News

MFRI summer internship opportunity

The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University is seeking an undergraduate communication intern to join their external relations team during the summer of 2018. The purpose of this two- or three-credit hour internship is to assist students in gaining career-building experiences while becoming more informed about military and veteran families.

Internship overview

MFRI student communication interns will:

  • Perform communication-related job assignments focused on producing content for MFRI’s lay publications, website and social media platforms.
  • Learn about military culture and the unique characteristics of military families through assigned reading materials.
  • Assist in planning and executing MFRI events.

Upon completion of the internship, students will have been exposed to applicable real-world situations, be able to incorporate knowledge gained from coursework in an employment setting and apply knowledge of military culture in their chosen career path.

Interested? Please send your resume to Sayde Uerkwitz at suerkwit@purdue.edu by April 23.

 

MFRI’s Focus Forward Fellowship 2018 cohort selected

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University is proud to announce the selection of the 2018 Focus Forward Fellowship program to be held July 25-28 at the West Lafayette campus.

MFRI received 250 overwhelmingly qualified applicants for this year’s Fellowship. After a very competitive selection process, 20 women in total were accepted to participate from 18 different colleges and universities, representing all five branches of service, and countless areas of academic study.

To be selected, Fellows must hold an honorable discharge from the U.S. military; are sophomores, juniors, seniors, or pursing a master’s degree; and maintain a 2.75 GPA or better. The Fellowship covers the cost of travel, food, lodging, activities and materials. After completing the residency, Fellows will engage with their cohort in an online community during the 2018–2019 academic year.

The Focus Forward Fellowship has been a highlight for women student veterans across the nation. The 2018 cohort will build leadership skills, connect with corporate mentors, develop skills that foster their academic and career goals, understand and maximize their individual strengths, and build a supportive community of peers.

Betty Moseley Brown, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, will serve as the Fellowship’s opening keynote speaker on Wednesday evening and Tracy Crow, author of “It’s My Country Too: Women’s Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan” will lead sessions on the Saturday of the program.

For more information about the program visit bit.ly/fwdfellows. Contact Runco at lrunco@purdue.edu or call 765-496-3403. Connect with MFRI on Twitter at @MFRIPurdue and use #FWDFellows to join the conversation.

2018 Focus Forward Fellowship Cohort

  • Gabrielle Bernard, Columbia University, Computer Science, Army
  • Jennifer Brett, University of Texas-San Antonio, Multidisciplinary Studies, Navy
  • Chelsea Clarkson, Washington State University, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Army
  • Katharine Cobean, Adler University, Counseling, Air Force
  • Chesney Fix, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Applied Health Science, Navy
  • Megan Gordon, Arizona State University, Mathematics, Navy
  • Myra Hallman, Humboldt State University, Business Marketing, Air Force
  • Anjuli Holmes, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Psychology, Goast Guard
  • Sharice Lewis, Arizona State University, Engineering Management, Air Force
  • Sandra Manning, Regent University, Leadership Studies, Navy
  • Christina Ramirez, University of Arizona, Public Health, Army
  • Tracy Ruegsegger, Ferris State University, Allied Health and Dental Hygiene, Army
  • Marie Russell, Colorado State University, Psychology, Army
  • Frances Salazar, Anne Arundel Community College, International Affairs, Navy
  • Elizabeth Sampson, Clemson University, Psychology, Air Force
  • Janiah Sandles, Eastfield Community College, Music, Army
  • Keishla Santiago Ortiz, Florida International University, Psychology & Women and Gender Studies, Marine Corps
  • Jordan Smith, University of Washington, Social Work, Marine Corps
  • Juana Thomas, El Paso Community College, Engineering, Navy
  • Skylar Winter, Purdue University, Mass Communication, Marine Corps

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

The Military Family Research Institute recognizes military spouses every day, but especially on May 11, 2018, National Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

On this day the contributions and sacrifices made by military spouses are honored. Military spouses are the solid piece that holds military families together while supporting their spouse through deployment to reintegration.

Female military service is on the rise. In parallel more military spouses are men.

Dr. Kenona Southwell, an MFRI postdoctoral researcher, has studied the demographics of military spouses. She found that civilian husbands perceived themselves as having different and broader perspectives, and having more travel experience than civilian families because of their military experiences. Husbands reported that being a military spouse helped them be more tolerant of individual differences such as race and culture, and having better problem solving and coping skills than normal civilians.

Based on the most recent 2016 Demographics Profile of the Military Community there are more than 50,800 male spouses of female service members. Males make up 8.1% of the military spouse population.

No matter the gender, military spouses play an important role in our nation’s security. At MFRI, we thank and appreciate all military spouses for their service in the U.S. and around the world.

April is the Month of the Military Child

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

Every April we celebrate 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

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, 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 13th. You can buy military-friendly books for your local library. Your business can offer discounts to military families. You can also raise awareness by distributing information that lets everyone else know that this is the Month of the Military Child. 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 DoDEA writes.

 

JCFI: Collaborating to serve military, veteran families

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) and is committed to working with other organizations to better serve military members, veterans and their families. One of these partnerships is Joining Community Forces Indiana (JCFI).

JCFI is a collaboration among MFRI, the Indiana National Guard, and the national and state Departments of Veterans Affairs. JCFI educates nongovernmental organizations, departments of state government, corporations, policy makers, and local leaders, and works to build and maintain robust working relationships among Indiana communities.

For example, JCFI works with the Indiana judiciary, prosecutors, public defenders and communities to support veterans treatment courts (VTCs). VTCs are problem-solving courts that aim to help veterans with mental health or substance abuse issues and who face nonviolent criminal charges. There are more than 300 VTCs nationwide. The goal is to keep veterans with mental health or substance abuse issues out of the traditional justice system. The courts give these veterans treatment and tools for coping with their problems, and delay sentencing based on their success in treatment. Those who choose to participate receive mentoring and access to a wide variety of resources, including health and legal services.

Each VTC is part of its community’s justice system and often partners with local VAs and veterans’ organizations. That’s why JCFI is involved. JCFI helps support VTCs by educating community organizations and statewide leaders about the importance of the program.

Visualizing data and Measuring Communities

Measuring Communities is a social indicators initiative designed to help shape community efforts to support military and veteran families. This web-based tool assembles, makes available and visually represents data about the state of these families, which communities can use to identify and address gaps in services to better serve them. MFRI created this landmark initiative in partnership with the Purdue Center for Regional Development.

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.