MFRI Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award

About2018 Recipient2017 RecipientPast Recipients

Excellence in Research

The Military Family Research Institute’s Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award was established in 2015. The goals of the award are to:

  • Bring visibility to issues of military and veteran families generally, and to outstanding new research specifically;
  • Increase the impact of rigorous scientific evidence on programs, policies and practices affecting military and veteran families;
  • Strengthen connections between researchers and practitioners interested in military and veteran families; and
  • Raise awareness of research on military and veteran families across many disciplines.

The winning paper is selected through a rigorous process. No 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 and through multiple rounds of review that include standardized quantitative assessments, arrives at the final selection.

View the current recipients award takeaways.

2018 Building Your Battle Plan recording

The panel discussion starts at the 20:00 mark.
The 2017 and 2018 MFRI Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families awards presentation starts at the 1:39:47 mark.

2018 Recipient

2018 Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award winnerArnold, A. L., Lucier-Greer, M., Mancini, J., Ford, J., & Wickrama, K. (2017). How family structures and processes interrelate: The case of adolescent mental health and academic success in military families . Journal of Family Issues 3, 38(6), 858-879. doi:10.1177/0192513X15616849

The transitional nature of military life positions the family to serve as the primary and most stable influence for adolescents in military families. These military-related transitions and stressors may also put youth at risk for depression and academic challenges. This study examines the relative impact of family structure (family composition at a given time point) and family processes (interpersonal interactions developed over time) on important adolescent outcomes (depressive symptoms and academic performance) for a sample of military youth (N = 995). While family structure, particularly being part of a stepfamily or single-parent family, was related to greater depressive symptoms and poorer academic performance, family processes (family support and parent–adolescent connection) and personal resources (initiative) also accounted for depressive symptomology and academic performance. Importantly, when modeling family processes, no differences were found across family structures. Military youth thrive in diverse family forms in the presence of healthy family processes.

Honorable Mentions

  • Karney, B. R., & Trail, T. E. (2017). Associations between prior deployments and marital satisfaction among Army couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 79, 147-160. doi:10.1111/jomf.12329
  • Trail, T. E., Meadows, S. O., Miles, J. N., & Karney, B. R. (2017). Patterns of vulnerabilities and resources in U.S. military families. Journal of Family Issues, 38, 2128-2149.
  • Vogt, D., Smith, B. N., Fox, A. B., Amoroso, T., Taverna, E., & Schnurr, P. P. (2017). Consequences of PTSD for the work and family quality of life of female and male U.S. Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 52, 341-352. doi: 10.1007/s00127-016-1321-5. Epub 2016 Dec 31.

2017 Recipient

2017 Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award winnersKahn, J., Collinge, W., & Soltysik, R. (2016). 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. Journal Of Medical Internet Research, 18(9). doi:10.2196/jmir.5800

The objective of this study was to evaluate effects of use of a Web-based, self-directed program of instruction in mind- and body-based wellness skills to be employed by Global War on Terror veterans and their significant relationship partners on mental health and wellness outcomes associated with postdeployment readjustment.

2017 Honorable Mentions

  • Cozza, S. J., Fisher, J. E., Mauro, C., Zhou J., Ortiz, C. D., Skritskaya, N., Wall, M. M., Fullerton, C. S., Ursano, R. J., & Shear, M. K. (2016). Performance of DSM-5 persistent complex bereavement disorder criteria in a community sample of bereaved military family members. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 919-929. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.15111442.
  • Saltzman, W. R., Lester, P., Milburn, N., Woodward, K., & Stein, J. (2016). Pathways of risk and resilience: Impact of a family resilience program on active-duty military parents. Family Process, 55, 633-646. doi: 10.1111/famp.12238.
  • Taylor, C. M., Ross, M. E., Wood, J. N., Griffis, H. M., Harb, G. C., Mi, L., Song, L., Strane, D., Lynch, K. G., & Rubin, D. M. (2016). Differential child maltreatment risk across deployment periods of U.S. Army soldiers. American Journal of Public Health, 106, 153-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302874.

2016 Recipient

Larsen, M., McCarthy, T., Moulton, J., Page, M., & Patel, A. (2015). War and marriage: Assortative mating and the World War II GI BillDemography 52(5), 1431–1461.

World War II and its subsequent GI Bill have been widely credited with playing a transformative role in American society, but there have been few quantitative analyses of these historical events’ broad social effects. We exploit between-cohort variation in the probability of military service to investigate how WWII and the GI Bill altered the structure of marriage, and find that it had important spillover effects beyond its direct effect on men’s educational attainment. Our results suggest that the additional education received by returning veterans caused them to “sort” into wives with significantly higher levels of education. This suggests an important mechanism by which socioeconomic status may be passed on to the next generation.

2016 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