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Stay updated on the latest MFRI news as well as news pertaining to military families and those who work to assist them.

Stand Down provides thanks, support for veterans

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – On any given night, nearly 50,000 veterans are homeless, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

On Nov. 5, the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University, Tippecanoe County and about 75 organizations are collaborating to reduce that number at the annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans, which will be held on Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds.

“This is Tippecanoe County’s seventh year holding a Stand Down,” said Martina Sternberg, MFRI’s community mobilization director. “We expect to have about 150 veterans who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless veterans attend, and receive needed resources and services.”

During the Vietnam War, the term “stand down” referred to a time when service members could receive respite from the combat experience, but now it more commonly refers to a community event tailored for homeless and at-risk military personnel, veterans and their families. The events provide these families access to food, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefit counseling, clothing, resume writing assistance and other services.

Sternberg urges the entire community to come out to the event and use it as an opportunity to thank a veteran for his or her service.

“Veterans Day is right around the corner,” she said. “Imagine what an impact it would make on these heroes if you and your family came down and signed the Wall of Honor and expressed your gratitude for their sacrifices.”

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, about 11 percent of the adult homeless population is veterans. They are predominantly male and single; live in urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. Reducing homelessness among homeless veterans requires a “coordinated effort that provides secure housing, nutritional meals, basic physical health care, substance abuse care and aftercare, mental health counseling, personal development and empowerment,” the coalition’s website says. Job assessment, training and placement assistance is also key. The Tippecanoe County Stand Down will address all these needs.

Throughout Indiana, MFRI works with a variety of organizations to coordinate Stand Down programs, offering a tool kit to guide planning. In addition to the tool kit, MFRI provides competitive grant funds to help defray costs. This year, MFRI community mobilization grants will support about 20 stand downs across the state.

The Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds are located at 1010 Teal Rd. For more information, contact Martina Sternberg at


  •  Posted on Oct. 25, 2016

Five new "How to Help" issues released

The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University is pleased to announce the release of five new How to Help issues, made possible through collaboration with the Department of Defense and the Department of Agriculture.

Just like the original 11 How to Help issues, the new issues have been vetted by subject matter experts. Like their predecessors, they include evidence-informed information to help familiarize and guide targeted audiences about how to best serve military members, veterans and their families. All issues help support efforts to build community support for military-affiliated families while increasing knowledge across a variety of professions and communities, and the newest were created specifically for: 

  • Academic advisors 
  • Higher education faculty 
  • Disability offices at colleges and universities 
  • Family caregivers 
  • Professionals who work with military-affiliated families with special needs

“We are very pleased to be able to present these new issues,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI and a professor at Purdue University. “The goal is to increase understanding of military and veteran families –who live in every community. These issues don’t just cover the unique stresses and obstacles these families face. They also reveal the strengths and opportunities that they bring to communities in which they live. By increasing understanding of these families, we hope to build communities’ capacity to support them.”

The original 11 How to Helps were created with assistance from the National Military Family Association.  All issues are available online in "web-friendly" and "printer-friendly" formats. For more information, contact MFRI External Relations Director Beth Johnson at

  •  Posted on Oct. 12, 2016

Battlemind to Home aims to educate, inspire

More than 250 behavioral health providers, service providers and educators attended the Battlemind to Home Mental Health Summit VII yesterday (Sept. 22), which aimed to create stronger, more supportive communities for service members, veterans and their families.

Sponsored and organized by the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI), the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, the Indiana National Guard and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Sept. 22 event focused particular attention on suicide prevention, while working to boost audience knowledge and understanding about military and veteran families. According to the most recent VA statistics, 20 veterans commit suicide every day. 

Keynote speaker Rita Nakashima Brock opened the summit with a presentation on moral injury and its impact on military members, veterans and their families. The National Center for PTSD describes moral injury as “an act of transgression, which shatters moral and ethical expectations that are rooted in religious or spiritual beliefs, or culture-based, organizational, and group-based rules about fairness, the value of life, and so forth.” Brock, a research professor of theology and culture, and director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School, has written extensively on the subject, especially in context of returning combat veterans.

“When the troops come home, war remains with them, and the struggle to return to civilian life can feel worse than combat,” she said. “Rebuilding moral identity occurs as people slowly rebuild trust and relationships over a lifetime.”

In addition to Brock and other general session speakers, attendees listened to speakers in breakout sessions that were focused on a variety of topics. During a general session presentation by Joining Community Forces Indiana (JCFI), regions worked together on developing 2017 priorities and marching orders to deal with community issues. JCFI is the community engagement initiative that expands on First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden's "Joining Forces" campaign.

Powerful closing remarks were delivered by Silouan Green, a Marine veteran who developed the Ladder UPP life skills program after overcoming physical, emotional and spiritual challenges in the wake of a jet crash. His program has been used by thousands to make their lives more fulfilling and resilient after severe trauma.

Green spoke about veterans’ struggles with depression, PTSD and suicide, and he motivated and challenged all Battlemind attendees to take action on behalf of all who are suffering from these invisible wounds of war.

“The entire day was an opportunity for community leaders, behavioral health providers and others to learn about how they can better serve our military and veteran families,” said Martina Sternberg, Ph.D., assistant director of MFRI. “Once again, with support from our partners, we were able to engage with nationally-prominent leaders who can provide thought-provoking subject matter to help veterans throughout our communities to find fulfilling and enriching lives.”

  •  Posted on Sept. 23, 2016

Purdue honored with prestigious Civic Engagement Award

Purdue University was among five colleges and universities chosen this year from a hundred nominations to share in the 2016 Higher Education Civic Engagement Awards presented by The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. Recipients were chosen based upon their leadership and innovation in civic engagement.

Steve Abel, Purdue’s associate provost for engagement, will accept the award on the university’s behalf. As a land-grant university, Purdue has long made service and engagement hallmarks of its approach to scholarship, Abel said. This commitment is illustrated in the Star Behavioral Health Providers program created by Purdue’s Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) in partnership with the National Guard and the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

The award celebrates institutions in higher education where the commitment to leadership extends into civic roles in the communities beyond their own campuses. It aims to highlight, in particular, institutions that are forging transformational partnerships beyond campus to define and address issues of public concern, whether at the local, regional or international level.

Earlier this year, SBHP was selected as one of four recipients of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award. As one of four regional winners of a $2,500 prize, Purdue is eligible to compete for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium annual conference in October.

For more information, read more in Purdue News.

  •  Posted on Sept. 20, 2016

Make a difference for service members, veterans and their families

Want to make an impact on women veterans pursing their degrees? Or perhaps you're more passionate about supporting homeless and nearly homeless veterans? September is a great time to make a contribution to MFRI and have impact on a variety of programs that help military members, veterans and their families. Learn more here about our initiatives and how to give.

  •  Posted on Sept. 7, 2016

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