MFRI partners with Hamilton Center to promote high standards of care for military families

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University has reached a milestone in its goal of promoting high-quality care for veterans, current service members and their families. Hamilton Center in Terre Haute has become the first three-star center in MFRI’s new Star Behavioral Health Providers designation system for organizations.

The classification system is an expansion of the existing SBHP rating available for individual providers. The SBHP system for organizations and health centers was crafted in partnership with the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction. It is designed to promote consistent standards of care for all military-connected individuals seeking services from community mental health centers.

“Hamilton Center’s efforts to progress in our designation program are truly remarkable,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, MFRI director. “Their enthusiasm indicates a potential for similar growth and accommodation for service members, veterans and military families at all of Indiana’s community mental health centers.”

In a statement, the Indiana DMHA said: “Hamilton Community Mental Health Center has been a terrific leader in providing quality behavioral health services to veterans and active military by encouraging their staff to become certified Star Behavioral Health Program Providers. They have recently achieved their third-tier star designation, and the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction is very grateful to Hamilton Center for prioritizing providing quality services to military individuals in their community.”

Through SBHP – a collaborative, multistate effort that includes the state of Indiana, the National Guard Bureau and the Center for Deployment Psychology – MFRI provides clinical education programs that prepare behavioral health professionals for dealing more knowledgeably with military-connected populations.

“For more than 10 years now, SBHP has provided specialized training for understanding and treating military service members and their families,” said Julie Williams, the MFRI program manager who coordinates SBHP. “We already offer a registry of providers who have undergone our training, and now with the center designation system, we can offer a directory of entire organizations committed to the competencies that we teach.”

To progress through the new four-star system, an organization must meet a progressively demanding set of standards that include military-focused resources, outreach programs, competency training in military culture and continuing clinical education in evidence-based practices with a track record of improving mental health outcomes in military families.

“In working with DMHA, we agreed that each of the four tiers should not only be attainable for Indiana’s community mental health centers, but also help ensure a meaningful, high-quality standard of care,” said Kathy Broniarczyk, senior director of outreach and operations at MFRI.

Hamilton Center had applied in early 2021 for a one-star designation.

“But as soon as they received their first star, administrators quickly returned to apply for” additional designation, quickly achieving their second star before moving on within the month to tier three, Williams said.

To advance from the second to third tier, or star, Hamilton Center staff boosted the visibility of its veterans’ support practices, initiated the process for becoming a TRICARE provider that accepts U.S. Department of Defense health insurance and increased its participation in public events designed to support regional military communities.

“The Hamilton Center began its Military Veteran Program just over five years ago, and we continuously strive to increase competency in treating our military and veteran population,” said Meghan Creech, Hamilton Center’s executive director for adult services, about the value of the SBHP designation to their operations. “Hamilton Center is committed to providing health care services to military-connected individuals throughout West Central Indiana.”

“The star designation process has assisted our corporation in creating policies and procedures informed by an understanding of military culture and provides an assurance that clinicians have training in military culture and evidence-based practices. We have had the opportunity to work closely with Star Behavioral Health Providers and look forward to our future endeavors together.”

The goal of the new center designation system is to help improve mental health indicators for military-connected families across the state. Although it may be several years before measurable clinical outcomes are available, MacDermid Wadsworth said she is encouraged by Hamilton Center’s enthusiasm for a centerwide commitment toward this objective.

“We are excited to see more community mental health centers partner with us in the future to help improve quality of life for service members, veterans and their families in Indiana,” she said.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

About the Military Family Research Institute

Using data-driven solutions to real-world issues, MFRI works closely with collaborators around the United States on outreach, research and educational activities designed to improve the quality of life for service members, veterans and military families.

About the Hamilton Center

The Hamilton Center provides quality health care, wellness and human development services to central and west Indiana communities. The center has provided these services in-state for 50 years, with over 600 staff in 10 counties. Hamilton Center is a nonprofit regional system with offices designed to be convenient, private and confidential, which reduces the barriers for seeking psychological and mental health treatment.

Writer: Nick Pompella, Military Family Research Institute

Media contact: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (cell), oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

Sources: Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth

Julie Williams

Kathy Broniarczyk

Meghan Creech

Joint Statement on Afghanistan

As events rapidly unfold in Afghanistan, the news may be distressing to many service members, veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors.

You are not alone.

The undersigned organizations care for, represent, and support you. They’re standing by to help.

Act. Get help, or give help. Reach out to teammates and fellow military- or veteran-connected family members and friends. Check in on them.

Volunteer. Contribute your time and resources to Afghan interpreters and refugees, or organizations that provide mental health services or other programs and services for the military and veteran community.

We’re all in this together.

If you are a veteran, military member, family service member, including National Guard and Reserves, caregiver or survivor, immediate help is available through the Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1 or by texting 838255.

Signed:

AARP
American Red Cross
America’s Warrior Partnership
The Armed Forces Retiree Association
Armed Services YMCA
Blue Star Families
Beth Conlin
Bunker Labs
Code of Support Foundation
Cohen Veterans Network
Combined Arms
Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services
Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Exceptional Families of the Military
Freedom Learning Group
Sarah L. Friedman, Ph.D.
Headstrong
The Independence Fund
Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University
IAVA
Military Child Education Coalition
Military Family Advisory Network
Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University
Military Spouse Advocacy Network
Military Spouse JD Network
The Mission Continues
Modern Military Association of America
Nation’s Finest
National Math & Science Initiative
Partners in PROMISE
PENFED Foundation
PsychArmor Institute
Psych Hub
RallyPoint
Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (Operation Family Caregiver)
Saralyn Mark, MD
Schultz Family Foundation
Sea Service Family, Foundation
Secure Families Initiative
Semper Fi & America’s Fund
The Society for Military Psychology
Student Veterans of America
Team RWB
The Retired Enlisted Association
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Travis Manion Foundation
TriWest Community Partners
United Through Reading
Vets’ Community Connections
VetsFirst United Spinal Association
Veterans Education Success
Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc.
wear blue: run to remember

View Blue Star Families’ website for the most up-to-date information and resources.

Registration now open for Battlemind to Home Summit

Registration is now open for the 12th annual Battlemind to Home Summit, which will bring together experts in mental health, law, community services and faith to strategize about how they can use their professional skills to work with all military-connected individuals — including active service members, veterans and their families — to better transition from the battlefront to the home front.

The event will be held virtually on Oct. 26, with preconference sessions on Oct. 25. Participants who register by Aug. 31 will receive the early bird rate of $40 per person for the conference and $20 per person for a preconference session; starting Sept. 1, fees will be $45 and $25, respectively.

Nearly 400,000 veterans, 24,000 active duty and reserve members and nearly 160,000 people in their immediate families currently live in Indiana. The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University hosts the Battlemind summit specifically for Indiana professionals who work with military-connected populations. Presentations focus on ideas and tactics that professionals can employ to assist their clients with reintegration into civilian life and many other unique challenges that military service can introduce to military members and their families’ lives.

The term “battlemind” was initially used by military to talk about the inner strength needed to face adversity, fear and hardship during combat. The application of the term has broadened to include psychological resiliency both during and after deployment.

Hope and Optimism

The theme of this year’s conference is “Deploying Hope and Optimism in a Changing World,” with the content tailored to that task, says Kathy Broniarczyk, director of outreach and operations at MFRI.

“In the past year alone, world events have continued to showcase the need for a support system geared toward military members and families navigating the path between service and civilian life,” Broniarczyk says.

While the White House has committed to a presidential pledge of withdrawing all combat troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, troops are being sent to new hotspots around the world. Stateside deployments have increased dramatically as well; in 2020, the National Guard was deployed for 11 million person days — more than at any other time since World War II — largely for necessary functions in the United States’ COVID-19 response.

Faith-based track

This year, for the first time, Battlemind to Home will include a faith-based interest track for those community leaders who interact with military families in their religious institutions.

“This addition is part of an ongoing effort to meet military families where they are by providing outreach in the places most relevant to them,” Broniarczyk says.

The 2021 conference will feature two keynote speakers: Mary Tobin, longtime advocate for service members and Army veteran currently serving as the Biden administration’s AmeriCorps senior advisor for the Wounded Warrior, Veteran, and Military Family Initiative, and Dr. Harold Koenig, a psychiatrist bridging the gap between faith and medicine who founded and directs Duke University’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health.

Preconference sessions

Three preconference sessions targeted at a specific career fields will allow professionals to delve into specific topics more thoroughly:

  1. Search for Meaning: Addressing Moral and Spiritual Injury Related to Trauma for behavioral health & faith-based professions
  2. Suicide Prevention: Coming Out of Quarantine Ready for Action for community members and beginning health care providers
  3. An Overview of VA and Military Benefits for Elder Law Attorneys and VA Accredited Representatives for those in the legal profession

Conference platform

Battlemind to Home 2021 will be hosted on the Whova conference platform as it was in 2020, due to the overwhelmingly positive response from last year’s attendees, says Elizabeth Klumpe, special events and donor relations specialist at MFRI.

“In 2020, attendees engaged with dozens of community topics, with a total of nearly 1,000 messages sent between participants in both the conference forum and privately within networking cohorts,” Klumpe says. This virtual format facilitated a great deal of communication between attendees and appears to have increased connectivity between professional networks throughout the state comparable to an in-person event, she adds.

Past summits have taken place in Indianapolis and on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus and have attracted hundreds of attendees and participants from more than 100 organizations in Indiana and nearby states.

Collaborators and partners

MFRI organizes the summit each year in collaboration with the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, the Indiana National Guard, the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Indiana State Bar Association and the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

Corporate sponsorships help to fund scholarships for attendees while keeping summit attendance costs low with additional assistance from collaborators’ in-kind contributions. Sponsors will be recognized in event materials and will be given online exhibitor space via the Whova conference platform. Interested sponsors may contact Broniarczyk at kbroniar@purdue.edu.

Anyone interested in a scholarship to the Battlemind to Home Summit may complete an application here.

More information about the summit is available online, on the MFRI Facebook page or on Twitter. Join in the conversation by using the hashtag #battlemindIN.

Woodruff Foundation funds expansion of rural program in Indiana

The Military Family Research Institute has received a grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation to help reduce food insecurity for 500 veterans in rural Indiana. MFRI is one of 44 organizations that were chosen this spring by the foundation in an investment of more than $4.6 million for programs and services targeted at veterans, caregivers and military families impacted by COVID-19.

Researchers estimate that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, up to 40% of veterans and military families have experienced food insecurity. The Woodruff grant will target low-resource veterans and their families in eight rural counties in Indiana through support of MFRI’s Reaching Rural Veterans (RRV) program. A collaboration between MFRI, food pantries and faith-based communities, RRV honors former military members for their service while connecting them to programs and benefits through resource fairs and one-on-one education.

About the Bob Woodruff Foundation: BWF leverages its expertise and collaborative network to find, fund and shape innovative programs that help impacted veterans, service members and their families thrive. As a nonpartisan leader in the military-veteran community, the foundation brings transparency and credibility to its partners and complements their efforts. Learn more at https://bobwoodrufffoundation.org/.

New Illinois program seeks to serve low-income, homeless and low-resource rural veterans

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University is collaborating with University of Illinois Extension and select Illinois food pantries and faith-based communities on Reaching Rural Veterans (RRV), a Purdue-based program that connects low-income, homeless and low-resource rural veterans with affordable housing, health care and other resources.

With support from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, RRV expanded this spring into Effingham, Fulton, Perry, Saline and Union counties in Illinois. Each food pantry is receiving grants, education and assistance to help them mobilize local resources for military and veteran families.

Roughly one-third of all veterans live in rural areas and are often less likely to have access to needed services than those in urban areas. Reaching Rural Veterans events provide opportunities to thank veterans for their service while also helping them find needed resources close to home, said Rena Sterrett, senior program administration specialist with MFRI.

To identify counties that could most benefit from the initiative, Sterrett and her colleagues at MFRI collaborated with representatives of Illinois Extension. After choosing five rural counties with relatively high numbers of veterans, Extension staff also located potential partner food pantries.

“Illinois Extension was a valuable partner in helping target counties that could most benefit from the program because of their intimate knowledge of the state,” Sterrett said.

As part of the grant process, MFRI representatives are educating food pantry staff and volunteers about the strengths and struggles of military and veteran families and helping them recruit military-connected organizations to participate in pantry events. Ultimately, Sterrett said, she hopes to reach 50 veterans in each of the participating pantries — a goal that will require coordination among area partners.

“Addressing a community’s needs for food, shelter and employment is an important step in establishing stronger bonds between local organizations and the military and veteran populations,” Sterrett said.

About Purdue University
Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

About the Military Family Research Institute
Using data-driven solutions to real-world issues, MFRI works closely with collaborators to improve the lives of veterans and military families.

About University of Illinois Extension
The flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Extension offers educational programs to residents of all of Illinois’ 102 counties and beyond. Extension provides practical education you can trust to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills, and build a better future.

Writer: Kristen Cavallo
Media contact: Angela Roberts, akroberts@purdue.edu
Source: Rena Sterrett, rsterret@purdue.edu 

Purdue’s Military Family Research Institute to host Battlemind to Home Summit

Legal, mental health and community leaders will learn and share strategies to ease the transition from the battlefront to the home front for military personnel, veterans and their families during the 11th annual Battlemind to Home Summit on Oct. 27.

Hosted by the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University, the conference brings together a variety of experts to inform and educate Indiana professionals of the critical issues facing Indiana’s military families. A preconference will take place on Oct. 26. Both the preconference and the summit will be held virtually via the Whova conference app.

The Battlemind to Home Summit will feature keynote speakers Froma Walsh, a leader in the fields of family therapy and mental health and co-director and co-founder of the Chicago Center for Family Health, and Chad Robichaux, president and founder of the Mighty Oaks Foundation. After overcoming his own personal battles with post-traumatic stress disorder and nearly becoming a veteran suicide statistic, Robichaux founded Mighty Oaks to serve military communities with one of the most effective faith-based combat trauma and resiliency programs available.

This year’s summit will address:

  • Issues regarding legal needs and support.
  • How to address physical and mental health concerns during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The tools needed to create a sense of community within civilian life for military personnel.
  • 500 word essay helps within the community of civilians to achieve A grade

Participants of the preconference can select from one of the following three sessions:

  • The Intersection of Substance Use and Suicide: Understanding the Connection
  • Veteran Homelessness Community Forum
  • An Overview of VA and Military Benefits for Elder Law Attorneys and VA Accredited Representatives (this session is exclusively for legal professionals)

Past summits have taken place in Indianapolis and on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus and have attracted hundreds of attendees and participants from more than 100 organizations in Indiana and nearby states.

More than 400,000 veterans call Indiana home. Those still serving include 5,258 who are in active duty, 13,202 in National Guards and 5,553 in the Reserves. As a percentage of population, Indiana military-related suicide rates are 28.00 for every 100,000 persons versus 20.8 for every 100,000 civilians.

Registration for the conference is $45. The preconference costs an additional $20. Continuing education credits and scholarships are available. Registration is now open.

MFRI, which is based at Purdue, organizes the summit each year in partnership with the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, the Indiana National Guard, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiative and the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs. Organizers collaborate with the Indiana State Bar Association and Indiana Office of Court Services.

The term “battlemind” initially was used by military to talk about the inner strength needed to face adversity, fear and hardship during combat. The application of the term then was broadened to take in psychological resiliency both during and after deployment.

More information about the summit is available online, on the MFRI Facebook page or on Twitter using #battlemindIN.

Madison County group receives support to help improve access to veteran resources

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University and the Purdue Center for Regional Development recently announced that the Madison County Joining Community Forces Network’s Military Supportive Communities Initiative (MSCI) Pathway Project proposal was accepted.

The group will receive a $2,000 grant to revitalize outreach efforts on resources available to community agencies, military service members, veterans and their families. Another aspect of the grant is to increase collaboration between the Madison County group and statewide resources and organizations.

“WorkOne is excited to have this opportunity to collaborate with other organizations in our community and be part of the Military Supportive Communities Initiative Team,” said Alan Janney, disabled veteran outreach program specialist with WorkOne. “We believe the collaboration of organizations through the Joining Community Forces Meetings and Workshops will unite us in our efforts to serve our military service men and women, veterans and their families in Madison County. We greatly appreciate Purdue’s Military Family Research Institute in providing us with this outstanding opportunity to serve.”

The Madison County group has been active for nine years. It provides Stand Down events and focuses on current issues pertaining to military and veteran families in Madison County. They started the MSCI process in April 2019 and submitted their Pathway Project application in May 2020.

Members of the team have been studying demographic and economic data on their county and developed the skills needed to identify and act on priorities designed to benefit military and veteran families.

“The proposal from the Madison County Joining Community Forces Network was excellent,” said Bo Beaulieu, director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development. “It is very ambitious but doable because of the commitment and passion of the Madison County team members.”

Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (cell), oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

View original Purdue University news release. 

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.

Joining Community Forces Indiana a collaborative effort to serve military families

In 2014 Joining Community Forces Indiana (JCFI) was created to better serve service members, veterans and their families. An outgrowth of the Obama administration’s Joining Forces initiative, JCFI educates nongovernmental organizations, departments of state government, corporations, policymakers, local leaders and works to build and maintain robust working relationships among Indiana communities.

The JCFI Executive Committee facilitates workgroups that address yearly priorities. Each workgroup is comprised of interested professionals and agencies as well as a representative from the Executive Committee. 2019 workgroup priorities include:

  • financial literacy training opportunities;
  • distribution of up-to-date information on how to secure emergency financial assistance;
  • awareness about suicide prevention strategies;
  • providing suicide prevention training for individuals and organizations; and
  • addressing the immediate and long-term needs of homeless and at risk individuals.

MFRI program administration specialist and MFRI liaison, Rena Sterrett, said communication is key to serving military families across Indiana communities.

“The Executive Committee strives to communicate with local groups across the state that serve military and veteran families. Communication between the Executive Committee and Indiana groups helps to strengthen collective efforts in helping military and veteran families across the state of Indiana.”

Learn more by visiting the JCFI Facebook page or contacting Sterrett at rsterret@purdue.edu.

JCFI is a collaboration between the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University, the Indiana National Guard (INNG), the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA), the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). These organization form the JCFI Executive Committee.

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.