Mobile Apps for Domestic Violence

By Christina Herron, MS

MFLN Family Development hosted a 2015 Virtual Learning Event in the month of October. Session 4 | What’s on the Web? Family Violence Resource Tool Kit discussed online resources and mobile applications pertinent to professionals working with individuals, children and families experiencing domestic violence. On of the key topics of the this VLE session focused on mobile applications for individuals involved in Domestic Violence relationships.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence has graciously provided a comprehensive study of every cell phone app focusing on Domestic Violence. This organization has broken each app into categories, list detailed descriptions, the pro and cons, and things for the specific audience to consider. Their goal is for individuals, service providers, and victims/survivors to have all the information they need in order to make an informed decision. Below, you will find a brief breakdown of the study completed by the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Be sure to check out the complete study, here.

Apps for:

Public Awareness and Education

Apps for Public Awareness & Education
Apps for Public Awareness & Education by

Screening and Assessing

Apps for Screening and Assessing

Apps for Screening and Assessing
Apps for Screening and Assessing by

Safety Apps

Apps for Safety
Apps for Safety by


Disclaimer: The Military Families Learning Network does not endorse the use of any of these cell phone apps. There are concerns and barriers to using cell phone apps. However, these apps are out for anyone to access freely. As service providers, educating ourselves on the different types of apps, concerns and barriers could help us better inform the individuals we come in contact with who have been affected by domestic violence and who might be considering using one of these apps out of their own personal choice.


This post was written by Christina Herron, MS, a member 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.

Returning Warriors: Using Outdoor Recreation for Restoration @ Resilience

by Major John Donovan, MNARNG


This program is nothing short of fantastic.  As a Soldier who has deployed three-times in the last 12 years, I can testify that coming home from a deployment is hard.

During a deployment a Soldier becomes hyper-vigilant because of the environment where he/she serves.  This hyper-vigilance is a much needed skill in a combat environment.

However, the Soldiers comes home that same hyper-vigilance that was so useful in combat, can become a debilitating factor in the garrison, office or home environment.

Recreation programs like those discussed in this webinar can be great outlets for warriors transitioning back to their stateside duties and lives.  The opportunity to recreate in the outdoors with others, to engage in physical activity, can be both physically rewarding and emotionally cathartic.

I applaud your efforts and look forward to learning more about these great opportunities for our Service-Members and honored veterans.


John G. Donovan

Combatting Compassion Fatigue

During our Combatting Compassion Fatigue virtual learning event, there were some informative and interesting conversations taking place in the chat pod. Some questions were prompted by the speaker for the audience to answer, and other conversations were sparked by audience members. Here are a few conversations that you might find helpful.

Who might experience compassion fatigue?

Family Members: Service Providers:
Other family or friends
Social Workers
Domestic/sexual violence
Emergency responders

As a family member, how do I learn/know what are my husband’s triggers to distressing memories, thoughts or feelings?

Response from audience member #1: One thing you can try is to look for ABC – antecedent, behavior & consequences. Try to establish a pattern. Is it a time of day? Is it a crowd of people? Is it a disruption in his routine? Also, look at the behaviors and consequences…then try to adjust your reaction to them perhaps. Sometimes reframing your reaction or the situation may help stem the behavior.

Response from audience member #2: The veteran may not “know” why or what sets them off, control of the surroundings, the situations they are going into, hostility, anger (the only acceptable emotion to use in many settings is anger) and the veteran may not know why they are uncomfortable. 

How have you been impacted by compassion fatigue?

  • Personal therapy – reminding myself it is not about me, rather the client that is in front of me
  • Excessive worry if I’m getting everything done
  • Guilt
  • Loss of interest in friendships/doing things
  • Hypervigilance

Have any of you found that your own experience with trauma or in dealing with those who have experience trauma found that it provided risk or protective factors?

Audiencemember #1: So the stronger empathetic tendencies are more at risk (besides the inexperienced workers)?

Audience member #2: It’s a risk factor for similar trauma, but protective for others

Audience member #3: As a Veteran working with other Veterans and witnessing similar events – felt more like a protective factor.

Audience member #4: By having experience with the trauma (explosions and death), I’m aware of it…it’s not the first time I’ve heard it. Whereas if you’ve never seen or heard of the event this would be a story you may be hearing for the first time.

Audience member #5: Would it be protective in that the individual who experienced similar trauma may have developed coping skills for that particular trauma?

Audience member #6: For those overseas it is also the persistent stress of being in a war zone, effecting physiological changes in the adrenal system, hypothalamus, amygdala, etc… Also, the erosion of values and world view from the European/USA value system when exposed to the horrors of war.

To watch the virtual learning event click here: Combatting Compassion Fatigue.

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on December 11, 2015.

#MFLNchat Recap: Financial Planning for Military Caregivers

If you weren’t able to join our Twitter chat this morning, here’s a recap of the Tweets shared by participants. Many great resources were shared and there was a lot of engagement. Thank you to all who joined us!

Field Talk: A Q&A with Providers Supporting Military Families

Title Field Talk: A Q&A with Providers Supporting Military Families
DiPietro-Wells, R. (2015). Field Talk: A Q&A

Field Talk is a monthly blog post sharing the voices of early childhood providers who serve or have served military families of young children with disabilities (birth to 5 years old).  We hope you find it to be educational, personable, and encouraging.

This month we talked with Dora, MS, CCC-SLP.  Dora is a speech pathologist and currently serve children with a variety of needs including autism, cochlear implants, apraxia, phonological disorders, and language disorders.  She currently is employed by a Children’s Hospital, which is part of a large University Health Care system. In this position she serves children in an outpatient therapy center which provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy to children from birth through age 18.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What’s your favorite part of your current job?

I enjoy being part of a team of therapists who focus on the whole child. There is nothing better than working in a collaborative setting where you can brainstorm ideas with other therapists and coordinate services with other care providers.

Tell us about experiences you have had working with military families.

I served military families while employed by a private practice; the majority of children were in an early intervention program or at developmental day centers. In my current setting the military families I serve are National Guard or Reserve families.

How did you come to work with military families?

I became an active duty military spouse and moved to an area with a large military installation. I later had my own children, one of whom has special needs, and have experienced being a military family receiving special education services.

Describe a rewarding experience working with military families.

A rewarding experience I had serving a military family was when I was working with a 2 year who had complex medical needs. This child had a tracheostomy and we were doing Passy Muir speaking valve trials. I was there when this child’s mom heard his voice for the first time and later when his mom heard “mama” for the first time. This was an unforgettable experience and I was blessed to be a part of a special moment for this military family.

From your experience, how are military families similar and different from other types of families? How do you change your practice between families?

Military families are similar to other families in that they have the typical day-to-day challenges non-military families face. They also have the same emotions with regard to receiving a diagnosis for their child or giving birth to a child with a disability. Military families are “real” families with “real” day-to-day challenges that other families face. The difference is the additional things military families have on their plate. They might deal with an active duty parent leaving for training, preparing for a deployment, and returning from a deployment. There are constant adjustments that are being made in a military family’s life. Also, many military families live away from their extended family, and other military families become their support system. These families have a bond and support each other unlike the non-military families I have served.

Another difference when serving Reserve or National Guard families is that these families often make major adjustments when one parent is activated and away from the family. These families have to switch from a civilian life to being an active duty family when the service member is activated. Sometimes these families may not live in an area where there is a military installation and the community and providers may not be aware of the best ways to support the family.

I changed my practice to accommodate and understand schedule changes and made efforts to include the active duty parent(s) in order to make them an active part of the care team. Often the active duty (or activated) parent may feel left out of the therapy plan because they may be away or just returning from training/deployment.

As providers, how can we support military parents who are deployed or away frequently due to trainings/school?

As providers one way we can support military parents is to include them using email, Skype, and Facetime, if these are options. Many years ago this was not an option for families, but now depending on the circumstances of the training/deployment, the parent may have access to the Internet. This is a great way to include the parent who is away. Another way is to meet with the parent before he/she leaves and go over the treatment plan and ways this parent can support the parent who is home with the child(ren). Additionally, once the parent returns and has had time with the family, meeting to discuss progress and the current home program for the family is also helpful. If providers assume the parent at home will explain everything to the spouse who is away, this can put additional stress on the spouse at home. I have found that trying to work with the family as a whole yields better progress, as well as unity within the family.

Describe a specific stressor that military families with whom you have worked have shared or experienced.

One stressor I have seen in military families is when one parent is deployed or away at training, the parent at home with a child who has a disability may need respite. Having a child with a disability can be challenging, but when one parent is away then all parenting and household responsibilities fall on the parent holding down the home front. While there may be respite services available to some families, other families may not seek these out or qualify for them.

What “insider” tips or advice do you have for service providers working with military families who have young children with disabilities?

First and foremost if you are not familiar with military language and acronyms – learn them! You need to know what these things mean when the family talks about what is happening in their life. Another suggestion is to learn the specific needs of the area in which you serve families. For example, the needs of Reserve and National Guard families are different than active duty families. When serving active duty families consider the kinds of units in the area. Learn about them so you will know what those families’ schedules and challenges are like. Consider: Is it a unit that deploys frequently for short durations or time? Is it a unit that does less frequent deployments but for longer periods or time? Is it a training installation where service members may be away for training or teaching frequently? In my experience, when working with families, each military area has unique needs to that specific area. In order to better serve families, learn about the area and its unique needs.

If you could change or improve one thing for military families with young children with disabilities, what would it be?

I would like it to be easier for families to transition services when moving from one place to another, to alleviate some stress on the families. These families are extremely resourceful, but that does not mean providers shouldn’t help ease the process a bit.

What types of resources have you sought out to feel more confident and competent at meeting the specific needs of military families? (e.g., trainings, blog posts, organizations, etc.)

I learned about being a military wife while I was serving military families. I was fortunate to have other wives and providers mentor me through that process. Resources like the Military Family Learning Network are so valuable as they provide information that is easily accessible for providers and families.

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.

Scott AFB Embraces 5210 Healthy Military Children (HMC)

Cooking Class with Darla Klausner, Scott AFB

Cooking Class with Darla Klausner, Scott AFB

By Robin Allen, MSPH, RDN, LDN

There are no scheduled webinars for MFLN Nutrition and Wellness the months of November and December 2015.  But we have an exciting line-up for 2016.  I will talk about upcoming webinars in another blog.  Today I want to revisit 5210 Healthy Military Children. If you missed the webinar, you can still watch the recording and receive CPEUs by visiting

I had a nice conversation with Darla Klausner, MPH, CHES, Program Director for 5210 Healthy Military Children (HMC) at Scott AFB in Illinois.  Darla has started 5210 HMC at Scott AFB with great success and shared some of her strategies.  Her first goal was to create awareness of the program.  She provides 5210 kits to providers at the medical clinic to help military care providers address obesity more comfortably.  The kits are specially designed by Darla and include a 5210 survey, 5210 definitions/recommendations, Healthy Kids Snacks, Tips for Families and a program trifold.  The parents are given the 5210 Kit if their child has been coded as overweight, obese or with high lipids.  The providers usually refer the families to Darla or the parents may contact her directly to set up an appointment. Parents feel very defensive when it comes to discussing their child’s weight.  The kit helps open the dialogue about weight and general health habits of the child and the entire family.  Darla will sometimes talk to the parents before the appointment to develop a counseling session that targets specific behaviors such as too much screen time, high cholesterol or obesity.   A MyPlate handout is provided to the kids to take home and practice building balanced meals along with a cookbook to help them with healthier lunch ideas or snacks.

Currently, Darla holds teen cooking classes at the Youth Center. Some recipes include sloppy joes made from garbanzo beans, macaroni and cheese made from pumpkin puree, and energy bars made with almond butter, dates, pumpkin seeds, and oats.  At the library, there is a Teen Healthy Choices challenge and also the Zero Sugary Drinks Challenge with the story time kids.

As a one-time event, the garden program cooking class worked with Operation Food Search to provide a “Garden to Table” cooking class.  The goal for 2016 will include bi-monthly cooking classes for participants.  The Garden to Table cooking class was such a success funds were allocated to build a raised garden to help prevent plant loss and continue with Garden to Table cooking classes for children and families. Additionally, the St. Clair County Health Department approved the 5210 HMC program for the military WIC clients, and Darla will begin teaching 5210 Healthy Military Children classes in January.   A condensed lesson/briefing handout was used for staff training for nutrition education credit hours at the Youth Center staff.  Darla included a short demonstration on how to encourage kids and parents to add more vegetables to their diet. The feedback has been positive, and this has led to creating a healthy lunch bunch for the staff members.

Raised beds garden to table, Scott AFB
Raised beds garden to table, Scott AFB

Most of the materials used at Scott AFB were adapted from The Clearing House for Military Family Readiness with the help of Dr. Jen Dinallo, our webinar presenter, who has been a great support system to the 5210 HMC program at Scott AFB.

Other things I learned from Darla:

Most bases have various Facebook pages that you may be able to post events.  The Scott AFB Youth Center has a Facebook page along with the Scott AFB Library.  All have been good places to reach out to kids and parents.

Another tip, using a Spiralizer, is an excellent way to show kids and parents how to have fun with vegetables.  You can order a Spiralizer from anywhere, but has some great recipes.

The following are some of the materials used at Scott AFB.  You can contact Darla for copies if you would like some ideas for starting or improving your 5210 HMC.

Darla Klausner, MPH, CHES
5210 Healthy Military Children
Disease Management

1:  Condensed 5210 HMC Lesson/Briefing:
Youth Center Condensed Lesson Youth Center 5210 Condensed Lesson (2)
Go Foods, Slow Foods, Whoa Foods Gofoods slow food whoa foods HO 2 (1)
Serving Size in Hand ServingSizeInHand HO3
My Plate Planner MyPlatePlanner GREAT FOR KIDS
Sports Drinks  Sports drinks HO 8
2-Week Challenge Two week challenge for military kids

2.  5210 HMC Kits for Providers
Survey -pre/post (Pre-survey acts as enrollment form)5210 – Survey_Pre Test (1)5210 – Survey_Post Test (1)
5210 HMC Definitions/Recommendations  5210HMCDefinitionsRecommendations
Healthy Kids Snacks 5210HMCHealthyKidsSnacks
Tips for Families 5210HMCTipsforFamilies
Trifold Brochure New trifold flyer 2015 (1)
Unplugged Unplugged HO 6a

Other Resources:


Cooking Class 2 (2)

Cooking Class 3 (1)

Cooking Class 4 (2)

Cooking Class 5 (1)


5210 Healthy Military Children Toolkit

How can you start 5210 HMC on your base or facility?

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 Facebook, on Twitter, and LinkedIn.


2015 Annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey

By Christina Herron, MS

The Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey, which has been conducted annually since 2009, gathers information about the mental health of military families. A previous blog, Resource Discovery: Enhancements to the Family Lifestyle Survey, featured the new additions made to the 2015 Annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey. These additions included:  

  • New survey questions about mental health including: depression, substance abuse and stress
  • Additional questions regarding veterans’ transition, education, and use of resources

Blue Star Families recently released the results of the 2015 Military Family Lifestyle Survey. Below is a highlighted infographic from the survey results.The complete survey results come in the form of the 2015 Executive Summary, 2015 Comprehensive Report, and the 2015 Comprehensive Report Infographic.

Infographic of 2015 Blue Star Military Lifestyle Survey
Blue Star Families. 2015 Military Lifestyle Survey. Retrieved from

This post was written by Christina Herron, MS, a member 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 TwitterYouTube, and on LinkedIn.

Caregiving Tips for the Holidays

Portrait of a young father and his son on Christmas day

Although the holidays can be a joyous occasion, they can also cause our lives to become more hectic and stressful. Caregivers can become overwhelmed by continuing to take care of their service member while also trying to make this time of the year special and memorable. Below are some suggestions to help you make it through the holiday season.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with caregiving duties

Sometimes the things you’re most grateful for are not material things, but help. During the holiday seasons there seem to be more things to do each day, and less time to get it done. Don’t be afraid to make your wish list with caregiving activities on it. Talk to your family and friends about helping you out with running errands, taking service members to appointments, or helping you out around the house. Remember that you need to take care of yourself to, so let your loved ones pitch in this holiday season.

2. Recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout

During the holidays your stress level may reach an all-time high trying to juggle caring for your wounded warrior as well as everything that the holidays entail. Lookout for signs of becoming overwhelmed. If you reach the point of becoming overwhelmed try some mindfulness techniques to refocus your attention and move past the stress.

3. Simplify your holiday activities

The hype of the holidays and the buildup we create with our imaginations is difficult if not impossible to actually manage and maintain. Change your expectations to something that you can obtain without adding more stress to your life. Set limits to help you manage this time. If you are preparing a holiday meal, try choosing foods that are simpler to cook, try crockpot meals, eat out or order a prepared meal.

4. Consider making new holiday traditions

Traditions are wonderful and can be something to look forward to, but sometimes they can become too overwhelming. If this is the case consider starting a new tradition that suits where you’re at better. Go easy on yourself and understand that as a caregiver you are creating a ‘new normal’ which will inevitable cause some changes.

5. Be aware of and anticipate triggers from your service member

Although the holidays are meant to bring joy and happiness, sometimes the holidays may trigger stress and unhappy memories for your service member.  Be mindful and acknowledge their emotions as well as yours. Service members may feel anxious in large holiday crowds; and they may even trigger negative emotions because your service member may no longer be able to participate in the same ways they were accustomed to. Try to stay focused on the positive and remember how thankful you are that they are with you, especially during the holidays.

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on December 4, 2015.

Twitter Chat: Financial Planning for Military Caregivers

Please join the Personal Finance and Military Caregiving teams for a Twitter chat on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. ET focused on financial planning for military caregivers. This topic is based on the webinar presented by the Military Caregiving team on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 11 a.m. ET.


We’ll be discussing this topic for 30 minutes using #MFLNchat. The questions will be posted by @MFLNMC.

If you’re interested in joining us but new to Twitter, please take a look at some resources that can help you get started:

If you have any questions about using Twitter, let us know! We’re happy to help you get started.

Get a Grip on Holiday Expenses – Now

By Molly C. Herndon

Spending during the holiday season can mean the new year begins with the stress and panic of seemingly unsurmountable credit card debt for many. The only way to prevent this burden is to plan ahead. The Personal Finance team has identified several resources for practitioners to share with clients to help them plan for holiday expenses and start 2016 on the right financial foot.

Photo of shoppers on street with holiday decorations
Holiday shopping is more enjoyable if it doesn’t come with debt in the new year. Photo by Ben and Kaz Askins

In this 90-minute video, Kelvin Boston discusses the common stressors of this holiday season and provides resources for coping with the financial burden of the holidays.

In this blog post, Dr. Barbara O’Neill offers tips for paying off credit card balances and using to organize credit card debt.

Finally, the University of Maryland Extension offers some tips and resources for smart shopping during the holidays, including making lists, setting budgets and paying in cash.

By planning ahead, the holidays can be full of cheer, not debt.