Research investigates help-seeking messages

Researchers at Purdue University are working to deepen understanding of what kinds of messages from family members are most helpful and effective at encouraging veterans to seek behavioral healthcare, when needed.
Led by Professor Steve Wilson of Purdue’s Brian Lamb School of Communication, the team aims to gain a deeper understanding of these interactions from both the family member and veteran perspectives. Ultimately, the research results may inform programs whose mission it is to assist military and veteran families. The study includes an online survey that takes about 30 minutes to complete and asks the veteran to evaluate a message crafted by family members who took part in phase one of the study.
“We know these conversations can be difficult,” said Wilson, who is also a faculty associate at the Military Family Research Institute. “Thanks to the help of people who work with veterans, we were able to spread the word about phase one of our research, where we surveyed and interviewed family members of veterans. They described what they might say to a loved one to encourage them to seek help for symptoms of depression, PTSD or other, similar issues. We are now seeking to gain important information from the veteran’s perspective.”
Participation is voluntary and open to veterans who are no longer connected to the military and who completed one or more deployments in OIF, OEF or OND. Participation is confidential and those who take part will receive a $10 Amazon gift card upon completion of the survey. If you have questions, contact:

  • Steve Wilson, Ph.D.
  • Professor, Brian Lamb School of Communication
  • Faculty Associate, Military Family Research Institute
  • Purdue University
  • militaryfamilycommunication@purdue.edu
  • 765-414-0094

Be a mentor, find a mentor

One of MFRI’s strategic goals is to engage in and promote learning, including the kind of learning that mentors and mentees can afford to one another. So it is natural for us want to highlight the benefits of engaging in meaningful mentoring opportunities whenever they are available

Students are a big part of what makes MFRI a thriving learning organization. MFRI is committed to furthering Purdue students’ education by involving them in meaningful opportunities during their time working for the organization.

But we also believe that we can learn from these bright young minds. In fact, we believe all of us have things to learn, just as all of us have things to teach, and we try to practice this belief every day. We wwweloped one of our newest initiatives, the Focus Forward Fellowship, to help connect women student veterans from across the country with the kinds of mentors who can make a difference in their lives.

Are you a mentor? Do you have one or more? Because January is National Mentoring Month, MFRI Director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth shares below some important concepts about mentoring. Make 2017 the year you engage in a process that research shows has benefits to all!

What should you know about mentoring?

  1. Almost everyone can benefit from it. 
  2. No one mentor will meet all needs; it is perfectly acceptable to have multiple mentors at once (Baugh & Scandura, 1999; Terry & Ghosh, 2015).
  3. No one is just a mentor or a mentee – we all have things we can learn from each other and teach to each other (Ghosh & Thomas, 2013). Networking mentoring can be very effective, rather than just top-down mentoring (Tsen, Borus, Nadelson, Seely, Haas & Fuhlbrigge, 2012).
  4. Mentoring relationships can be narrow or broad.  Some mentoring relationships focus on very specific purposes or tasks; others provide more general support and guidance. In addition, "episodic mentoring" may occur spontaneously, occurring in everyday, short-term interactions (Buzzanell, 2009; Fletcher & Ragins, 2007).
  5. Mentors are advisors, coaches, or consultants, and there should be mutual agreement about what is "on" and "off" the table for discussion (Harrison, 2014).
  6. Don't sit back and wait for an invitation or an offer – reach out to seek mentoring or become a mentor.  The worst that can happen is someone will say "no," but the best that can happen is a fulfilling and productive relationship (Harrison, 2014).

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MFRI awarded grant for Measuring Communities

Washington, D.C. – The Elizabeth Dole Foundation today announced the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University as a recipient of a 2017 grant from the Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Fund.

The Fund is dedicated to supporting innovative programs making a direct impact in the lives of America’s military and veteran caregivers. More than half a million dollars will be distributed to fourteen nonprofit organizations to create new initiatives or expand existing programs.

The 2017 grant recipients were competitively selected from among nearly 150 applications from organizations nationally.

“When the Foundation launched Hidden Heroes in September, we renewed our commitment to do all we can to improve the lives of military caregivers, those spouses, mothers, dads, children, siblings, and friends who are caring for America’s wounded warriors,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole. “As part of this multifaceted initiative, we established the Hidden Heroes Fund to award grants to nonprofit organizations that are making a real difference in the lives of America’s military and veteran caregivers.”

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) conducts research on issues that affect military and veteran families and works to shape policies, programs and practices that improve their well-being. Measuring Communities, the landmark MFRI program created in partnership with the Purdue Center for Regional wwwelopment, will use the grant to combine the information captured on HiddenHeroes.org and through the Hidden Heroes Cities program with data provided by other organizations to create a fuller picture of the strengths and gaps in military family support in communities nationwide.

“MFRI is pleased to be awarded this grant by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to expand work on the Measuring Communities online portal,” said Kathy Broniarczyk, Director of Family Support at MFRI. “The military caregiver population and their needs are not always well understood by the communities in which they live. Using the data collected on military caregivers by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, MFRI, through the Measuring Communities online portal, can work to help communities understand and address the needs of this population. We are excited about the collaboration and the potential for this work to make a positive impact on these hidden heroes.”

Selection criteria for the grants include: the organization’s effectiveness in addressing military caregivers’ unique needs as determined by the Foundation-commissioned RAND study which established baseline research on the status of military caregivers; alignment with the Foundation’s eight critical impact areas: community support at home, education and training, employment, faith and spirituality, financial and legal support, mental and physical health, military family support and respite care; use of evidence-based resources to inform the creation of effective programming for caregivers; and the replicability of the program.

For interviews with Elizabeth Dole Foundation Executive Director Steve Schwab and grant recipients, please contact Austin Courtney at ACourtney@susandavis.com or 202-414-0791.

MFRI announces top research in military and veteran research

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

ARLINGTON, Va. — An article examining the long-term implications of policy decisions made during and after World War II is being honored today by the Military Family and Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University as the winner of the 2016 Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award. The annual award, now in its second year, recognizes the best scientific article published during the previous year that combines exceptional rigor with important insights about military and veteran families.

The article, “War and Marriage: Assortative Mating and the World War II GI Bill,” appeared in the October 2015 issue of Demography, a scholarly journal published by the Population Association of America. The authors of the article examined the unexpected impact of the GI Bill on spousal selection and family wwwelopment for service members and veterans eligible for the benefit.

Jeremy G. Moulton of the University of North Carolina will accept the award from MFRI Director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth. The presentation is part of an event hosted by retired Army Lt. Gen. Guy C. Swan III, vice president for education at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA), at AUSA’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Moulton’s co-authors are Matthew F. Larsen of Lafayette College, T.J. McCarthy of the University of Southern California, Marianne E. Page of the University of California, Davis, and Ankur J. Patel of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

“For the past 16 years, MFRI has made it our mission to promote and advocate for research that provides insights into the unique challenges and opportunities facing military and veteran families,” MacDermid Wadsworth said. “We are pleased to be honoring authors who examined a critical implication of post-World War II policies in such a rigorous and innovative way. We believe that the conclusions of all the finalists’ research articles will further affirm the importance of high quality military-focused research.”

The award presentation will follow a panel discussion based on “A Battle Plan to Support Military and Veteran Families,” a collection of chapters to be published by MFRI in the spring of 2017. The book will examine lessons learned about supporting military and veteran families since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. MacDermid Wadsworth will moderate the discussion; panelists are experts on military and veteran families and “Battle Plan” contributors:

• Meredith Kleykamp, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Research on Military Organization
• Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association
• Morgan Sammons, executive officer of the National Register of Health Service Psychologists
• Barbara Thompson, director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Family Readiness Policy

“Battle Plan” will provide insights shared by leaders in government and policymaking, corporations and associations, community service and education, and behavioral health care and research. It aims to be a resource for future leaders who, when faced with the next serious conflict or military engagement, seek to offer the best support for service members, veterans and their families.

For more information about the award, the authors, and MFRI, visit the Military Family Research Institute website.

###

About MFRI
The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) 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 and collaborates to create meaningful solutions for them. This nationally recognized organization is located within Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences in the Department of Human wwwelopment and Family Studies.

About the Association of the United States Army
AUSA is a private, professional, non-profit educational organization that represents every American soldier by being the voice for all components of America’s Army, fostering public support of the Army’s role in national security and providing professional education and information programs.

 

A Battle Plan to Support Military and Veteran Families

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

You are invited to live stream a special MFRI panel presentation followed by the awarding of the 2016 Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award. The annual award, now in its second year, recognizes the best scientific article published during the previous year that combines exceptional rigor with important insights about military and veteran families. Both will take place Wednesday, November 16 at 3 p.m. from the headquarters of the Association of the United States Army, in Arlington, Va.

The award presentation will follow a panel discussion based on A Battle Plan to Support Military and Veteran Families, a collection of chapters to be published by MFRI in the spring of 2017. The book will examine lessons learned about supporting military and veteran families since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. MFRI Director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth will moderate the discussion; panelists are experts on military and veteran families and “Battle Plan” contributors:

  • Meredith Kleykamp, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Research on Military Organization
  • Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association
  • Morgan Sammons, executive officer of the National Register of Health Service Psychologists
  • Barbara Thompson, director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Family Readiness Policy

Battle Plan will provide insights shared by leaders in government and policymaking, corporations and associations, community service and education, and behavioral health care and research. It aims to be a resource for future leaders who, when faced with the next serious conflict or military engagement, seek to offer the best support for service members, veterans and their families.

Celebrating veterans, we salute all who served

MFRI is proud to have a number of veterans working on our staff. This month, Outreach Facilitator Phil Turner, a veteran of the Cold War, tells us about his service then and now. 

Q. What made you decide to join the service? Why did you pick the service branch you joined?

In my junior year of high school,  a U.S. Army sergeant and Vietnam Special Forces veteran addressed our student body to share his stories of how he survived the 1968 Tet Offensive. This alumnus of our high school was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart but 95 percent of his unit was killed or wounded. His words stayed with me and in August of 1970, I enlisted — in part due to him, but also my father, who served in the USMC during the Korean War. Also, many of my cousins were serving at that time. I chose the Army partly due to that Army Ranger who took the time to speak to us.

Q. What are some of your memorable experiences?

I served two years deployment in Europe with 3rd Armored Division, NATO forces during the “Cold War” as a battle tank crewman, seeing countries like France, Holland, and Switzerland. My most memorable experience was on a training range near the Czech border. During a morning tactical maneuver our armored battalion was traversing through a heavy Nazi-fortified area from World War II. As I rode along, outside the hatch of my M60-A1 battle tank, I saw herds of sheep grazing in the meadows around us and on several hill sides in the distance were burned out concrete machine gun bunkers. We also passed many remnants of foundations from several villages destroyed by the war. The beauty of the meadow in the sunrise contrasted with the reminder of the battlefield. I will never forget the scene that morning and thinking about how many were sacrificed for our freedom on that field.

Q. When did you get out of them military? What have you been doing since then?

I was honorably discharged from active duty in 1972. I had agreed to serve at least one year in the Indiana Army National Guard. I stayed with the CAV unit 2.5 years total. I have been active in my local American Legion Post 10, Marion, since the mid-eighties. I have held several offices and am currently the Service Officer serving members and all Vets in a 10 County region.

Q. Why did you decide to continue working on behalf of veterans?

I can answer this question with one word – respect! Respect is the core attribute of anyone who has served this nation. We all share a common respect for our forefathers who many gave all for us. Respect for the flag, for the laws of our land and a respect for our constitution. Respect is a very important part of the principle of discipline. Respect is the discipline or the “cornerstone” of what allows people to live within a family group or in a society successfully. As a veteran, I respect our community, state and nation.

Q. What do you like best about your job?

I do not consider it a “job.” The best thing is MFRI gives me the honor of meeting so many outstanding people. Some are veterans/military members but many are not. They all have a huge heart and volunteer in their individual communities.

Q. What would you say to people about the significance of Veterans Day?

Remember our heroes in past and present wars on Veterans Day, but work in some way all year long to help someone who is serving or has served.
 

November is Military Family Appreciation Month

In November, communities around the nation recognize the sacrifices that military families make through their support of the service members whom they love, and, by extension, our nation.

More than five million people live in today’s military family, according to the Department of Defense; two million of them are children, who move three times more often than their non-military peers. Military families live in every community and neighborhood, so we all can join in the effort to offer them support and gratitude.

There are many ways you can show your support for military families. You can download any of our How to Help publications, all of which provide evidence-informed, practical information aimed at increasing supports for military families that they interact with every day. AARP’s “Create the Good” has a toolkit that may help you find ways to help military families in your community. You can also make an impact on families by supporting MFRI and our initiatives.

But one of the best ways to support military families is to get involved with others in your community who are committed to doing the same. MFRI’s community mobilization teams can help you find a place to volunteer and help make a difference for families who serve.

So take the opportunity to take action to support military families – not just this month, but next month – and throughout the years to come. Thank you!

Five new "How to Help" issues released

The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University is pleased to announce the release of five new How to Help issues, made possible through collaboration with the Department of Defense and the Department of Agriculture.

Just like the original 11 How to Help issues, the new issues have been vetted by subject matter experts. Like their predecessors, they include evidence-informed information to help familiarize and guide targeted audiences about how to best serve military members, veterans and their families. All issues help support efforts to build community support for military-affiliated families while increasing knowledge across a variety of professions and communities, and the newest were created specifically for: 

  • Academic advisors 
  • Higher education faculty 
  • Disability offices at colleges and universities 
  • Family caregivers 
  • Professionals who work with military-affiliated families with special needs

“We are very pleased to be able to present these new issues,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI and a professor at Purdue University. “The goal is to increase understanding of military and veteran families –who live in every community. These issues don’t just cover the unique stresses and obstacles these families face. They also reveal the strengths and opportunities that they bring to communities in which they live. By increasing understanding of these families, we hope to build communities’ capacity to support them.”

The original 11 How to Helps were created with assistance from the National Military Family Association.  All issues are available online in "web-friendly" and "printer-friendly" formats. For more information, contact MFRI External Relations Director Beth Johnson at bethjohnson@purdue.edu.

Battlemind to Home aims to educate, inspire

More than 250 behavioral health providers, service providers and educators attended the Battlemind to Home Mental Health Summit VII yesterday (Sept. 22), which aimed to create stronger, more supportive communities for service members, veterans and their families.

Sponsored and organized by the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI), the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, the Indiana National Guard and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Sept. 22 event focused particular attention on suicide prevention, while working to boost audience knowledge and understanding about military and veteran families. According to the most recent VA statistics, 20 veterans commit suicide every day. 

Keynote speaker Rita Nakashima Brock opened the summit with a presentation on moral injury and its impact on military members, veterans and their families. The National Center for PTSD describes moral injury as “an act of transgression, which shatters moral and ethical expectations that are rooted in religious or spiritual beliefs, or culture-based, organizational, and group-based rules about fairness, the value of life, and so forth.” Brock, a research professor of theology and culture, and director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School, has written extensively on the subject, especially in context of returning combat veterans.

“When the troops come home, war remains with them, and the struggle to return to civilian life can feel worse than combat,” she said. “Rebuilding moral identity occurs as people slowly rebuild trust and relationships over a lifetime.”

In addition to Brock and other general session speakers, attendees listened to speakers in breakout sessions that were focused on a variety of topics. During a general session presentation by Joining Community Forces Indiana (JCFI), regions worked together on wwweloping 2017 priorities and marching orders to deal with community issues. JCFI is the community engagement initiative that expands on First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden's "Joining Forces" campaign.

Powerful closing remarks were delivered by Silouan Green, a Marine veteran who wwweloped the Ladder UPP life skills program after overcoming physical, emotional and spiritual challenges in the wake of a jet crash. His program has been used by thousands to make their lives more fulfilling and resilient after severe trauma.

Green spoke about veterans’ struggles with depression, PTSD and suicide, and he motivated and challenged all Battlemind attendees to take action on behalf of all who are suffering from these invisible wounds of war.

“The entire day was an opportunity for community leaders, behavioral health providers and others to learn about how they can better serve our military and veteran families,” said Martina Sternberg, Ph.D., assistant director of MFRI. “Once again, with support from our partners, we were able to engage with nationally-prominent leaders who can provide thought-provoking subject matter to help veterans throughout our communities to find fulfilling and enriching lives.”

Purdue honored with prestigious Civic Engagement Award

Purdue University was among five colleges and universities chosen this year from a hundred nominations to share in the 2016 Higher Education Civic Engagement Awards presented by The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. Recipients were chosen based upon their leadership and innovation in civic engagement.

Steve Abel, Purdue’s associate provost for engagement, will accept the award on the university’s behalf. As a land-grant university, Purdue has long made service and engagement hallmarks of its approach to scholarship, Abel said. This commitment is illustrated in the Star Behavioral Health Providers program created by Purdue’s Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) in partnership with the National Guard and the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

The award celebrates institutions in higher education where the commitment to leadership extends into civic roles in the communities beyond their own campuses. It aims to highlight, in particular, institutions that are forging transformational partnerships beyond campus to define and address issues of public concern, whether at the local, regional or international level.

Earlier this year, SBHP was selected as one of four recipients of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award. As one of four regional winners of a $2,500 prize, Purdue is eligible to compete for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium annual conference in October.

For more information, read more in Purdue News.