Resource Discovery: Video on Military Families Coping with Deployments

April 24th, 2014 by Kacy Mixon

By Kacy Mixon, PhD, LMFT

We’ve posted about military separations as well as the need for military families to engage in strengthening and resilience strategies during times of physical separation due to the military lifestyle. Today’s Resource Discovery continues the conversation via a video from the Real Warriors Campaign YouTube channel. This video provides real life stories and experiences of military families dealing with the stressors of combat deployment.

 

Video Hyperlink

This post was written by Kacy Mixon, PhD, LMFT, Social Media Specialist. She works with other members of the Family Development team to support the development of military professionals working with families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network here and on Facebook/Twitter.

Child Maltreatment Prevention

April 21st, 2014 by Kacy Mixon

By Rachel Dorman, MS

Today’s blog focuses on prevention of child maltreatment through a community-based approach, as recommended by the 2014 Prevention Resource Guide: Making Meaningful Connections. This guide was developed through collaboration between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Children’s Bureau, the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, and the Center for the Study of Social Policy. The resource guide adopts Strengthening Families and Youth Thrive’s five protective factors for young children and adds one additional factor, for a total of six protective factors. These six protective factors for young children are: nurturing and attachment, parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, and social-emotional competence of children. Through these protective factors the guide outlines recommendations for communities and individuals who work with families to prevent child maltreatment and promote well-being.

The resource guide recommends that communities develop approaches to promote well-being through implementing protective factors. The first strategy of implementation that is recommended is a community café program, at which parents or community members can come together in an informal café environment to discuss concerns and share information about protective factors during a structured group discussion guided by questions. Another recommendation is for families to take the Strengthening Families self-assessment to identify areas a family can work together to strengthen their protective factors. Similarly, FRIENDS Protective Factors Survey is a recommended pre- and post-test for caregivers and agencies that are receiving child maltreatment training or services. The pre- and post-test will allow for agencies to measure improvement in implementation of the protective factors and provide feedback on how agencies can promote family protective factors. Lastly, the resource guide recommends for continuous learning and training through online resources. The online resources, such as FRIENDS Online Learning Center, provide tools and easily assessable around-the-clock education on implementing the protective factors.

In conjunction with recommendations for communities, the resource guide provides suggestions for individuals working with families. These suggestions are categorized by each protective factor, and include background information on the protective factor. Each category has information for professionals working with children on how programs can help their agency, the community, and families.  Also, each factor has a section where individuals are encouraged to engage and support parents through conversation; this section even includes suggested talking points.

The 2014 Prevention Resource Guide: Making Meaningful Connections is a great tool that targets communities, while also providing resources for individuals. If you are interested in looking more closely at the suggestions mentioned above or learning more about the 2014 Prevention Resource Guide: Making Meaningful Connections click here.

Resource:

1. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children and Families. (2014). 2014 Prevention Resource Guide: Making Meaningful Connections. Washington, DC.

This post was written by Rachel Dorman, M.S., member of the Family Development team that aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network here and on Facebook.

Car Buying: Military Edition

April 17th, 2014 by Molly Herndon

By Selena Garrison and Michael S. Gutter 

While there are many factors to be considered by anyone who is considering purchasing a vehicle, there are some special considerations that need to be made for service members. The bottom line is that a vehicle is a major investment, and military members and their families need to be armed with the right information before jumping into purchasing a vehicle.

Budget

First, you need to know how much car you can afford. Remember that when you purchase a vehicle, you need to calculate not only the cost of the vehicle, but also the cost of gas, registration, insurance, and maintenance. In addition, be sure not to negotiate based on the monthly payment. You want to get the best price possible on your new car, and if you negotiate based on how much you can afford to pay monthly, the dealer may just extend the terms of your learn, effectively lowering the monthly payment, but costing you a lot more in the long run.

 Avoid Gimmicks

When shopping for a vehicle, military personal should be keenly aware of any gimmicks that may be geared toward them. Examples may include “special financing” with no or low credit (which will end up costing a lot more than necessary), praising military service to lower resistance to a sales pitch, and attempting to sell the individual more car than they can afford because they have “earned it.”

Credit

Generally speaking, most people take out a loan to purchase a vehicle. A huge factor affecting financing will be your credit score, so it is important to pull your credit report and see if there are any areas that may be negatively affecting your score. If you have little or poor credit, it is better to buy a less expensive, used car as a temporary solution instead of getting locked in to a high interest loan. This will give you time to improve your credit, save some money, and be able to purchase the car that you really want without paying way too much for it.

Negotiate

There are several factors involved in negotiating a good deal on a vehicle. First, shop for financing in advance and know what you can afford. Check with a local credit union or lender that specializes in military car buying and then compare the offers you receive with the offers the dealership puts forward. Next, do your research and compare prices in advance. Know what kind of car you want, how much it has been selling for in your area, and how much you are willing to pay for it. You can use websites such as www.kbb.com and www.edmunds.com to do your price shopping. Lastly, for the reasons that were mentioned earlier, do NOT negotiate based on monthly payment. In fact, do not even tell the salesperson how much you want to pay monthly.

Walk Away

Once you have driven the vehicle, negotiated a good deal, and secured financing, you are good to go, right? Wrong. Take a few hours or a night to make sure that this is what you really want to do. Too often, people get swept up in the excitement of purchasing a new car and end up in a situation that is damaging to them financially. Taking a step back and reviewing the decision you are making can only help you.

 Special Considerations

Military members have several additional issues that need to be considered when purchasing a vehicle. First, many military car-buyers are young, first time buyers with little experience managing finances or making big financial decisions. Remember that just because you have money doesn’t mean it needs to be spent on a car. Second, deployment can cause added financial stress and unique issues that can be difficult to resolve. Remember that being deployed does not mean that you do not have to make a car payment. It is important to designate someone to take care of these financial issues for you while you are away. Lastly, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently opened the Office of Servicemembers Affairs (OSA). The OSA is an important tool to help you stay informed about your financial rights and to protect you from abusive practices.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on April 17 2014.

Resource Discovery: Text4Baby as an Online Parenting Tool

April 16th, 2014 by Kacy Mixon

By Kacy Mixon, PhD, LMFT

text4baby blogWe’ve highlighted current research on the impacts of Online Parenting Resources and have offered resources, such as Just In Time Parenting, to show examples of what’s available. This week we’re featuring another type of online resource for expecting parents or those with infants. In addition to providing an informative website for parents, Text4Baby is the first mobile information service promoting parent and child health through FREE text messages. The content of the texts includes over 250 messages child development experts want parents to know. These topics range from prenatal care, baby health, and parenting to mental health and nutrition (an expanded list of topics can be found here). The content of these messages was developed by various federal agencies, national, state, and local organizations and research initiatives. The service was founded by National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) and was created in collaboration with Founding Sponsor Johnson & Johnson, and founding partners Voxiva, The Wireless Foundation, and Grey Healthcare Group (a WPP company). Information about how to sign up can be found by clicking this link and it is also available in Spanish!

This post was written by Kacy Mixon, PhD, LMFT, Social Media Specialist. She works with other members of the Family Development team to support the development of military professionals working with families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network here and on Facebook/Twitter.

Caregiver Mini Series: 444 Days in the First Year (Part 2)

April 15th, 2014 by Rachel Brauner

The Waiting Room

Waiting RoomThere I sat on the cool leather couch staring out of the large panoramic glass window that looked out into the hallway of the waiting room.

Occasionally the door would open with a nurse, volunteer, or a fellow waiting room family member coming in or out.  Quiet conversation could be heard throughout the waiting room, as I continued to sit in my new ‘home away from home.’

I would watch a little T.V. or watch the hands of the clock continuously chase each other around and around.  “Is this room getting smaller?”  I asked myself.   I would pray, “God please give me strength because I don’t know how much longer I can possibly sit here.”

Some days I just wanted to leave, I needed a break, a walk, anything to get some fresh air.  I just wanted to be anywhere but within the confines of that waiting room.

Caregiver’s Advice to Professionals and Military Families

The “waiting game” is something most military families are accustomed to.  We become numb to the geographical separations we endure, and learn to hope for the best while expecting the worst.  Or so we think, or so I thought…

I am not sure I could have ever prepared myself for what would prove to be the wait of my life–the unknown of whether or not I would get to see my service member today or if he would even make it to a new day. I was trapped in a waiting game.

I can distinctly recall the myriad of conflicting feelings I felt as I sat day-in and day-out, trying my best to patiently wait for the next time I would be allowed to go back and see my service member.  Watching others pass through the halls, the changing shifts of doctors, nurses and volunteer workers.  I remember thinking on more then one occasion, “I just want to leave”.  I had no real plans of truly going anywhere, I just wanted to be anywhere but right there in that moment.  Of course those feelings were always quickly replaced by feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment.  “How selfish”, I remember thinking. How dare I wish to be anywhere else other than there waiting on my Soldier?

No one ever told me these feelings were okay.  No one ever told me that I could leave, take “a breather”, a break from it all, and not have to feel guilty.  Sure, people would say, “you have to take care of yourself,” but what did that even mean?  So there I would sit, embarrassed, scared and extremely anxious as I continued to wait.  Watching the clock until the minutes turned to hours and the hours into days.

It seems as if these types of feelings are seldom spoke of, and I cannot help but to reflect upon my own personal experience and wonder why as professionals we are not more aware of how it is not just the service member who suffers.  Expectations of recovery should at least in some ways revolve around the wounded family as a whole.  Just as the wounded service member begins immediate treatment, perhaps the family as a whole could benefit from some type of immediate, hands on (i.e., outside of online or web-based groups or forums) family therapy, or support group, or at the very least information on where to find such support.

I was fortunate enough to have an amazing support group.  I had family with me at all times, and I became very close to another wounded family who arrived only a few weeks before us.  The waiting room volunteer’s whom we were blessed with were amazing, and the doctors and nurses who worked with my husband everyday were more than willing to listen to any concerns I had.  However my worry is that not every family will be this fortunate, not every family will have such a strong support group.   As professionals, I think it is our duty to educate ourselves on how to help wounded service members in the most holistic way possible, beginning with the family members who wait.

Missed Part I of the series? Go to ‘The Phone Call’ for read the first installment of the series. 


Tabitha_FamilyThe caregiving mini-series, 444 Days in the First Year, was written by Tabitha McCoy. Tabitha is a contributor to the MFLN–Military Caregiving concentration team and is a former military caregiver to her husband, SGT Steve McCoy. In this mini-series, Tabitha shares her personal story of caregiving, loss, grieving, and transitioning, as well as insight and advice for both professionals and family caregivers as she recounts the 444 days following her husband’s injuries and then unfortunately his death in June 2008.

Tabitha holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and is currently a graduate student at Valdosta State University where she is pursuing her Masters degree in Marriage and Family.

Outdoor Recreation and Restoration Engagement for Military Caregiver Professionals

April 11th, 2014 by Rachel Brauner

Outdoor Recreation BlogDuring a recent Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) webinar, the audience, composed of military caregiving practitioners and professionals, was polled regarding perceptions of outdoor recreation and caregiving.  Participants were asked three questions.

The first question was: “Do you feel that a person involved in delivering outdoor recreation programming could at times find themselves in a caregiver role?”  About 95 percent of participants answered yes, and a small number answered “unsure.” No one answered no. The second question was:  “I know from experience that service men and women have experienced significant therapeutic benefits from outdoor recreation.” About 41 percent answered “strongly agree” and another 50 percent answered “agree.” Less than ten percent answered “no opinion” and no one disagreed with the statement. When the third question was posed, “Is there room in the military caregiver definition to include occasional caregivers who provide important and valuable outdoor recreation and restoration opportunities?” participants answered 100 percent in the affirmative. This points to a need for additional educational and training needs for occasional caregivers, especially in the area of outdoor recreation and restoration and related environmental education topics.

Environmental Education: Engaging Military Communities

To begin to address this gap, Cornell University’s Civic Ecology Lab and EECapacity program are conducting a professional development course entitled, Engaging Military Communities, that is designed for environmental educators and community development professionals interested in working with members of the military community. Exposure to nature through outdoor recreation, gardening, tree planting and similar activities has been especially valuable to returning warriors and their families. The potential impacts include improved personal health, resiliency, strengthening family ties and community cohesion.

NatureThe objective of this course is to increase participants’ capacity to develop programs that increase environmental awareness and utilize the therapeutic value of nature in building resilient communities.  Topics covered in this course will include:

  • Current environmental education related practices that address military communities.
  • Environmental education programming for military families and personnel.
  • The role of nature for community building and therapy for veterans.
  • Environmental Education Guidelines and Military Communities.

This online course duration is four weeks, beginning 05/12/2014 and continuing thru 06/08/2014. This is a 4-week course focuses on developing group projects relevant to the work of environmental education (EE) that addresses the unique perspectives of military communities.

Participants will work on crafting a program plan (outdoor adventure, garden party, tree planting activity, etc.) that combines environmental education in a way that addresses the specific needs of veterans, military families, and/or the broader military community. This class project will serve as one of the key outcomes of the learning experience. Participants will also be exposed to environmental education topics through video, weekly webinars with leaders in the field, as well as print publications.

Note: The course is limited to 30 participants and registration is open from now thru 05/10/2014. To register, please visit the EELearning Portal.


This post was written by Keith Tidball, Ph.D., Senior Extension Associate with the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. Dr. Tidball is a member of the MFLN–Military Caregiving Concentration team. This blog was posted to the Military Families Learning Network site on April 11, 2014.

Personal Finance Virtual Learning Event

April 10th, 2014 by Molly Herndon

Money Behavior.001

The Personal Finance team will host a 3-day interactive virtual conference June 3-5 on Money Behavior: How People Make Financial Decisions. The event will include three 2-hour webinars and one 90-minute panel discussion. AFC-credentialed participants of the entire event will be eligible to earn 7.5 free CEUs. However, that’s not the only reason to save the dates of this exciting learning opportunity.

The speakers we have selected for this 3-day session will focus on the psychology of finance and the process behind the decisions we make that impact our financial actions. The schedule includes:

  • Culture of Personal Finance with presenter Dr. Barbara O’Neill on Thursday, June 5 at 11 a.m. ET. This 120-minute session (including 30 minute Q&A) is worth 2 AFC CEUs

You may submit questions to our panelists by emailing them to fsawebinars@gmail.com or by tagging your question on Twitter with #MFLNPF.

So mark these dates on your calendar now and plan to join us for all 4 of these great learning opportunities.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on April 10, 2014. 

 

Preparing Caregivers to Communicate Effectively Using Three Types of Communication Skills Webinar

April 8th, 2014 by Rachel Brauner

iStock_000011132527LargeBy Carlee Latham, MFLN–Military Caregiving

Remember to mark your calendars for this Thursday, April 10 at 11:00 am EDT, as the Military Caregiving concentration hosts a professional development webinar on caregiver communication skills.

Preparing Caregivers to Communicate Effectively Using Three Types of Communication Skills will focus on preparing caregivers to have those difficult conversations with a variety of individuals, including military professionals. The presenter, Mary Brintnall-Peterson, Ph.D., will help caregivers and professionals:

  • Distinguish between the communication skills of “I messages”, Assertive, and Aikido and the types of situations they are best used in.
  • Identify caregiver situations where professionals could use one of the communication styles.
  • Prepare to use one of the communication skills.

For more information on Thursday’s webinar visit the eXtension website here. Event materials, like the presentation slides and handouts are available within the eXtension Learn site.

The Military Caregiving concentration has applied for 1.00 continuing education credit hour from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Credentialed participants may contact woundedwarrior@ag.tamu.edu for more information.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on April 8, 2014.

Online Resources Impacting Parenting

April 7th, 2014 by Kacy Mixon

By Rachel Dorman, M.S. & Kacy Mixon, PhD, LMFT

Today’s blog looks at how online resources can impact the parenting of young children. Technology and the internet are common ways parents are finding educational resources. Internet searchers rendering results for blogs, electronic newsletters, etc. are helpful ways that expecting parents or parents with young children get information on hot topics such as childrearing strategies and child development. Na and Chia (2008) [1] conducted research to examine the impact of online resources available to informal learners, such as parents.

 

Researchers examined how parents’ informal learning about parenting skills and child development through online resources would impact their parenting confidence and skills. Participants included 821 Singaporean parents that had children between the ages of 0 – 6 years. The surveyed participants were divided into two groups, one group containing 411 participants received the online resources called KidzGrow (an online platform for parents to better understand child development and empower parents in their knowledge about child development) while the other group, containing 410 participants, received printed material on child development.

Parents who had access to KidzGrow were more likely to do to educational age-appropriate development activities with their children. Parents who had access to KidzGrow were also significantly more likely to report having adequate knowledge on their childrens’ speech, communication skills, social skills, and intellectual development. Parents who had access to KidzGrow, as compared to those who did not, were significantly more likely to report that they were doing well at achieving their goals of being a successful parent. These parents were also significantly more likely to report an increase in their level of confidence as a parent. The study findings suggest that online parenting resources can impact a parent’s feeling of confidence and knowledge about their child’s speech, social, and intellectual skills. The researchers suggest future studies try to study not only different online programs but also programs targeting different regions of the world, such as North America or Europe.

Do you like this topic? Find out more during out next Webinar!

Presenters of this 2 hour webinar will highlight how parents today are less likely to attend traditional parenting programs, provide research showing that parents are increasingly seeking information online, through social media and mobile devices and promote the use of two FREE, effective and innovative resources that can meet the needs of parents with young children,  Just In Time Parenting & Text4Baby

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Date: Thursday, April 24, 2014

Time: 11a-1pm Eastern

Location: https://learn.extension.org/events/1459

We hope to see you there!

 

 

Resource:

1. Na, J., & Chia, S. (2008). Impact of online resources on informal learners: Parents’ perception of their parenting skills. Computers & Education, 51(1), 173-186. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2007.05.006

This post was written by Rachel Dorman, M.S. and  Kacy Mixon, PhD, LMFT. Both are on the Family Development team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network here and on Facebook.

Asbestos Awareness Week 2014 – Awareness and Resources for the Military Community

April 4th, 2014 by Karen Jeannette

April 1 – 7 is Asbestos Awareness Week 2014. Why be aware of asbestos through the Military Families Learning Network? Approximately 8 percent of the nation’s population is made up of veterans. Of those veterans, 30 percent have died as a result of mesothelioma (Asbestos & the Military, History, Exposure & Assistance).

Heather Von St. James, a mother, wife, mesothelioma survivor and advocate brought this to the attention to the Military Families Learning Network. She hopes to raise awareness to the military (past and present) who may have been exposed to asbestos through active military service or installations.


Heather’s story – video

Asbestos can result in a virulent and fatal form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is consistent with a long period of latency. In fact, in many cases veterans exposed to asbestos that retired from active-duty service decades ago are getting sick today.

The U.S. Office of Veterans Affairs Asbestos states:

Veterans who served in any of the following occupations may have been exposed to asbestos: mining, milling, shipyard work, insulation work, demolition of old buildings, carpentry and construction, manufacturing and installation of products such as flooring and roofing.

Veterans who served in Iraq and other countries in that region could have been exposed to asbestos when older buildings were damaged and the contaminant released into the air.

The Federal government began regulating asbestos use (mid-1970s) and began banning all new uses in 1989. Von St. James shared that on July 24th, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Defense Funding Bill that included $16 million in funding eligible to be awarded to mesothelioma research. The bill includes funding for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, including the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program, in which mesothelioma is a topic area. You can read more about this latest line of funding for future research in Update: Mesothelioma Included in Dept. of Defense Bill.

Von St. James points to several resources that may be helpful to share and spread awareness during global awareness asbestos week:

A special thanks goes to Heather Von St. James for providing the military community with additional information concerning mesothelioma during Asbestos Awareness Week 2014. For more on Heather’s battle with mesothelioma, go to I Was Given Just 15 Month to Live.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on March 31, 2014.  Contributors, writers, editors: Heather Von St. James, and members of the Military Families Learning Network team: Rachel Brauner, Karen Jeannette, Brigitte Scott, Anne Adrian, Kyle Kostelecky.