Consumer Fraud & Military Families

By Dr. Martie Gillen

The term consumer fraud is used widely to cover sales that are both legal and illegal. This includes fraud for which sellers could be prosecuted in civil or criminal courts and practices that are not necessarily illegal, such as charging exorbitant prices. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) deceptive acts are generally interpreted as those that are not reasonably avoidable by consumers, manifest a tendency to mislead, and cause a substantial number of consumers to suffer in a material way. The FTC tracks all types of consumer fraud.

Likely fueled by increased use of the Internet for making financial transactions, fraud complaints have sharply increased over the last decade. In fact, according to the FTC’s 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book over 1.5 million fraud related complaints were filed in 2014. While only 55% of consumers who reported a complaint also reported the amount paid the total cost to those consumers was over $1.7 billion. The median amount was $498.

In 2012, Dr. Gillen presented a 90-minute webinar on Financial Frauds & Scams. View the recording of this webinar below.

Military consumers reported over 87,000 (U.S. Army 42,315, U.S. Navy 18,268, U.S. Air Force 16,691, U.S. Marines $8,568, and U.S. Coast Guard 1,558) fraud complaints in 2014. The most common status among military consumers who reported a fraud complaint was retiree and/or veteran (66%) followed by dependent spouse of an active duty services member (13%).

Among military consumers, the most common reported fraud complaint was identity theft (27%) followed by imposter scams (26%), debt collection (8%), banks and lenders (5%), prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries (3%), shop-at-home and catalog sales (2%), education (2%), telephone and mobile services (2%), auto related complaints (2%), credit bureaus, information furnishers and report users (1%), foreign money offers and counterfeit check scams (1%), internet services ( 1%), credit cards (1%), health care (1%), grants (1%), computer equipment and software (1%), mortgage foreclosure relief and debt management (1%), business and job opportunities (1%), television and electronic media (1%), and advance payments for credit services (<1%).

The most frequent way a military fraud victim’s information was misused was government documents or benefits fraud (45%) followed by credit card fraud (17%), phone or utilities fraud (13%), bank fraud (10%), and loan fraud (4%).

The FTC provides a great deal of information on how military families can protect themselves from from fraud. 

This post was written by Dr. Martie Gillen. Follow her on Twitter @MoneyMattersMG

Upcoming webinar: Family Transitions & Financial Changes

By Molly C. Herndon

Join the Personal Finance and Family Transitions teams for a collaborative webinar on Tuesday, October 13 at 11 a.m. ET. Dr. Barbara O’Neill and PhD Candidate, Jennifer Rea, will present a 90-minute webinar on Military Family Financial Transitions: Handling Changes to Income, Benefits and Money Management.

Created on by Molly Herndon
Created on by Molly Herndon

The two concentration areas are joining forces to best present the common problems that arise when military families leaving the military. Dr. O’Neill will focus on the financial issues while Ms. Rea will concentrate on the familial problems that are common during these times of transition.

The interactive nature of this webinar will offer many opportunities for webinar participants to offer their experience, via the webinar chat pod,  working with clients who are transitioning and share the resource they have used. Please join us to share with your colleagues!

This webinar will offer 1.5 CEUs for AFC-credentialed and CPFC-credentialed participants. Others who join the webinar that are uninterested in the financial continuing education units can earn a Certificate of Completion.

Created on by Molly Herndon
Created on by Molly Herndon

We will keep the conversation going on this topic when we meet for a Twitter Chat on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. ET. Are you new to Twitter and interested in getting started? Follow along in the Step-by-Step Guide for Getting Started on Twitter to create a user name and bio line. If you’re interested in testing the waters before our chat on Oct. 21, you can join one of the many ongoing Personal Finance Twitter Chats that happen each week. These provide a good opportunity for Twitter newbies to “watch” and listen to what happens during a Twitter chat, and of course, chime in with your expertise!

Please join us for this exciting webinar on Tuesday, October 13, at 11 a.m. ET. Register, find supporting resources and join the webinar all through this link.

Counseling Spouses of Military Members with Avoidant Attachment Styles

By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Military Spouses
Creative Commons Licensing [Flickr, Double Dedication, April 30, 2010] retrieved on September 8, 2015
Following up on our blogs examining relationships and communication during deployment and communication prior to and during deployment, today’s blog focuses on attachment styles and the influence of avoidant attachment styles on challenges to the relationship during deployment.  Further, research conducted by Borelli and colleagues [1] offers a word of caution when counseling spouses of military members who are experiencing stress in the relationship during deployment.

Using attachment theory, the researchers studied non-deployed spouses (NDS) responses to challenges in their marital relationship during deployment.  Attachment theory, as developed by Bowlby, posits that infants who received a consistent emotional response from their caregiver when the infant expressed an emotional need would develop a secure attachment — a belief that others would be available to respond to attachment related needs such as comfort, protection, or acceptance.  Infants who were rejected or ignored by their caregiver would learn to avoid thoughts and feelings related to emotional needs of comforting or protection.

Borelli and colleagues queried 45 female spouses of military members prior to and during deployment [1].  Service members were primarily active duty military (91%), had completed at least one previous deployment (67%), and served in a variety of capacities such as on-base support (31%), infantry (21%), special operations (11%), and other support occupations.  Participant assessments occurred 2 weeks prior to the military members deployment, 2 weeks after their departure, and 2 weeks following their spouse’s return.  Attachment style was assessed using the Experience of Close Relationships Revised (ECR-R) scale measuring avoidance and anxiety in romantic relationships.  Thoughts and feelings related to the relationship and deployment were examined by recording expressions of anxiety.  “Savoring” exercises were conducted by the researchers to measure emotions associated with a personal experience (a positive memory not shared), and a relational experience (a memory when they felt especially cared for, accepted or protected).  Subjective emotions (affective valence, arousal, control and dominance) were measured immediately following savoring exercises designed for this study.

Results of the study indicated that relationship satisfaction decreased following deployment.  Attachment avoidance was positively correlated with self-reported anxiety following the reunion savoring exercise. The savoring exercises post-deployment were more difficult than prior to deployment, and participants reported a negative mood following post-deployment savoring tasks.

As a mental health clinician, considering attachment style may be helpful when working with non-deployed spouses of military members who are facing a deployment or have recently been deployed.  Clients with an avoidant attachment style may benefit from exercises that encourage self-reflection focusing on attachment related feelings.  However, clinicians should engage in such work prior to deployment, rather than during or after deployment, when facing feelings could cause even more distress.


[1] Borelli, J. L., Sbarra, D. A., Snavely, J. E., McMakin, D. L., Coffey, J. K., Ruiz, S. K., . . . Chung, S. Y. (2014). With or without you: Preliminary evidence that attachment avoidance predicts nondeployed spouses’ reactions to relationship challenges during deployment. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 45(6), 478-487. doi:10.1037/a0037780

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.


Virtual Learning Event October 2015 – Session 1

VLE 1 | The Ripple Effect: Trauma Informed Interventions with Abusers

Session 1

Date: October 8, 2015

Time: 11:00am – 12:30pm Eastern


MFLN Family Development Virtual Learning Event promotional image for VLE Session 1
[Flickr, Strive to Grow Anywhere, October 18, 2014, CC BY 2.0]
Bob Smith, MS, LMFT, CCSOTS, & Kacy Mixon, Ph.D., LMFT,  will offer trauma-informed interventions when working with abusers. Presenters will explore the impact abusers have on family functioning, inclusive of undermining victim-caregivers and using children as weapons. Presenters will also discuss typologies of abusers and share assessment tools that can assist in determining appropriate treatment options.

MFLN Family Development’s Virtual Learning Event (VLE) will host a professional development training session on October 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th. For more information about upcoming VLE sessions, click here.

We offer 1.5 National Association of Social Worker (NASW) and Georgia Marriage and Family Therapy CE credits for each of our professional development training sessions, click here to learn more.

For more information on future presentations in the 2015 Family Development webinar series, please visit our professional development website or connect with us via social media for announcements: (Facebook Twitter)

5210 Healthy Messaging Campaign Audio Interview with Jennifer DiNallo

5210 Healthy Messaging Campaign takeaway slide by Dr. Jen Dinallo presented Sept 22, 2015
5210 Healthy Messaging Campaign takeaway slide by Dr. Jen Dinallo presented Sept 22, 2015

Blog by Robin Allen MSPH, RDN , LDN

5-2-1-0 Healthy Messaging, Healthy Military Children was a great webinar, presented on September 22, 2015 by Dr. Jen DiNallo.  The first time I had heard about the 5210 Healthy Messaging Program was preparing for this webinar.  Now I discover it is being used successfully in many communities, including my hometown of Pensacola, FL.

What did I learn?  I have mistakenly been referring to 5210 only in connection with childhood obesity.  I was very wrong!   5210 is health promotion program for children and teens!  What is the difference? Health promotion is a positive focus and is for everyone.  Childhood obesity is negative and eliminates children/teens who may still need to develop other healthy behaviors.

5210 Healthy Military Children was further explored with Dr. Jennifer DiNallo in this interesting audio cast with Dr. Karen Chapman-Novakofski, MFLN Nutrition and Wellness. The Military has fully embraced this program for families, child care facilities, elementary, middle and high schools, youth centers, after-school programs, cafeterias, restaurants, commissaries/grocery stores, fitness centers, workplace, and all healthcare professionals and leaders.

The 2 main goals:

  1. “Permeate children’s and families’ environments with the 5210 message.
  2. “Provides strategies to support 5210 behaviors to a variety of people and places.”

How can you implement 5210 in your community?  Check out the 5210 HMC website   There is a tool kit with step by step instructions to help with the implementation of this great program located at this web site.  More information is available at the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness .

5210 might be just right for your community, school, or wherever healthy children, teens and family is a priority.

This post was written by Robin Allen, a member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter and on LinkedIn.




Fostering Parent-Child Attachment through the Deployment Cycle

By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Creative Commons [Flickr, Day 259, September 16, 2010]
Creative Commons [Flickr, Day 259, September 16, 2010]
What are some effective strategies for reducing emotional distress caused by deployment separation?  Recent research conducted by Louie and Cromer [1] examined parenting strategies during the 3 phases of the deployment cycle: (1) prior to deployment; (2) during; and (3) after deployment.

A total of 30 military fathers participated in the study.  All participants had a child 6 years or younger at the time of deployment, and had been deployed at least once within 2 years of study.  Both active duty military and reservists were represented in the study group.  Participants were recruited through Family Readiness Programs.

The study’s goal was to identify parenting strategies that promote attachment during the deployment cycle.  Structured interviews were conducted with the military father about his experience and his family’s experience during his most recent deployment.  Interview questions were arranged to address all 3 phases of the deployment cycle.  The Parental Stress Scale, a self-report measure of strain and satisfaction in parenting, was used to determine the parenting stress experienced by the military member.

Pre-deployment: The analysts identified a total of 12 child-focused preparation strategies used by military fathers.  On average, each participant used 2 preparation strategies, though 11 of the 30 military fathers did not prepare their children for the upcoming deployment.  One-half of the participants talked about deployment with their children, 7 of the 30 participants used a globe to communicate with their children, and 6 of the 30 participants used pictures or read books to describe their upcoming separation.

During deployment: Communication methods used during deployment were varied, though a large percentage (80%), used video conferencing.  All of the participants reported communicating with their children during the deployment.

Post-deployment: Almost 90% of the parents reported a need to get reacquainted with their child and readjust to their role as father.  80% reported stress or conflict with their spouse or other caretakers about parenting.  Fathers also reported taking time of from work (73%) or taking a vacation (47%) to get reacquainted with their family.

Results of the study suggest that parents who prepared their young children for deployment reported significantly lower levels of parenting stress.  The number of communication methods used during deployment did not appear to affect parenting stress.

Parents and their children benefit from pre-deployment preparation.  Young children, including infants benefit from the psychological presence of a parent, especially if they can see that their parent is thinking of them daily.  Young children have the cognitive capacity to understand deployment (separation) and also the capacity to grieve during the separation.  During the study, the researchers determined that parents needed information on how to proactively promote attachment during the deployment cycle.  The authors offered some delayed communication strategies to use during deployment:

  • Taking pictures and videos of the child with the service member prior to deployment to be sent during deployment.  An example of the message in a video might be: Daddy likes to (hold, play with) ____(name), Daddy loves ____ (name).
  • For very young children, have the service member sleep with a clean t-shirt (babies can recognizes smells, voices, and faces by 2 months of age) and send it home during deployment for the child.

Pre-deployment is a very important (and busy) time during the deployment cycle.  Some planning can improve parent-child attachment and ease the emotional distress of reconnecting after returning home.


[1] Louie, A. D., & Cromer, L. D. (2014). Parent–child attachment during the deployment cycle: Impact on reintegration parenting stress. Professional Psychology: Research And Practice45(6), 496-503. doi:10.1037/a0036603

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.

Caregiving – Just Not Enough Time

Blog post written by Mary Brintnall-Peterson, Ph.D., MBP Consulting, LLC, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Extension

Caregiving is only one part of my life and at times the other parts of my life need attention or should I say demand my time. As a caregiver, I just don’t seem to have enough time to get everything done. It’s like being on a treadmill or going round and round on a hamster wheel in a cage. So what can I do? The reality is that there are only 24 hours in a day and I do need to take some time for myself or I’m not good for anything or anyone. That means I need to get sleep every night, spend time exercising and do enjoyable things.

I’m more energized when I do things I like such as read a book for a few minutes, watch my favorite TV show or take a bubble bath. Being energized enables me to get a lot more done in a shorter period of time. When I take care of myself I’m more positive which helps me deal with the unexpected or difficult things that the day may bring. In reading lots of different time management articles and books, the following strategies are the ones most helpful to me.

  • Keep a log for a few days to see exactly where your time is spent. You may be surprised to find out how efficient you are but you might also discover some time wasters. You’ll also note how often you are multi-tasking. I found preparing dinner includes much more than fixing the meal—it includes unloading the dishwasher, reading the mail or Facebook, and talking with my spouse or children.
  • Use a “to do” list. I love to mark off completed tasks on my “to do” list. Sometimes I put things on it that I know I can mark off right away. It makes me feel better and gives me a sense of accomplishment to see all those marked off items. Another trick I use with my “to do” list is to identify which items are most critical to do versus those that would be nice to do. This way I can focus on the most important items first. Sometimes I find an item on my list that is large and has multiple steps. I play games with myself and list each step as a “to do” task. This helps me see that I’m making progress on completing the larger task.
  • Putting objectives in their place was a suggestion from another caregiver. She has special places for things like her purse, keys, medicines, medical folder, phone numbers, pass words for websites, etc. This way she spends less time searching for items. I discovered that I was wasting time looking for things so I am attempting to declutter, organize and to put things away where they belong. I realize this isn’t easy but taking the time to do it now will save me time in the long run. I guess I’ll have to add this to my “to do” list.
  • Be realistic about what I can and can’t do. This includes saying no to requests from others for things I know I can’t do or don’t want to do (including requests from other family members). I have a tendency to underestimate how much time it takes to get things done and then become stressed. So I am trying to be more realistic about how much time it takes to do things and to only do the things that are high priorities.
  • Be aware of distractions—this is a hard one. If I hear my phone ping I’m off to see who texted me and then end up spending time looking at messages or postings on Facebook. This can be a time waster. Take a few minutes and think about what distraction might be your time waster and how you can take control of it. One way I take control of my phone is to turn off the sound and then look at it only a couple of times a day. Spend some time thinking about your time wasters.

I’ve shared a couple strategies to manage your time and I hope they are helpful to you. I’m hoping many of you will share your time wasters and how you have taken control of them. Also please share tricks or tips you have for saving time. I know I’d like to learn other ways to use my time better.

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on September 25, 2015.

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Deepening Connections in Social Media

By Bob Bertsch, NDSU Agriculture Communication and MFLN Network Literacy

Make Emotional Connections
Photo by sorokti:Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

After co-presenting the MFLN Family Transitions “Engaging Military Families with Social Media” webinar with Bruce Moody, I have received a few emails from people wanting to learn more about social capital.

I’ve been talking about social capital since I first learned about it in Tara Hunt‘s book, “The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business.” Recently I’ve begun thinking about it more deeply.Hunt describes social capital as the currency of your reputation, specifically your online reputation. In sociology, social capital refers to the “collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups” ( I like to think of social capital like monetary capital, except with valued actions replacing money.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you need someone to help you move some furniture. There are many people you could ask; from a stranger on the street to your closest friend. The likelihood of someone agreeing to help you (without paying them) increase based on how much you have helped that person in the past. It’s the favor economy.

In social media, social capital matters. If you dive into social media and begin asking for favors (e.g., like my page, share my post, come to my event), you’re making withdrawals on your social capital. If you haven’t spent any time making social capital deposits (e.g., thanking someone for their post, suggesting your followers follow another page or account, answering a question), your withdrawals will give you a negative social capital balance, which negatively effects your online reputation.

In the webinar I mentioned earlier, I talked about social capital at the ground level to begin building a relationship with people. Now I’m starting to think beyond that to building the kind of social capital needed to deepen existing relationships.

I’m currently reading John Stepper‘s book, “Working Out Loud.” Although the term “social capital” does not turn up in the book, the concept is definitely present. The book helps individuals build a network that will serve them professionally, establishing and improving their online reputation.

Stepper touches on some of the initial social capital strategies I have spoken about, but also goes beyond those initial deposits to the kind of interactions that will deepen relationships.

According to Stepper, two keys for working out loud are generosity and empathy. I think both are also key to building enough social capital to deepen online relationships. As you try to make meaningful connections with those you serve on social media, I suggest you ask yourself these 3 questions (adapted from “Working Out Loud”):

  • Who is this for?
  • Why should they care?
  • Why am I doing this?

These are critical questions to ask when making social capital deposits.

Asking “Who is this for?” helps you be intentional with your posts. Having a specific person or group of people in mind can help you create posts with value – social capital deposits.

Asking “Why would they care?” requires empathy. The answer to that question should not be  “because I say it’s important” or “because I want them to know.” You need to put yourself in the mind of the specific person the post is intended for and sincerely imagine why they would care.

Asking “Why am I doing this?” speaks to generosity. If the answer is “to get more likes/shares/comments”, STOP. Approach social media in the way you approach your work with military families, with generosity and a sincere desire to help.

These questions will help you avoid treating social media as mass media. By focusing on a specific person, putting yourself in their mind, and sharing out of generosity, you can avoid using social media as a bullhorn and begin to use it in a way that can have the most impact, to deepen connections with people and connect people with each other.

Bob Bertsch has worked in communications, education and web technology for more than 20 years. He’s currently a web technology specialist with North Dakota State University Agriculture Communication and a member of the eXtension Network Literacy community of practice, which works to engage professionals in a community built around learning in networks.  

The archived webinar “”Engaging Military Families with Social Media” can be viewed at  Learn more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Transitions at

Public Benefits Help Ease Cash Flow

By Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, Rutgers Cooperative Extension,

One of the common financial concerns of military families is making ends meet. Each year, I conduct seminars about household cash flow and how to develop a successful spending plan (budget). A spending plan is a plan for spending and saving money and includes two components: income and expenses. Good spending plans use realistic expense figures that are obtained by tracking expenses for a month or two to make sure that every dollar spent is accounted for.

Cash flow is the relationship between household income and expenses. Earn more than you spend and you’ve got positive cash flow. Do the exact opposite and your cash flow will be negative. To succeed financially, positive cash flow is required. At any income level, if you spend more than you earn, you will go broke.

Developing a spending plan (budget) is a lot like practicing weight control by watching what you eat (diet). In each case, there are three things that someone can do to improve. In the case of dieting, one can eat less, exercise more, or do a little of both. In the case of budgeting, one can increase income, reduce debt, or do a little of both. Rutgers Cooperative Extension has a helpful Spending Plan WorksheetOutdoor Recreation Blog.

There are a variety of ways to increase income including: working overtime, working a second job, requesting money loaned to others, charging adult children room and board, having a garage sale, and adjusting tax withholding. Another way to increase income is to take advantage of free or low-cost services provided by government agencies, non-profit human service providers, and local service organizations. Benefits and services received are considered “in kind” income because you would otherwise have to pay for them out of pocket.

Some public benefits have age and/or income restrictions while others are not restricted. Below is a list of some common public benefits that military families can take advantage of:

  • Rabies clinics sponsored by municipalities that provide free pet shots that might otherwise cost $50 or more
  • VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) offered at various locations in partnership with community sponsors and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), if qualified by income and family size
  • DVDs, magazines, free educational programs, and Internet terminals are available at public libraries
  • Free or low cost mammograms, PSA tests, and other diagnostic screening tests are available at no or low cost through organizations such as county health departments, walk-in clinics, and other community organizations
  • Service clubs, such as Soroptimist and Rotary, that provide scholarships to eligible students
  • Free outdoor concerts and movies sponsored by municipalities, businesses, colleges, and other entities
  • Discounts for service members and veterans at restaurants, county fairs, theme parks, retailers, and more; a military ID may be required to take advantage of these discounts

For information about military family benefits that can help make ends meet, see and,13190,Spouse,00.html

Fatal and Non-Fatal Child Maltreatment

By Caitlin Hunter and Heidi Radunovich

Example of child maltreatment
Creative Commons Licensing [Flickr, Punishment, October 14, 2008] retrieved on September 8, 2015
Children living in homes where there was recently a major life event are thought to be more at risk for being victims of fatal child maltreatment. What exactly are the factors which contribute to fatal child maltreatment, and what can be done to stop it from happening?

The purpose of the study by Douglas and Mohn (2014) was to examine the differences between cases of fatal and non-fatal child maltreatment on a national scale [1]. The focus was specifically on victim/family characteristics of fatal maltreatment and how those differed from non-fatal maltreatment victims. The researchers were also interested in the social services victims received prior to death, and how those services were different than victims of non-fatal maltreatment.

This study found that younger children were more likely to suffer fatal child maltreatment rather than non-fatal, and that the likelihood of fatal maltreatment was higher for males than females, and for those children who identified as African American. Children who had been victims of child maltreatment in the past, or who were in homes where there was other domestic violence, were actually less likely to be victims of fatal child maltreatment.  Children who were emotionally disturbed, had a learning disability, or had behavior problems were also less likely to suffer a fatality. These findings are interesting because they are inconsistent with prior research on the subject.

Fatality victims were more likely to have a younger perpetrator, and were also more likely to live in a household where housing is a problem, or in which there were financial difficulties. It was less likely for fatality victims to have received social services in the past. These services include: family support, foster care, court-appointed representatives, and case management. The author of this study stressed the importance of this last finding, stating that the use of services could be a very important protective factor against fatal child maltreatment incidents. Ensuring the use of services are not only useful in their own ways, but they also keep the child visible in the community, lessening the risk that maltreatment will go unnoticed.  


[1] Douglas, E. M., & Mohn, B. L. (2014). Fatal and non-fatal child maltreatment in the US: An analysis of child, caregiver, and service utilization with the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Set. Child Abuse & Neglect38(1), 42-51. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.10.022

This post was written by Caitlin Hunter  & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.