News

Student engagement at MFRI

MFRI’s internship opportunities offer Purdue University students the chance to earn course credits, build their resumes and enhance their knowledge. Interns and student workers participate on all MFRI teams as they learn about military members, veterans and their families. MFRI is proud to work in collaboration with Purdue departments to educate future leaders.

MFRI’s Focus Forward Fellowship serves women student veterans

MFRI’s 2018 Focus Forward Fellowship designed to build skills, leadership and a sense of community among women student veterans, will take place at Purdue University. The Fellowship takes place July 25–28, with Fellows traveling home on July 29th.

In 2017 two cohorts totaling 28 participants completed the Fellowship. One national cohort was open to women student veterans across the country, while a Colorado University-specific cohort took place in Fort Collins, Colorado. The 2017 program focused on refining the learning objectives from the 2016 pilot year. These objectives include building a community support network with peers in the Fellowship program, increased network-building, recognition and application of personal strengths and the integration of their veteran identity with other identities in their personal life.

Collectively among all the cohorts, the program has influences 41 women representing all five branches of service, 35 higher education institutions and 21 states. The fellows have an average GPA of 3.39 with the 2017 cohort being 19% STEM focused.

A 2017 Fellow said, “When this opportunity was presented, I felt like it was fate. Who better to progress women veterans than fellow women veterans?”

The 2018 Fellowship applications open in February.

MFRI research focuses on couple communication during deployment

Communication is key to relationship success, especially for intimate partners. To learn more about how deployments impact couples’ communication, MFRI researchers recruited 87 partners of deployed service members to complete daily diaries about their communication.

The research was conducted as part of MFRI’s Family Journeys study, designed to understand how families negotiate and manage changing family roles before, during and after deployment.

“Given developments in new media and social media, deployed service members and their at-home partners were often able to communicate regularly via phone and video calls during the Iran and Afghanistan conflicts,” said Steve Wilson, Purdue University professor of communication and MFRI faculty partner. “Our findings suggest that the key issue is not how often couples talk during deployment, but rather what they are saying and doing during their communication.”

Every evening for seven consecutive days, at-home partners described all of the day’s communication with their service member. They also described the level of connection they felt during the interaction. The MFRI team analyzed these reports and found indications that partners felt more connected to their service member when:

  • the service member provided them with higher levels of support; and
  • the couple made decisions together.

Couples also reported greater feeling of connection on specific days when partners and service members provided each other with more support than usual during phone or video calls.

According to Wilson, the research suggested several ways couples experiencing deployment could communicate effectively.

“Couples can help maintain their relationship by consistently offering each other support. At home partners can also involve the service member in key decisions without overburdening them,” he said. “Couples also need to recognize that they are going to have good and bad days. When their spouse or partner offers them less support than usual on a specific day, this probably reflects daily challenges and not a long-term change in their spouse.”

On the flip side, Wilson said, when at-home partners can offer meaningful support to their service member on a day when it is really needed, they feel especially connected. This is also true when their service member does the same for them.

During deployments, communication can fluctuate for a variety of reasons beyond a couples’ control (e.g. time zones, blackouts, lack of privacy).  The team says future research should explore how these fluctuations affect couples’ connection and strategies they might use to maintain their relationship during and after deployment.

MFRI is grateful to the couples who took part in this important research project. To learn more about its findings, read “Communication and connection during deployment: A daily-diary study from the perspective of at-home partners,” published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

Reference: Wilson, S. R., Marini, C. M., Franks, M. M., Whiteman, S. D., Topp, D., & Wadsworth, S. M. (2017). Communication and connection during deployment: A daily-diary study from the perspective of at-home partners. Journal of Family Psychology. Advance online publishing. doi: 10.1037/fam0000333

Student opportunities grow experience, knowledge

Are you thinking about a unique, challenging internship experience that offers an array of hands-on opportunities, college credit and a rewarding experience? MFRI is accepting interns for the upcoming spring semester within the External Relations, Family Support and Research teams. Internships are open to qualified Purdue students, especially those who are interested in serving military-connected families.

Students majoring in communication, human development and family studies and hospitality and tourism management majors are strongly encouraged to apply. An internship in External Relations internship provides a part-time, for-credit opportunity for undergraduate or graduate students in the Brian Lamb School of Communication, offering tailored communication experiences. Students will gain experience on social media and video production, web and print content creation, event management and copyediting. It is an excellent stepping stone for those seeking a career in public relations, event management, marketing or communications. For more information, contact Linda Hughes-Kirchubel.

If you’re seeking research-focused experience, consider applying for an internship assisting with the Family Journeys Study through HDFS 390/590. This course provides an opportunity for students to code tasks performed by the family members during interviews. Email Keisha Bailey or Christine McCall for more information.

The Family Support Team will be offering one full-time, 12-credit undergraduate internship through the Human Development and Family Studies program. The intern in this position will work with the Measuring Communities project and help collect important data to distribute to communities. While this internship is already filled for the spring semester, contact Kathy Broniarczyk for more information if interested in this opportunity for future semesters.

MFRI director receives Leadership in Action award

Leadership in Action Award recipientsShelley MacDermid Wadsworth, professor of human development and family studies and director of MFRI, was honored to receive Purdue’s Susan Bulkeley Butler Center Leadership in Action Award on Dec. 5.

The Leadership in Action Award recognizes Purdue faculty, staff, and students who have shown exemplary leadership within their areas of expertise.
Recipients must demonstrate:

  • Overarching commitment to launching tomorrow’s leaders by showing ongoing dedication to mentoring students, colleagues and/or peers to pursue excellence and fostering an atmosphere of cooperation and creativity that contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of their peers.
  • Favorable representation of their department and the University, both on and off campus.
  • Skillful motivation, organization, dedication and/or influence within their area of research, discipline or other work.
  • Ongoing commitment to engagement at the local, state, national and/or global level.
  •  Active service to the campus community as well as national service to academic and/or professional organizations.

Three other Leadership in Action award honorees were recognized: Pamela Morris, Chanel Beebe and Michelle Ashcraft.

Strengthening behavioral health providers' service of military and veteran families

MFRI continues to receive support for sustaining Star Behavioral Health Providers (SBHP).

This community-based training program enables behavioral health providers to better meet the needs of military and veteran families, and its online referral system connects these families to trained providers.

Launching in Indiana with MFRI as a founding partner, SBHP is a nationally-recognized, award-winning program that been a model for federal legislation. It has expanded to nine states.

This fall, grants totaling $110,000 from organizations in Michigan, Ohio and Oregon will allow MFRI to provide evaluation assistance and continued support of those states’ SBHP implementation.

MFRI's Focus Forward Fellowship serves women student veterans

Focus Forward Fellowship The Focus Forward Fellowship is a program designed to build skills, leadership and a sense of community among women student veterans. In 2017 two cohorts totaling 28 participants were invited to complete the Fellowship. A national cohort open to women student veterans across the country and a Colorado University specific cohort. 

The 2017 program focused on refining the learning objectives from the 2016 pilot year. These objectives included building a community support network with peers in the Fellowship program, increased network-building, recognition and application of personal strengths and the integration of their veteran identity with other identities in their personal life.

Collectively among all the cohorts, the program has influences 41 women representing all five branches of service, 35 higher education institutions and 21 states. The fellows have an average GPA of 3.39 with the 2017 cohort being 19% STEM focused.

A 2017 Fellow said, “When this opportunity was presented, I felt like it was fate. Who better to progress women veterans than fellow women veterans?”

The 2018 Fellowship will be held in July at Purdue University. Applications open in February.

Students from across campus build skills at MFRI

MFRI offers many opportunities for students to gain professional skills as interns, student employees and research assistants. The students who engage with military and veteran families at MFRI come from a variety of backgrounds, such as pharmacy, engineering, interior design, communications and more. Involving students in projects that enhance their professional and academic skills helps prepare them for future endeavors.

– Our Family Support team has two students working on specific projects. One student focuses on communication and logistics for Star Behavioral Health Providers and the other collects data for the Measuring Communities project.

– Our External Relations team intern researched, wrote and produced an educational video about MFRI’s collaboration with Joining Community Forces Indiana and the Indiana legal community. She also helped to research updates to MFRI’s How to Help series and provided communication support for MFRI.

– Two Education and Employment team interns are focused on processing data and assisting with evaluations of past Focus Forward Fellowship cohorts.

– Our Research director coordinates 13 undergraduate students, all of whom participate in telephone interviews for MFRI’s Family Journeys project. Most of these students also gain skills coding qualitative data while some assist with logistics and data management.

Happy Birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps

Happy birthday, Marines! MFRI wants to give all U.S. Marine Corps families an extra salute today as they celebrate the service’s 242nd birthday.

On Nov. 10, 1775, the Continental Congress approved a resolution that called for two Marine battalions to fight for America's independence at sea and on the shore. Passage of the resolution officially formed the Continental Marines.

Marines share a uniquely close relationship with the Department of the Navy, as the two services participate in joint operations and Navy chaplains and medical personnel have served in the Corps.

Corps values include honor, courage and commitment — so evident in the ways these brave men and women have served throughout our nation's history. The Marine Corps' motto, Semper Fidelis ("always faithful") was adopted in 1883 as a reminder to remain faithful to the mission, to each other, to the Corps and to country.

To date an average of 184,000 active duty and reserve service members serve in the Corps, according to U.S. Military Strength

MFRI salutes the Marine Corps today, as well as their families. Semper Fi

US Air Force celebrates 70 independent years

We here at MFRI are looking skyward to wish the men, women, families and veterans of the United States Air Force a very happy 70th birthday.

As the youngest of the Armed Services, the USAF has a rich history. The U.S. Army purchased its first aircraft in 1909, only six years after the Wright Brothers made their first flight. World War II demonstrated the value of airpower and the need for an independent air service.

The Air Force officially came into being when President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act on September 18, 1947. Since then, the men and women of the USAF have played a vital and often decisive role in all of America’s conflicts.
Air Force planes and personnel have also undertaken hundreds of humanitarian missions, delivering life-saving supplies to victims of natural and man-made disasters. The Air Force today is the second-largest branch of service, with nearly 330,000 members on active duty and 71,000 Reserves.

More than half of Air Force personnel (57.5 percent) have families, a total of 445,000 spouses, children and other dependents who serve and sacrifice alongside their loved ones. The number of Air Force veterans is estimated at 4.1 million.

Purdue Air Force ROTC Detachment 220 is home to nearly 130 future Air Force leaders, commissioning more than 15 rated positions of pilot and navigator each year, along with a variety of other career fields. MFRI salutes these patriots and their families, who give much in service to our nation.