News

MFRI’s Focus Forward Fellowship 2020 cohort selected

The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University is proud to announce the selection of the 2020 Focus Forward Fellowship cohort. The Fellowship is an MFRI program designed to build skills, leadership and a sense of community among women student veterans and service members.

Fellows are competitively selected from across the country and participate in this program on scholarship. MFRI received applications from 71 eligible candidates for this year’s Fellowship. After a very competitive selection process, 20 women were selected from 16 different colleges and universities, representing four branches of service, and diverse areas of academic study.

MFRI Director and Purdue Professor Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth is eager to welcome the 2020 cohort.

She states, “We are very excited to welcome the 2020 Focus Forward Fellows. Networks of personal and professional support are now more important than ever, and we are eager to work together with these talented and already accomplished women to pursue their academic and career goals.”

These women will build a community of support as they go through the Fellowship. Taking place virtually this year, they will meet with mentors from major corporations via video conferencing, learn about their own strengths and how to maximize them, and identify strategies and resources to increase connections and successes on their own home campuses. In addition, they will gain confidence in their ability to problem solve and develop skills to help foster academic and career success. Once the curriculum portion is over, they will participate in an online community throughout the upcoming academic year.

“This Fellowship is a great opportunity to lean-in and share information about transitioning from service member to veteran,” said mentor Betty Moseley Brown, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and the 19th president of the Women Marines Association. “It is great to meet women veterans and collaborate on life’s journey with my sisters.”

To learn more or find out ways you can support the Focus Forward Fellowship, contact Keara Ludiker, MFRI Fellowship program manager, at kludiker@purdue.edu or 765-494-0048 and follow the social media conversation at #FWDFellows.

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. 

MFRI director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth named distinguished professor

The Purdue University Board of Trustees on June 11 ratified MFRI’s director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth as a Distinguished Professor of Department of Human Development and Family Studies. MacDermid Wadsworth has been a Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences professor since 2001 and is an internationally-renowned expert on work and family life relationships, specifically on the resilience of military families. She has been a productive scholar with more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, more than 30 book chapters and nine edited or authored books. MacDermid Wadsworth came to Purdue in 1989 and has received the highest recognitions that the University bestows: the Morrill Award from the Office of the Provost, the Lu Ann Aday Award from the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships, and the Faculty Engagement Scholar Award. She co-founded MFRI in 2000 and has been MFRI’s director since 2007.

Families Tackling Tough Times Together

Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) is pleased to launch Families Tackling Tough Times Together, a program to support families as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Guided by scientific evidence about family resilience, the “pop-up” program is being developed by HHS along with contributing partners from Purdue and beyond, with the aim of helping families strengthen their resilience while they cope with the crisis. Families are invited to join a public Facebook group where they will find materials and activities tied to a specific aspect of resilience. All materials are carefully vetted and include engaging and fun activities that fit easily into daily life. Families with children, youth, young adults and older adults will find materials tailored for them. Additional features include podcasts with experts, live events and community engagement activities. All are welcome; we especially welcome military families. 

MFRI’s response to COVID-19

The safety and well-being of our staff and those we serve is an issue we take very seriously. MFRI is following the guidance from Purdue University about social distancing and the State of Indiana’s stay at home order.  We are paying close attention to updates and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We know that the current situation impacts our work and initiatives. We are working to assess each initiative and devise alternate (contingency) plans that allow us to carry on with our work supporting military and veteran families and those that support them. We thank you for your patience as we implement these plans. We encourage everyone to do your part to protect the health of others and continue to support each other and those you come in contact with.

For the most up-to-date news, view Purdue University’s COVID-19 website.

April is the Month of the Military Child

Every April MFRI celebrates the Month of the Military Child, showing appreciation for approximately 2 million military children who serve alongside their parents.

Military children play an important role in the armed forces community. That’s because their parent’s service requires of them daily sacrifices and can create unique challenges when compared to their civilian peers.

Ways to honor military children

Celebrate Military Kids! April is the Month of the Military Child

Sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy, the Month of the Military Child is a time for communities to honor these children. It’s a time to say, “Thank you for your service.”

There are many things you can do to say thank you. You can celebrate Purple Up Day by wearing purple on April 15th. You can buy military-friendly books for your local library. Your business can offer discounts to military families. Consider downloading and sharing MFRI’s How to Help series. Each issue provides evidence-based guidance on how a particular community or profession can help military families, including children.

The DOD encourages communities to plan special events in April to honor military children. “These efforts and special events will stress the importance of providing children with quality services and support to help them succeed in the mobile military lifestyle,” the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) writes. Learn more on the DODEA’s website.

National Academies releases report on strengthening military families

Deployment and the general challenges of military life affect not only service members but also the families who depend on them as they support the nation. And the needs of military families reflect the diverse needs of modern American families.

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — “Strengthening the Military Family Readiness System for a Changing American Society” — reviews challenges and opportunities facing military families and what is known about effective strategies for supporting and protecting military children and families. The report, which was co-authored by MFRI’s Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth and an esteemed committee of leaders, assessed available data and research on military children and families, including those who have left the military, with attention to differences by race, ethnicity, and other factors.

Undertaken by the National Academies’ Committee on the Well-Being of Military Families, the study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense and focuses on its Military Family Readiness System (MFRS), a network of agencies, programs, services, and individuals that promotes the well-being and quality of life of military service members and their families.

The report found that DOD’s MFRS has many good features and offers support not usually available in the private sector; however, it could be strengthened in a number of ways, including by though attention to a more comprehensive, coordinated framework to support well-being, resilience, and readiness.

Recommendations included that DOD strengthen the MFRS so that it:

  • Provides a comprehensive continuum of support across providers, locations, and changing benefit eligibility.
  • Facilitates adaptive and timely approaches to stepped service delivery according to individual family needs.
  • Draws upon effective evidence-based or evidence-informed approaches.
  • Integrates routine screening and assessment tools into the delivery of family support programs.
  • Builds and employs a robust infrastructure of both implementation and outcome data that supports continuous quality improvement.
  • Coordinates referrals and care across military and nonmilitary resources, institutions, and communities.

The report also recommends that the DOD promote better civilian understanding, both within military community and the broader community, of the strengths and needs of military-connected individuals, addressing misinformation, negative stereotypes, and lack of knowledge commonly found in the civilian sector about military life and service members.

 

About the National Academies: The National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit nationalacademies.org.

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 2017 research award recipient discuss helping post 9/11 veterans and their partners

Our 2017 MFRI Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award recipients discuss their research on Post 9/11 veterans and their partners. The research focused on the improvement of mental health outcomes with a self-directed mobile and web-based wellness training program. Check out what they have to say!