Authors of innovative study on post-9/11 military dads receive annual military family research award

The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University (MFRI) has announced the winners of its 2021 Barbara Thompson Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award. The recipients are the authors of research revealing a potential connection between certain biological markers among military and veteran fathers and successful outcomes of the After Deployment Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT) program.

Principal author Na Zhang, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Connecticut, published the paper with coauthors Abigail Gewirtz, a Foundation Professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University; and John Hoch, a licensed psychologist and clinical researcher with Fraser as well as a research associate with the University of Minnesota.

Their work builds on previous research establishing a connection between emotional regulation and a section of the vagus nerve complex running between the heart and the brain. According to Zhang and her coauthors, the health of this nerve may be a predictor of success for military fathers participating in ADAPT.

The researchers published their article, “The physiological regulation of emotion during social interactions: Vagal flexibility moderates the effects of a military parenting intervention on father involvement in a randomized trial,” in April 2020 in Prevention Science.

They were selected for the annual award after an extensive review of 2020 military family research by a panel of experienced scholars.

The wandering nerve

Derived from the Latin word “vagus” for “wandering,” the vagus nerve is considered an information superhighway for humans, carrying signals from the brain to various organs.

Among its many functions, the vagus nerve acts to lower heart rate. However, when people face stressful situations such as interpersonal conflict, the vagus nerve is suppressed, which causes the heart rate to rise temporarily, giving people additional energy and focus to successfully manage the conflict. Their heart rate usually then goes down again as the conflict resolves. Researchers believe that variations in heart rate variability indicate that someone can regulate their emotions well.

Emerging research has suggested that the cardiac vagal tone may be related to parenting behaviors. Zhang and her fellow researchers specifically were interested in vagal tone in association with behaviors observed by parents enrolled in ADAPT, a community-based program that assists families during the reintegration phase after a service member’s deployment. Designed to strengthen effective parenting and help prevent children’s mental health issues, the program teaches participants evidence-based parenting practices in areas such as problem solving, discipline, skill encouragement and healthy socialization of children.

The researchers conducted a clinical study of fathers in the National Guard or reserves who had recently returned from deployment in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Some families were assigned to participate in the ADAPT program, while others were in the control group and received tip sheets and online resources.

First-of-its-kind finding

Family members involved in the study wore heart rate monitors throughout the exercises. Fathers, and also mothers in some activities, were observed while interacting with one of their children in a variety of activities, some expected to be more stressful than others.

Researchers followed up a year later, observing parenting behaviors again. Coders then examined heart rate activity against time-stamped videos of parent interactions, looking for patterns. For example, under typical low-stress situations, heart rates would be expected to remain at baseline. However, they would be expected to rise during more stressful times.

Results indicated that fathers with higher vagal flexibility – in essence, more variations in heart rate – showed higher levels of positive involvement at the one-year mark if they had been involved in the ADAPT program. Fathers who had participated in ADAPT but had lower vagal flexibility showed lower levels of positive involvement after one year.

These findings indicate that combat-deployed fathers with higher capabilities in physiological emotional regulation may be more likely to benefit from programs like ADAPT.

Furthermore, heart rate variability could potentially be a useful biomarker for predicting the effectiveness of parenting programs – a first-of-its-kind finding.

About the Thompson Award

MFRI established the Barbara Thompson Award in 2015 to bring visibility to issues of military and veteran families and to help bridge the gap between research and practice. The award is named after Barbara Thompson, who served as director for the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, from 2006 until her retirement in 2017. 

Recipients of the Thompson Award come from a wide range of academic fields and a variety of academic institutions. No nominations or applications are accepted. A large panel of accomplished scholars examines every relevant article published during the eligible year, and the final selection is decided through multiple rounds of review, including standardized quantitative assessments.

Celebrating veterans on Veterans Day and every day

On Veterans Day we want to thank our veterans for their service and sacrifice to this country, without them this great nation would not be what it is today. MFRI is committed to ensuring that veterans feel honored and are supported. Here are some tips to be sure that you understand what this day is really about and what you can do to support the veterans around you. 

  • Veterans Day is not the same as Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance to honor those who gave their lives while serving this country. Veterans Day is a day to appreciate all those who have served, living or dead.
  • Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day, named for the end of World War I. On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1919, the Allies and Germany put into effect an armistice. Congress did not establish this day as a holiday until 1938. In 1954, Congress changed the holiday to “veterans” day to honor all American veterans.
  • Acknowledge the service of veterans in your life by saying or writing a simple, “Thank you for your service.” This can be done in person, social media, or hand written card. A heartfelt simple acknowledgement can go a long way.
  • Get involved in your community where veterans need it most. This could be at the local VFW, American Legion, homeless shelter, or local non-profit. Ask them what they need and see if you or your organization can help. 
  • Educate yourself on military-related topics and keep current with the changing climate. The military is constantly making changes and evolving so keeping up to date will go a long way when interacting with and treating veterans. For example: Did you know that Marine Corps changed its tattoo policy? Simple facts such as this will continue to help you build rapport and enhance your cultural competency.
  • Attend a local or virtual Veterans Day service. There is a long list of organizations who will be have ceremonies to honor the veterans in their state, communities or schools.
  • Make a donation to a veteran nonprofit in honor of veteran in your life or for all veterans. Many nonprofits support veterans in your communities and rely on donations to make their work possible. Any amount can be instrumental in getting veterans the services they need.

Virtual and local Veterans Day events

MFRI’s heartfelt thanks go to all who have served, and whose families have served, in order to keep the United States safe and secure. In observance of Veterans Day, we share the following resources for in-person and virtual events.

World War II Memorial, 9 a.m. EST

The Friends of the National World War II Memorial will pay tribute to the more than 16 million men and women who served with the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II at its Annual Veterans Day Observance in Washington, D.C. The program will be live-streamed on the organization’s Facebook page.

Purdue Memorial Union, 11 a.m. EST

The Purdue Student Union Board will host a Veterans Day ceremony in the Purdue Memorial Union. The event is open to everyone and will be accompanied by speeches, performances and light refreshments.

Indiana War Memorial and Museum, 11 a.m. EST

The annual Veterans Day Memorial Service and Parade will begin at 11 a.m. with a service on the steps of the Indiana War Memorial, followed by the parade at noon. You can watch the event live at the Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis website.

Arlington National Cemetery, 11 a.m. EST

VA Secretary Denis McDonough will host the National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the men and women who have served and continue to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during war and peacetime. VA will live-stream the ceremony on its Facebook page, or you can view via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service website.

National Veterans Memorial and Museum, 11 a.m. EST

The Columbus, Ohio, museum’s Veterans Day ceremony will feature a lineup of speakers including former Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Les L. Lyles. View the service live on Facebook or YouTube.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 1 p.m. EST

The Veterans Day Ceremony, cohosted by the National Park Service, will pay tribute to all of our country’s service members, regardless of what conflict they served in. A video of the event will be at and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Facebook page. Additionally, for the first time ever, VVMF is doing a daily virtual Reading of the Names, sharing names and photos of each person who died on that day during the Vietnam War. See more on the memorial’s Facebook page, website or YouTube channel.

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.

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.


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.
The Independence Fund
Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University
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
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

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.

MFRI’s welcomes women student veterans for 2021 Focus Forward Fellowship

Seventeen women students from across the United States will begin a two-week virtual residency on Sunday (July 25) as part of the Military Family Research Institute’s Focus Forward Fellowship.

The annual mentoring program helps women student veterans and current service members hone their leadership skills and career goals while they build a community of support. Fellows are competitively selected from across the country and attend at no cost, thanks to scholarships made possible by MFRI funders.

For the 2021 Focus Forward Fellowship, MFRI received applications from 75 eligible candidates. After external and internal review, Fellowship organizers extended offers to the top applicants.

The 17 women participating this year hail from 14 states and eight colleges and universities. The cohort represents an array of academic disciplines and five branches of service: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and the Coast Guard.

Alison Seiler, education and employment outreach associate at MFRI, is spearheading the Fellowship’s daily programming. She says that it’s the seventh year for the Fellowship and the second year for all-virtual programming.

“Even in a virtual world, we are striving to create an environment where these women are able to craft a supportive community with one another,” she says. “We have designed the program so that the relationships initiated here go beyond the virtual summer residency and into the academic year through their online network.”

Throughout the two weeks of programming, the Fellows will meet with a diverse host of mentors via video conferencing.

Returning mentors and seasoned professionals Betty Moseley Brown (chief of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Experience Office), Angela Crossin (attorney and partner at Crossin Law Offices and president of the Business Women United Network) and Jennifer McNelly (chief executive officer of the American Society of Safety Professionals) will coach Fellows in identifying their strengths and how to maximize them, and will also outline strategies and resources to increase their connections and successes on their campuses.

Guest speakers from within MFRI will help Fellows discover their personality styles and hone their skills for problem solving and and fostering academic and career success.

Statistically, women student veterans are older and have more family and job responsibilities than traditional students, Seiler says. They also have unique histories, such as combat experiences or frequent changes in duty station, which can often make them feel isolated on a college campus. The Focus Forward Fellowship help builds a support system of students experiencing similar challenges, she adds.

Once the two-week residency ends, the cohort will participate in an online private Facebook community throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. MFRI staff will answer questions and monitor the group’s progress until next spring.

“I am excited for each and every one of them to take the skills they’ve learned from the Fellowship and apply them professionally, academically and socially,” Seiler says.

Read more about the Focus Forward Fellowship, here, and follow the social media conversation on Facebook and Twitter; look for the hashtag #FWDFellows.

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

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

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,
Source: Rena Sterrett, 

HHS initiative to help families cope with pandemic receives two engagement awards

A College of Health and Human Sciences initiative designed to support families through the COVID-19 pandemic has received two engagement awards from Purdue University.

Families Tackling Tough Times Together has received an HHS Faculty Engagement Award for excellence in innovation and demonstrated impact in alignment with the college’s strategic engagement goals. Additionally, the program has received a University Corps of Engagement Award for outstanding partnership and achievement among a team of faculty, staff, students and/or community stakeholders.

The program, which launched in mid-April 2020 at the height of shutdowns across the United States and around the world, contains nine modules of evidence-informed activities, along with two video series, all designed to strengthen family resilience.

More than 70 scientists, staff members and students worked together to create Families Together, under the leadership of Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, a distinguished professor of human development and family studies and director of the Center for Families and the Military Family Research Institute.

While data analysis for Families Together is ongoing, early results have shown a positive impact. Among the metrics in a paper published last November in the International Journal of Military, Veteran, and Family Health: By the end of its first cycle last spring, the Families Together Facebook group had reached more than 1,300 families from 25 different countries. On average during that time, about 400 group participants were active each week.