Archive for the ‘military families’ Category

Car Buying: Military Edition

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

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.


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.”


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.


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 and 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

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

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)

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

Friday, April 11th, 2014

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

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

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 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

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

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 for more information.

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

Online Resources Impacting Parenting

Monday, April 7th, 2014

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



Date: Thursday, April 24, 2014

Time: 11a-1pm Eastern


We hope to see you there!




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.

Family Development WEBINAR: Novel Communication Tools: Using Text4Baby & Just In Time Parenting to Meet the Needs of Parents

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Novel Communication Tools: Using Text4Baby & Just In Time Parenting to Meet the Needs of Parents

cover_Chris_Marquardt_nubui__2005Mark your calendars for what’s next in our 2014 MFLN Family Development Webinar Series!

Date: Thursday, April 24, 2014

Time: 11a-1pm Eastern


What to Expect…

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.

Luisa F. Soaterna-Castañeda, MPH, Text4baby Multicultural & Outreach Specialist, will highlight the successes of Text4Baby and how you can easily incorporate it into your work with mothers that have smartphones. Webinar attendees will learn about the Text4Baby service and how the service provides information on key topics that interest pregnant women and new moms via short and succinct text messages. Attendees will also learn about significant creative communication enhancements (including interactivity, mobile pages, quizzes, and videos) to the nation’s largest and only free text messaging service. Research on the effectiveness of text messaging in reaching underserved populations will also be covered as well as how Text4Baby can assist in women feeling more prepared for motherhood due to increased knowledge, awareness and skills that lead to better health for them and their babies.

Aaron Ebata, Ph.D., University of Illinois,  and Pat Tanner Nelson, Ed.D., University of Delaware, will show how Just in Time Parenting (JITP) connects with the needs of today’s parents for reliable, research-based information.  Presenters will highlight evaluations of JITP to demonstrate the effectiveness of delivering age-paced information and show how readers across all educational and economic levels demonstrate more confidence and competence in raising their children when using information and strategies outlined by JITP. Presenters will also highlight how JITP can help parents have realistic age-appropriate expectations, provide reassurance about their child’s development, help parents identify problems early and suggests how to find help. Speakers will share how to get parents enrolled for the free electronic version of JITP and how to take advantage of additional online resources that support and strengthen JITP outreach and impact, including: “Frequently Asked Questions” and “Ask the Experts”.


We offer 2.0 National Association of Social Worker CE credits for many of our webinars, click here to learn more. For more information on future presentations in the 2014 Family Development webinar series, please visit our professional development website or connect with us via social media for announcements: (Facebook & Twitter).

Resource Discovery: Videos on Traumatic Brain Injury

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

By Kacy Mixon, PhD, LMFT 

In previous posts we’ve discussed research on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a condition affecting many military service personnel and their families. Today’s Resource Discovery features a website housing a series of videos and other information about Traumatic Brain Injury, specifically for those affiliated with the military. Those that explore these videos can gain insight not only into the signs and symptoms of TBI, but also common treatment approaches, strategies for prevention and coping for individuals and family members affected by this condition. Click here to explore these resources!

Professionals working with military families can refer families struggling with TBI to this site or use it to gain an in depth understanding of how this condition affects military personnel.

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.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Suicide

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

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

We’ve discussed brain development in children and how traumatic experiences can have negative impacts. We’ll now switch gears focusing on research about traumatic brain injury (TBI), or a neurocognitive condition emerging for individuals after a sudden physical trauma occurs and causes brain damage. TBI affects many service members who have been deployed. In fact, it is estimated that 15-23% of military personnel deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom and/or operation Iraqi Freedom have experienced some form of TBI [1].  Symptoms associated with TBI include: loss of consciousness, headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, unpleasant taste in the mouth, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, fatigue, shift in sleep patterns, and changes in behavior or mood. The severity of TBI ranges from mild (i.e. a short shift in  mental status or consciousness) to severe (i.e. a lengthy period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury).

Bryan, Clemans, Hernandez, and Rudd (2013) [1] examined the association between mild traumatic brain injury and suicidal behaviors in deployed military personnel. Researchers examined potential variables and mediators that may impact suicidality of military personnel who were diagnosed with TBI. They sampled 155 military personal and 3 civilian contractors who were evaluated for TBI days after their index injury in Iraq, of which 135 patients were diagnosed with TBI. Diagnoses were made using the 2008 TBI Task Force’s criteria of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs. The researchers also measured for suicidal behaviors, depression symptoms, PTSD symptoms, insomnia symptoms, TBI symptoms, and loss of consciousness to analyze for potential predictors of mediators.  Suicidal behaviors were measured using the Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire-Revised (SBQ-R), depression symptoms were measured using the 5-item Depression subscale of the Behavioral Health Measure-20, PTSD symptoms were measured by the PTSD Checklist-Military Version, insomnia symptoms were measured using the Insomnia Severity Index, TBI symptoms were measured through a self-report questionnaire and clinical interview, and loss of consciousness was assessed by patient self-report and confirmed by other collateral military personnel present at the indexed event.

Of the patients diagnosed with TBI, 16% reported having suicidal behaviors. The researchers also found suicidal behaviors to be positively associated with all variables except loss of consciousness; this includes the number TBI symptoms, depression, PTSD, and insomnia severity. The researchers reported that patients who were diagnosed with TBI showed significantly more severe depression, PTSD, insomnia, TBI,  and suicidal symptoms as compared to patients who were not diagnosed with TBI. Results found that depression symptoms, PTSD symptoms, insomnia, and TBI symptoms were all independently associated with an increase in suicidal behaviors. Unlike previous research on this topic, the researchers found the longer duration of loss of consciousness was negatively associated with likelihood of suicidality.

The researchers recognize that most of their findings support previous research, with the exception of the longer duration of loss of consciousness resulting in decreased likelihood of suicidality. Bryan, Clemans, Hernandez, and Rudd state this may be due to the fact that evaluations of patients were done within days of the indexed event, whereas it is most common among previous research to evaluate patients months or years after an event. This means that the patient might not have had the opportunity to display increased suicidality that might occur related to TBI. The researchers also ponder whether the loss of consciousness could have served as a protective factor that may have prevented the patient from being exposed to more traumatic war-time material.The results of this research are very relevant for therapists and other professionals who work with military personnel and their families, because it highlights the important link between TBI and adjustment. Many symptoms shown post-deployment could be related to TBI, and these variables also have the potential to show broad impact on family functioning, and the likelihood of suicide risk.



1. Bryan, C.J., Clemans, T.A., Hernandez, A.M. & Rudd, M.D. (2013). Loss of consciousnees, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and suicide risk among deployed military personnel with mild traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 28(1), 13-20. 

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.