a new experience-based book that highlights lessons learned from supporting veteran and military families during and after operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Findings in the book reveal that when planning for a military conflict, leaders in Congress, the executive branch, and service organizations should prioritize military and veteran families as a part of defense strategy during conflicts.

The book draws on lessons learned from U.S. policymakers, Congress members, Department of Defense officials, and leaders in sectors such as higher education, behavioral health, corporate America, and more. Key insights focus on how to produce effective and agile support systems for military and veteran families before, during, and after times of war. More than 100 leaders contributed to this valuable resource, providing knowledge they gained working firsthand with military families after 9/11 and distilling lessons learned and recommendations into practical, experience-based chapters.

“During each new conflict, we learn more about how best to support service members,” says Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, Ph.D., director of MFRI. “Our findings indicate that the military is strongest when service members know their families are taken care of and when families have the tools and resources they need to support their service member.”

A road map for supporting veteran and military families

In addition to sharing lessons learned, “A Battle Plan” acts as a road map for supporting veteran and military families, addressing how to:

  • Integrate family support systems into defense strategy.
  • Anticipate issues and challenges that are likely to affect military families.
  • Adopt policies that help, not hinder, military families during times of conflict.
  • Ensure that military families have a voice in the conversation.
  • Identify urgent gaps in support systems.
  • Navigate the rapidly changing world of service organizations.
  • Plan more effectively for medical and caregiving needs.
  • Provide the resources military and veteran families need after military conflicts wind down.

The book was edited by Linda Hughes-Kirchubel, MFRI’s director of external relations, Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, MFRI’s director, and David Riggs, executive director of the Center for Deployment Psychology. To learn more about “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families,” visit

About Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University conducts research on issues that impact military and veteran families and works to shape policies, programs, and practices that promote their well-being. Founded in 2000, MFRI envisions a diverse support community that understands the most pressing needs of military and veteran families. To achieve this, MFRI collaborates to create meaningful solutions for them. The nationally recognized organization is located at Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

MFRI report reveals details about lives of service members, veterans and their families

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University and the Purdue Center for Regional Development unveiled a ground-breaking report, “Measuring Our Communities: The State of Veteran and Military Families in the United States” on May 14.

The report unveils rich and specific data on the state of military-connected individuals across the country, focusing on topics such as employment, education, mental health and legal needs.

The event also highlighted an exceptional online data tool created by MFRI and the Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) called Measuring Communities. The tool allows service providers and professionals nationwide to make data-driven decisions when it comes to serving the unique needs of service members, veterans and their families by providing localized data.

The Measuring Communities tool, already used by more than 60 organizations, enables real-time data analysis across a range of issues offering rich and nuanced data points about military-connected individuals in the communities in which they live.

Those who wish to utilize the tool can register for access by visiting,

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

The Military Family Research Institute recognizes military spouses every day, but especially on May 11, 2018, National Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

On this day the contributions and sacrifices made by military spouses are honored. Military spouses are the solid piece that holds military families together while supporting their spouse through deployment to reintegration.

Female military service is on the rise. In parallel more military spouses are men.

Dr. Kenona Southwell, an MFRI postdoctoral researcher, has studied the demographics of military spouses. She found that civilian husbands perceived themselves as having different and broader perspectives, and having more travel experience than civilian families because of their military experiences. Husbands reported that being a military spouse helped them be more tolerant of individual differences such as race and culture, and having better problem solving and coping skills than normal civilians.

Based on the most recent 2016 Demographics Profile of the Military Community there are more than 50,800 male spouses of female service members. Males make up 8.1% of the military spouse population.

No matter the gender, military spouses play an important role in our nation’s security. At MFRI, we thank and appreciate all military spouses for their service in the U.S. and around the world.

April is the Month of the Military Child

Celebrate Military Kids! April is the Month of the Military Child!

Every April we celebrate the Month of the Military Child, showing appreciation for approximately 2 million military children who serve alongside their parents.

Military children play an important role in the armed forces community. That’s because their parent’s service requires of them daily sacrifices and can create unique challenges when compared to their civilian peers.

Ways to honor military children

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, the Month of the Military Child is a time for communities to honor these children. It’s a time to say “Thank you for your service.”

There are many things you can do to say thank you. You can celebrate Purple Up Day by wearing purple on April 13th. You can buy military-friendly books for your local library. Your business can offer discounts to military families. You can also raise awareness by distributing information that lets everyone else know that this is the Month of the Military Child. Consider downloading and sharing MFRI’s How to Help series. Each issue provides evidence-based guidance on how a particular community or profession can help military families, including children.

The DoD encourages communities to plan special events in April to honor military children. “These efforts and special events will stress the importance of providing children with quality services and support to help them succeed in the mobile military lifestyle,” the DoDEA writes.


Visualizing data and Measuring Communities

Measuring Communities is a social indicators initiative designed to help shape community efforts to support military and veteran families. This web-based tool assembles, makes available and visually represents data about the state of these families, which communities can use to identify and address gaps in services to better serve them. MFRI created this landmark initiative in partnership with the Purdue Center for Regional Development.

MFRI Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award recipient announced

Research exploring the World War II GI Bill, marriage and socioeconomic outcomes earned the 2016 Military Family Research Institute’s annual award for Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families.

Sixteen distinguished reviewers examined all the research on military families published in 2015, over 150 articles. Multiple rounds of review yielded the winning article: “War and marriage: Assortative mating and the World War II GI Bill,” by Matthew F. Larsen, T. J. McCarthy, Jeremy G. Moulton, Marianne E. Page and Ankur J. Patel. The authors’ research, detailed in the publication, used quantitative research methods to explore linkages among the World War II GI Bill, marriage and generational impacts on socioeconomic status.

“Our goal at MFRI is to increase the impact of research, and this award helps to strengthen connections between researchers, policy makers and practitioners,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI. “We are thrilled to recognize and celebrate the excellent work of these outstanding scholars.”

The article appeared in the October 2015 issue of Demography, a peer-reviewed journal that presents the work of scholars across a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, biology, economics, geography, history, psychology, public health, sociology and statistics.

The award was presented on Nov. 16, at a panel discussion based on MFRI’s forthcoming book, A Battle Plan for Supporting Military and Veteran Families. The event was hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army and held at its headquarters in Arlington, Va.

MFRI established the award to recognize the year’s best research on military-connected families. It is given annually to the authors of research published in the last year that combines exceptional rigor with important insights about military and veteran families. Nominations for this award are neither solicited nor accepted. Instead, a panel reviews all published research to determine the winner of the award.

About the authors of “War and marriage: Assortative mating and the World War II GI Bill”:

Matthew F. Larsen
Department of Economics, Lafayette College, Easton, PA.
T. J. McCarthy
Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Jeremy G. Moulton
Department of Public Policy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.
Marianne E. Page
Department of Economics, University of California Davis, Davis, CA.
Ankur J. Patel
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Washington, DC.

MFRI is also pleased to announce two other articles that received top honors:

If you would like to revisit the 2016 evening’s discussion, please view the archived version of this event.

2015 Recipient

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, Zhun Xu and Patty Barron
Research Award Recipient co-author Zhun Xu with MFRI Director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, left, and Patty Barron, of AUSA, which sponsored the award dinner.

Lundquist, J., & Xu, Z. (2014). Reinstitutionalizing families: Life course policy and marriage in the militaryJournal of Marriage and Family 76(5), 1063-1081.

Jennifer Lundquist, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Zhun Xu, Howard University, argue that structural conditions of modern military service – including deployment, frequent moves and overarching characteristics of military employment – shape the relationships between spouses and service members. Through the article, the authors bring together life course literatures on turning points, the welfare state, and linked lives to show how military policies are part of an overarching institutional culture that directly and indirectly promotes marriage.

2015 Finalists