Recent News

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

Apply now for MFRI's Focus Forward Fellowship

Applications are now being accepted for the Focus Forward Fellowship, a program designed by the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University to build skills, leadership and a sense of community among female student veterans and military-connected women.

This is the second year of the Fellowship, which is open to rising sophomore and juniors, and two Fellowship programs will take place. Both begin with a four-day residency program followed by engagement online during the 2017–2018 academic year. Colorado State University, located in Fort Collins, Colo., is sponsoring a June 7 cohort, which is open to military-connected women at Colorado schools. Got Your 6 is a sponsor of a July 26 cohort held in Indianapolis, which is open to military-connected women from schools across the nation.

“We are extremely grateful for Colorado State and Got Your 6 for partnering with us in our efforts to help women student veterans achieve their full potential as they pursue academic and career success,” said Lauren Runco, MFRI’s director of education and employment. “We encourage all eligible women to apply for what has been called a life-changing experience.”

Cost of travel, food, lodging, activities and materials is covered by MFRI and other sponsoring institutions. Applications will close April 2. For more information, contact Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI, at

  •  Posted on Feb. 20, 2017

Research investigates help-seeking messages

Researchers at Purdue University are working to deepen understanding of what kinds of messages from family members are most helpful and effective at encouraging veterans to seek behavioral healthcare, when needed.

Led by Professor Steve Wilson of Purdue’s Brian Lamb School of Communication, the team aims to gain a deeper understanding of these interactions from both the family member and veteran perspectives. Ultimately, the research results may inform programs whose mission it is to assist military and veteran families. The study includes an online survey that takes about 30 minutes to complete and asks the veteran to evaluate a message crafted by family members who took part in phase one of the study.

“We know these conversations can be difficult,” said Wilson, who is also a faculty associate at the Military Family Research Institute. “Thanks to the help of people who work with veterans, we were able to spread the word about phase one of our research, where we surveyed and interviewed family members of veterans. They described what they might say to a loved one to encourage them to seek help for symptoms of depression, PTSD or other, similar issues. We are now seeking to gain important information from the veteran's perspective.”

Eligible veterans interested in taking part in this survey can do so here. Participation is voluntary and open to veterans who are no longer connected to the military and who completed one or more deployments in OIF, OEF or OND. Participation is confidential and those who take part will receive a $10 Amazon gift card upon completion of the survey. If you have questions, contact:

  • Steve Wilson, Ph.D.
  • Professor, Brian Lamb School of Communication
  • Faculty Associate, Military Family Research Institute
  • Purdue University
  • 765-414-0094
  •  Posted on Jan. 20, 2017

Be a mentor, find a mentor

January is National Mentoring Month. Because one of MFRI’s strategic goals is to engage in and promote learning, including the kind of learning that mentors and mentees can afford to one another, it is natural for us to take this opportunity to highlight the benefits of engaging in meaningful mentoring opportunities whenever they are available.

For example, students are a big part of what makes MFRI a thriving learning organization. MFRI is committed to furthering Purdue students’ education by involving them in meaningful opportunities during their time working for the organization. But we also believe that we can learn from these bright young minds. In fact, we believe all of us have things to learn, just as all of us have things to teach, and we try to practice this belief every day. We developed one of our newest initiatives, the Focus Forward Fellowship, to help connect women student veterans from across the country with the kinds of mentors who can make a difference in their lives.

Are you a mentor? Do you have one or more? Because January is National Mentoring Month, MFRI Director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth shares below some important concepts about mentoring. Make 2017 the year you engage in a process that research shows has benefits to all!

What should you know about mentoring?

  1. Almost everyone can benefit from it. 
  2. No one mentor will meet all needs; it is perfectly acceptable to have multiple mentors at once (Baugh & Scandura, 1999; Terry & Ghosh, 2015).
  3. No one is just a mentor or a mentee - we all have things we can learn from each other and teach to each other (Ghosh & Thomas, 2013). Networking mentoring can be very effective, rather than just top-down mentoring (Tsen, Borus, Nadelson, Seely, Haas & Fuhlbrigge, 2012).
  4. Mentoring relationships can be narrow or broad.  Some mentoring relationships focus on very specific purposes or tasks; others provide more general support and guidance. In addition, "episodic mentoring" may occur spontaneously, occurring in everyday, short-term interactions (Buzzanell, 2009; Fletcher & Ragins, 2007).
  5. Mentors are advisors, coaches, or consultants, and there should be mutual agreement about what is "on" and "off" the table for discussion (Harrison, 2014).
  6. Don't sit back and wait for an invitation or an offer - reach out to seek mentoring or become a mentor.  The worst that can happen is someone will say "no," but the best that can happen is a fulfilling and productive relationship (Harrison, 2014).
  •  Posted on Jan. 17, 2017

MFRI awarded grant for Measuring Communities

Washington, D.C. – The Elizabeth Dole Foundation today announced the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University as a recipient of a 2017 grant from the Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Fund.

The Fund is dedicated to supporting innovative programs making a direct impact in the lives of America’s military and veteran caregivers. More than half a million dollars will be distributed to fourteen nonprofit organizations to create new initiatives or expand existing programs.

The 2017 grant recipients were competitively selected from among nearly 150 applications from organizations nationally.

“When the Foundation launched Hidden Heroes in September, we renewed our commitment to do all we can to improve the lives of military caregivers, those spouses, mothers, dads, children, siblings, and friends who are caring for America’s wounded warriors,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole. “As part of this multifaceted initiative, we established the Hidden Heroes Fund to award grants to nonprofit organizations that are making a real difference in the lives of America’s military and veteran caregivers.”

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) conducts research on issues that affect military and veteran families and works to shape policies, programs and practices that improve their well-being. Measuring Communities, the landmark MFRI program created in partnership with the Purdue Center for Regional Development, will use the grant to combine the information captured on and through the Hidden Heroes Cities program with data provided by other organizations to create a fuller picture of the strengths and gaps in military family support in communities nationwide.

“MFRI is pleased to be awarded this grant by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to expand work on the Measuring Communities online portal,” said Kathy Broniarczyk, Director of Family Support at MFRI. “The military caregiver population and their needs are not always well understood by the communities in which they live. Using the data collected on military caregivers by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, MFRI, through the Measuring Communities online portal, can work to help communities understand and address the needs of this population. We are excited about the collaboration and the potential for this work to make a positive impact on these hidden heroes.”

Selection criteria for the grants include: the organization’s effectiveness in addressing military caregivers’ unique needs as determined by the Foundation-commissioned RAND study which established baseline research on the status of military caregivers; alignment with the Foundation’s eight critical impact areas: community support at home, education and training, employment, faith and spirituality, financial and legal support, mental and physical health, military family support and respite care; use of evidence-based resources to inform the creation of effective programming for caregivers; and the replicability of the program.

For interviews with Elizabeth Dole Foundation Executive Director Steve Schwab and grant recipients, please contact Austin Courtney at or 202-414-0791.

  •  Posted on Jan. 13, 2017

MFRI announces top research in military and veteran research

If you would like to revisit the evening's discussion, please view the archived version of this event.

ARLINGTON, Va. — An article examining the long-term implications of policy decisions made during and after World War II is being honored today by the Military Family and Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University as the winner of the 2016 Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award. The annual award, now in its second year, recognizes the best scientific article published during the previous year that combines exceptional rigor with important insights about military and veteran families.

The article, “War and Marriage: Assortative Mating and the World War II GI Bill,” appeared in the October 2015 issue of Demography, a scholarly journal published by the Population Association of America. The authors of the article examined the unexpected impact of the GI Bill on spousal selection and family development for service members and veterans eligible for the benefit.

Jeremy G. Moulton of the University of North Carolina will accept the award from MFRI Director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth. The presentation is part of an event hosted by retired Army Lt. Gen. Guy C. Swan III, vice president for education at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA), at AUSA’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Moulton’s co-authors are Matthew F. Larsen of Lafayette College, T.J. McCarthy of the University of Southern California, Marianne E. Page of the University of California, Davis, and Ankur J. Patel of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

“For the past 16 years, MFRI has made it our mission to promote and advocate for research that provides insights into the unique challenges and opportunities facing military and veteran families,” MacDermid Wadsworth said. “We are pleased to be honoring authors who examined a critical implication of post-World War II policies in such a rigorous and innovative way. We believe that the conclusions of all the finalists’ research articles will further affirm the importance of high quality military-focused research.”

The award presentation will follow a panel discussion based on “A Battle Plan to Support Military and Veteran Families,” a collection of chapters to be published by MFRI in the spring of 2017. The book will examine lessons learned about supporting military and veteran families since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. MacDermid Wadsworth will moderate the discussion; panelists are experts on military and veteran families and “Battle Plan” contributors:

• Meredith Kleykamp, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Research on Military Organization
• Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association
• Morgan Sammons, executive officer of the National Register of Health Service Psychologists
• Barbara Thompson, director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Family Readiness Policy

“Battle Plan” will provide insights shared by leaders in government and policymaking, corporations and associations, community service and education, and behavioral health care and research. It aims to be a resource for future leaders who, when faced with the next serious conflict or military engagement, seek to offer the best support for service members, veterans and their families.

For more information about the award, the authors, and MFRI, visit the Military Family Research Institute website.


About MFRI
The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) 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 and collaborates to create meaningful solutions for them. This nationally recognized organization is located within Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

About the Association of the United States Army
AUSA is a private, professional, non-profit educational organization that represents every American soldier by being the voice for all components of America’s Army, fostering public support of the Army’s role in national security and providing professional education and information programs.


  •  Posted on Nov. 16, 2016

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