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.

MFRI director visits The Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The director of the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) on Monday testified before Congress, at a hearing called by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ subcommittee on health.

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, Ph.D.,  who heads MFRI and Purdue’s Center for Families, gave testimony regarding Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) collaborations with faith-based organizations. The hearing focused on the need for greater community support of returning veterans, especially OIF/OEF veterans seeking mental health care who often opt for non-VA programs.

MacDermid Wadsworth testified on a panel of experts alongside:

  • Chaplain John J. Morris, Joint Force Headquarters Chaplain Minnesota National Guard;
  • M. David Rudd, Ph.D. ABPP, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Scientific and director of the National Center for Veteran Studies University of Utah; and
  • George Ake, III, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical psychology, Duke University and American Psychological Association.

During her remarks, MacDermid Wadsworth pointed out MFRI-VA partnerships in the areas of homelessness, higher education, vocational rehabilitation, behavioral health care, outreach to community partners, and research.

“Based on these experiences, I know that successful collaborations are possible, can benefit military and veteran families significantly, and can contribute substantively to the VA mission,” she said. “I identify several keys to success in my written statement, but will focus my remarks here on challenges and opportunities that might benefit from policy or legislative attention.”

Challenges and opportunities MacDermid Wadsworth identified included:

  • creating “clear points of entry for prospective collaborators ‘along multiple VA tracks;
  • wwweloping “mechanisms to separate the ‘wheat’ from the ‘chaff’ among prospective partners”;
  • reducing “structural barriers to collaboration”; and
  • providing “tangible incentives and benefit to community and VA partners who collaborate effectively.”