MFRI director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth named distinguished professor

The Purdue University Board of Trustees on June 11 ratified MFRI’s director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth as a Distinguished Professor of Department of Human Development and Family Studies. MacDermid Wadsworth has been a Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences professor since 2001 and is an internationally-renowned expert on work and family life relationships, specifically on the resilience of military families. She has been a productive scholar with more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, more than 30 book chapters and nine edited or authored books. MacDermid Wadsworth came to Purdue in 1989 and has received the highest recognitions that the University bestows: the Morrill Award from the Office of the Provost, the Lu Ann Aday Award from the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships, and the Faculty Engagement Scholar Award. She co-founded MFRI in 2000 and has been MFRI’s director since 2007.

MFRI’s response to COVID-19

The safety and well-being of our staff and those we serve is an issue we take very seriously. MFRI is following the guidance from Purdue University about social distancing and the State of Indiana’s stay at home order.  We are paying close attention to updates and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We know that the current situation impacts our work and initiatives. We are working to assess each initiative and devise alternate (contingency) plans that allow us to carry on with our work supporting military and veteran families and those that support them. We thank you for your patience as we implement these plans. We encourage everyone to do your part to protect the health of others and continue to support each other and those you come in contact with.

For the most up-to-date news, view Purdue University’s COVID-19 website.

National Academies releases report on strengthening military families

Deployment and the general challenges of military life affect not only service members but also the families who depend on them as they support the nation. And the needs of military families reflect the diverse needs of modern American families.

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — “Strengthening the Military Family Readiness System for a Changing American Society” — reviews challenges and opportunities facing military families and what is known about effective strategies for supporting and protecting military children and families. The report, which was co-authored by MFRI’s Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth and an esteemed committee of leaders, assessed available data and research on military children and families, including those who have left the military, with attention to differences by race, ethnicity, and other factors.

Undertaken by the National Academies’ Committee on the Well-Being of Military Families, the study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense and focuses on its Military Family Readiness System (MFRS), a network of agencies, programs, services, and individuals that promotes the well-being and quality of life of military service members and their families.

The report found that DOD’s MFRS has many good features and offers support not usually available in the private sector; however, it could be strengthened in a number of ways, including by though attention to a more comprehensive, coordinated framework to support well-being, resilience, and readiness.

Recommendations included that DOD strengthen the MFRS so that it:

  • Provides a comprehensive continuum of support across providers, locations, and changing benefit eligibility.
  • Facilitates adaptive and timely approaches to stepped service delivery according to individual family needs.
  • Draws upon effective evidence-based or evidence-informed approaches.
  • Integrates routine screening and assessment tools into the delivery of family support programs.
  • Builds and employs a robust infrastructure of both implementation and outcome data that supports continuous quality improvement.
  • Coordinates referrals and care across military and nonmilitary resources, institutions, and communities.

The report also recommends that the DOD promote better civilian understanding, both within military community and the broader community, of the strengths and needs of military-connected individuals, addressing misinformation, negative stereotypes, and lack of knowledge commonly found in the civilian sector about military life and service members.

 

About the National Academies: The National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit nationalacademies.org.

Col. Roger Peterman, Retired discusses Battlemind to Home Summit 2019

Col. Roger Peterman, Retired is an advocate and supporter of Battlemind to Home. Listen to him discuss Battlemind 2019 and benefits is brings to the greater Indiana military community.

MFRI partners with Military REACH in support of research award

Each year the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University presents the MFRI Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award. The award is given to the top research paper for the selected year.

Nominations or applications are accepted, and authors have no idea their work is being considered. Instead, a large panel of accomplished scholars examines every relevant article published during the eligible year. Through multiple rounds of review that include standardized quantitative assessments, reviewers arrive at the honored selection.

This year MFRI is partnering with Military REACH Project to identify and select the winning paper.

Like MFRI, Military REACH strives to support military families by bridging the gap between research and practice. A partnership between Auburn University, the U.S. Departments of Defense and Agriculture, Military REACH produces summaries of recent family-based military research highlighting implications for families, helping professionals, and those who work to support military families; summaries are disseminated monthly by newsletter and more often on social media.

“We are excited to work with MFRI because this award highlights both the needs of military and veteran families and honors high quality research that can be translated into supports for those families,” said Mallory Lucier-Greer, an associate professor at Auburn and director of Military REACH. “The partnership is a great way to utilize the resources of Military REACH, as we track current research in real time, and the platform of MFRI to celebrate rigorous scientific research and advocate for evidence-informed policies and practices for military and veteran families.”

Learn more about the MFRI Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award here.

About Military REACH

The purpose of Military REACH, a partnership between Auburn University and the DoD-USDA Partnership for Military Families, is to bridge the gap between military family research and practice. To facilitate the DoD’s provision of high-quality support to military families, our objective is to make research practical and accessible. We do this by producing research summaries with action-oriented implications for our target audiences: families, helping professionals, and those who work on behalf of military families. Our team critically evaluates and synthesizes military family research related to issues of family support, resilience, and readiness. We identify meaningful trends and practical applications of that research, and then, we deliver research summaries and action-oriented implications to our target audiences.

Hungry veterans need help. Here’s how communities can provide it.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Nearly one in four U.S. veterans faces hunger. These are the people who have served overseas, responded to disaster areas and sworn to protect their country. 

A recent study by Purdue University’s Military Family Research Institute at 10 faith-based food pantries in Indiana and Kentucky – five pantries in each state – suggests there is promise for underserved veterans and their families.

Through its Reaching Rural Veterans initiative, the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) developed a pilot program to evaluate resource and food security in rural veterans. It is the first such study, and results were published in the Journal of Public Health.

Reaching Rural Veterans helps local food pantries develop and host monthly resource fairs that bring together organizations to make sure veterans have access to veterans’ associations, benefits, housing, health care and other needs.

To participate in the program, the food pantry staff was asked to plan resource fairs and complete cultural competency training, including awareness of issues facing veterans. Purdue’s MFRI and the University of Kentucky’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences led the training.

“Working with pantries is cost-effective because they already have physical locations and staff,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, a professor of human development and family studies, and director of the MFRI. “Several pantries still continue to do these events.”

The Salvation Army in Anderson, Indiana, is one of the sites that continues with a regular resource fair and food distribution. It became the site after another organization discontinued hosting the program.

According to databases, there are more than 9,000 veterans in Indiana’s Madison County. Shelly DeLong, social services coordinator for The Salvation Army in Anderson, said the program has helped veterans who have served in war or peace, but most of them are 50-plus years old, have health issues or have a disability.

DeLong was a member of the initial community work group in Madison County and has been working with volunteers to draw more veterans into the event.

On April 5, DeLong and a group of volunteers served beef and noodles, green beans, mashed potatoes, cake and drinks to 23 veterans and two family members who came to The Salvation Army for a resource fair. In addition to the meal, fellowship and the occasional war story, the veterans and their families were able to leave the event with food and appointments to address their various issues.

 “It is good to see them come in, get checked and get access to resources. Most of them do use the food pantry,” DeLong said.

“One of the surprises was that we had contact with so many veterans,” MacDermid Wadsworth said. The goal, originally 300 participants, was easily surpassed, with 1,094 veterans — 430 in Indiana and 664 in Kentucky. “That was the reason we did this, as those veterans earned the right to get resources.”

The study saw improvements in food pantry staff’s knowledge of veterans’ needs, as well as increased participation by veterans.

Of the 1,094 participants, 234 veterans participated in follow-ups regarding food security, social services and health conditions. The group discovered the need to improve dietary intake, which would help with chronic health conditions. In addition, the results could lead to overall health improvements if veterans have access to proper programs and benefits.

 “By developing Reaching Rural Veterans, we are trying to extend the front door of the Department of Veterans Affairs to these rural areas,” MacDermid Wadsworth said.

The study was a collaborative work by members of Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences, including MacDermid Wadsworth; Andrea Wellnitz, a project manager at MFRI; Breanne Wright, a doctoral student; and Heather Eicher-Miller, an associate professor of nutrition science.

This work was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Rural Health (VA251-15-C-0041). 

Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-496-2571, oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

Sources: Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, shelley@purdue.edu , @MFRIPurdue

Shelly DeLong, Salvation Army, 765-644-2538, shelly_delong@usc.salvationarmy.org 

Note to Journalists: For a copy of the paper, please contact Matthew Oates, Purdue News Service, at oatesw@purdue.edu


ABSTRACT

Reaching rural veterans: a new mechanism to connect rural, low-income US Veterans with resources and improve food security

B.N. Wright, S. MacDermid Wadsworth, A. Wellnitz and H.A. Eicher-Miller

Background: Rural, low-income US veterans face additional barriers to accessing food and resources compared to urban veterans. Based on both social-ecological and cultural competence approaches, the Reaching Rural Veterans (RRV) pilot intervention built on the existing infrastructure of food pantries to improve food security and connect rural, low-income veterans with resources. This article describes the process of implementing and evaluating RRV.

Methods: Five rural food pantries within each of two states, Indiana and Kentucky, received training in cultural competence and held monthly outreach events where food and services were offered to veterans. Veteran adult participants completed an assessment at baseline and 3- month follow-up that measured food security using the US Household Food Security Survey Module and self-reported resource enrollment. Repeated measures logistic regression models evaluated the odds of improving food security and resource enrollment from baseline to follow up (significance P < 0.05).

Results: RRV recruited 234 participants; 53% completed the follow-up assessment. At follow-up, the odds of household (P = 0.009) and adult (P = 0.01) food security increased, as did enrollment in one or more of the following resources: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, General Assistance or Assistance from the Township Trustee (P = 0.005).

Conclusions: RRV yielded promising preliminary results of improved food security and resource use.

MFRI’s Focus Forward Fellowship 2019 cohort selected

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University is proud to announce the selection of the 2019 Focus Forward Fellowship cohort. The program will be held July 17-20 at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

After completing the residency, Fellows will engage with their cohort in an online community during the 2019–2020 academic year. MFRI covers the cost of travel, food, lodging, activities and materials.

MFRI received applications from 129 eligible candidates for this year’s Fellowship. After undergoing a competitive selection process, 20 women were accepted to participate from 16 different colleges and universities. The women represent four branches of service and many areas of academic study.

Fellows must hold an honorable, medical or general discharge from the U.S. military or currently be serving. They must be sophomores, juniors or seniors; or they may be, pursuing a master’s degree. All accepted Fellows are maintaining a 2.75 GPA or better.

Since 2016, the Fellowship has been a highlight for women student veterans and service members across the nation. Like the women who came before them, the 2019 cohort will build leadership skills, connect with career mentors, develop skills that foster their academic and professional goals, understand and maximize their individual strengths, and build a supportive community of peers.

Jeni Brett, a 2018 Fellow, remembers her acceptance into the program. “I had so much joy and apprehension all at once. I was excited for the opportunity to better myself with the help of other women who had been in the same situations, and a little nervous because I’m not used to connecting with other veterans. At the end of day one I had 19 new sisters, incredible mentors and a much better understanding of my self-worth. I am so glad that I allowed myself to be vulnerable and accept this gift of fellowship.”

Betty Moseley Brown, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, will serve as the Fellowship’s opening keynote speaker on Wednesday evening and Tracy Crow, author of “It’s My Country Too: Women’s Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan” will lead sessions on the Saturday of the program.

For more information about the program visit bit.ly/fwdfellows. Contact Keara Ludiker at kludiker@purdue.edu or call 765-494-0048. Connect with MFRI on Twitter at @MFRIPurdue and use #FWDFellows to join the conversation.

2019 Focus Forward Fellowship Cohort

  • Carine Bray, Regent University, divinity, Navy
  • Katie Bresnan, Gonzaga University, environmental studies, Navy
  • Regina Campbell, Oklahoma State University, natural resource ecology and management, Army
  • Jessica Candelo, Troy University, clinical mental health counseling, Marine Corps
  • Rita Case, Regis University, organizational leadership, Navy
  • Sheila Desinat, Broward College, supervision and management, Army
  • Sandra Farbrother, The University of Toledo, accounting, Marine Corps
  • Kori Flores, Regent University, paralegal studies, Navy
  • Deloris Hope Giger, Wayland Baptist University, psychology, Air Force
  • Vonda Hopkins, University of South Florida, personal finance, Navy
  • Joni Hughes, Northeast State Community College, business, Army
  • Earma Jean Lovett, Purdue University, human services, Army
  • Venette Melo, Gonzaga University, clinical mental health counseling, Marine Corps
  • Amanda Nicks, Clemson University, criminal justice, Navy
  • Jennifer Puentes, Florida International University, public administration, Navy
  • Brittany Shapiro, Johns Hopkins University, population, family and reproductive health, Navy
  • Morgan Torres, Purdue University, law and society and political science, Army
  • Sheena Van Ornum, University of Nebraska Omaha, public management, Air Force
  • Rontach Washington, Florida International University, business administration, Army
  • Nicole Wise-Pruitt, University of Central Arkansas, accounting, Navy

MFRI director and staff member presented with honors

The director of the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University and an MFRI staff member both received awards for engagement.

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, MFRI director, and Keara Ludiker, MFRI education and employment program specialist, each received the Purdue College of Health and Human Sciences Engagement Award on April 26.

MacDermid Wadsworth received the faculty award and Ludiker received the staff award.

Keara Ludiker and Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth receiving the Purdue HHS engagement awardThe purpose of this annual award is to recognize faculty and staff who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in engagement activities that have positively impacted the stakeholders of the College of Health and Human Sciences by addressing matters affecting the health, behavior and quality of life of people.

On April 23, MacDermid Wadsworth also received the Purdue Faculty Engagement Fellow Award.

This award is presented to a full professor whose work has led to a strong record in the scholarship of engagement. This award embodies the creation and dissemination of new knowledge through intensive community interaction and partnership culminating in document community impact.  

All three awards are nomination based.

About MFRI

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University conducts research on issues that affect military and veteran families and works to shape policies, programs and practices that improve 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. This internationally-recognized organization is located at Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

Purdue Ideas Festival event on war and security May 14

As part of Purdue’s Giant Leaps campaign, a symposium on ethics, technology and the future of war security will be held on May 14 at Purdue University.

The Purdue Symposium on Ethics, Technology and the Future of War and Security will include a series of panel discussion designed to explore emerging technologies through the lens of their ethical, legal and social implications. The symposium will also explore these technologies’ impact on the future of war and security.

This Ideas Festival event will bring together preeminent thought leaders, practitioners and stakeholders from across government, industry and academia. These experts will help us better understand and plan for the ethical and societal impacts of new technologies.

Panel topics include:

  • The Future of War: Ethical, Legal and Social Implications
  • The Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence in Warfare
  • Global Perspectives on Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of the Future of War

The event is sponsored by the Purdue Policy Research Institute. It is open to the public. To learn more or register click here.

About the Purdue Policy Research Institute (PPRI)

The PPRI team creates and participates in interdisciplinary grant activities in strategic areas. PPRI is hosts a “Policy Lab” where faculty and students (fellows and affiliated faculty) work together producing new ideas and research, and supports faculty teams in incorporating policy into their projects. PPRI works closely with the director to ensure these efforts reflect the overall goals of Discovery Park.