Stay updated on the latest MFRI news as well as news pertaining to military families and those who work to assist them.
MFRI Research Assistants sought
The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University (MFRI) has funding available for individuals who are interested in military family research and would like to earn a graduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue.
This Graduate Research Assistant will be a member of the Family Journeys project team. Family Journeys is a longitudinal study of families experiencing military deployment. Data is gathered by in-person interviews with families before, during and after deployment. In addition to managing successful data collection, the Family Journeys team also has responsibility for producing scholarly papers from these data on behalf of the MFRI research program.
The team working on the Family Journeys project includes PhD staff; faculty members from Purdue; graduate students; undergraduate students, and contractual field interviewers.
If you are interested in this opportunity, please e-mail a copy of your resume or vita to Research Director Dave Topp at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opportunity is contingent on successful admission to the Purdue's graduate program in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
• Posted on March 5, 2014
MFRI director meets with White House leaders
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of the Military and Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University, is attending a meeting at the White House today, invited to inform key leaders about the institute's programs and projects.
Joining Forces executive director Col. Rich Morales invited MacDermid Wadsworth to learn about the work of MFRI. Joining Forces is a national initiative of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden that is focused on military families. MFRI has met with staff members in the past and participated in early discussions that eventually led to the creation of Joining Forces. This will be the first meeting between MFRI and Col. Morales as executive director.
"It's a great honor to be invited, and I'm very proud of the work that MFRI staff do and the support MFRI receives from Purdue," MacDermid Wadsworth said.
In addition to discussing MFRI's current projects and programs, MacDermid Wadsworth also hopes to talk about community collaborations.
• Posted on Feb. 20, 2014
MFRI, SVA sign memorandum of understanding
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Student Veterans of America (SVA) and the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University (MFRI) have signed a memorandum of understanding spelling out an agreement to work together to create innovations that benefit student service members and veterans.
D. Wayne Robinson, CEO and president of SVA, met with key Purdue and MFRI leadership last week to discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead for student service members and veterans. The signing took place during a meeting attended by a number of university leaders, including Dale Whittaker, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs and Julie Griffith, vice president for public affairs. Capped by the MOU signing, the visit marked the first time Robinson has visited MFRI since taking SVA’s helm last October.
The document outlines a plan to collaborate in support of the two organizations’ shared mission, said MFRI Director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth.
“This MOU represents the formalization of a relationship that has already produced results for student service members and veterans,” she said. “Student Veterans of America is a tremendous advocate for student service members and veterans, and we are grateful for the opportunity to take our work with this premiere national organization to a higher level.”
The organizations agree to collaboratively develop:
- national leadership institutes and local leadership summits focused on training student leaders in strategic SVA chapter operations;
- direct support for SVA chapter leaders as they develop their chapter business plans;a national business plan competition; and
- a chapter “toolkit” of topic-specific resources (virtual and printable).
“This agreement will help to position student veterans for higher education and economic success,” Robinson said. “I want our nation’s leaders to view the next generation of veterans as an investment in the economy—an investment in the country—and working together is a part of that. MFRI and Purdue University have a proven track record in their work for service members, veterans and their families, and we are proud to work with them on future endeavors.”
MFRI’s work on behalf of student service members and veterans launched in 2008, the same year SVA was founded. Since 2008 MFRI and SVA have worked together in a number of areas, including SVA’s national leadership institutes and in the co-creation of an evidence-based manual that teaches student veterans how to start a Student Veteran Organization (SVO) or enhance an existing one. SVA leaders have judged proposals at MFRI’s SVO Business Plan Competitions, which are open to Indiana SVOs, and in January 2013 SVA used the model to launch the first-ever national business plan competition in Orlando.
About the Military Family Research Institute: The Military Family Research Institute was founded in 2000 with funding from the Department of Defense. It is the leading university-based organization in the nation that conducts research about, with and for military families. MFRI is part of the Center for Families in Purdue's College of Health and Human Sciences.
About Student Veterans of America: SVA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit coalition of over 850 student veteran organizations on college campuses globally. SVA's mission is to provide military veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation. For more information, visit us at www.studentveterans.org or visit our YouTube channel.
• Posted on Feb. 18, 2014
Your turn: Participate in the 5th Annual Miltary Lifestyle Survey
Blue Star Families, the largest chapter-based military families support organization in the country, joined forces with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) for the fifth annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey. This unique and comprehensive survey gathers input from thousands of service members, veterans and families around the world and offers critical insight on the major issues facing military families.
All current and former members of the armed forces and their families are encouraged to complete the survey and contribute their voices to the description of today’s military life. The 2014 Military Family Lifestyle Survey is available at http://bluestarfam.org/survey and will be open until March 2014.
In addition to a broad range of multiple choice questions, the Blue Star Families survey also offers participants opportunities to suggest programs or policies, elaborate on certain issues, and voice specific concerns through a series of open ended questions. The results of the 2014 Military Family Lifestyle Survey will be announced in fall 2014.
• Posted on Feb. 14, 2014
The Things We Carry
As the daughter of two military officers, 17-year-old Michaela Coplen is no stranger to the stresses and rewards of being a military kid. Harnessing these experiences for her creativity, the Carlisle, Pa., native was named one of five outstanding high school poets to serve as national poetry ambassadors for the National Student Poets Program (NSPP). Coplen’s work exhibited exceptional creativity, dedication to craft, and promise, earning her the country’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work.
In her role as national poetry ambassador, Coplen read two original poems at the America Joins Forces for Military Families III retreat on Friday, Feb. 7 attended by MFRI Director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth. The following poem, titled “The Things We Carry,” was inspired by Tim O’Brien’s short story “The Things They Carried,” and used with Ms. Coplen’s permission.
The Things We Carry
By Michaela Coplen
We carry their letters in our backpacks. We encase them in plastic, try to catch grains of sand that slip from the seams under stamps. In the late afternoon, after slogging through school, we dig through our homework for these buried deserts, spend an hour or two sifting through layers of cursive undertones. They never speak of war, except in missyous and behomesoons--instead they offer poetry and platitudes, advice that arrives a week too late. We press the gritty envelope flaps to our tongues, wonder if this is what they taste before they brush their teeth at night. We carry the “Love” they use to sign their letters, hold it like a Bible to our chests and dare God to intervene.
We carry what we have been taught to carry. Batteries. Sewing kits. Pens, pencils, erasers. A palm-sized journal. Wristwatches. Maps. Shoelaces and duct tape. We carry paranoia. The back-to-the-wall, where-are-the-exits, how-many-people-are-in-this-room, stay-out-of-crowds twitching that clutters cheap diner tables. We carry pocket knives and twine. We carry Run, Hide, Fight like a tattoo on our wrists. We carry an eye for anomaly, an ear for alarm, and a survivalist instinct that burrows itself into our guts.
We carry walkie-talkies and the NATO phonetic alphabet through the dark night of a gated base. Code names. Flashlights. We force our feet to be silent as we slip past MP stations and through curfew’s closing fist. We carry each other, holding on to friendships with the ferocity of knowing that we carry even more goodbyes. We camouflage ourselves in black and set up command centers in empty playgrounds. We borrow strategies from the History Channel and our parents’ dinner party conversations. We steal hidden flags, swear they’ll never touch the ground. We laugh and run and carry them pretending that these elaborate games of manhunt are not our way of practicing for Whiskey-Alpha-Romeo.
We carry our bag and shoes to the gym, where people say “have a good workout” like it’s “have a good Christmas.” A water bottle. A sweat towel. A playlist labeled “workout warrior.” We unpack the gifts of our bodies on machines and tracks and benches, carrying the weight of the knowledge that self-sufficiency is strength. We carry our biceps and six-packs like a sign on the lawn reading “Security System Installed Here.” Gatorade. Deodorant. Hair ties, sports bras, transience and the nomadic need to move. We compete with ourselves and carry a list of our shortcomings like a splinter in our sole.
Textbooks. Calculators. Honor Rolls and transcripts. We carry libraries from house to house, making the smallest cardboard boxes the heaviest ones. Notebooks and binders and mugs of late night coffee. We carry hours of study in bags under our eyes. We work so that our parents will have one less thing to worry about. We work so we’ll have time to see them when they come home on leave. We carry the wanting to do more than make them proud--the harder, sharper wanting to make ourselves proud. We carry that pride. We carry intimate knowledge of the biology of transplantation and the physics of a bullet.
We carry the practice of statistics. The rate of increase from one thousand to two thousand to three thousand. Percentage times three tours times thirty years equals x before retirement. The probability that it will be somebody we know. The probability that it will be our somebody. The knowing that there are things worse than death. We carry coffins and couches with equal force but different gravity.
We carry questions. More than the paradox of a countdown clock that keeps adding time, or the problem of a map without title or key. We carry whowhatwhenwherewhy like a piercing on our tongue, use it to tap out messages against our teeth (the things we’re afraid to ask: How many movie-theater-discounts does it take to buy back a childhood?). We carry our silence in mouths chewed raw from lack of speaking.
We carry stones--smooth and flat, picked up along the road--to place on grandpa’s grave. It’s hard to find him, another uniform white slab among rows of thousands (pristine and regimented as ever). He is black-lettered and not yet fading, sandwiched between an immigrant and an eighteen-year-old. We walk home carrying the need to write a poem for every gravestone. We carry the aunts and sons, the coaches and dog-lovers, book worms and runners, the painters and preachers, politicians and pacifists, the tough guys, philosophers, sweethearts, the parents who lie here. We carry the veterans lying on city street corners, and those who never made it home. We carry the sisters and cousins that stand in their place. When the time comes, we too will carry the torch. We wear helmets made of stoic steel and lined with hope.
We carry safety pins like bad habits and dog tags like talismans. We carry dandelions in our hands and countries on our backs. We carry on.
• Posted on Feb. 10, 2014