Recent News

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

SVA, MFRI release new higher education series

Student Veterans of America, in partnership with MFRI, has released the first in an eight-part series of higher education reports today (May 7).

The Landscape in Higher Education series documents the promising practices and lessons learned through the efforts of MFRI's higher education initiative, Operation Diploma. The first report, "Honoring those who serve: Raising campus and community awareness,"  highlights ways in which campuses can honor and recognize student service members and veterans, as well as their unique experiences.

Through Operation Diploma, grants were awarded to two- and four-year public and private institutions. These grants, and their proceeds, affected the lives of more than 6,000 student service members and veterans. Schools that received Operation Diploma grants submitted accountability reports describing their progress and results.

Other Landscape reports will be released this summer,


  •  Posted on May 7, 2015

Double your impact, thanks to Purdue leadership

Supporters of military and veteran families have a new opportunity to make a difference, increase their impact and sustain the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University through a strategic initiative challenge match made possible by university leaders.

In conjunction with the Office of the Provost, the College of Health and Human Sciences and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, MFRI is using $250,000 in non-recurring funds to match philanthropic gifts that establish a permanent endowment. This program will help ensure MFRI's long-term financial strength by creating new recurring revenue funds that are flexible and reliable, said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, the institute's executive director.

Such support will help MFRI continue its mission to improve the systems for military and veteran families through attention to the multiple domains in which they live, she said. This includes health care, post-secondary education, employment, community mobilization and research. MFRI works to support and strengthen military and civilian infrastructures. In addition, MFRI conducts research on military and veteran families, and using the research to build impactful and innovative programs. The challenge match will help to advance these goals.

MFRI will provide a 1:1 match for new endowments that provide unrestricted support up to $250,000. The minimum gift amount is $25,000, but smaller gifts will be used with others to meet the minimum. To qualify for the match, gifts must be outright donations of cash or securities and may be paid over five years.

To learn more, contact Mike Johnson, director for development for military programs at Purdue University. To make a gift, text PurdueMFRI to 41444 or donate online.


  •  Posted on May 6, 2015

May is National Military Appreciation Month

May is National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM), and the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University urges all citizens to pay special tribute to current and former members of the Armed Forces, including those who have died in service to the country.

The recognition is a result of a bipartisan Congressional effort, led in 1999 by Senator John McCain, to enact legislation to create the first National Military Appreciation Month.

The National Military Appreciation Month website offers ideas on ways to thank and recognize military members, veterans and their families. Further resources can be found in How to Help Military and Veteran Families, a series of publications that provides evidence-informed guidance on how individuals and communities can support these families. Each issue has been carefully reviewed both by subject matter experts and military family support organizations.

Thank you for all you do for military and veteran families!

  •  Posted on May 4, 2015

Happy birthday, MFRI!

The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University celebrates its 15th birthday today (May 1) as it optimistically looks forward to its future.

In 2000, MFRI was created with funding from the Department of Defense, and its original mission was largely research-based. Since then, it has expanded to include outreach, thanks in part to increased funding from the Department of Defense, and funding from Lilly Endowment Inc., Sesame Workshop and others.

In its first 15 years, MFRI has engaged Purdue University faculty, staff and students in research, evaluation, outreach and events that have changed communities throughout and beyond Indiana in support of military and veteran families.

In addition it has:

  • changed the face of higher education for student service members and veterans;
  • launched, compiled, contributed to and disseminated research about military families that has engaged scholarls from around the world;
  • influenced state and national programs, policies and practices affecting military and veteran families; and
  • brought change to the systems that support military and veteran families by building new ways to support military children dealing with deployment and reintegration.

On April 25, MFRI joined the Center for Families in celebrating the two organizations' anniversaries -- MFRI's 15th and the Center for Families' 20th. The organizations will continue their anniversary celebrations throughout the year with a number of other engagement opportunities.

  •  Posted on May 1, 2015

Purdue Military Family Research Institute receives $3.5M gift from Lilly Endowment

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A two-year, $3.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. will help support the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University as it continues its work to improve the lives of members of the military, veterans and their families.

Christine M. Ladisch, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue University, announced the grant during a gala held Saturday (April 25) in Indianapolis.

The event marked two milestones: the 15th anniversary of MFRI and the 20th anniversary for its parent organization, Purdue’s Center for Families. Both programs are part of the university’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

MFRI works to expand opportunities for military members, veterans and their families by providing research to help mental health providers, public policymakers, employers and leaders in higher education better understand the issues affecting the military community. This includes helping civilian leaders see the value of bringing military and veteran families into community leadership roles.

"Lilly Endowment's generosity comes at a time when this institute's work is critical to the landscape surrounding military members, veterans and their families,” said Ladisch. "MFRI is a nationally-respected thought leader that provides education and guidance to congressional leaders, White House officials and other policymakers. It is known as a collaborative organization that is skilled at bringing together high-level agencies in pursuit of a common goal. We are grateful that Lilly Endowment has chosen to continue its support of this organization.”

The Endowment has supported MFRI since 2007 with grants that now total $27 million. More than 2 million military service members have been deployed since Sept. 11, 2001, and according to the U.S. Census, 19.6 million veterans live in the United States.

"Millions of military families are transitioning to civilian life as the nation’s armed forces draw down the number of troops in active duty. These families are tremendous resources for our communities,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of both the MFRI and the Center for Families. " Since the drawdown began three years ago, more than 62,000 soldiers have left the U.S. Army alone. These leaders and their families deserve to receive respect, opportunities and services – as well as support where needed. Fortunately, many communities are eager to help.”

Many of MFRI's signature programs are designed to provide communities with the education that they need to meet military and veteran families’ needs. These include:

  • Star Behavioral Health Providers, a training, referral and dissemination program that trains civilian mental health-care providers in military culture and clinical practices, while connecting service members and their families to trained mental health providers. Launched in Indiana, the program is now active in seven states, including California and New York;
  • "How to Help Military and Veteran Families, a series of publications that offer valuable information to various audiences to help them assist and support members of the military, veterans and their families. The series is the result of a joint effort between the U.S. departments of Defense and Agriculture, in collaboration with the MFRI and the National Military Family Association;
  • Education and employment initiatives that have awarded more than $2.4 million in grants to Indiana higher education institutions and student veterans' organizations; provided outreach to support programs that help veterans succeed on campuses; worked to change policies that limit academic credit for military training; and collaborated with employers and veteran job seekers to close gaps between them;
  • Research studies, including "Family Journeys" and "Children and Multiple Deployments," which examine the effects of military service on families; and
  • Grants of up to $2,500 to community organizations to build partnerships with military units that will strengthen support for military families.

MFRI leaders have testified before Congress as subject matter experts, and MacDermid Wadsworth previously served on the Defense Health Board's Psychological Health External Advisory Committee and the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Returning Veterans.

“Purdue is proud of MFRI’s accomplishments during its first 15 years,” Ladisch said. “We are excited to see what the next 15 years will bring.”


About Lilly Endowment
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family - J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli - through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Co. In keeping with the founders' wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. More information can be found at

Contact: Beth Johnson, director of external Relations, MFRI, 703-92707429,

  •  Posted on April 27, 2015

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