June 20, 2013

International Research Symposium held in Indianapolis

The Military Family Research Institute’s fourth International Research Symposium for Military Families concluded Wednesday, with researchers and policy experts ready to translate the experience into new ways to help military families.

"Once again, our presenters brought cutting-edge research and theory into focus," said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI. "Contributions from the larger group will help us identify new solutions for military members, children and their extended families."

The symposium held in downtown Indianapolis featured, David Riggs, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Deployment Psychology, and was an invitation-only event.

It brought together leading military and civilian scholars who study issues relevant to military families, and presentations focused on family sequelae of wounds and injuries, parenting and child outcomes, marital and relationship functioning, and single service members. They covered a variety of topics, including:

  • deployments and divorces;
  • perspectives on Australian female service members’ health; 
  • relational turbulence among military couples, including American, Canadian, and UK perspectives;
  • experiences of family and caregivers of wounded veterans; 
  • deployment and military children; 
  • gender roles and expectations; 
  • the military family’s role in the care of injured service members; •
  • warfare and fathering; and
  • service members’ PTSD and partners’ distress.

In small- and large-group settings, participants offered feedback and commentary, which previously helped to form the basis for chapters in previous editions of MFRI’s research text, Risk and Resilience in U.S. Military Families.

This year's symposium will once again do the same. Feedback from anonymous post-event surveys provided insight into attendees’ perspectives on the symposium. Some pronounced it “great for clinicians.” Others said the symposium provided “information useful for policy/program implications,” and that “the most impactful studies were presented.” Many cited the symposium’s networking value.

“This is a wonderful conference, in large measure because of the positive and supportive environment, coupled with outstanding speakers,” one attendee wrote. “MFRI does a wonderful job in making us all feel welcome and supported from the invitation to the conclusion of the last session. Of all the conferences that I attend, this is the most productive and enjoyable.”