MFRI helps organizations advance change for military and veteran families

The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University (MFRI), in partnership with the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), will host “Building Your Battle Plan to Support Military and Veteran Families” on Nov. 13 in Arlington, Va.

Led by experts and authors of MFRI’s initiative, “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families,” guests from nonprofit and veteran service organizations will come together to create specific, targeted plans to support and advance transformational change in family support for military and veteran families.

The text (Hughes-Kirchubel, MacDermid Wadsworth & Riggs, 2018), offers key insights that focus on how organizations can produce powerful supports for military families before, during and after major conflicts. Contributors’ integrated knowledge gained during their work with families and distilled recommendations into practical, experience-based chapters.

A panel discussion will kick off the event. Each panelist will provide the audience with insight on how to build plans of support that offer applicable solutions for military and veteran families. The panelists will offer recommendation based on sector-wide experiences in the years following 9/11.

“These important groups are coming together to actively engage and collaborate to find solutions for military and veteran families,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, MFRI director. “History has shown us that major conflicts can arise without warning. These changes affect military and veteran families in a variety of ways. With this in mind, the attendees will collectively build viable solutions that can be strategically implemented during a future major conflict.”

The 2017 and 2018 MFRI Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families awards will also be presented at the event. Eight prominent scholars reviewed over 700 scientific articles from each year. Multiple rounds of review yielded the winning articles.

MFRI established the award in 2015 to recognize the best research on military-connected families. It is awarded to authors of research that combines exceptional rigor with important insights about military and veteran families. Nominations for this award are neither solicited nor accepted. Instead, a panel of top scholars reviews all the published research during the year and then determines the recipient.

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.

About AUSA

The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) is the only private, nonprofit professional organization serving all components of America’s Total Army and its supporters. Since 1950, AUSA has provided a voice for the Army and vital services for Soldiers, Army civilians, and their families to advance the security of our nation. If you have a connection with the Army—professionally or personally—AUSA is your resource for exclusive access to scholarships and grants, business opportunities, educational resources, philanthropy initiatives, family programs, influential representation, and genuine relationships with a supportive Army community.

Military and Veteran Family Research in Excellence Award recipients announced

The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University (MFRI) will present the 2017 and 2018 Awards for Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families today (Nov. 13).

Eight prominent scholars reviewed over 700 scientific articles from each year. Multiple rounds of review yielded the winning articles.

The 2017 selection, Post-9/11 veterans and their partners improve mental health outcomes with a self-directed mobile and web-based wellness training program: A randomized controlled trial, appeared in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The 2018 selection, How family structures and processes interrelate: The case of adolescent mental health and academic success in military families, appeared in the Journal of Family Issues.

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

The 2017 award recipients include:

  • Janet Kahn, Ph.D., LMT, University of Vermont
  • William Collinge, D., MPH, LCSW, Collinge and Associates, Inc.
  • Robert Soltysik, M.S., Optimal Data Analysis, LLC

The 2018 award recipients include:

  • Amy Laura Arnold Ph.D. CFLE, ICF
  • Mallory Lucier-Greer, Ph.D., Auburn University
  • Jay Mancini, Ph.D., University of Georgia, Athens
  • James Ford, Ph.D., University of Georgia, Athens
  • A.S. Wickrama, Ph.D., University of Georgia, Athens

MFRI established the award in 2015 to recognize the best research on military-connected families. It is awarded to authors of research that combines exceptional rigor with important insights about military and veteran families. Nominations for this award are neither solicited nor accepted. Instead, a panel of top scholars reviews all the published research during the year and then determines the recipient.

MFRI is also pleased to announce the articles that received an honorable mention for each year.

2017

2018

To learn more about past recipients, visit the MFRI Excellence in Research Award page.

The awards will be presented at a co-hosted event with the Association of the United States Army titled “Building Your Battle Plan to Support Military and Veteran Families.” 

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.

About AUSA

The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) is the only private, nonprofit professional organization serving all components of America’s Total Army and its supporters. Since 1950, AUSA has provided a voice for the Army and vital services for Soldiers, Army civilians, and their families to advance the security of our nation. If you have a connection with the Army—professionally or personally—AUSA is your resource for exclusive access to scholarships and grants, business opportunities, educational resources, philanthropy initiatives, family programs, influential representation, and genuine relationships with a supportive Army community.

MFRI director recognized as a top contributor to work and family research

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, professor of Human Development and Family Studies and director of the Center for Families (CFF) and the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University, has been named one of the top extraordinary contributors to the field of work and family research.

The top contributors were identified by E. Jeffrey Hill, PhD, and colleagues at Brigham Young University with their eight modalities of excellence which includes:

• Publishing work and family scholarship (based on academic metrics: citation counts, articles, books, indices, etc.)
• Publishing work and family scholarship (based on reputation among work and family scholars)
• Funding of work and family research
• Disseminating work and family research to policy makers and the public
• Providing service to the field (reviews, professional organizations, etc.)
• Mentoring future work and family scholars (e.g., graduate students, new scholars, etc.)
• Making landmark contributions that have shaped the field (e.g., landmark articles, books, reports, etc.)
• Overall contribution (based on reputation among work and family scholars)

To identify the eight modalities of excellence, Hill conducted extensive research involving analyses of academic metrics, focus groups with top work and family scholars, and a survey of Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN) members.

MacDermid Wadsworth joined other top contributors on a panel at the WFRN conference on June 22 who shared their experience in guiding the work-family research field.

About MacDermid Wadsworth

Shelley M. MacDermid Wadsworth is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University, where she also directs the Center for Families and Military Family Research Institute. She holds an M.B.A. in Management and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on relationships between job conditions and family life, with a special focus on military families and organizational policies, programs and practices. Over the past 24 years, she has studied differences between small and large workplaces, how adults grow and develop as a result of their work experiences, and how different kinds of organizational policies make it easier or more difficult for workers to be successful at work and at home.

Her research has been widely published in scientific outlets including the Journal of Marriage and Family and the Academy of Management Journal, and has been funded and has been funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Henry A. Murray Center, the Department of Defense, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the state of Indiana, Lilly Endowment, and others.

MacDermid Wadsworth is a fellow of the National Council on Family Relations, and a recipient of the Work Life Legacy Award from the Families and Work Institute and the Violet Haas Award for Leadership on behalf of women at Purdue University. MacDermid Wadsworth has served on federal advisory committees for the Department of Defense and the Institute of Medicine, and has testified in Congress regarding military and veteran families. In 2012, she received the Morrill Award from Purdue University in recognition of outstanding career achievements that have had an impact on society, and in 2016, Purdue University received the Kellogg Award from the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and the Higher Education Civic Engagement Award from the Washington Center in recognition of the work of the Military Family Research Institute.

She serves on the editorial boards of several major family research journals, and is a fellow of the National Council on Family Relations and a recipient of the Work Life Legacy Award from the Families and Work Institute. She served on the Returning Veterans Committee of the Institute of Medicine and the Psychological Health External Advisory Committee of the Defense Health Board. She is currently serving on a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee that focuses on military families’ well-being.

About Center for Families and the Military Family Research Institute

CFF and MFRI are an initiative of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue University. One of the world’s premiere research institutions, Purdue is Indiana’s land-grant university, and supports missions of learning, discovery and engagement.

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 www.mfri.purdue.edu/battleplan.

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, measuringcommunities.org.

MFRI research focuses on couple communication during deployment

Communication is key to relationship success, especially for intimate partners. To learn more about how deployments impact couples’ communication, MFRI researchers recruited 87 partners of deployed service members to complete daily diaries about their communication.

The research was conducted as part of MFRI’s Family Journeys study, designed to understand how families negotiate and manage changing family roles before, during and after deployment.

“Given developments in new media and social media, deployed service members and their at-home partners were often able to communicate regularly via phone and video calls during the Iran and Afghanistan conflicts,” said Steve Wilson, Purdue University professor of communication and MFRI faculty partner. “Our findings suggest that the key issue is not how often couples talk during deployment, but rather what they are saying and doing during their communication.”

Every evening for seven consecutive days, at-home partners described all of the day’s communication with their service member. They also described the level of connection they felt during the interaction. The MFRI team analyzed these reports and found indications that partners felt more connected to their service member when:

  • the service member provided them with higher levels of support; and
  • the couple made decisions together.

Couples also reported greater feeling of connection on specific days when partners and service members provided each other with more support than usual during phone or video calls.

According to Wilson, the research suggested several ways couples experiencing deployment could communicate effectively.

“Couples can help maintain their relationship by consistently offering each other support. At home partners can also involve the service member in key decisions without overburdening them,” he said. “Couples also need to recognize that they are going to have good and bad days. When their spouse or partner offers them less support than usual on a specific day, this probably reflects daily challenges and not a long-term change in their spouse.”

On the flip side, Wilson said, when at-home partners can offer meaningful support to their service member on a day when it is really needed, they feel especially connected. This is also true when their service member does the same for them.

During deployments, communication can fluctuate for a variety of reasons beyond a couples’ control (e.g. time zones, blackouts, lack of privacy).  The team says future research should explore how these fluctuations affect couples’ connection and strategies they might use to maintain their relationship during and after deployment.

MFRI is grateful to the couples who took part in this important research project. To learn more about its findings, read “Communication and connection during deployment: A daily-diary study from the perspective of at-home partners,” published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

Reference: Wilson, S. R., Marini, C. M., Franks, M. M., Whiteman, S. D., Topp, D., & Wadsworth, S. M. (2017). Communication and connection during deployment: A daily-diary study from the perspective of at-home partners. Journal of Family Psychology. Advance online publishing. doi: 10.1037/fam0000333

Student opportunities grow experience, knowledge

Are you thinking about a unique, challenging internship experience that offers an array of hands-on opportunities, college credit and a rewarding experience? MFRI is accepting interns for the upcoming spring semester within the External Relations, Family Support and Research teams. Internships are open to qualified Purdue students, especially those who are interested in serving military-connected families.

Students majoring in communication, human development and family studies and hospitality and tourism management majors are strongly encouraged to apply. An internship in External Relations internship provides a part-time, for-credit opportunity for undergraduate or graduate students in the Brian Lamb School of Communication, offering tailored communication experiences. Students will gain experience on social media and video production, web and print content creation, event management and copyediting. It is an excellent stepping stone for those seeking a career in public relations, event management, marketing or communications. For more information, contact Linda Hughes-Kirchubel.

If you’re seeking research-focused experience, consider applying for an internship assisting with the Family Journeys Study through HDFS 390/590. This course provides an opportunity for students to code tasks performed by the family members during interviews. Email Keisha Bailey or Christine McCall for more information.

The Family Support Team will be offering one full-time, 12-credit undergraduate internship through the Human Development and Family Studies program. The intern in this position will work with the Measuring Communities project and help collect important data to distribute to communities. While this internship is already filled for the spring semester, contact Kathy Broniarczyk for more information if interested in this opportunity for future semesters.

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

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

An analysis of National Guard post-deployment relationships

Individuals differ in the ways they typically cope with stressful life circumstances. Authors Christina M. Marini and Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, who work at MFRI, and Sharon L. Christ, and Melissa M. Franks evaluated military couples and their coping strategies in relation to their psychological health during reintegration after deployment.

The article, published in the “Journal of Social and Personal Relationships” evaluated 175 National Guard couples who recently experienced deployment and addressed two main topics: (1) whether there were interactive associations among partners’ coping strategies and (2) whether service members’ level of combat exposure moderated any of these associations. The research showed that psychological health was positively associated with one’s own emotion expression and negatively associated with one’s own avoidance.

There was also a significant association between service members’ psychological health and their significant others’ emotion expression but only in the context of high combat exposure. The article is available through the publisher’s website.