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College of Human Ecology

Tip Sheet: K-State's School of Family Studies and Human Services offers variety of projects, research and aid to military families

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University's School of Family Studies and Human Services is on "active duty" with the U.S. military through $13 million in research and projects this year alone to help military families.

"This came out of priority setting," said Bill Meredith, director of the School of Family Studies and Human Services. "A few years ago, we decided to make the health and security of military families a priority for our school. We're in close proximity to both Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth, which put us in a good place for conducting research."

Some of the research and projects being conducted by K-State faculty and how they help military families include:

* Briana Nelson Goff's Trauma Research, Education and Consultation at K-State, or TRECK. Goff is an associate professor of family studies and human services and associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Human Ecology. Her TRECK project focuses on developing research programs, providing education and providing clinical consultation on issues related to trauma and traumatic stress, including soldiers and their family members directly impacted by war trauma. Goff has interviewed around 50 members of the military and their spouses or partners. "We want to identify the key issues couples face when they are separated and dealing with a trauma like war. Trauma symptoms do affect relationships and we want to help these families," she said. TRECK members are analyzing the data she has collected through her interviews, and Goff plans to interview more members of the National Guard, the Army Reserves or female soldiers and their partners before her project is finished. The work has been supported by University Small Research Grants and the College of Human Ecology. Goff can be reached at 785-532-1490 or bnelson@k-state.edu. More information on Goff is available at: http://www.k-state.edu/media/mediaguide/bios/goffbio.html

* Sandra Stith, a professor of family studies and human services, has been working with the U.S. Air Force for almost a decade on projects and research related to preventing and responding to child and spouse maltreatment. Under contracts with the Air Force, Stith is currently involved with four projects relating to Air Force families. The contracts are supported through grants provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One project involves creating a screening system that would be used to identify fathers who have "high needs" -- men who need extra support in dealing with pregnant partners, and then in dealing with being new parents. Another project deals with comparing three different ways to deliver marriage enrichment services to couples. She also is examining the effectiveness of the current batterer intervention treatment programs in place for Air Force families. The final project involves research for the Family Advocacy Program to develop a marketing plan that would inform Air Force couples and families of the resources available to them. "Primarily, we deal with strengthening families. Our focus is to help Air Force families stay healthy," Stith said. She can be reached at 785-532-4377 or sstith@k-state.edu.

* Marlene Glasscock, a research assistant professor of family studies and human services, and Diane Mack, an Extension specialist in 4-H youth development, have been working with the Army, Air Force and Extension offices on projects involving 4-H expansion. Receiving grants through the Department of Agriculture, Glasscock works on a national level to help start 4-H programs on or near Army posts and Air Force bases. Because the projects are transferable to each military installation with a 4-H program, children whose parents are in the military are able to work on 4H projects regardless of where they are living. 4-H teaches leadership, citizenship and life skills. Glasscock said that since 4-H is available on all installations and bases, youth have a sense of consistency and stability in life as they move from place to place or have a parent who is deployed. "4-H is one of the connector pieces for these children. When the families move around, 4-H will always be there for them," Mack said. "Many times 4-H can connect them to the community where they are living." For more information, contact Glasscock at 785-532-1484 or glass@humec.ksu.edu. Mack can be reached at 785-532-2278 or dmack@k-state.edu.

* Glasscock, Mack and Elaine Johannes, an Extension specialist in youth development and assistant professor of family studies and human services, also work with Operation Military Kids, an Army program that serves 29,000 children in 34 states. It works to build support for children who are geographically dispersed: kids associated with the military but who do not live on a military installation due to a lack of housing or because of the branch of the service their parents are in. Johannes works with Kansas Operation Military Kids. The program sponsors events that help youth cope with the deployment of a loved one. The program also teaches kids technology skills they can use to communicate with a deployed loved one through its mobile communication technology labs. Each state participating in Operation Military Kids receives a laptop computer, digital and video cameras, scanners, color printers and software to use in the labs to help kids stay connected to their deployed parents. Johannes can be reached at 785-532-7720 or ejohanne@k-state.edu.

* Glasscock, Mack and Johannes also have been involved with a program offered through Operation Military Kids called Ready, Set, Go! The training program will provide communities, Extension offices, schools and youth organizations, like the Boys and Girls Clubs, with information about military culture. "We want to help civilians to better understand the military culture of which we are often unaware of as civilians," Johannes said. "Civilians may want to help but may not understand the way things work in the military. That is the goal of the Ready, Set, Go! curriculum and training. We also provide educational and recreation support."

* Johannes, Mack and Bronwyn Fees, an associate professor of family studies and human services, are partnering with members of K-State's theater program and members of the community to create an interactive theater workshop. Fees said that the group has received a one-year grant from the Operation Military Kids program to develop a prototype or manual for conducting interactive theater with children of military parents. The work will culminate in spring performances by participating middle school-age youth from the Manhattan Boys and Girls Club. "This should allow the children to express their emotions in a safe and creative way. Our job will be to put that into context," Johannes said. "The experiences of separation, loss and re-integration may deeply affect a child's relationships," said Fees, an expert in early childhood development. Fees can be reached at 785-532-1476 or fees@humec.ksu.edu. More information on Fees and her work is available at http://www.k-state.edu/media/mediaguide/bios/feesbio.html

Source: Bill Meredith, 785-532-5510, meredith@humec.ksu.edu
News release prepared by: Jessica Grant, 785-532-6415, jgrant@k-state.edu

This article was posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007, and is filed under College News, Family Studies & Human Services.