News

A 150th celebration: Military Family Research Institute Advisory Council members Will Baas and Barbara Thompson

MFRI Advisory Council members, Will Baas and Barbara Thompson, talk about veteran and military spouse employment, ways to support military children and navigating challenges of the military and veteran family lifestyle.

An inside look with a veteran

As we launch our first podcast, MFRI had the privilege of sitting down with veteran Jamie Richards, director of the Purdue Veterans Success Center. Listen to his veteran story and ways he supports student veterans at Purdue and beyond. In upcoming months, our podcast will feature military members, veterans and their families, and guests whose work impacts their lives.

Listen to the podcast.

 

MFRI director recognized with mentoring award

The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) awarded Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, Ph.D., a national award to recognize her career of outstanding mentorship to junior colleagues, graduate students and undergraduates.

MadDermid Wadsworth, who directs Purdue University’s Center for Families and Military Family Research Institute, received the Felix Berardo Scholarship Award for Mentoring on Nov. 10 at NCFR’s national conference.

The award is given in honor of Dr. Felix Berardo, a well-known and beloved professor from the University of Florida, who went above and beyond expectations in mentoring many students to become outstanding leaders in the family field. According to NCFR, “Outstanding mentoring goes beyond classroom teaching and includes the provision of support, guidance and opportunities for professional development.”

“It is an honor to receive this award,” MacDermid Wadsworth said. “Throughout my career I’ve had the privilege to mentor and interact with many students. It is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.”

MacDermid Wadsworth’s primary research interest is in the relationship between work conditions and family life. During her tenure she has studied differences between small and large workplaces, how adults grow and develop as a result of their work experiences, and how different kinds of organizational policies make it easier or more difficult for works to be successful at work and home.

As the director of MFRI and the Center for Families, she encourages student engagement, graduate and undergraduate research and offers student growth opportunities.

Christine McCall is one of MacDermid Wadsworth’s current graduate students, and focuses her doctoral research on military and veteran families. She admires MacDermid Wadsworth’s ability to think about the big picture and mentor each student according to their previous experiences and future goals.

“Shelley facilitates an environment where her students can become independent researchers,” McCall said. “Her focus on strong theoretical arguments and methodologies continually pushes her students to develop work that has clear implications for both academic and military communities. She encourages us to develop a variety of professional skills such as data collection in community samples and leadership and mentoring development through work with undergraduate students.”

About MFRI

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University 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. To achieve this, MFRI collaborates to create meaningful solutions for them. This internationally-recognized organization is located at Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

About NCFR

The National Council on Family Relations, founded in 1938, is the oldest nonprofit, nonpartisan, multidisciplinary professional association focused solely on family research, practice, and education.

MFRI helps organizations advance change for military and veteran families

The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University (MFRI), in partnership with the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), hosted “Building Your Battle Plan to Support Military and Veteran Families” on Nov. 13 in Arlington, Va.

Led by experts and authors of MFRI’s initiative, “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families,” guests from nonprofit and veteran service organizations came together to create specific, targeted plans to support and advance transformational change in family support for military and veteran families. The text (Hughes-Kirchubel, MacDermid Wadsworth & Riggs, 2018), offers key insights that focus on how organizations can produce powerful supports for military families before, during and after major conflicts. Contributors integrated knowledge gained during their work with families and distilled recommendations into practical, experience-based chapters.

Panel discussion precedes guided exercises

A panel discussion kicked off the event, with each providing the audience with insight on finding effective solutions for issues facing military and veteran families. They offered recommendation based on sector-wide experiences in the years following 9/11.

“These important groups came together to actively engage and collaborate to find solutions for military and veteran families,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, MFRI director. “History has shown us that major conflicts can arise without warning. These changes affect military and veteran families in a variety of ways. With this in mind, the attendees began to build viable solutions that can be strategically implemented during a future major conflict.”

Scholars honored for excellence in research on military and veteran families

The 2017 and 2018 MFRI Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families awards were also presented at the event. To find the top paper of each year, eight prominent scholars reviewed over 700 scientific articles, and helped conduct multiple rounds of review.

MFRI established the award in 2015 to recognize the best research on military-connected families. It is awarded to authors of research that combines exceptional rigor with important insights about military and veteran families. Nominations for this award are neither solicited nor accepted. Instead, a panel of top scholars reviews all the published research during the year and then determines the recipient.

About AUSA

The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) is the only private, nonprofit professional organization serving all components of America’s Total Army and its supporters. Since 1950, AUSA has provided a voice for the Army and vital services for Soldiers, Army civilians, and their families to advance the security of our nation. If you have a connection with the Army—professionally or personally—AUSA is your resource for exclusive access to scholarships and grants, business opportunities, educational resources, philanthropy initiatives, family programs, influential representation, and genuine relationships with a supportive Army community.

Additional trainings created for SBHP providers

A nationally-recognized initiative created by the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University (MFRI) and others has expanded training opportunities for civilian behavioral health providers.

Star Behavioral Health Providers (SBHP) now offers sustainment training for providers who have completed SBHP Tier Two training. The initiative was created by MFRI, the Center for Deployment Psychology, the Indiana National Guard and the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration in 2010. SBHP trains civilian behavioral health professionals about military-specific issues. It also helps military and veteran families find SBHP providers through an online registry that MFRI maintains and manages.

Providers wanting to increase their knowledge about service members, veterans and their families can sequentially complete three training tiers, each targeting specific areas of military culture and evidence-based psychotherapies. Providers that complete Tier Two training now can add sustainment training to their portfolio.

“Sustainment training was added to continue provider education,” said Christy Collette, MFRI outreach specialist. “Unlike prerequisite trainings, this covers additional topics, such as military sexual trauma. It also offers continuing education units.”

An award-winning initiative, SBHP is now active in nine states. The collaboration was the model for federal legislation that increased civilian behavioral healthcare support for military and veteran families.

The first sustainment trainings will take place Nov. 14-15 in at the American Red Cross of Indiana, 1212 E. California Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

To learn more about SBHP and sustainment training, visit starproviders.org or contact Collette at flynn14@purdue.edu.

Join the conversation by following MFRI on Facebook and Twitter @MFRIPurdue.

About MFRI

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University 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. To achieve this, MFRI collaborates to create meaningful solutions for them. This internationally-recognized organization is located at Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

MFRI’s “War and Family Life” reviewed in scholarly journal

A 2016 research text, part of Springer’s Risk and Resilience in Military and Veteran Families series, has garnered praise for its fresh perspectives in the study of military-connected families.

The Journal of Family Theory and Review recently contained a review on “War and Family Life.” Each chapter in the book was based on a presentation given at the 2013 International Research Symposium on Military and Veteran Families.

“The editors and contributors to this book are to be commended for their efforts to extend the focus of military research beyond service members and veterans to include family members,” wrote reviewers Heidi Cramm, assistant professor at Canada’s Queens University and Deborah Norris, associate professor at Mount Saint Vincent University, also located in Canada.

According to Cramm and Norris, “War and Family Life” expressly moves beyond the descriptive state of military family research to tease apart the multiple, complex factors at play in the daily lives of military families.

This unique resource provides findings and insights regarding the multiple impacts of military duty on service members and veterans, specifically from a family standpoint. Broad areas of coverage include marital and family relationships, parenting issues, family effects of war injuries, and family concerns of single service members.

“It is also refreshing to read research (e.g., Chapters 5 and 6) that offers perspectives other than those often reported in the military family literature, for example, the negative sequelae of PTSD on military families, particularly decreased family functioning and decreased marital satisfaction (Lambert, Engh, Hasbun, & Holzer 2012; Monson, Taft, & Fredman, 2009),” the scholars wrote.

“War and Family Life” was edited by Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI, and David Riggs, executive director of the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP). The book was published by Springer in 2016.

The Journal of Family Theory and Review is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the National Council on Family Relations.

Battlemind to Home Summit a resounding success

Nearly 300 behavioral health, legal and service providers gathered in Indianapolis Tuesday to increase their knowledge and strengthen community supports for veterans, service members and their families.

Battlemind to Home Summit is one of the most engaging military and veteran health summits in the state. The summit is hosted by the Military Family Research Institute, in partnership with the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical CenterIndiana National Guard and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Its purpose is to increase community awareness about the challenges and opportunities that are unique to military and veteran families. Ever expanding, this year’s featured content addressed legal needs for the first time. It also addressed physical and mental health concerns, and offered information about creating and increasing sense of community for military personnel.

In one breakout session, attendees learned ways to engage veterans as community assets. Another session focused on increasing community awareness about families and caregivers of veterans. Finally, another breakout presented suicide gatekeeper training to help attendees understandi how to “Question, persuade, and refer” an at-risk individual. Judge Dave Certo and the Indiana State Bar Association presented a mock veterans treatment court to educate attendees about diversion court benefits, and Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Stube (Ret.) presented a powerful afternoon keynote detailing his lessons learned from the battlefield.

Next year, Battlemind to Home Summit turns 10, and MFRI looks forward to hosting the summit at Purdue University. The event temporarily leaves Indianapolis to enable more service providers through the state to attend. To be notified about Battlemind to Home Summit 2019 programming and registration, complete this form. You can also find information about Battlemind on social media by following MFRI on Twitter using #battlemindIN, and “liking” MFRI on Facebook.

Military and Veteran Family Research in Excellence Award recipients announced

The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University (MFRI) will present the 2017 and 2018 Awards for Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families today (Nov. 13).

Eight prominent scholars reviewed over 700 scientific articles from each year. Multiple rounds of review yielded the winning articles.

The 2017 selection, 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, appeared in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The 2018 selection, How family structures and processes interrelate: The case of adolescent mental health and academic success in military families, appeared in the Journal of Family Issues.

“One of our goals at MFRI is to increase the impact of excellent research, and this award helps strengthen connections between researchers, policy makers and practitioners,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, MFRI director. “We are thrilled to recognize and celebrate the excellent work of these outstanding scholars.”

The 2017 award recipients include:

  • Janet Kahn, Ph.D., LMT, University of Vermont
  • William Collinge, D., MPH, LCSW, Collinge and Associates, Inc.
  • Robert Soltysik, M.S., Optimal Data Analysis, LLC

The 2018 award recipients include:

  • Amy Laura Arnold Ph.D. CFLE, ICF
  • Mallory Lucier-Greer, Ph.D., Auburn University
  • Jay Mancini, Ph.D., University of Georgia, Athens
  • James Ford, Ph.D., University of Georgia, Athens
  • A.S. Wickrama, Ph.D., University of Georgia, Athens

MFRI established the award in 2015 to recognize the best research on military-connected families. It is awarded to authors of research that combines exceptional rigor with important insights about military and veteran families. Nominations for this award are neither solicited nor accepted. Instead, a panel of top scholars reviews all the published research during the year and then determines the recipient.

MFRI is also pleased to announce the articles that received an honorable mention for each year.

2017

2018

To learn more about past recipients, visit the MFRI Excellence in Research Award page.

The awards will be presented at a co-hosted event with the Association of the United States Army titled “Building Your Battle Plan to Support Military and Veteran Families.” 

About MFRI

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University 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. To achieve this, MFRI collaborates to create meaningful solutions for them. This internationally-recognized organization is located at Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

About AUSA

The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) is the only private, nonprofit professional organization serving all components of America’s Total Army and its supporters. Since 1950, AUSA has provided a voice for the Army and vital services for Soldiers, Army civilians, and their families to advance the security of our nation. If you have a connection with the Army—professionally or personally—AUSA is your resource for exclusive access to scholarships and grants, business opportunities, educational resources, philanthropy initiatives, family programs, influential representation, and genuine relationships with a supportive Army community.

Indiana community mourns the passing of beloved former MFRI assistant director

Military Family Research Institute staff, students and the wider Indiana community are mourning the death of former Assistant Director and Air Force veteran Martina Sternberg, Ph.D., who died Sept. 2 in Navarre, Florida.

The 53-year-old veteran dedicated her career to military-connected families, and her passion for making people’s lives better is a theme that will live on at MFRI. She was an integral part of building Battlemind to Home Summit into the collaborative success it is today.

“Martina will always be remembered as person with a huge heart and an exuberant spirit,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI. “She was an enormous part of building MFRI’s work, and above all was a wonderful and supportive coworker and friend.”

Community mobilizer, tireless advocate

Martina was an active member of her community, participating in local programs to assist those in need. She started a Trauma Intervention Program in Florida and the Grandparents Raising Grandkids Association. With a smile that could brighten the room, her enormous personality and wealth of selflessness will be sorely missed by all.

At MFRI, she led community mobilization efforts, expanding them to include work on behalf of student veterans and rural veterans. Her relentless work with homeless veterans helped thousands via fundraisers, benefits, and Stand Downs, which earned her several prestigious awards, including the Distinguished Hoosier Award presented by the Governor of Indiana, and the Veteran of the Year Award. Martina was a prominent gay rights advocate, and as a result, was invited to the White House when President Obama signed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Bright light, ‘big influence’ and mentor

Phil Turner, MFRI veteran justice outreach specialist, worked with her before being hired at MFRI.

“I remember Martina being an influence in my life and we didn’t even know each other that well,” he said. “In my small hometown in northeastern Indiana, we were struggling to find resources to help our local veterans. Under Martina’s leadership we gained a veteran Stand Down program that still is being used to this day. After joining MFRI, Martina became a mentor. I will always be thankful for her leadership and care for military and veteran families.”

Martina was a bright light in this world and touched many lives by broadcasting her radiance. After her time at MFRI, she moved to Florida where she is survived by her husband Scott Sternberg, daughter Jessica Craig, grandson Gabriel Craig and other beloved family members. She was preceded in death by her mother Dolores Henry, her son Joshua Craig and her brother Martin Preston.

Visitation will be Sept. 9 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Harper-Morris Memorial Chapel. Funeral services will be Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. at St. Sylvester’s Catholic Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Gabriel’s Trust Fund.