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Award-Winning Military and Veteran Family Research

Purpose of Military and Veteran Family Research

The purpose of military and Veteran family research is to speak to the issues of family support, resilience, and readiness. Military families are first and foremost families; they manage the same challenges and stressors as civilian families. Yet, they do so in a context characterized by transitions and change. Military families are, by and large, characterized as adaptable and resilient, but family outcomes are often contingent on the availability of resources and whether support systems are equipped to meet their needs.

Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award

Since 2015, the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University has worked to recognize military family and Veteran research through the Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award. In 2019, the Excellence in Research on Military and Family Veteran Award was renamed after Barbara Thompson due to her extensive military and Veteran families’ service. The primary goals of the award are to:

  • Bring awareness to the new research available on military and Veteran families across disciplines and to the issues faced by military and Veteran families
  • Celebrate rigorous scientific research and advocate for evidence-informed policies and practices for our military and Veteran families
  • Build and strengthen relationships between researchers and practitioners who are focused on military and Veteran families

There is a rigorous process implemented to select the winning paper. No nominations or applications are accepted, and authors do not know their work is being considered. Instead, a large panel of accomplished scholars examines relevant articles published during the eligible year identified by the Military REACH team. Then, through multiple rounds of reviews that include standardized quantitative assessments, they arrive at their final selection.


AWARD WINNER AND FINALISTS

  • 2020 AWARD WINNER AND FINALISTS

  • 2019 AWARD WINNER AND FINALISTS

  • 2018 AWARD WINNER AND FINALISTS

    AWARD WINNER

    How family structures and processes interrelate: The case of adolescent mental health and academic success in military families.

    Arnold, A. L., Lucier-Greer, M., Mancini, J., Ford, J., & Wickrama, K. (2017). How family structures and processes interrelate: The case of adolescent mental health and academic success in military families. Journal of Family Issues, 38(6), 858-879. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X15616849

    Key Findings:

    1. Youth from married families were less likely to have depressive symptoms, and more likely to have greater academic performance than youth from single-parent families and stepfamilies.
    2. Adolescents with family support and positive interpersonal interactions with their parents had greater initiative and therefore, were more likely to have greater academic performance and less symptoms of depression.
    3. There were no differences of parent-adolescent interactions across all family structure types.


    AWARD FINALIST

    Associations between prior deployments and marital satisfaction among Army couples.

    Karney, B. R., & Trail, T. E. (2017). Associations between prior deployments and marital satisfaction among Army couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 79, 147-160. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12329

    Key Findings:

    1. Marital satisfaction was lower among couples who had experienced one or more deployments.
    2. Soldiers who deployed to a combat zone and were exposed to traumatic events during combat were more likely to report lower marital satisfaction.
    3. Combat exposure was directly related to PTSD symptoms and PTSD was directly related to marital satisfaction; couples were less satisfied with their marriages when the Service member reported more PTSD symptoms.


    AWARD FINALIST

    Patterns of vulnerabilities and resources in U.S. military families.

    Trail, T. E., Meadows, S. O., Miles, J. N., & Karney, B. R. (2017). Patterns of vulnerabilities and resources in U.S. military families. Journal of Family Issues, 38, 2128-2149. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X15592660

    Article Abstract:

    The appropriate format for services supporting military families depends on how vulnerabilities and resources are distributed across and within those families. If different types of vulnerabilities cluster together, then programs supporting families should combine multiple services rather than targeting specific concerns. Yet scant data exist about how vulnerabilities and resources covary within military families. The current study addressed this issue through a latent class analysis of data on a wide range of domains obtained from a stratified random sample of 1,981 deployable, active component, married servicemembers and their spouses. Within married deployable servicemembers, results indicated that vulnerabilities and resources cluster together within individuals; servicemembers at high risk in one domain are likely to be high risk in multiple domains. This is less the case for spouses. One or both spouses are vulnerable in 39% of couples. These results support programs that provide vulnerable military families with more comprehensive services.

    Link to Source

    AWARD FINALIST

    Consequences of PTSD for the work and family quality of life of female and male U.S. Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans.

    Vogt, D., Smith, B. N., Fox, A. B., Amoroso, T., Taverna, E., & Schnurr, P. P. (2017). Consequences of PTSD for the work and family quality of life of female and male U.S. Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 52, 341-352. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-016-1321-5

    Key Findings:

    1. The employment and relationship status of Veterans with PTSD at Time 2 did not differ significantly compared to Veterans without PTSD.
    2. Male and female Veterans with PTSD were more likely to report less satisfaction with intimate relationships and parenting experiences.
    3. Probable PTSD in female Veterans was associated with unemployment but not in male Veterans with probable PTSD.

  • 2017 AWARD WINNER AND FINALISTS

    AWARD WINNER

    Post-9/11 veterans and their partners improve mental health outcomes with a self-directed mobile and web-based wellness training program: A randomized controlled trial.

    Kahn, J., Collinge, W., & Soltysik, R. (2016). Post-9/11 veterans and their partners improve mental health outcomes with a self-directed mobile and web-based wellness training program: A randomized controlled trial. Journal Of Medical Internet Research, 18(9). https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.5800

    Key Findings:

    1. Veterans of the Mission Reconnect group showed more improvements in mental health measures at week 8 and week 16 than any other groups.
    2. The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement program group showed modest gain in mental health, and adding the Mission Reconnect program to it resulted in more improvements.
    3. Weekly couples’ massages led to significant reductions in pain, stress, anxiety, and depression.


    AWARD FINALIST

    Performance of DSM-5 persistent complex bereavement disorder criteria in a community sample of bereaved military family members.

    Cozza, S. J., Fisher, J. E., Mauro, C., Zhou J., Ortiz, C. D., Skritskaya, N., Wall, M. M., Fullerton, C. S., Ursano, R. J., & Shear, M. K. (2016). Performance of DSM-5 persistent complex bereavement disorder criteria in a community sample of bereaved military family members. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 919-929. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.15111442

    Brief Summary:

    The loss of a loved one is painful, and although many people adapt to such loss over time, some develop clinical levels of symptomology as a result of grieving. Clinically impairing grief is distinct from typical grief in its duration (6+ months) and intensity. Several terms and diagnostic criteria have been proposed to describe sustained bereavement, such as complicated grief disorder, prolonged grief disorder, and persistent complex bereavement disorder (PCBD). See table on the next page to differentiate proposed symptom criteria. The most recent DSM (a diagnostic manual for mental health professionals) includes PCBD as a “condition for further study,” indicating that the diagnosis requires evaluation to determine whether its criteria effectively diagnose individuals struggling with bereavement.


    AWARD FINALIST

    Differential child maltreatment risk across deployment periods of U.S. Army soldiers.

    Taylor, C. M., Ross, M. E., Wood, J. N., Griffis, H. M., Harb, G. C., Mi, L., Song, L., Strane, D., Lynch, K. G., & Rubin, D. M. (2016). Differential child maltreatment risk across deployment periods of U.S. Army soldiers. American Journal of Public Health, 106, 153-8. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302874

    Key Findings:

    1. Soldiers’ children that were under two years of age had an increased risk of experiencing maltreatment in the six months after deployment compared to the six months before deployment.
    2. The rate of maltreatment of young children of Soldiers deployed twice increased substantially during the second deployment compared to the first deployment.
    3. Maltreatment of young children of Soldiers increased during deployment compared to the six months before deployment.


  • 2016 AWARD WINNER AND FINALISTS

    AWARD WINNER

    War and marriage: Assortative mating and the World War II GI Bill.

    Larsen, M., McCarthy, T., Moulton, J., Page, M., & Patel, A. (2015). War and marriage: Assortative mating and the World War II GI Bill. Demography 52(5), 1431–1461. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-015-0426-x

    Key Findings:

    1. Serving in the military with GI Bill benefits was associated with an increase in veterans’ years of education (average increase of .3 to .4 years).
    2. The GI Bill was not related to veterans’ marital status but being a WWII veteran with GI benefits was associated with marrying an older wife with a higher level of education.
    3. When examining cohorts of WWII veterans who did not receive GI Bill benefits, no discontinuous changes were found among the WWII veterans or their wives in terms of education level.
    4. A number of other possible causes for the differences in wives’ age at marriage and wives’ education were examined. The results were not explained by military service, homeownership, differences in sex ratios, or the GI Bill’s effect on women’s education.


    AWARD FINALIST

    Characteristics and use of services among literally homeless and unstably housed U.S. veterans with custody of minor children.

    Tsai, J., Rosenheck, R. A., Kasprow, W. J., & Kane, V. (2015). Characteristics and use of services among literally homeless and unstably housed U.S. veterans with custody of minor children. Psychiatric Services, 66(10), 1083–1090. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201400300

    Key Findings:

    1. Women veterans were more likely to have custody of their children compared to men.
    2. Regardless of housing situation, both men and women veterans with child custody were younger and less likely to have various physical health conditions and psychiatric disorders compared to veterans without children in custody.
    3. Female veterans with children in custody were more likely to be referred to a permanent support-housing program (which tends to be accommodating for veteran families), whereas male veterans with children in custody were more likely to be referred to the transitional housing program (which has fewer resources for parents).


    AWARD FINALIST

    Perspectives of family and veterans on family programs to support reintegration of returning veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder.

    Fischer, E. P., Sherman, M. D., McSweeney, J. C., Pyne, J. M., Owen, R. R., & Dixon, L. B. (2015). Perspectives of family and veterans on family programs to support reintegration of returning veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychological Services, 12(3), 187-198. https://doi.org/10.1037/ser0000033

    Key Findings:

    1. Information specific to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and learning about Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital services and benefits were listed as critical for programs to provide. Relatedly, emphasis on gaining practical skills to handle issues regarding PTSD and reintegration was vital program content.
    2. Veterans and family members expressed need for support during post-deployment reintegration.
    3. Veterans and their families discussed the need to gain one another’s perspective as each felt the other group did not understand what they were going through.

  • 2015 AWARD WINNER AND FINALISTS

    AWARD WINNER

    Reinstitutionalizing families: Life course policy and marriage in the military.

    Lundquist, J., & Xu, Z. (2014). Reinstitutionalizing families: Life course policy and marriage in the military. Journal of Marriage and Family 76(5), 1063-1081. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12131

    Key Findings:

    1. A majority of soldiers and spouses reported that getting married allowed them to move out of the barracks, subsequently providing them with privacy and fewer rules to follow. However, some soldiers reported enjoying life in the barracks and that they would not consider getting married as a way of “escaping.”
    2. Many soldiers and their spouses reported that the decision to get married was expedited by impending war zone deployments or Permanent Changes of Station (PCS; i.e., moving to a new location). Impending war zone deployments facilitate marriages because the couples desire emotional stability in light of incoming uncertainty and the practical benefits of marriage, such as survivor’s monetary benefits, while PCS orders force couples to decide to permanently break up or get married.
    3. Many soldiers reported enjoying the financial security and benefits of being married in the military as well as the opportunities being in the military can provide.


    AWARD FINALIST

    Family adjustment of deployed and nondeployed mothers in families with a parent deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Gewirtz, A.H., McMorris, B.J., Hanson, S., & Davis, L. (2014). Family adjustment of deployed and nondeployed mothers in families with a parent deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 45(6), 465-477. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036235

    Key Findings:

    1. Deployed mothers reported more often having difficulty finding a job, troubles and changes in responsibilities at work, and problems in school than non-deployed mothers.
    2. Deployed mothers reported more conflicts with partners around parenting than non-deployed mothers.
    3. Mothers who had deployed reported greater distress (higher scores on measures of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptoms) than non-deployed mothers.
    4. No differences were found between the deployed and non-deployed mothers on measures of couple adjustment, parenting, or child functioning.


    AWARD FINALIST

    Gender differences in associations of PTSD symptom clusters with relationship distress in U.S. Vietnam veterans and their partners.

    Renshaw, K.D., Campbell, S.B., Meis, L., Erbes, C. (2014). Gender differences in associations of PTSD symptom clusters with relationship distress in U.S. Vietnam veterans and their partners. Journal of Traumatic Stress 27(3), 283-290. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.21916

    Key Findings:

    1. Emotional numbing (e.g., difficulty feelings positive feelings, such as love) and withdrawal symptoms were the most strongly associated with relationship distress for both genders and their partners.
    2. The association between numbing and withdrawal symptoms and relationship distress was 25% greater for female Veterans and their male partners than it was for male Veterans and their female partners.
    3. For Veterans, but not partners, the PTSD symptoms of hyperarousal and feeling a lack of control were associated with greater relationship distress.


    AWARD FINALIST

    Emotional abuse and its unique ecological correlates among military personnel and spouses.

    Foran, H. M., Heyman, R. E., & Slep, A. M. S. (2014). Emotional abuse and its unique ecological correlates among military personnel and spouses. Psychology of Violence, 4(2), 128-142. https://doi.org./10.1037/a0034536

    Key Findings:

    1. The factors most strongly related to risk for experiencing emotional abuse were relationship dissatisfaction, poor self-efficacy, financial stress, and alcohol problems.
    2. At the community level, more support from neighbors and community cohesion were uniquely related to a reduced risk of experiencing clinically significant emotional abuse for Active Duty men.
    3. Among Active Duty women, working fewer hours was related to a reduced risk of experiencing clinically significant emotional abuse.
    4. Among female civilian spouses, more support from military leadership was related to a lower risk of experiencing clinically significant emotional abuse.


    AWARD FINALIST

    Relational turbulence and the post-deployment transition: Self, partner, and relationship focused turbulence.

    Theiss, J.A., & Knobloch, L.K. (2014). Relational turbulence and the post-deployment transition: Self, partner, and relationship focused turbulence. Communication Research 4(1), 27-51. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650211429285

    Key Findings:

    1. Self-uncertainty (the individual’s uncertainty about the relationship) was negatively associated with relationship maintaining behaviors, potentially due to those partners being less willing to invest in a relationship about which they are not certain.
    2. Partner uncertainty (your partner’s perceived uncertainty about the relationship) and partner interference (either blocking or not facilitating a partner’s goal) were negatively related to partner responsiveness.
    3. Frequent interruptions to partners’ goals and routines contribute to a tumultuous relationship climate.
    4. Relationship distress was more pronounced for couples who had been reunited for a longer period of time.

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