Personal Finance Virtual Learning Event

The Personal Finance team will host our third Virtual Learning Event June 14-16. This year, we’ll focus on Financial Fitness. Join us as we engage with learners in this 3-day interactive series of events.

Join the Personal Finance Team June 14-16 for a unique online learning opportunity.
Join the Personal Finance Team June 14-16 for a unique online learning opportunity.

Schedule of Events

Tuesday, June 14, 11 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. ET: What is Financial Fitness & How is it Measured? Dr. J. Michael Collins of the University of Wisconsin, Madison will present this session, using the findings from the research he has gathered on this subject. Dr. Collins studies consumer decision-making in the financial marketplace, including the role of public policy in influencing credit, savings and investment choices. His work includes the study of financial capability with a focus on low-income families. He is involved in studies of household finance and well-being supported by leading foundations and federal agencies. In 2015, Palgrave Macmillan released a book Collins edited called A Fragile Balance: Emergency Savings and Liquid Resources for Low-Income Consumers. His 90-minute webinar on June 14 will focus on financial fitness as a goal for many people, but achieving fitness in terms of money management may require a combination of financial education, coaching, and financial access. After reviewing the components of financial fitness, this session will provide an overview of measures of financial capability and well-being, as well as practical applications of program measures in the field. The session will include discussion, interactive polling and Q&A.

Wednesday, June 15, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET: Positive Personality Traits of Financially Fit PeopleDr. Martie Gillen will deliver this 90-minute webinar using data and research from psychology that tells us what traits are most commonly found in individuals who make positive financial decisions. Dr. Gillen is the Project Investigator for the Military Families Learning Network Personal Finance team and an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist for the Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, in the Institute for Food and Agricultural at the University of Florida. Her research interests include personal and family finance, behavioral economics, older adults, Social Security retirement benefits, employment, retirement planning, financial social work, food security, and innovative post-secondary education models. The first section of the webinar  on June 15 will include an overview of personality traits as well as a discussion of the research related to personality traits and personal finance. The webinar will conclude will suggestions for working with individuals while taking into account their personality and impact on their personal finance decisions. Participants will have an opportunity to take a personality trait quiz.

Thursday, June 16, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET: Wealth Building with Saving, Investing & Windfalls. Dr. Barbara O’Neill will lead this session. Dr. O’Neill is a financial resource management specialist for Rutgers Cooperative Extension, has been a professor, financial educator, and author for 35 years. She has written over 1,500 consumer newspaper articles and over 125 articles for academic journals, conference proceedings, and other professional publications. She is a certified financial planner (CFP®), chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC®), accredited financial counselor (AFC), certified housing counselor (CHC), and certified financial educator (CFEd). Dr. O’Neill served as president of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education and is the author of two trade books, Saving on a Shoestring andInvesting on a Shoestring, and co-author of  Investing For Your Future,Money Talk: A Financial Guide for Women, and Small Steps to Health and Wealth.  She earned a Ph.D. in family financial management from Virginia Tech and received over three dozen awards for professional achievements and over $900,000 in funding for financial education programs and research. Her webinar on June 16 will focus on ways that ordinary people with average incomes can grow wealthy over time. The first section of the webinar will discuss time-tested investment and financial management strategies and the second section will describe dos and don’ts for handling a financial windfall. Resources for each topic will be shared including the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Financial Fitness Quiz:

Thursday, June 16, 1-1:30 p.m. ET: 2016 MFLN PF VLE Wrap Up This half-hour event is designed to allow participants to share their own experiences from the 3 previous webinars, and to share findings from the assignments given during those sessions. Drs. Collins, Gillen and O’Neill be be on hand to guide this interactive discussion. If you are interested in sharing your experiences during this session, please email me at

We hope you’ll join us for 3 days of interactive and engaged learning. For more information, click here.

Featured Blog|The Melancholy Mommy: A Look at Postpartum Depression

By Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT

MFLN Family Development is featuring this blog written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT.  Bari a is one of MFLN Family Development’s Anchored. podcast guest speakers and the Social Media and Webinar Coordination Specialist for MFLN Family Development. Bari will be speaking more about her personal experience of postpartum depression in the Anchored.  Episode 4 | Baby Blues Clues: A Glimpse into Postpartum Depression. Be sure to check out her podcast being featured this Summer on Anchored.

Mom holding newborn baby

Flickr [3MJP_3 by Matt Johnson, May 14, 2011, CC BY-ND 2.0] retrieved on February 18, 2016

She is sitting on the couch with her 1- month- old baby in her arms. The baby is crying and she is alone. She’s tried everything to soothe him- rocking, bouncing, feeding, singing, pacifiers, blankets, and swaddles. He’s still crying. She hasn’t eaten or taken a shower since yesterday and it seems like she may not accomplish either one of those things today. Just a couple of weeks ago, people were in and out of her house with hugs, words of wisdom, food, and arms to hold her baby. Her husband was home for two more weeks until his next deployment, which she hopes will be his last. But now, the excitement has worn off and reality is setting in. Her husband is in another country protecting ours. In just two weeks, she has to get back to her full time job that pays her. It hits her that she will have to learn how to balance the mothering thing and the real job thing. How in the world will she be able to do that when she can barely even get a shower and a meal?
All of a sudden, she finds herself in a place she never expected to be. She starts to wonder what is wrong with her; why she feels like she can’t get it together and why motherhood doesn’t look or feel like she thought it would. Last week, she finally gave up on breastfeeding after trying every single thing she could think of to make it work. But, her breasts still hurt and her conscience is beating her up, telling her that she could and should have tried harder. She’s remembering all of the articles in her OBGYN’s office and on the internet about the benefits of breastfeeding the baby. And, she’s thinking of that friend of hers who has a 2- month old that is solely breastfed and thriving. Her body doesn’t look or feel like her own and she wonders if it ever will again. She wants her baby to just stop crying long enough to allow her to use the bathroom. And now she is crying. And she feels like a terrible mother. Helpless. Alone. Afraid. Angry. Guilty. Inadequate.
She starts to have thoughts she never imagined she would have and they scare her. She remembers an article she read in her doctor’s office about postpartum depression and realizes that this may be more than just those baby blues her mother referred to a couple of weeks ago. She picks up the phone and calls someone for help.

 According to the CDC, 11 to 20 percent of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression symptoms. Fortunately, the woman in the depiction above recognized her symptoms and was able to call for help. But what do we, as mental health professionals, need to do to help every woman be able to identify her symptoms and get help? Here are some potential barriers we need to recognize when thinking about our efforts to help women with PPD:

  • Shame and Embarrassment: Mom may not feel comfortable sharing her thoughts and feelings because she doesn’t want people to judge her. She is afraid that people will think she is a terrible person for not thinking that motherhood is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to her. When she hears the word depression, she associates it with being “crazy.”
  • What Society Says: Moms are supposed to be totally and completely in love with their new addition, right? She is loving life and rocking at being a mommy! Or at least that’s what the status updates on her friends’ Facebook pages tell her…
  • I Can Handle This On My Own: Mom may think to herself, “I just gave birth to an 8 pound baby completely naturally! I can definitely handle this one my own”.
  • Foggy Lenses: Mom may be struggling so much that she doesn’t even have any idea that there is a name for what she is feeling and that there is help for her.
  • Unknown Resources: Many moms may not have any idea where to go for help. A military mother, for instance, may have just moved to a new location and has not yet established any local friendships or identified any local resources.

 So, what’s the solution to these barriers? Here are some possibilities:

  • Shame and Embarrassment: We should be equipping soon-to-be mothers with the knowledge of PPD so that 1) they can recognize the signs and symptoms 2) they can be prepared for the possibilities 3) it is normalized for them so that there is no stigma attached to it.
  • What Society Says: We need to be putting information out there where everyone can access it- social media is a great avenue- we should be showing the good, the bad, and the ugly too!
  • I Can Handle This On My Own: By sharing information on the facts of PPD, we can convey to mothers that they may need a little bit of extra help from professionals and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
  • Foggy Lenses: We need to arm women with community support- family, spouses, friends, doctors, etc. – so that they know what to look for in a new mother who is struggling with PPD.
  • Unknown Resources: Having resources available in our practices and sharing those resources through social media and community avenues is key!

With our help, mothers like the one depicted above will know to recognize when there is a problem and know precisely where to go when they need help. Unfortunately, not all new mothers have the knowledge base of PPD to reach out for help like the one in the scenario. We need to take action and think about ways to inform soon-to-be mothers or new mothers and their family and friends so that they are prepared. Wouldn’t it be amazing if OBGYNs were talking candidly with their patients about the possibility of PPD during pregnancy? Or, if they were conducting surveys at the 6-week postpartum check-up. As mental health professionals, it would behoove us to start talking with these physicians about the statistics and realities of PPD so that we can all work together as a team to help these mothers.

This post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, the social media and webinar coordination specialist for the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Weight Loss Surgeries


CDC 2013 state obesity prevalence map
CDC 2013 state obesity prevalence map.

Blog post by written by Joanna Manero, BS Research Assistant,
Master’s Degree Student and  Krystle K. Binkowski, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Food Science and Human Nutrition Dietetics Class of 2017.

Please join us on May 24th at 10 am CDT  for an informative free webinar session with Ms. Ashley MCCartney on weight-loss surgery.  Dietitian earn 1.0 CPEU.

Nutritional Trends and Implications for Weight Loss Surgery

To register:

The prevalence of obesity in the United States continues to be a problem.  Pictured above is a self-reported map showing the percentage of obese individuals by state in the year 2014.  Weight loss surgery has become a viable option for weight loss of many obese individuals.  According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) 220,000 people had bariatric surgery in the United States in 2008.  This is compared to 16,000 procedures a year performed in the early 1990s.  With this huge increase in procedures, it seems that Americans are turning to surgery as an option for long-term weight loss. 

So what are the options available for weight-loss surgery? Some of the most common procedures listed by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) are:

Gastric Bypass: This procedure consists of changing the course of the process of digestion. By rerouting the food, it limits the amount of food intake, helps with long-term weight loss, and is known to boost the amount of gut hormones which reduces overall hunger and increases the feeling of fullness.

Gastric bypass, ASMBS

Sleeve Gastrectomy: During this operation, about 80% of the stomach is removed, while the rest of the stomach is placed in a tubular pouch. This procedure is known to regulate the food intake the stomach can hold and also increases weight loss at >50% weight loss between 3-5 years.


Sleeve Gastronomy, ASMBS

Adjustable Gastric Band: This process a small stomach pouch is formed by an inflatable band which is positioned in the upper region of the stomach when this procedure is performed. The band encourages the feeling of fullness while decreases the feeling of hunger. Some benefits from this procedure are less calories are being consumed in the diet because of the decrease of food intake and this process is reversible and is flexible based on the conditions of the patients.


Lap Band System, FDA

Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD/DS): During this surgery, part of the stomach is removed forming a small stomach pouch and a bypass is performed to a large section of the small intestines. This decreases the amount of fat reabsorption by >70% and according to American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) is the “most effective against diabetes”.



Electrical stimulation system:

This procedure received FDA approval in 2015.  It consists of an electrical stimulator being implanted into the abdomen.  There, it targets the vagus nerve with electrical pulses to block activity between the brain and stomach.  The direct mechanism in which this procedure performs is unknown.


Maestro Rechargeable System, FDA

Research shows that dietitians who have more knowledge on bariatric surgery, independent of their experience, can provide more practice recommendations.  So come broaden your knowledge on bariatric surgery with us!  

Ashley McCartney Dietitian Bariatric Surgery, Carle

Ashley McCartney is a registered dietitian at Carle Foundation Hospital.  Ashley provides nutrition education for patients looking to undergo weight loss surgery as well as aid in the treatment of comorbidities.  She works closely with patients and surgeons to ensure patients have a successful and pleasant experience.  Ashley coordinates and executes monthly support group meetings for weight loss surgery candidates and patients.  


This post was written by Robin Allen, a member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that 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 Facebookon Twitterand LinkedIn.



Community Capacity, Extension, and the Geographically Dispersed

Friday Field NotesIn recent years the military has reshaped its deployment methods in order to adapt to the demands of disparate global conflicts.

In the course of Operation Desert Storm, Reserve soldiers comprised just 25% of deployed servicemen (Department of Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1992, 1991).

Due to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the subsequent troop surge of 2007, this number of deployed Reserve and National Guard soldiers accumulated to 40-50% of deployed servicemen (Defense Manpower Data Center, 2009).

At no other time in history has such a large population of Reserve and National Guard units been deployed.

This adaptation in deployment methods is significant because families of these soldiers are located in geographically dispersed civilian communities, not traditional military installations where important services to support the stresses of deployment are readily available.


A team of Michigan State University researchers and extension professionals provides an excellent assessment of this situation, and provides clear recommendations in their recent Journal of Extension article titled Meeting the Needs of National Guard and Reserve Families: The Vital Role of Extension. Using representative data from the Michigan State University Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR State of the State Survey (SOSS), the researchers explore family-related issues and post-deployment needs  (IPPSR, 2008) and consider the implications of their work, with focus upon the characteristics of the Extension system that position professionals to assist military families and communities through difficult transitions. Today’s Friday Field Notes features this paper.

According to Ames and colleagues, “while National Guard and Reserve families live in every state and territory, this article examines the case of Michigan with the goal of providing implications for Extension professionals across the United States… unlike states such as Texas, Florida, Arizona, or Virginia, Michigan does not have a large military base, and therefore it lacks the traditional infrastructure to address the needs of soldiers and their families (e.g., access to commissaries, health care facilities, and social support). Even though there is no military base, the Michigan National Guard and Reserve force operates with 19,151 members (National Governors Association, 2008), and these soldiers and their spouses and children account for 44,581 Michigan residents (National Governors Association, 2008).”  The authors point out that other states likely encounter similar challenges, especially in the absence of large military installations.

Perhaps the most important finding of this work is the perception that the responsibility for addressing issues related to National Guard and Reserve deployment and transition rests at the national and family levels. However, the study authors point out, “there appears to be a disconnect between these two levels, and neither is equipped to address the complex needs of NG soldiers and their families on its own.” They go on to point out that the 2009 National Leadership Summit on Military Families recommended shared responsibility between the family support community and families, and that Cooperative Extension is a key component of this “family support community.”

Further, the research team observes that it appears that state and community system resources are being overlooked. Again, referencing the  the Leadership Summit, they point out that participants expressed concern that many families often are unaware of supports in spite of available resources and growth in program opportunities (National Leadership Summit on Military Families, 2010)… that there is a need to coordinate and build capacity in states and communities in order to bridge multiple sources of support.

Extension, Ames and colleagues argue, has an important role to play in this coordinating and capacity-building effort. “The Extension system provides a presence within all counties across the country, which allows it to reach the dispersed population of National Guard and Reserve families. Extension provides research-based information to promote the welfare of families, and it has proven its commitment to serving military families (Carroll et al., 2008). Extension also is well suited to build capacity through community and economic development initiatives.”

We encourage you to have a look at the entire article, or to reach out to one of the research team members, listed below.

Barbara Ames
Professor and Graduate Program Director
Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Sheila Smith
Extension Program Leader, Children, Youth, Families, & Communities
Michigan State University Extension

Kendal Holtrop
Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Adrian Blow
Assistant Professor
Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Jessica Hamel
Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Maryhelen MacInnes
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology

Esther Onaga
Associate Professor
Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan




Introduction to “Expert Advice” Series

Expert Advice Series

Welcome to the new Military Caregiving Expert Advice series. Our caregiving team is rolling out with a new blog series entitled, Expert Advice, where we provide monthly advice from subject matter experts on issues surrounding military caregiving for service providers and families. We take questions and concerns from military helping professionals and families and provide the necessary feedback from credible experts in the field of study.  Whether you are a provider or a caregiver, what questions do you have? We want to hear from you.  (Type your response in the comments section of this article.)

Expert Advice in Child Psychiatry

To kick off our new series, we focus on issues surrounding caregiving and special needs within the military.  In a recent professional development training on ADHD, Anxiety, and Autism: Practical Approaches to Child Psychiatry service providers and families learned about practical ways parents and caregivers can help manage these disorders, while reconnecting with the fun of parenting. Below we highlight a question from an audience member and expert advice from a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist.

Question: Does general anxiety ever get misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?

 Advice: Anxiety is often misdiagnosed as ADD which is why the interview process (for diagnosing Anxiety and ADD) is so important. There are many times children come in having trouble with concentration, which is part of the diagnosis and criteria for both anxiety and ADD. The problem arises with the treatment of ADD because there are certain treatments that might actually make the anxiety worse. It is very important that we are careful to make sure we have the right diagnosis.

Expert: Brian Dixon, M.D., Executive Director of Progressive Psychiatry, P.A. and Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Have a question for our military caregiving team? Let us know! Stay tuned for more from our Expert Advice series.

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on May 20, 2016.

FD Early Intervention Webinar|Engaging Families to Focus on Intervention Strategies

Engaging Families to Focus on Intervention Strategies

Date: June 23, 2016

Time: 11:00 am-12:30 pm Eastern


Baby and adult playing with toy
Flickr [Marpole Oakridge Family place Ron Sombilon Gallery (4) by Sombilon Photography, September 26, 2009, CC BY-ND 2.0]
Carol Trivette, PhD earned her degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Child Development and Family Relations.  Her research interests focus on identifying evidence-based practices for working with children and families in the areas of responsive parental interactions with their children with disabilities, family-centered practices and family support, and the development of tools and scales to support the implementation of evidence-based practices with fidelity.

In this session, Dr. Trivette will help Early Interventionists, private therapy providers, and other professionals working with young children with disabilities think about their interactions with the child’s family and how those interactions strengthen a family’s ability to support their child’s learning. Join us on June 23rd at 11:00 am Eastern!

The MFLN FD Early Intervention team offers continuing education credits through the Early Intervention Training Program (EITP) at the University of Illinois for each of our webinars, click here to learn more. For more information on future presentations in the 2016 Family Development webinar series, please visit our professional development website or connect with us via social media for announcements: (Facebook & Twitter)

Audiocast with Ashely McCartney, MS, RD, LDN and Dr. Karen Chapman Novakofski

Obesity United States Statistics: Health Care Cost for Obese Individuals

Obesity rates continue to increase and so do the complications and health care cost of obesity. Obesity is related to a variety of health problems including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high birthweight and birth defects.  Listen to this audio cast with Ashely McCartney, MS, RD, LDN, dietitian for Carle Bariatric Surgery and Dr. Karen Chapman-Novakofski as they discuss the weight loss surgery.

Remember to tune into our free webinar Nutritional Trends and Implications for Weight Loss Surgery on May 24, 11:00 am EDT.  

To register visit the Learn page at  

Dietitian’s earn 1.0 CPEU.  If you have a conflict, you can always listen to the recording which is posted after the webinar.  You can earn CPEUs for up to 1 year after the webinar.

This post was written by Robin Allen, a member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that 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 Facebookon Twitterand LinkedIn.

Parent Perspective: An interview with a military mom

Parent Perspective Logo
Image by R. DiPietro-Wells

This month the Early Intervention team brings you a unique interview with a mom who is also in the Air Force.  We are grateful for her willingness to share her experiences and knowledge with us.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What were the ages of your children when you were deployed?

My daughters were 13 and 8.

What were some things you did to prepare yourself for being separated from your children prior to your deployment?

The local Airmen and Family Readiness Center supplied me with briefings prior to leaving that were supposed to help me emotionally and physically prepare to leave my children. I also asked a good friend of mine to help my husband out if the girls needed a “mom talk.” I had a few hardcopy pictures of the family and asked for a drawing from each child to take with me when I left. Emotionally, I do not believe I prepared myself to be separated, mostly because it did not seem real until I was already on the plane.

What were some things you did to prepare your children for your deployment?

Before each deployment, my husband and I would sit them down, and talk about the possible locations I could go to and the importance of going. We would go on a mini-vacation and spend some quality time with them.

The last time I deployed I remember telling my children that this was something I had wanted to do and that hopefully it shows them that they too can do what they want and be a wife and mom. I now believe I was saying that so I would not feel guilty about going.

Please describe the conversations you had with your spouse prior to your deployment in regards to supporting him and your children.

My husband is very independent and the children were older so there was not too much support that they needed. However, we set goals of what we would like to accomplish during the separation and a family vacation we would take when I returned. The support that I believed he needed, was a female to help out with “female” type questions that could have come up if I was not readily available to answer them.

Also, while I was deployed, my husband took over the schoolwork tracking and the girls would only give me updates and good news. My husband and I decided that since I was deployed in a unstable environment, arguments over homework or not doing what they were supposed to do was not conducive to me keeping my head clear for my job. Additionally, if something was to happen to me, my daughters did not need me lecturing them to be their last conversation. My children had enough on their plate at home, they did not need me telling them to do more. However, I would still sneak a peek at their grades online, at least my older child’s grades.

What were some of your main fears and/or concerns regarding your children’s well being when you were deployed?

My oldest daughter had not started her menstrual cycle when I was preparing to leave; I was concerned that she was going to become a “woman” while I was gone and how that would affect her. Another fear I had was that they would not need me anymore (as if they were good with me not being in their lives on a daily basis).

What were some ways you were able to stay connected with your children when you were deployed?

We Skyped every day I could, and when we did not Skype I would send them emails. Once I got into my routine while deployed, I would work, go to the gym, and then Skype with the family before taking a shower and going to bed. Even with the many schedule changes I still maintained that routine, and my family adjusted their schedule to talk as well. I also sent them postcards and bought gifts online for them (such as flowers for Valentine’s day).

Please describe your transition back home. Did you do anything to prepare yourself and/or your children? Were there any challenges?

You can do all the preparation in the world to transition into your “life,” but you will be filled with too many disappointments if you do. From my experience, it was best for me to take each moment one step at a time, with a few “rules” to follow such as:

My husband and I had realized through other deployments that he would remain the “authority figure” with the children, and the children were told not to ask me for anything. My patience with my children was always low when I came home; I could not handle listening to their “petty” bickering. Also, any decision I made with the children seemed to undermine and undo my husband’s parenting. Because you want to be the “hero” in your children’s eyes, you tend to say “yes” to everything.

The children were given tasks when I got home to help me integrate back into the family, such as showing my around the house, helping me unpack, and doing laundry with me. They knew not to ask me for anything and not to ask to go anywhere.

I am not sure how it was for other moms who deployed, but for me when I was deployed I did not think of myself as a mom. I could not do that because to me I had to be emotionless. I could not let my emotions cloud my judgment when other peoples’ lives depended on it.  While deployed I saw myself as a leader whose job was to ensure that lower ranking troops were taken care of and that the mission was executed. I had promised long before my girls were born that I was willing to give my life in defense of my country. When you are deployed you understand what that means and it becomes more of a possibility. When I was on Skype with the girls I was mom but it was not the same because I did not have to deal with the day-to-day issues.

To go from a high-stress environment where you have to be emotionless to becoming a mom again was a hard transition. When you are deployed you are only thinking about the mission and your current surroundings, there is no complaining of who is going to wash the dishes or take out the trash. Coming back to your children and reconnecting the emotions we all are feeling is not as easy as it seems. You love your children, but their rush of hugs, kisses, happiness, sadness, anger, etc. is way too much to emotionally comprehend all at once. I learned that there is a process to handling the emotions that I did not deal with while deployed, accepting that my experiences had changed me in some ways. In addition to overcoming the extreme guilt that life was still moving forward while I was gone, there also were a lot of new emotions that my family had gone through that were foreign to me.

Through multiple deployments we realized how important it was to find and keep a routine while separated, which minimized challenges because the children knew what my routine was and I knew theirs. Without that routine, I am sure there would have been more challenges. My husband was able to adjust at home so we could communicate, there were no missed calls, and there was some predictability in the situation we were in.

Please share a positive experience you had with your children when you returned home from your last deployment.

The last time I came home, we had decided to escape to Great Wolf Lodge. My husband and I decided to surprise the girls with this and picked them up from school telling the girls that we had to go to family therapy. When we pulled up to the lodge (only 15 minutes from our house) they were highly confused about this “family therapy” we were talking about. Since school was in session, we had the place almost to ourselves. We had a great time reconnecting as a family with no pressures from school, work, or taking care of the house.

This post was edited 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, and YouTube.

Meet our Presenter Ashely R. McCartney Nutritional Trends and Implications for Weight Loss Surgery

Ashley McCartney Bariatric Surgery Dietitian

Ashley R. McCartney

Bariatric Surgery Dietitian

Carle Physician Group

Nutritional Trends and Implications for Weight Loss Surgery Free Webinar May 24, 11:00 am EDT

To register:

Ashley McCartney received her Masters of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences with a focus in nutrition from Eastern Illinois University. She practiced from 2009-2012 at Presence Hospital and is currently practicing as a registered licensed Bariatric / Clinical Dietitian at Carle Physician Group. She has been with Carle for almost four years. A strong advocate for motivating patients and students, she involves her time helping patients be successful before and after weight loss surgery, as well as helping students enhance their knowledge about weight loss surgery and successful counseling tactics. Her professional interests focus on weight management for adults and pediatrics, as well as general nutrition education for the community, including support groups to promote healthy lifestyles. Current projects include updating Carle’s bariatric web page to make it more user-friendly for patients and families; as well as improving the patient experience with pre-operative and post-operative nutrition education. In addition, she is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

This post was written by Robin Allen, a member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that 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 Facebookon Twitterand LinkedIn.

Fractured Families: Impacts of Crisis/Trauma

By Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT

Fall and broken swing
Flickr [end of days by greg, August 29, 2006, CC BY-ND 2.0]
It’s 3am and she has just gotten in bed after a very long process of getting her 2 year old back to sleep after his tube feeding. He has been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that came after nearly a year of countless tests and doctor appointments and stress that she has not had the opportunity to process. She lies down in the bed and puts the covers over her body. She hears the vibration of her cell phone against her nightstand and her heart begins to race. She reaches for the phone and answers. The person on the other end tells her the news that she has come to fear almost nightly. Her husband has been in a horrible car wreck. He was drunk. It was his fault. He may not make it. She experiences a hundred emotions all in one minute.

Her first child was born while her husband was deployed. It was very soon after his birth that she realized something just wasn’t right with him. In the 10 months that her husband was deployed, she learned to become a mother, a nurse, a doctor, and a speech therapist, physical therapist, and occupational therapist. She also learned to become an advocate and fighter for her child. She was relieved at the idea that she could share some of these new job titles and responsibilities with her husband upon his return. But, she knew the moment she saw him that something had happened. He was not the same man she sent overseas.

Within a couple of months of his return from deployment, her husband was diagnosed with PTSD. He was relying heavily on alcohol to mute the sounds and sights he was experiencing post-combat. He was spending most evenings away from home. She was alone, afraid, and trying her very best to hold everything together.

Although the story depicted above is not a true story, there are certainly many families that have experienced very similar scenarios. As military service providers, we have a duty to assist these families when they are in crisis or experience trauma. The two questions I would like to address in this blog are 1. What do we need to think about when it comes to crisis/trauma and family? 2. How do we help these families?

The Impact of Crisis/Trauma

  1.  Not all families experience trauma the same  Just like no two individuals react the same to situations, neither do families. Some families may kick in to “high gear” and face their problems head on where some may do the exact opposite.
  2. All families are shaped by their experience  Whether purposefully or not, experience shapes us. Families can be shaped negatively and/or positively by their experiences. How families are shaped will impact the way they live indefinitely.
  3. Some families have more than one crisis/trauma at the same time  It is important to remember that life does not delicately and kindly place hard times in our laps; nor does it only create one problem at a time. Families may be having more than one crisis or difficulty at a time. In fact, trauma can lead to crisis and vise versa. There can be a ripple effect that takes place.
  4. Resources and support systems can lessen the hardships  When support systems and resources are put in place, the effects of the events can feel less cumbersome and stressful for family.
  5. Families will always remain connected, even if they physically fall apart  Although some families may end up separating or splitting as a result of what has effected them, they will always be connected in some way by the fact that they were once a family.

How do we Help?

  1. Listen  It may sound simple. But giving families an opportunity to be heard can make a huge difference for them. Their experience is like no one else’s even though you may have heard a similar story. Provide your families with the opportunity to share their story and always listen to what they have to say.
  2. Lean forward – This is literal and figurative. Some of the stories that families may share with us can be hard for us to hear. They may even be things that are hard for us to process as humans. But, we must always remember that the therapy we provide is about them, not us. We must lean forward so that they never feel judged or criticized.
  3. Provide resources – Always, always, always have a plethora of resources to share with your clients. You never know which may be helpful to them and which may completely change or impact their lives and what they are going through. You can never have too many resources in your pocket!
  4. Create a safe environment – If families don’t feel safe in the therapy room, then they won’t be successful and neither will you. Gauge their comfort level and adjust accordingly. When we feel safe, we are more likely to open up and create change for ourselves.
  5. Ensure that no one is in danger – In volatile situations, it is always important to constantly make sure that everyone is safe. Assess and reassess situations and ensure that every member of the family is safe.


This post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, the social media and webinar coordination specialist for the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.