Military Caregiving Webinar: Going to College & Transition Planning for Those with Disabilities


Mark your calendars for our upcoming September MFLN Military Caregiving professional development webinar on, Going to College: A Guide to Transition Planning for Those with Disabilities. Event deals are below.

Time: 11:00 a.m. Eastern
Date: Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Event Location:
(*Click on the webinar flyer below to download and share with your networks.)

Just as the new school year has kicked off for many families, our MFLN Military Caregiving team will be hosting a training for professionals and families on transition planning for those with disabilities going into postsecondary education institutions. Webinar presenter, Dan Zhang, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University, will provide an overview of transitioning to postsecondary education with disabilities and the challenges it may have on our wounded warriors and those with special needs. Some of the strategies include person centered goal setting, understanding the demands of college, use of self-advocacy skills, and securing reasonable accommodations.

Learning objectives include:

  • Understanding the importance of postsecondary education
  • Identifying challenges and opportunities for individuals with disabilities and for wounded warriors
  • Setting appropriate postsecondary education goals
  • Understanding the demands of college
  • Understanding the importance of self-advocacy
  • Identifying reasonable accommodations and disability services
  • Recognizing strategies for students with hidden disabilities.

Registration is required to join the webinar, but can be completed on the day of the event. Also we will be offering Certificates of Completion for those that may be interested in receiving training hours for attending the event.

Interested in Joining the Webinar?

To join the webinar, simply click on Going to College: A Guide to Transition Planning for Those with Disabilities. The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense Connect System (DCS), but is open to the public. It is strongly suggested that when using the DCS system to open the webinar on Google Chrome for both PC and MAC connections. If this is not an option, Internet Explorer may be used if connecting via PC. Safari and Firefox are not compatible with this DCS platform.

For those who cannot connect to the DCS site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream.

Webinar Flyer - Download (PDF)
Webinar Flyer – Download (PDF)

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on August 28, 2015.

Security Practices Reviewed

Do you really know the best ways to stay safe online? A recent post on the Google Online Security Blog showed that average web users focus on different tactics than those favored by security experts.

In the blog post, Iulia Ion, Rob Reeder, and Sunny Consolvo highlight the results of two surveys they conducted. One was with security experts and one with users of the web who weren’t security experts. The two groups were asked to list the three best practices for remaining safe online. As the graphic (from the original post) below shows, the opinions of the two groups diverged, although both had recommendations about password usage.

Image from Google Online Security Blog post - New research: Comparing how security experts and non-experts stay safe online
Image from Google Online Security Blog post – New research: Comparing how security experts and non-experts stay safe online

I thought it would be useful to look at these recommendations and provide some of my thoughts:

Install Software Updates

Experts’ top recommendation was to install software updates – why? All software is prone to bugs, and many of these can be exploited by “bad guys” to compromise a user’s computer. As these bugs are discovered and the exploits employed, vendors provide patches for their software which fix the bugs. If you don’t keep your software up-to-date, you are unnecessarily exposing yourself to the risk of being compromised.


Experts advise using strong, unique passwords, while non-experts only advised strong passwords. By using unique passwords for each site, you can reduce the impact of a single site being compromised or your password exposed. Think about it this way – if you use the same strong password for every site you visit, what happens if one site gets hacked and someone finds out that password? Now, the “bad guys” have your password for all the sites you use.

Using strong, unique passwords presents challenges, like, how do you remember all those passwords, especially if they are non-memorable? That’s why the number four recommendation of experts is to use a Password Manager. Most reputable password managers keep your passwords encrypted, so they can only be unlocked with a master password or fingerprint – now you only need to remember one strong password, and the rest can be unique and non-memorable.

Non-experts recommend changing passwords frequently, but that really only provides protection against passwords being exposed and used long after the fact. This recommendation is likely made because many enterprises encourage (force) their users to change their passwords every six months.

Two-factor Authentication

Experts also advise the use of two-factor authentication. This means that, in addition to your username and password, you must have something else to prove who you purport to be. Many services, like Twitter, will send you a text message with an additional authentication code, if you configure it that way. This means that even if someone has your username and password, they wouldn’t be able to log in as you from a new device (most two-factor authentication can be set to only prompt for the second factor every 30 days, or when logging in from an unrecognized device.)

Anti-virus software

The number one recommendation of non-experts was to use anti-virus software. Why didn’t experts recommend the same? Since new bugs and exploits are being discovered all the time, anti-virus software often doesn’t catch the latest problem. If you believe that having anti-virus software will protect you from all threats, then you may be less cautious and let your guard down.


Being an active participant in online communities and using online services entails some level of risk that your personal information will be misused. Adopting some of the expert-recommended practices outlined above will make it a bit harder for the “bad guys,” and doesn’t impose a large burden on you.

Author: Stephen Judd (@sjudd)

This article (Security Practices Reviewed) was originally published Thursday August 27, 2015 on the Military Families Learning Network blog, a part of eXtension.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Unclaimed Assets: An Overlooked Source of Cash

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

Military families move around a lot and this can lead to instances of “missing money.” It is estimated that some $300 billion in personal financial assets are “missing” nationwide. This figure includes wages, insurance proceeds and dividends, bank accounts, stock and bond payments, utility company deposits, pension benefits, and tax refunds.

How does so much money get “lost” by so many people? There are a number of reasons:

  • People neglect to retrieve a utility security deposit after moving
  • Stock dividends or other payments are sent to the wrong address and never forwarded
  • People move or switch banks and fail to close out all their accounts
  • People change jobs and former employers don’t know where to send pension benefits or final wages
  • Clueless heirs are unaware that they are entitled to life insurance or cash left by a deceased relative
  • “Snowbirds” lose mail between their summer and winter homes

SaveThe good news is that, thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to search for unclaimed property. The Web site,, run by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, allows people to easily conduct a search. Another helpful resource is state unclaimed property agencies.

What do state governments have to do with unclaimed property? Plenty! By law, after a certain period of time (generally 3 to 10 years), unclaimed assets must be turned over to the state through a process called escheat. Hundreds of millions of dollars are escheated to states each year. Companies that don’t comply can be assessed fines. States keep this money until a rightful owner shows up to claim it.

It is advisable to conduct a search of every other state you (or a deceased relative) have lived in, as well as New York and Delaware, because that’s where a lot of financial institutions are incorporated. If you are due money, you’ll be sent an abandoned property claim form, which should be returned with proof of identity.

Another source of missing money is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at 800-829-1040. You can also check with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation for missing pensions. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. says it’s holding $265 million in unclaimed pensions and the average lost pension is worth about $1,100.

Will military families become wealthy from unclaimed property? Probably not. While there are some exceptionally large payments that occasionally make headlines, most claims are for less than $1,000. Nevertheless, a dollar is a dollar. Why not check to see if there’s hidden treasure with your name on it?

For further information about unclaimed assets, see and

Diabetes Detective 101: When High Blood Sugar is Caused by Fear of Low Blood Sugar

I would like to introduce a guest blogger this week and an expert in Diabetes education.  Enjoy this new material.

Eating for Target Blood Glucose levels
Eating for Target Blood Glucose levels

By Donna Ryan RN, RD, MPH, CDE, FAADE

As a diabetes educator, I am humbled sometimes (okay, often) by what I learn from people who live with diabetes every day. Simple assessment questions can open the flood gates of information, or elicit one word answers.  If I listen closely and ask probing questions, I occasionally get a glimpse into the fear, sadness and/or resignation of living with a disease that can cause incredibly high, and paradoxically low, blood sugar.   In many patients, these extremes in blood sugars are intertwined and a focused assessment is needed. And though it is counterintuitive, I have found many patients who present with hyperglycemia and high blood glucose values have a history of hypoglycemia events.

The body senses hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, as a life threatening event and patients have told me ‘I felt like I was going to die’, ‘I was frozen in my body’ and ‘it’s the worst feeling I have ever had’. Avoiding hypoglycemia is a survival mechanism and can have a deleterious effect on diabetes self-care behaviors. For example, the fear of hypoglycemia drives some people to not take their insulin or pills as ordered and to overeat in an attempt to prevent going low.  This then can then lead to hyperglycemia, poor diabetes control, and likely, the label of ‘noncompliance’.

I ask patients to tell me their hypoglycemia stories: How does it feel, how do you know you are low? How low does your sugar have to go to feel low? How do you treat it? Who helps you?  And, ‘Do you sometimes not take your meds for fear of a low blood sugar or eat extra food to avoid a low’? Some amazing and humbling answers I have received include: ‘I don’t feel my lows until I’m in the 30s’ ‘My cat licks me in the middle of the night and wakes me up when I am low’. Or, ‘Jesus wakes me up in front of the refrigerator and sometimes He wakes me up when I’m on the floor and I crawl to the kitchen to get my juice’.  Family members have told me they have to ‘pull grandma out from under the bed’ when she has a low blood sugar, which is where she rolls when she has an attack.   I ask if they tell their doctor these stories, and many do not.  Why? They believe it’s a part of having diabetes that they must live with, they are waiting until the next appointment to tell them (in 3-6 months), or they ‘forget’ to tell them.  Some patients are surprised to learn that a severe, prolonged hypoglycemic event can be fatal.

How can we intervene and help minimize the toll of hypoglycemia? Ask, listen and educate.

  • Know who is high risk for hypoglycemia
  • Ask about signs, symptoms, frequency of hypoglycemia
  • Educate patients and families how to detect, prevent and treat hypoglycemia
  • Encourage patients to wear medical alert identification
  • Teach ALWAYS check blood sugars before taking your diabetes medicines. Why? If glucose is already low, it’s best to treat the low first.
  • And most importantly: Notify the doctor of low blood sugars, as a change may be needed to the medical plan.

Technology is now making it easier to detect low blood sugars. For patients with recurring and severe hypoglycemia, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are available to augment checking sugars with a meter. Some CGMs alert the patient when their glucose is going low. See the resources below to learn more about hypoglycemia and diabetes.


This post was written by Donna Ryan RN, RD, MPH, CDE, FAADE,  Diabetes Educator Sacred Heart Hospital, Pensacola, FL. and Director American Academy of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and posted 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.


Communication and Connection in Relationships

By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Creative Commons [Flickr, I miss you, March 3, 2012]
Creative Commons [Flickr, I miss you, March 3, 2012]
How do military couples share the stresses of deployment within a relationship?  Researcher Rossetto examined the relational coping strategies that military wives used during deployment of their partner in combat and non-combat situations [1].

Face-to-face or telephone interviews were conducrelationted with 26 military wives (or fiancées) of military members who were deployed to combat or non-combat zones.  The women participating in the study averaged 27 years old, with an average length of marriage of 5 years. Interviews were moderately structured with participants responding to broad questions such as “tell me about your deployment experience”, or “how do you talk with people within you family about your experiences with deployment”.  Participants were encouraged to provide personal narratives of their experiences, allowing the interviewer to explore coping behaviors in the relationship.

Relational coping strategies were identified and categorized by common themes in the analysis of the interviews collected.  In the resulting analysis two relational strategies became apparent: (1) Choosing methods of communication such as phone, Internet, or letters, and (2) Choosing open versus restricted communication; that is, openly sharing thoughts, feelings, and information versus withholding some thoughts, feelings, or information from the partner.

Most common technologies were the telephone or Internet, and communications took place though e-mail, instant messages, and sending pictures or videos. Some couples were able to maintain a sense of togetherness by playing video games, using web cameras to show the military member things happening in the home, or to shop together.  Some women used blogs as a method to communicate their feelings.  Letters were also highly valued. In this study, couples reported making decisions about what information to communicate – whether to express emotions and experiences or to withhold emotions and other information.  Women tended to choose open communication more often than restricted communication.  Women who chose open communication reported that they felt that open communication would encourage intimacy and smooth the transition following deployment.  Women who chose limited communication felt that by restricting communication, they would be protecting themselves, their husbands, and their relationship by reducing worry.

With the availability of newer technologies, service members can more easily communicate with their partners at home, which allow for many creative ways to interact.  There may need to be a balance between maintaining intimacy to strengthen and maintain the relationship versus the need for both parties to be able to cope effectively with the stressors at hand.


[1] Rossetto, K.R. (2013). Relational coping during deployment: Managing communication and connection in relationships. Personal Relationships, 20(3), 568-586.

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.

Key Takeaways for Professionals on Building Trust & Credibility

Building Trust/CredibilityOn Wednesday the MFLN Military Caregiving concentration hosted their monthly webinar on ‘Empowering Those We Help: Building Trust and Credibility’ to military helping professionals  that may be working with family caregivers of wounded service members and those caring for someone with special needs.

The professional development training was more of a “back to basics” guide that focused on principles to effective services on empowering families and increasing resilience, while recognizing that families have expert-level knowledge regarding their own experiences and key insight into the needs of their loved one.

Upon completion of the webinar, presenter Alicia Cassels, Extension Professor from West Virginia University, provided key takeaways for professionals to think about as they go forth in their work with military families.  As you read the following key takeaways, think about how these may affect your work experience. Do these represent your current work environment or are there areas for improvement?

  • Effective service provision empowers families and helps increase resilience.
  • Effective service providers recognize that families have expert-level knowledge regarding their own experiences and key insight into the needs of their loved ones.
  • Communication styles, family culture, base culture, special needs and other factors impact family decisions to seek support. Professional skills, personal attributes and experiences influence provider interactions with families.
  • It is important for providers to learn as much as possible about the cultures that they serve.
  • Effective helping professionals convey key characteristics when collaborating with families. These characteristics include: unbiased, emotionally mature, culturally competent, non-judgmental, accepting, empathetic, objective and empowering.
  • Comprehensive needs assessments should be conducted prior to goal setting and should identify family strengths and needs.
  • Periodic reviews of goals should be conducted in order to address changing family needs and priorities.
  • Providers are ideally seen as hubs for accurate information, family support and needs-based referrals.
  • Collaborative working relationships with organizations that serve your population will increase your capacity to help families access necessary services.
  • It is important to assist families in adjusting expectations regarding services based on knowledge of typical timelines and experiences.

If you missed Wednesday’s MFLNMC webinar there is still time to watch the recording and receive continuing education credit or a certificate of completion for training hours. Simply go to, ‘Empowering Those We Help: Building Trust and Credibility’ to learn more.

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on August 21, 2015.

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Once a Marine, Always a Marine – Transition Reflections from a Military Spouse

By Jennifer Rea

“Babe, I’m thinking about applying to Officer Candidate School (OCS)…”

My heart sank in my chest and my head ran to every negative connotation of my husband being in the military AGAIN—deployments at least 7 months long, everything falling apart, my anxiety and fear of being alone at night and the painful move as I left my family and friends for the first time.

“Well, I don’t do life as just OK. I’m not the kind of person that does the 9 to 5 job and is happy with it… I need something more.”

To provide you with a little background… my husband (JR) and I met in 6th grade for the very first time when he moved from private school to public school. In 6th grade, JR and I dated for a week, but broke up because one of my close friends wanted to date him… strange how things work out! We actually reconnected, at a more mature level, in our 10th grade Algebra class.

It’s funny to me to look back on the first day of that Algebra class and remember that JR’s pick up line (via MSN Messenger) was “Hey, you looked beautiful today in math class! We should hang out sometime.” His courage and confidence anchored me in and I was hooked.

My high school sweetheart became my husband on June 16, 2012—after 5 years and 8 months of dating (finally!). At that time, my husband had already been in the Marine Corps for two years and was stationed in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Much of our relationship at the time was long distance with emails, snail mail, Skype, Facebook, and MSN Messenger to help us stay connected while 1,300 miles apart—I thank God for technology!

Two short days after we got married, JR and I spent our “honeymoon” packing up a U-Haul and my two-door Civic, driving cross country (from Minnesota to North Carolina) in separate vehicles…a perfect way to spend your honeymoon, right?

We were both very excited as we had never lived together before and were finally together in the same house let alone in the same community for the first time in two years! With the happiness, there also came struggles and challenges for both of us. Learning to live together was one thing, but having to adapt to the military lifestyle and culture was another.

I had never grown up with anyone that was close to me that was in the military besides my grandfathers, however they had been retired for several years so, I had never known what “military life” was like. I now believe that knowing what the military lifestyle can only be understood by the military family themselves. I say this not to offend anyone, but to point out that I personally have seen several differences between “military” and “civilian” life. The first, as a military family I conceptualize the absence of my husband being gone quite differently than I would have not being a military spouse. Although it is difficult when he is gone—I am very proud of my Marine for serving our country and having such dedication to his work.

A second piece is that the military is a “culture”—it has its own language, way to act, and attire. I recognized this difference when I went on the military base for the first time. It was obvious who was not a service member based on the haircut and the attire and I definitely felt as if I stood out like a sore thumb!

Another piece was trying to learn the language and all the acronyms! Many of the get-togethers we had at our house involved the gathering of service members that my husband worked with (his friends) and their spouses. When it was just me and the “guys” I had no idea what they were talking about and felt left out of the conversation several times due to their acronyms and work lingo—I was very thankful for the military spouses I had met, which brings me to my next item—a military family.

As I had previously mentioned, the military is a culture and part of this culture involves several military families—this is the piece I loved the most! While not all military spouses get along, there are many military spouses that I could confide in and know that they would have my back no matter what. The part where you’re able to connect with someone going through the same situation as you and being in the “military spouse club” are things I really valued and enjoyed.

I had never been that far away from my parents, my family and my friends so the whole transition was very difficult for me. I think JR struggled too, with looking for a way to help me, when really there wasn’t much he could do. I just needed to adjust so time and patience were key factors for me.

The biggest thing that helped me adapt in the transition was being open and willing to meet new people, which I know was difficult at the time, even for me, as a social butterfly. Secondly, I got a job and I kept busy. I was actually enrolled in North Carolina State at the time to receive my M.S. in Family Life and Youth Development. I ran across a really great job—so, all of these things really helped me adjust. I also tried to continue the hobbies that I was used to doing in Minnesota, such as running, going to the gym, workout classes and crafting. I really enjoyed exploring the town and the Carolinas—of course, I can’t forget about the beach.

So, fast-forward to the transition we are in now… honestly, I kind of saw it coming. JR had a really hard time “leaving the military” and transitioning to “civilian life”. The beginning of our drive home to Minnesota was very emotional for him—it was like he was leaving his family. I felt really bad for him and felt guilty that I “made” him decide to move back home. We struggled during this transition too, as change is hard for both of us. JR wasn’t happy with his civilian job and I honestly hate when he’s unhappy—I feel helpless.

Watching JR in the “civilian world” was challenging. He hasn’t had anyone to really connect with unless he called his other service member buddies on the phone and man, those phone calls made his day! Again, it was almost as if he lost his family. The military had been part of his life for 5 years and he was used to the strict schedule, a consistent and reliable career with benefits, and was challenged with every day routines. I believe that the most difficult piece for JR was looking for a job—sending out resumes and going to interviews—this is something JR hadn’t done in 5 years! The second was financial. I know there were many times we talked about how we were going to pay our bills, and wondered if his job would be able to support us. It was stressful, but we were both on the same page on budgeting and managing our finances, so I think that helped a lot! And then JR found a job that was more stable than working construction, which helped with the financial piece and the benefits. For more “excitement” and to challenge his skills, JR applied to college and this really seemed to bring up his spirits. Many times he would come home from school and tell me all about class; what they talked about, how it relates to being in the military, and everything he had been learning. It was exciting and encouraging to know that he was “satisfied” with at least one piece in his life.

So, the conversation came up several times, and I think we both really needed to soak it in. I was angry, sad and anxious at the thought of him being in the military again. I felt like it was his decision and he hadn’t even thought about “us”. Throughout the process, he kept saying “I’m sorry… I don’t want to do this to you again”. And I just thought, “well, don’t then”… I asked myself “can I do this again? What are the benefits and do they outweigh the downfalls?” I appreciated his sympathy and concern in the matter, but I struggled in understanding why he wanted to join again…

I ended up reassuring myself that this was inevitably JR’s decision, however he had made the decision for us—for our future and our future family. I didn’t realize this until actually two weeks before he left for OCS. We had just been driving home after getting ice cream as I was stressed with finals and thinking about JR leaving. We had just pulled into the garage and I had asked him, “So, really, why do you want to join OCS?” And he looked at me and replied “I want to do this for our family. I struggled growing up—not having the finances to be able to go to college, barely being able to pay the bills and all the other financial aspects— it really stresses me out and I don’t want that for our family. I want us to be able to travel, to take off and fly wherever we want, whenever we want. I also want our kids to be able to go to college and I want to financially support them. I love the thrill of being in the military, it’s fast pace and motivating, but also I enjoy the fact that it is simple for me—there are set hours, pay and benefits, but also opportunities for challenges and goals to achieve. I hate that I have to leave you again and miss you every time I’m gone—this is the worst part for me, and the reason why we got out in the first place. But the way I see it now, there are many more opportunities for us in the military then just saying here.” Amazed—is the word that I describe how I felt in this moment—JR always seems to amaze me and surprise me with what he believes, his opinions, and his drive—all the reasons why I wouldn’t want to be without him. So, we decided if he goes, I go.

No one really understands why individuals want to join the military or better yet why someone would want to “follow” and go with them! But from my experience, I recognized that the individuals that do are amazingly selfless and humble people who want to make a difference in not only their lives, but a majority of their focus is to make a significant impact in the lives of others. This in itself motivated and encouraged me to “allow” or accept JR’s desire to re-enlist and apply to Officer Candidates School. I was also reassured by God’s love and knowing that he has BIG plans for JR and I—much greater than we would’ve ever thought! Oddly enough, I feel so incredibly blessed and thank God every day for JR. He is the most intelligent, caring, loving, selfless, and supportive man I have ever met! Together, we make a great team and a military family.

Looking toward the future… I definitely see my future differently than I did when we had moved home to Minnesota last August. The biggest difference is knowing that I won’t be living in Minnesota for the rest of my life—this piece hurts, A LOT because it’s home—its where my family is, my friends, my memories, everything. The second item is my career. I am currently going to the University of Minnesota to receive my PhD in Family Social Science and I hope to teach in a university someday, however knowing that my husband is now becoming a Marine officer—it’s a slightly different story. For one, JR will be active duty again so, this means that there will be at least one year where we will have to manage long distance again, which sucks, but I want to finish my schooling here in Minnesota before moving from place-to-place. Secondly, there are not many universities near military bases, especially Marine Corps bases. So, currently, I’m envisioning that I will either teach at a community college, which could be fun or find a career working for the DoD or a military base – teaching, researching, or program design and evaluation. So, we’ll see! And the third is our future family. When we came home, I was thinking about having our first child when I was like 25, but now with my graduate program and JR going active duty again, we both have decided that children will have to wait a little bit longer—at least until JR gets somewhat permanently stationed and I finished my degree—sorry, Mom and Dad! So, the first major milestones, while we did purchase our first house in December, it looks like we’ll only be able to keep it for 3 years and then move to somewhere else, where I’m assuming we will probably have to rent/live on base. And then children probably a little later in life, around 27 years old—all of which can have its benefits and limitations.

So, today… I haven’t seen JR in a month, not the longest we’ve been apart, but the most time we haven’t been able to talk since his first boot camp. For the first 3 weeks of OCS training, the only communication that we had with each other was snail mail! It’s been difficult not being able to come home and eat dinner with JR, go on walks, enjoy the summer weather, or simply share how our days went. Fortunately, after the third week, JR was able to call me and we Skyped for a while too so, that was really nice. It is hard for me to see him and talk to him, and then he has to leave and our communication gets completely cut off for a week—major bummer! During this time however I’ve been working at school, doing research, and working on a paper that is due later on in my program. As I had mentioned earlier, it is easier for me to deal with the transition and time apart if I stay busy and continue to send my brain messages that “it will be okay. He will be home soon!” I also make lots of plans to hang out with people because sometimes I really don’t feel like doing anything and if I stay home, I just get more sad and lonely. So, forcing myself to go out and spend time with good family and friends has been really helpful for me to get through this summer being away from JR.

Diabetes Facts. Epidemic Proportions!

by Robin Allen MSPH, RDN, LDN

Diabetes in the United Statesinfographic from the CDC
Diabetes in the United States infographic from the CDC

Now let’s turn to another chronic disease which is becoming an epidemic in the United States (U.S.) and around the world: type 2 diabetes.  Here are some facts:

In the United States, 29.1 million people have diabetes, 8.1 million of whom may be undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. There have been 1.7 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed in U.S. adults in 2012, and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is on the rise.  Type 2 diabetes is not only on the rise in the U.S. but all over the world. 

In 2013 the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) reported there were more the 382 million people in the world living with diabetes.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the 90% of people with diabetes suffer from type 2 diabetes.  Even though the risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age, the number of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is increasing due to a growing number of overweight youth. Men have a slightly increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared to women which appears to be more related to lifestyle factors and body weight than gender.

Pre-diabetes is also on the rise.  Most people develop “pre-diabetes” before developing diabetes.  Pre-diabetes is diagnosed when blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.  In 2012, 86 Million Americans age 20 and older had prediabetes, up from 79 million in 2010.  Diabetes is now the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.

What is the Cost of Diabetes?

In 2012, $245 billion dollars was spent on diabetes.  Direct medical costs were $176 billion while $69 billion was spent on lost productivity.

Can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

Both type 2 diabetes and its side effects can often be prevented or delayed.  Up to 85 percent of complications associated with type 2 diabetes can be prevented, delayed, or effectively treated with regular visits to a health professional, appropriate monitoring and medication, and a healthy diet and lifestyle. Early identification of complications can help with intervention, education, and referral to a specialist if needed.

  • The Diabetes Prevention Program found that weight loss and increased physical activity reduced the development of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent during a three-year study period. In those age 60 years or older, the reduction was 71 percent.
  • Overweight individuals who lose even five to seven percent of their body weight can effectively prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
  • Regular checks and having healthy levels of blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar significantly reduces your risk of diabetes.
  • The drug Metformin was found to reduce the risk of diabetes onset by 31 %  in ages 25 to 44 years and adults with a body mass index over 35, considered to be pre-diabetic.                  


The problems associated with type 2 diabetes are common and can be severe. Complications include heart disease, stroke, hypertension, blindness and eye problems, kidney disease, nervous system complications, amputations, dental disease, pregnancy complications, and mental health problems, such as depression.

  • WHO states that 50 percent of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease, primarily heart disease and stroke.
  • More than 71 percent of U.S. adults with diabetes had hypertension or reported using medication to treat hypertension.
  • There were 7,686 cases of diabetic retinopathy in the United States in 2010.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of newly diagnosed adult blindness in the United States.
  • Diabetes was the primary cause of kidney failure in 44 percent of all new cases in 2011. It was also reported that 228,924 people began treatment for kidney failure due to diabetes.
  • Seventy percent of diabetic adults suffer a loss of sensation in the extremities which may lead to amputations.  More than 60% of all non-traumatic amputations of lower limbs occur in people with diabetes.
  • Approximately 73,000 lower-limb amputations were performed in diabetics age 20 and older.
  • Uncontrolled gestational diabetes can increase the chance of birth defects, large babies, and other complications that can be dangerous to the baby and the mother.
  • Individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from depression as individuals without a diabetes diagnosis.
  • Diabetics have twice the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.


What can Dietitians and health care providers do to help with this epidemic?

Tune into the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness webinar New Medications for Type 2 Diabetes Tuesday, August 25 at 11:00 am EST.


Statistics about Diabetes.  Data from the National Diabetes Statistics Report 2014

Diabetes Prevention Program 

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.


After The Webinar: A Vlog from the Early Intervention Team

Watch as the MFLN FD Early Intervention team discusses a resource from their recent webinar on August 6, 2015. You can access the webinar recording and additional resources, here.


“Hi everyone my name is Kimberly Hile and I am with the Family Development Early Intervention team and I was also one of the presenters for last week’s webinar that we put on, Promoting Positive Relationships.

So one of the conversations that we had during the webinar was based on this resource that’s on the additional resource list that we shared with you, What Grown-Ups Understand About Child Development. And what came out of this was that a lot of adults don’t understand that young children as young as four months can demonstrate some symptoms of depression. So we talked about that and had a great question from one of our participants about what some of those symptoms might look like, how might a child display that they are suffering from depression.

So we talked about how some of those might be exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, so perhaps not wanting to be as interactive with their caregiver as they once were. Perhaps there could be some disruptions with eating or with sleeping. So perhaps a child who was sleeping through the night is now up frequently. Some things like that. We just wanted to share that a little bit and again point back to this resource. It’s got some really good information that I think you would like to pick through.

For those of you who did participate in the webinar last week we want to say thank you again. For those of you that weren’t able to on that date, the recording is up on the website so please feel free to go and watch that. And depending on what state you live in you might even be able to get some credit for that for your credentialing or your licensure.

So again we want to thank you for your support if you have any questions that you would like us to cover, please feel free to go to the website there’s a place where you can type those in and we’ll respond as we can. Also, don’t forget to check out our Facebook site, our Twitter site, there are lots of other blogs and resources so we really want to make sure we’re getting you the information that you need. Thanks again we really appreciate your support.”

This video content belongs to the Military Families Learning Network Family Development Early Intervention team.

This post was written by Robyn DiPietro-Wells & Michaelene Ostrosky, PhD, members of the MFLN FD Early Intervention 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.

Same Sex Couples Transitioning to Parenthood

By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Creative Commons [Flickr, lovely gay men and their baby, May 17, 2009]
Creative Commons [Flickr, lovely gay men and their baby, May 17, 2009]
In a recent article, researchers reported on their study of lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples who had adopted a child through the child welfare system to determine how the transition to parenthood affected their relationships [1]. The transition to parenthood can place additional stressors on a relationship, particularly when becoming a parent through the child welfare system. Researchers sought to identify and determine the relationship challenges for these couples, and the differences in stressors among heterosexual, lesbian and gay couples.

A total of 42 couples (17 lesbian, 13 gay, and 12 heterosexual), all of whom were transitioning to parenthood for the first time, participated in 1 to 1 ½ hour, semi-structured interviews conducted via telephone. The average age of participants was 38 years with an average length of relationship of almost 8 years. Nearly one-half of the couples (20) adopted infants/toddlers, 17 couples adopted school-aged children (4-12), and 5 adopted teens. The children had been placed in state custody for a variety of reasons. The most prevalent issues were parental drug use, followed by abuse/neglect, domestic violence, homelessness, and parental incarceration.

Analyzing the responses to open-ended questions, the researchers identified common themes:

  • Shifts in time and energy: Twenty six participants reported a lack of time together alone with the partner, and 10 noted that the child had become the focus of attention in the relationship.
  • Shifts in family roles highlighting differences within the relationship: Nine participants reported that the differences in caretaking roles (primary vs. secondary caregiver) had led to conflict due to a sense of doing more of the caretaking than they felt was fair. For a few participants (4) tension in the relationship came from one partner’s greater willingness to bond without permanency (before adoption) than the other. For 4 participants, there was disagreement in desire to be parents, which led to later break-ups for 3 out of the 4 participants.
  • Child’s behavior has caused additional stress: Eighteen participants reported that the child became more attached to or preferred one parent over the other, which caused stress for the couple. Eight participants reported that the child engaged in pitting one parent against the other, causing couple stress.
  • Navigating the transition brought us closer: For eleven participants, the experience of becoming parents seemed to enhance the couple’s sense of closeness, and four of these participants reported that couple communication improved as a result of the adoption.

Overall, there was little difference among the types of couples as far as issues or problems experienced. Both therapy (mostly child or family therapy, rather than couples therapy) and support groups were identified as means of easing the transition.

Given the lack of differences among the various types of couples, clinicians should focus on the stressors associated with this specific type of adoption (child welfare system), and consider ways to help families build unity, adapt to changing roles, and build relationships.


[1]Goldberg, A. E., Kinkler, L. A., Moyer, A. M., & Weber, E. (2014). Intimate relationship challenges in early parenthood among lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples adopting via the child welfare system. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 45(4), 221-230. doi:10.1037/a0037443

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.