April 15, 2013

MFRI, partners collaborate to create new resources

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Doctors, teachers, employers, neighbors and other members of the community now have expert advice available to help them support military families, thanks to a partnership between Purdue's Military Family Research Institute, several federal agencies, and the National Military Family Association.

The Department of Defense, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (USDA), on Monday (April 15) unveiled the "How to Help Military and Veteran Families" series at an event at the Army & Navy Club in Washington, D.C. The launch was scheduled in coordination with the 2-year anniversary of Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama's initiative to support military families. "How to Help Military and Veteran Families" offers guidance for various audiences that assist and support members of the military, veterans and their families.

Experts at the Military and Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University created the content for the series, and the National Military Family Association provided expert review and input. Issues will be available online and in print.

"MFRI is proud to have had a part in creating these valuable resources," said MFRI Director Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, who attended the event. "This project was a truly collaborative effort that we believe will engage new communities in the ongoing effort to support military and veteran families who have served our nation."

The series will feature 11 issues tailored to audiences such as medical professionals, faith-based communities, educators, employers, financial institutions, legal professionals, first responders, mental health professionals and families and friends. Each issue provides evidence-based guidance on how a particular group can help military and veteran families, with short, practical suggestions and links that point to additional resources. And each issue has been carefully reviewed both by subject matter experts and military family support organizations.

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture is distributing the publications to Cooperative Extension offices across the nation. Each state has the option of customizing the content to include state-specific information. Cooperative Extension staff in each county will distribute materials to citizens through educational sessions and online.

The partnership is focused on leveraging the resources of the Cooperative Extension system in support of service members and their families, said MacDermid Wadsworth. Since its inception, the partnership has produced a number of resources for service members, their families, and helping professionals around the world.

The "How to Help" series joins these and other programs that are focused on helping military and veteran families throughout the partnership, including Purdue's Military Extension Internship Program, which recruits and develops staff for military children and youth programs.

In May 2010, the president directed the development of a coordinated federal government-wide approach to supporting military families.

Capt. Todd Veazie, executive director of Joining Forces spoke at Monday's event, as did DoD's Charles (Chuck) Milam, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, and Catherine Woteki, USDA undersecretary for research, education and economics. Also at the podium was Jimmy Henning, associate dean and director for University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension.

Since September 11, 2001, more than two million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Multiple deployments, combat injuries, and the challenges of reintegration can have far-reaching effects on not only the troops and their families, but also upon America's communities as well. These unique challenges can affect military readiness and family resilience.

Monday is also Indiana's day to "Purple Up" for military kids by wearing purple to show support for the sacrifices that they make. The event is part of April's Month of the Military Child celebrations.

Find current releases of "How to Help Military and Veteran Families" online at Military OneSource on the "Community Partners" page under the "Those Who Support" tab. They will also be distributed by The National Military Family Association.