Tag Archives: militaryfamilies

Military Caregiving Webinar Reminder

TRICARE ECHO blog imgDon’t forget to join us next week at 11:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, July 27 as we provide a special healthcare needs webinar for military service providers on the TRICARE® Extended Care Health Options (ECHO) program.

Presenters from the Defense Health Agency (DHA) will provide participants with an overview of the ECHO program, which provides supplemental services to active duty family members with qualifying mental or physical disabilities, and highlight services beyond those offered by the basic TRICARE® health benefits program. Learning objectives include:

  • Understanding conditions to qualify for ECHO coverage
  • Identifying benefits to program
  • Review ECHO Home Health Care services
  • Determine how ECHO and the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) work together
  • Understand ECHO and the Autism Care Demonstration (ACD)

You can register for this free professional development opportunity by going to learn.extension.org/events/2680. Continuing education (CE) credit will be provided to credentialed participants from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), as well as certificates of completion for those interested in receiving training hours.

For more information about this webinar including the speakers, continuing education credits and how to join, please visit our announcement blog from June entitled Upcoming Webinar – TRICARE® Extended Care Health Option (ECHO).

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on July 22, 2016.


Service Members, Families & Communities Benefit from Outdoor Recreation


The benefits of using nature contact or outdoor recreation with Service members are well documented, including contemplative, recreational, and hands-on habitat restoration activities.  Stacy Bare pic

In December 2015 MFLN Family Transitions hosted a webinar, Returning Warriors: Using Outdoor Recreation for Restoration & Resilience https://learn.extension.org/events/2307 that engaged military service providers to identify the value of transitioning service members’ participation in outdoor recreation;  analyze research related to using outdoor recreation; become familiar with formal and informal opportunities; and prepare to refer Service members to  recreational/outdoor opportunities. Facilitators for the webinar included Stacy Bare, Director of Sierra Club Outdoors and Keith Tidball, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University. Both are Veterans.

Following the webinar MFLN Family Transitions connected with Stacy to learn more about the value of interacting with the outdoors and to seek advice for military service providers.

MFLN Family Transitions (MFLN-FT): When you talk about ‘outdoor recreation’ what does that all involve?

 Stacy Bare (SB): Anything outdoors. Stop and take a look out your window into the backyard, take a walk around the block, cast a fly in your driveway or spend four months hiking the Appalachian Trail, a couple of days attempting to summit the Grand Teton or car camping with your family.

MFLN-FT: Tell us about your favorite outdoor recreational activities and how you became involved.

 SB: I’m lucky enough to do a lot outdoors and have a lot of very kind friends who invite me on some really cool trips. Climbing saved my life and skiing sustains it, but what makes an activity great is the people you are with—and sometimes solo trips. My wife just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and I’ve spent the last month doing a lot of cross country skiing because I’ve enjoyed the exercise and the easy nature of getting out into nature and on skis with a far shorter drive and far more spontaneously then I could go ski touring for example—so right now that’s my favorite.

MFLN-FT: What are the benefits for service members and their families who participate in outdoor recreation?

SB: The benefits are many, I’ll give you a short list here:

  • Experiencing awe, which we’re learning through our partnership with the Greater Good Science Center at Cal-Berkeley and the Great Outdoors Lab has real physical and mental health benefits
  • Camaraderie and connecting with your friends and family, we also are learning it improves overall mental and family health resilience
  • Seeing the country you fought for—the actual physical country
  • Learning a new skill can be a benefit
  • Often times a lot of laughter
  • Creating a sense of purpose

MFLN-FT: How might communities benefit when individuals become involved in outdoor recreation? 

SB: People who spend time outdoors we know are typically more empathetic and more curious, more willing to seek help and more willing to engage with strangers. That means if you have a community full of people who are engaging in outdoor recreation, they’re interested in meeting people, solving community problems, and they put themselves in the shoes of other folks. Who doesn’t want to live in an empathetic, caring community that’s working to help each other and find solutions to problems?

MFLN-FT: Describe the Sierra Outdoors Program. 

SB: I like to think of us as the heart and soul of the Sierra Club. John Muir’s original vision of the Sierra Club was to get people outdoors to experience the beauty and joy of outdoor spaces. We still do that. We get out more than 250,000 people each year through three broad programs: Local Outings, which operate out of our 63 chapters nationwide, there are 400 plus groups doing everything from family picnics to movie nights to ski mountaineering, white water paddling, international trips, day hikes, etc. Inspiring Connections Outdoors works in 50+ communities nationwide to get people outside who otherwise may not have the opportunity. Finally, our newest program, started in 2006, is the Military Outdoors program which connects service members, veterans, and their families to the outdoors. I came to the Sierra Club in 2011 to redesign and relaunch the Military Outdoors program, which as a veteran of the war in Iraq, remains very close to my heart.

MFLN-FT: How can military service providers connect service members & their families with your program or similar programs in their community?

SB: Call us (385-209-5681), connect with us on Facebook, Twitter @SierraOutdoors, Instagram (stacyabare), or email stacy.bare@sierraclub.org. One of the things that is unique to our programs and that I’m most proud about is our volunteer leadership training. If we’re not doing something in your area or something you want to be doing, come get trained as a leader and we’ll have you leading a trip soon after that training. The thing to remember is that we don’t care what your background is or your current state of health—we will work with you so you can enjoy the outdoors how you want to under human power. There’s something for everyone outside.

MFLN-FT: What advice do you have for service members who don’t want to participate in a formal program, but just want informal experiences? 

SB: We really hope that our program isn’t just getting people outside, but is inspiring folks to go out and do more and that people will leave our program and keep getting outside—so that’s a long way to say that I think most people get outside informally. You don’t have to use a lot of fancy gear, for most things jeans and good sneakers will work fine—

Look first in your immediate community, where are the parks? If you’re active duty call the MWR office, see if you can rent gear, go talk to someone at your local outdoor store about where to go and what activities are available in the area and how to access them. Buy a guide book or watch a YouTube video about what you want to do, take a day class, go for a walk—just get outside!

MFLN-FT: What is your vision related to military service members and their families related to outdoor recreation?

SB: Long term I want every service member to be able to use at least a week of permissive TDY to get outside throughout the year. I’d love to see all mental health resiliency programs include an outdoor recreation component and outdoor recreation be a part of all mental health treatment programs vs. an alternative or elective treatment program.

MFLN-FT: Please share any final thoughts (if any).

SB: Go outside!


Stacy Bare  is a climber and skier, the Director of Sierra Club Outdoors (SCO), a brand ambassador for The North Face, Keen Shoes, and a veteran of the war in Iraq. SCO gets out 250,000+ people each year. Under his direction, SCO launched the Great Outdoors Lab with the University of California-Berkeley in 2014 to put scientifically defensible data behind the power of the outdoors to support improved mental, physical, and thereby public health with an emphasis on youth and military veterans. He is also the 2015 SHIFT Festival Adventure Athlete of the Year and a 2014 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. He, his wife, and their new daughter live in Salt Lake City, UT.


Off the Shelf: Conversations with Authors of Children’s Books

The Family Development Early Intervention team is always on the look-out for quality children’s books that help address some of the unique needs of military children.

Seth Kastle Used with subject's permission
Seth Kastle Used with subject’s permission

The following is an interview with Seth Kastle, author of two popular children’s books, Why Is Dad So Mad? and Why Is Mom So Mad?, both dealing specifically with PTSD in parents.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What if any experiences do you have with the military?

I retired from the Army Reserve in 2014, after 16 years in service. During my career I served as a Logistician, Infantryman, a Drill Sergeant, and a Company First Sergeant. I deployed in February 2002 to Qatar, and then in April to Mazar-E-Sharif Afghanistan until September of that year. I deployed for the initial invasion of Iraq in January of 2003 until April of 2004; I spent the majority of this tour in Mosul. I had to have a pacemaker implanted in 2010, which made me ineligible to continue my military career.

What made you decide to write this book? Was there some incident or experience with the military that inspired you?

I wish I could say that I was a completely benevolent person, and I simply wrote this book because I knew there was a greater need, but that is not the case. I wrote this book because of personal need. I was looking for a way to explain who I am now to my children and I could not find resources that achieved this purpose. I sat down and wrote the book along with illustration notes after a bad day at work. It took me about 30 minutes. I then did what a lot people who write do…I filed it away on my computer, never to be seen again. I had a friend who had just published a book on succeeding as a foster child who kept prodding me to take the steps to make publication a reality.

Opening up and talking about my journey with PTSD has been extremely difficult for me. This is not something that is talked about much as there is a stigma that goes along with PTSD. There was hardly anyone who knew I was having problems. In fact, only my wife and two to three friends that I had been in Iraq or Afghanistan with were aware of my struggles. It was because I knew there was a large need for a book like this, that I was pushed into actually publishing it.

What message do you hope that children of families receive as a result of reading these books?

The thesis statements of the books are that even though Dad (or Mom) gets mad often, it is not the child’s fault. In the books I use metaphors to illustrate to children what is happening inside Dad (or Mom) when they get angry. Parenting is tough, even without additional obstacles; parents with PTSD have a harder time dealing with a lot of the common stressors of family life. It does not mean they do not love their children or care about their children’s feelings.


Have you received any feedback from military families after they read your book, and if so, what have they said?

This has actually been the most rewarding part of the entire book project coming to life. I have literally heard from hundreds of military families that have read my books. They have thanked me for writing the books, and they explained how this book helped them explain to their children what is happening with their Dad (or Mom). These books are not a magic fix for PTSD and family dynamics; my hope though is that they are set the stage for starting conversations. One email that sticks out in my head was from a Veteran who wrote to me and said, “You know that look your child gets the first time they understand something, my son got that look tonight when I read your book to him.” I have also had a number of Vietnam Veterans and their families reach out to me and say that they wished they had had this book 30 years ago. Some of them have even said that they bought the book for their adult children to help them understand now why things were the way they were when they were growing up.

Do you have plans to write another book that focuses on the military? If so what is the focus of that book and when might we expect to see it?

I feel like there needs to be a book that explains divorce to military children. The national divorce rate is high and the military is no different. I feel a large part of why my books have been successful is because they were written based on my experience, so they were true to life. Divorce is not something that I have experienced so I may not be able to do the book justice. To do it right I would need to, at a minimum, collaborate with a service member who has been through a divorce.

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.

Caregiving Facts and Statistics

In June 2015, the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute published Caregiving in the U.S. 2015.  This report compiled data from multiple research studies about caregivers and care recipients.

Below is a collection of some of the statistics found in the Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 report.

Click here to read or download a copy of the report.

caregiving-in-2015_block_1 caregiving-in-2015_block_2 caregiving-in-2015_block_3 caregiving-in-2015_block_4 caregiving-in-2015_block_5 caregiving-in-2015_block_6 caregiving-in-2015_block_7

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on July 15, 2016.

Expert Advice Series: Anxiety in Others

Expert Advice Series

Imagine you’re driving in the car on your way to drop the kids off at school. You stop at the red light and begin to list off all of the things that you’re working on and stressed about getting finished. You’re talking to yourself trying to work through a particularly stressful situation when the light turns green and you drive off…Your child is in the back listening to you.

Does this sound familiar?  

Question: Is your external dialogue encouraging anxiety in others?

Advice: When we talk out loud to ourselves it is referred to as external dialogue. Brian Dixon, M.D., cautions parents and caregivers about processing out loud or expressing our internal dialogue as external dialogue in front of children or clients. Often times the child or client will take on the anxiety you are expressing and their stress will increase.

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

For more advice from Dr. Dixon, watch and listen to his professional development training on ADHD, Anxiety, and Autism: Practical Approaches to Child Psychiatry to learn about practical ways parents and caregivers can help manage these disorders, while reconnecting with the fun of parenting.


Are you an external processor? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section. Have a question for our military caregiving team? Let us know! Stay tuned for more from our Expert Advice series.

The new blog series provides 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.

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on June 10, 2016.


Part I: How Learning Styles Can Alter the Way Military Families Process Information

Adul Learning SeriesHave you ever thought about how your military caregivers, families, service members and colleagues process information?  As helping professionals we tend to take-in information differently as we learn new things and the same can be said for the military families that we serve. By understanding the various learning styles it may help you, the service provider, better connect with families in order to provide the highest quality educational information to meet their individual needs.

There are four principles of adult learning identified by Malcolm Knowles, the pioneer of adult learning: (1) Autonomous and Self-Directed, (2) Life Experiences and Knowledge, (3) Goal-Oriented and Relevancy-Oriented and (4) Practical.

In today’s blog, we are focusing on principal #1 (Autonomy and Self-Direction) of adult learning and how the learning style can be applied to those you serve.

Autonomy and Self-Direction

Adults that tend to favor Autonomy and Self-Direction like to direct their own learning, and often times like to take on the leadership roles. They prefer to be actively involved in learning and work around their personal goals and specific interests.

As a service provider, some things to keep in mind when providing education and training to military families is to have them discuss their personal learning goals for the meeting, session or training that you are providing. When you are working with families, help the individual to reflect on what they have learned and set new goals as a result of the reflection. As their provider, there will be times that you need to also help them modify their goals as needed.

Over the course of the next few months the MFLN Military Caregiving concentration will be discussing the remaining three principles of adult learning, as well as adult learning styles. Our goal with this series is to provide military service providers with a better understanding of how adults process information and learn.


This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on July 1, 2016.


Audiocast with Dr. Ken Wilund and Dr. Karen Chapman-Novakofski

Ddr. Ken Wilund
Dr. Ken Wilund

Dr. Ken Wilund

Tune in Tuesday, June 28 at 11:00 am ET for a fascinating free webinar, Nutrition, Exercise, and Renal Disease.  Listen to this short audiocast for a preview of what this webinar has to offer.  To register go to https://learn.extension.org/events/2655.

Dietitians earn 1.0 CPEU.

Wilund podcast

If you can’t attend the live webinar you can listen to the recording which will be posted at https://learn.extension.org/events/2655.  You can still earn CPEU by listing to the recording and completing the evaluation.

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.


How effectively do you communicate in “The Crunch”?

Two Female FriendsThis blog post was written by Alicia Cassels, 4-H Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor, Curriculum at West Virginia University

Stress has a profound impact on our ability to effectively communicate.  Regardless of how well we have mastered the art of communication, turn the dial on the stress level to “overload” and accessing our best communication skills becomes more challenging.

When faced with stress overload, we experience physiological and psychological responses which contribute to what Dr. Jane Riffe calls, “The Crunch”.   When operating in “The Crunch” or under stress, many people experience a loss in the ability to access communication skills they would otherwise typically display, falling instead into default communication patterns which may be negative and self-defeating.   These patterns tend to re-emerge in times of stress.

The loss in ability to access effective communication skills when they are needed most can be more than frustrating.  Self-defeating communication patterns may lead to poor relationships, health problems, issues in the workplace, and other negative outcomes.

Identifying the default communication strategies that we most commonly employ when in “The Crunch” is important in building an understanding of how we might improve.

For a quick assessment of your most-used default patterns, take a look at the strategies below.

Dr. Riffe Jane Riffe highlights 5 “Losing Agendas” from the work of Terri Real.   Which self-defeating strategies tend to be your defaults?


  1. Being Right: When operating on this losing agenda individuals focus on working to prove that they are right. This strategy may lead to anger, frustration, and ongoing arguments.
  1. Controlling the other person: When operating on this agenda individuals try to get others to do what they want through means which may include manipulation.
  1. Unbridled self-expression: When operating on this agenda individuals behave as though spontaneously sharing all of their thoughts constitutes productive communication. This strategy may result withdrawal by the other party.
  1. Retaliation: With this strategy the goal is to make others feel the way you feel. Retaliation may come in the form of verbal attach, financial or physical attack.  The goal is payback.
  1. Withdrawal: With this strategy individuals refuse to address issues.


Dr. Riffe recommends a RECIPE for effective communication which includes Reflective listening, Encouragement, Compromise and cooperation, I messages, Practice and Engagement.

To learn more about this RECIPE and other effective strategies for communicating in “The Crunch”, watch the Military Families Learning Network webinar: Communication “In the Crunch”


Try one of the resources below for improving communication:

Futris, Ted. 9 Important Skills for Every Relationship (Downloadable Tip Sheet)

Real, Terrence (2007). The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work. Ballentine Books: New York. www.terryreal.com

Riffe, J. (2015).Reflect!  Keep Calm and Carry On. (3 Mindfulness Podcasts) Extension Military Families Network https://blogs.extension.org/militaryfamilies/military-caregiving/audiocasts-and-podcasts/

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on June 24, 2016.


The First 30 Days of Reintegration – Part 4 of 4: Importance of Support Networks & Keeping Things in Perspective

Cal Day 23_30This is the final installation of the four part blog series from our “30-Day Couple”.  Days 23-30 focus on the Importance of Support Networks & Keeping Things in Perspective.  She shares, “I realized my family changes it’s normal a lot.  They make it easy to figure out what works and what doesn’t”.  Yet, at times, family members are overwhelmed and are searching for support. Continue reading for an intimate view of this couple’s last eight days.

Day 23 – Her

This is our last weekend before hubby goes back to work. Soon he will be flying again and things will find a new normal. I have realized my family changes its normal a lot. They make it easy to figure out what works and what doesn’t. It shows in some areas that we have treated hubby’s two week leave like a vacation. Some things were productive but others never really got done. Still working on our to-do list.

Day 23 – Him

My day today was one of those lazy days that I didn’t really feel like doing much and didn’t really have too many obligations to fulfill. I had to come to terms with the fact that I only have one more day off before going back to work. In the respect, I got a haircut today. It’s not that I hate work, I just find certain things monotonous about it that I’m not looking forward to. I hope that our family dynamic is still as close as it’s been the last two and a half weeks once I do go back. Something that I did enjoy about today was the compliments I got when I made dinner. It wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it seemingly tasted as if it were when my kids found out I had cooked. I wish they showed this much elation when my wife cooks, but it was nice to hear nonetheless. That was a very nice way to close an otherwise lazy day.

Day 24 – Her

It was team work today that made it work so well. I have been trying to get over what I call the crud. Hubby let me sleep in till 8. That was very nice. I made pancakes for everyone. One thing I love about our marriage is that we laugh all the time. We play with each other. And we binge watch all the shows we couldn’t watch together while gone. We have bonded.

Day 24 – Him

Today was a productive day of getting the house in order and working together as a team. Every family member had a part to play and it felt great. Granted the kids had a huge hand in turning the house into the destruction that laid in front of us, we worked as closely and as optimistically as we could getting them to understand why we were all cleaning up. Even though it was about cleaning, I believe even more importantly it was about the closeness in which we were all working together as a family that made today seem somewhat special. When I say that everyone had a job, I’m not exaggerating. Our oldest was in charge of putting away the folded clothes and general toy pick-up. Our middle was in charge of cleaning his room and their bathroom, which mostly just consisted of wiping surfaces. Our youngest helped by picking up everyone’s shoes and putting them in the shoe closet. Wife and I handled most of the “heavy lifting” throughout the rest of the house. We worked well as a team and complimented one another’s areas without having to really say anything. I think that after being married to each other for so long, we’ve picked up on each other’s behaviors and habits so it has become second nature with things like this. My wife and I rewarded ourselves for our work with a few episodes of one of our favorite shows. The season has ended by the time I got home and we had both agreed to only watch it together, so we felt it was the perfect time to catch up. I enjoyed every part of today and look forward to more like it in the future.

Day 25 – Her

Today is Memorial Day. We spent the day talking to our kids about why this day is important. How thankful we are for all that was done for us and for Daddy coming home. Other than that I important part of our day we enjoyed our last day off before hubby goes back to work: everyone can tell by now it’s something that has been hanging over our heads. Him going back to work means my “vacation” is over. He will be flying and his schedule always changes. I won’t be able to rely on him every day to help with the day to day chores and errands. I know it’s selfish of me to want him home all the time, and not have to find that new normal again. The kids each tell me they are ok with daddy going back to work, but I know our youngest will be frustrated. We will all do our best to have this week go smoothly.

Day 25 – Him

Man! These last two weeks have been good to us! I’ve gotten to really bond with my family again and we took a much deserved vacation together. We got back into a routine, which felt great. Today was Memorial Day, so my family and I decided to take some time to remember the men and women who served and have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We also cooked out and enjoyed a nice family lunch out on our deck. I wish these last two weeks off could have lasted for so much longer, but it’s time that I go back to work tomorrow. I’d like to think of tomorrow and on as a fresh start at work. To change the things that are within my control that I didn’t like or fell into doing before I left. I will make the most of my time away from my family to make it worth not being there with them. I’ll also take a more active role with my children’s education. My wife has truly done a remarkable job making sure they stayed on top of their studies and I have slowly tried stepping back in to help. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it soon.

Day 26 – Her

We had a family emergency. Our middle child got very sick and had to take him to the ER. Spending most the day and night at the hospital. I know my husband wanted to stay the whole time there with us had to go home to watch our girls. I could tell it hurt him to do but knew it was the only thing he could do. But before leaving made sure I had everything I needed to make the night. Thankfully everything is ok and our son is on the mend now. We are definitely a team when it comes to things like this.

Day 26 – Him

Our son has been battling a fever on and off for a week to no avail. Today he had complained about abdominal pain as well, which got us worried. His pain got so bad we had to check him into the hospital. They ran a few different tests and came back with a few inconclusive results. This of course bothered us since we were looking for answers. Toward the end of the night, they decided to run a CT scan to rule out any really bad illnesses. After all of the speculation and anxiety throughout the day, we finally found out what he had, which wasn’t as serious as previously thought. Unfortunately, with how late the diagnosis came, wife and son had to spend the night at the hospital. It was a very long night, but my wife and I tried to remain optimistic. Despite every potential diagnosis, we tried to counter our negative emotions with a game plan to attack whatever the actual result may have been. We were each other’s support system during this trying time. We’re just glad the result wasn’t worse and can be treated with medicine.

Day 27 – Her

We spent the day resting and picking up medicine. It was hard for both hubby and I to show each child attention. We both wanted to just focus on one. There was jealousy but this time it was for more of my attention. I’m not sure anyone felt 100% today. Lack of sleep and worry took a toll. Answered tons of texts and calls all concerned for our kids. Well wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery. I’m thankful for the supportive community I have. It helps everything go easier.

Day 27 – Him

I was very pleased to find that my work was really understanding of our situation. Once I told them my wife and son would have to spend the night in the hospital, they gave me the day off. I took on the morning parental duties of getting the remaining two children fed, dressed, and teeth brushed before taking the oldest to school. My wife and son were discharged to come home immediately following, which meant it was time to have his newly prescribed medicine filled. I told my wife I would fill it since she had a long night and I got to sleep in my bed for the night. I hoped offering this would help make her feel better. Filling the prescription didn’t take long at all and I was home in no time. We all ended the night together around a nice movie everyone enjoyed and have been keeping our son’s temperature down this entire time. We’re all hopeful that this illness will pass very soon.

Day 28 – Her

You can tell both my husband and I were thinking of other things than each other today. Kids, dinner, appointments, and meetings were the main things. My husband and I thought to have some time together before bed to talk about anything that we might need to and to just have alone time. Too bad we were both so tired we fell asleep before we even got the kids to bed. It’s been a trying day but we managed it together. I’m so proud of our kids that are so resilient. I had to take all three to a doctor’s appointment and they were nice enough to understand it was important and behaved for me. Also for grocery shopping at 8pm because it was the only time I could. We are ready for this week to be over and everyone better. But we are so thankful that we have each other and are together.

Day 28 – Him

I went back into work today and was slightly caught off guard with what was planned for me. I was told we were going to be moving other people’s furniture out of their old offices into their new ones. This wouldn’t normally bother me; however, I heard that when these folks were originally told my section was moving and my counterparts offered to move them then, they turned it down. They said they would move themselves at a later date, but I guess that didn’t come to fruition. Instead, I’ve been tasked along with a few others to do the job that the other people said they would accomplish. I’ve been trying to find a positive in this scenario, but it’s been hard even for me. I guess instead of trying to find a positive in this particular part of my day, I can at least reflect on a positive that happened after work. I vented to my wife, much like I did here, but she has been such an inspiration to me when I’ve had a rough day. She’s been at home tending to a sick child, take another to/from school, and carry around a young one all at the same time. Talking with her helps me calm down from a stressful day as she’s able to put things into perspective that I may not have been able to do myself. My wife really does complete me.

Day 29 – Her

The week is at an end. Hubby and I finally got our alone time. It took me making two different dinners, one for the kids and one for adults. But you always make an extra effort for things that matter. Unfortunately my husband had a rough day at work, but we talked about it. I think we ended the day on a positive note. After hearing about his day, I didn’t want to really share what felt more now like the silly misadventures of a stay at home mom. But I felt good about marking things off my list. It makes me feel like I’m a productive member of the family when things get done. Not just the everyday laundry, dishes, dinner but the things that would only get noticed if they go undone. I don’t go to work, so the best I can do is make home life as easy as I can for my husband and kids. Some days go better than others. But if I have a bad day I always have tomorrow. Every day is a new day for us.

Day 29 – Him

Today marked the second day at work where we felt like unappreciated movers for others who didn’t seem to want to help themselves. It baffled me how simple we made this move and yet people still didn’t want to do the one thing we asked of them. It should have worked out to where we came in to move empty furniture, but several people still had their belongings inside and on top of desks and files/belongings in cabinets. It was frustrating to find out we couldn’t finish moving everyone today and will most likely be right back at it on Monday. I’m hoping to inject some common sense into this matter and convince my leadership that these folks need to start pulling their weight before we lift one more thing for them. I’m all for valid work when it’s necessary and has a purpose, but what I can’t stand is trying to help those that refuse to help themselves. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way either. Of course, after work I vented once more to my confidante who also happens to be the love of my life. She was so amazing and understanding. She also happened to have cooked us a very romantic dinner which we had with a nice glass of wine. I love that no matter how hard of a day I had at work, my wife is there to help me through. I am so grateful for her support. She helped me see that these are just a few days in a bigger picture of the many blessings in our lives. Having this perspective during times like this really does help show me how little days like today should hold any negative impact within our lives. I’ll just take the bad with the good and focus on the many blessings that surround me every day.

Day 30 – Her

Yesterday ended with me in tears. Hubby completely didn’t understand. I could tell because when I was crying he put one hand on me, using me as leverage to turn around and watch “How It’s Made” on TV. He has never been good at comforting. Worse if he doesn’t understand why. When your spouse is deployed or on missions, others “friends” don’t want to go out with you, ask you over or come over to have coffee. It makes them feel uncomfortable. So they don’t. And if they do, you have to go out, making things a big deal. Having to get a babysitter and organize the kid’s night first. Then proceed to treat you as if they were babysitting you. My Husband is always gone. It’s a struggle to feel included. And all the fault is put on me. I don’t open myself up to others, I don’t make time, and I don’t make people feel comfortable. The odds are stacked against me. I’m a stay at home mom, my husband is in the military and always gone, I learned to do a few things on my own, and worse of all I ask for help. I feel so left out and looked down on. And it’s all up to me to get over it. People are who they are. Tomorrow is supposed to be a new day. Close that door and move on. Just no one has the right to be shocked if they find themselves on the other side of that door.

Day 30 – Him

Today I woke up to another breakfast in bed! I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have such a caring family that would be willing to do that for me for no other reason than that they love me. My wife and I decided that today would be a good day to clean out the pool in hopes that it could be ready within a month. We weren’t sure if we were going to keep the pool or not since we rent, but seeing as how we still have it for the time being, we decided to open it up. It would be a nice way for our oldest to enjoy her birthday party which is coming up soon. Aside from this little bit of excitement, the rest of our day has been pretty relaxing, which was absolutely fine with me. These last 30 days have been filled with elation, euphoria, anger, concern, excitement, and everything else in between. I have been taking each day as it came and have made conscious efforts to be a better father to my children, a better friend to those I know and a better husband to the one I love. I feel as if I have grown as a person since being back home from my deployment and have taken this opportunity as a second chance to make every moment that I’m with my family count.


Our recent MFLN webinar “The Experience of Reintegration for Military Families and Implications for DoD” provides this definition of resilience:

“Resilience is the ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands. Resilience can be learned and sharpened with practice. Building flexible strength is a hallmark of resilience and necessary for recovering peak performance after stressful events.”

After reading this couples’ final posts please share your thoughts on their challenges and resilience.  What role might Military Family Service Providers play in helping families navigate this process while creating resilience?

MFLN Family Transitions Development provides education, resources and networking opportunities for professionals working with military families to build resilience and navigate life cycle transitions. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Transitions on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What is Dialysis?

Flickr CC Amber Case The-Merck-Home-Manual-of-Medical-Information-Dialysis taken May 28, 2009

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

Please join us on June 29th at 11AM ET for an informative webinar on diet and exercise in the Kidney Disease population.  Dr. Kenneth Wilund from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will share with us his expertise on the subject.  To register go to https://learn.extension.org/events/2655.  Dietitians earn 1.0 CPEU.  If you can’t attend you can view the video posted after the webinar and still earn CPEU.

In anticipation for Dr. Wilund’s webinar, I started thinking about how incredible hemodialysis technology is.  To have a machine be able to strip a person’s blood of waste material and reduce fluid in place of the kidneys is really quite remarkable.  Let’s take a quick look at just how this machine works.  

In hemodialysis, a dialyzer is used to filter the blood.  A dialyzer is an external filter that uses a semipermeable membrane and a liquid solution called dialysate to filter accumulated waste in the bloodstream due to loss of kidney function.  The blood flows in one direction while the dialysate flows in the opposite direction and into a waste tub.  Dialysate is a fluid that is mostly made up of electrolytes and water.  It acts as a filtrating fluid by attracting waste material found in the blood at high concentrations (urea, potassium, phosphorus) to itself by osmosis.  Because of this, dialysate is renewed continuously during the dialysis process to ensure that concentration levels of waste materials remain low.  Fluid is removed from the bloodstream by increasing hydrostatic pressure across the dialyzer membrane.  This causes the separation of fluid from the blood stream which is then adhered to the dialysate.  Once the blood is clean, it is reinserted into the patient.  This whole process takes around 4 hours and must be done several times a week.  

Now let’s take a look at how this technology came to be.

Bulb dialyzer used by Graham (from Ref. 2) Image by: Philosophical Transactions
Bulb dialyzer used by Graham (from Ref. 2) Image by: Philosophical Transactions

In 1854, Thomas Graham, a chemist, created the device that we see above.  Distilled water was placed below the bell-shaped container.  Urine was placed inside the bell-shaped container.  At the opening of the bell-shaped container, Graham used a semi-permeable membrane made from ox bladder.  After some time, the bell-shaped container was removed and the distilled water in the larger container was boiled dry.  After boiling, Graham showed that the residue was composed of sodium chloride and urea.  These are components from the urine that had passed through his semi-permeable membrane (ox bladder). Graham termed this process as dialysis.  

We have come a long way from using ox bladder as a semi-permeable membrane. Sometimes looking back at how a concept originated puts into perspective how far it has come.  We hope that you will tune in on June 29th at 11am EDT to learn about kidney disease.  


Advanced Renal Education Program (2015) History of Hemodialysis. Available at: http://advancedrenaleducation.com/content/history-hemodialysis (Accessed: 13 June 2016).

Graham, T. (1861) ‘Liquid Diffusion Applied to Analysis’, Philosophical Transactions, 151, pp. 183–224.

McMorran, J., Crowther, D., McMorran, S., Youngmin, S., Wacogne, I., Pleat, J. and Prince, C. (no date) Composition of dialysate fluid – general practice notebook. Available at: http://www.gpnotebook.co.uk/simplepage.cfm?ID=1644560429 (Accessed: 13 June 2016).

This blog is posted 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.