Category Archives: military families

Military Families

Resource Discovery: US Army Educational & Development Intervention Services Newsletters

U.S. Army Educational & Developmental Intervention Services [Keeping In Touch Newsletters]
U.S. Army Educational & Developmental Intervention Services [Keeping In Touch Newsletters]
Did you know that the U.S. Army’s EDIS offers CE credit for reading their Keeping In Touch (KIT) newsletters? These publications are available online and are full of valuable information for providers.

The newsletters discuss a theme for a series of months at the end of which readers can take a CE exam online. Upon successful completion of the exam, a non-discipline specific certificate of continuing education contact hours will be provided. Individuals will need to check with their credentialing agency regarding the viability of these credits within their state and/or system.

Some of the past topics have been: Early Childhood Mental Health, Autism and the Role of Early Interventionists, Dual Language Learners in Early Intervention, Cultural Competence, and Understanding Depression. You can access the newsletters and archived CE exams by clicking, here.

Each newsletters consists of four sections surrounding a theme:

  • A resource article in which a summary of a journal article is provided
  • An evaluation of data on the topic
  • A consultation corner where experts in the field respond to topic-related questions
  • A review of a web-based resource that is helpful for providers

To access the newsletters,  click here.

We hope that you will find this to be a useful resource.

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.

Estate Planning Basics & Advanced Directives Webinar

By Molly C. Herndon

Dr. Barbara O’Neill and Attorney Mary Benzinger, Senior Attorney for the U.S. Army at the Pentagon Army and Air Force Legal Assistance Office, will present this webinar that will focus on a number of estate planning topics that will help financial practitioners navigate this tricky process with clients, including:

  • Probate and probate avoidance

    5173076989_5ed6df7bb5_b
    Family Favourite by Gareth Williams. Creative Commons CC BY 2.0. 
  • The advantages and limitations of wills
  • Trusts
  • Estate taxes
  • Blended families
  • Life insurance beneficiaries
  • States that have transfer on death for vehicles and real property
  • Poor planning & minor children
  • Testamentary trusts
  • Estate planning resources, tips and tricks

The 90-minute webinar will offer 1.5 CEUs for AFC-credentialed participants and 1.5 general CEUs for CPFCs through FinCert. Registration is now required for MFLN webinars. You can register for this event here. Here you can also find resources, a copy of the presentation slides, and join the webinar on Sept. 15 at 11 a.m. ET.

 

Postpartum Depression in Military Moms

By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Creative Commons [Flickr, 6658 Tired, September 5, 2011]
Creative Commons [Flickr, 6658 Tired, September 5, 2011]
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious mental health condition – not only does the mother suffer from depressive symptoms, but children of PPD mothers can experience depression, delayed cognitive and social development, and behavioral problems.  Understanding the attributes that promote well-being is important not only for military moms, but for the entire family.

Schachman and Lindsey studied the prevalence of postpartum depressive symptoms in a sample of military wives and provided a descriptive analysis of risk and protective factors evident in the population [1]. Participants in the study included 71 women married to an active-duty military member, and who had given birth within the previous 3-months.  Mothers completed a demographic questionnaire, a postpartum depression screening tool, and 3 indexes from the Family Index of Regenerativity and Adaptation – Military (FIRA-M).  The included 3 indexes were: (1) Family Changes and Strains; (2) Self-Reliance; and, (3) Social Support.  The Family Changes and Strains index assessed the life events that occurred during the past year that would increase the stress experienced by the mother, such as child and spousal conflict or role strain.  The Self-Reliance Index assessed internal strengths and resources available to the mother.  The Social Support Index measured perceptions of support from the family and the community.

Maternal age for the moms in the study ranged from 19 to 35, and approximately 60% of the mothers were age 25 or younger.  Over one-half (54%) of the participants were new mothers – this was their first child.  About one-half of the women had been married 2 years or less.

Just over one-half of the participants (50.7%) scored above the cutoff point on the screening measure for PPD. Women in the PPD group had shorter durations of marriage and also had resided at the current duty station a shorter time than women who did not screen positively for PPD. There were  more reported family changes and strains for women who screened positively for PPD than for women who did not screen positively for PPD. PPD positive women also scored lower on the self-reliance scale than women in the non-PPD group. As a group, the mothers in this study had a high perception of support, although women in the PPD group had lower perceptions of social support.

While young mothers or first-time mothers are particularly at risk of PPD, risk factors that can negatively impact military wives, such as geographic isolation, changes in social support due to frequent relocations, and deployment, are often offset when military wives are able to identify with other wives who have similar experiences and are able to develop a “spontaneous web of support.” Individual attributes prevalent in military wives, such as  self-reliance and flexibility, can also facilitate adaptation to changing military environments while raising a young family.

Reference:

[1] Schachman, K., & Lindsey, L. (2013). A resilience perspective of postpartum depressive symptomatology in military wives. JOGNN: Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing42(2), 157-167. doi:10.1111/1552-6909.12007

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.

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

Learn_CoverImage

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: https://learn.extension.org/events/2168
(*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.

Passwords

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.

Conclusion

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, oneill@aesop.rutgers.edu

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, www.missingmoney.com, 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 http://www.missingmoney.com/ and http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T037-C000-S002-6-things-to-know-about-finding-unclaimed-assets.html.

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.

Reference:

[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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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.

Transcript:

“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.

Reference:

[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.