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College of Human Ecology

New Extension program focuses on distinctive military family problems

Friday, September 18, 2009

Baby and Doll

Hug dolls have a photo of a soldier-parent replacing the doll’s face. They help young family members connect with the parent during absences.

In addition to typical problems, families of military personnel face special difficulties associated with deployment and frequent moves.

Separations, new roles of a single, but-not-single parents and sole responsibility for a household are just a few, said Toni Jo Bryant. She coordinates Extension Military Life Skills, a new program in which the Kansas State Research and Extension helps families assigned to Fort Riley.

Bryant is a former military wife who understands the stresses of military life. “After moving, families have to adjust to a new location, school and community, while also reaching out to make new friends are part of military life," she added.

A special teaching team focuses on four areas of the program: family life and community, child development, health and nutrition, and family resources and financial management.

Four Research and Extension specialists

Erin Bishop

Erin Bishop focuses on family life education. This skill includes helping families build communications skills that reduce and resolve conflicts before they become issues, and strengthening the role of fathers in families and the community.

"Stress from absences challenges families that, when reunited, may also have to cope with post traumatic stress," said Bishop, who earned both a bachelor´s and master´s degrees in family studies and human services at K-State.

Sara Mietzner

Sara Mietzner specializes in child development. Cognizant of the ever-changing dynamics within the family and particularly within military families, she hopes to help parents learn how to parent successfully and to help families build skills that nurture resilience.

Susan Schoneweis

Susan Schoneweis, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition and health specialist.

Her teaching plans include tours of the commissary to share shopping strategies and tips for choosing foods that contribute to health and saving money. She is planning classes on adapting meals and snacks to reduce hypertension and aim for heart healthy eating, sports nutrition, and food safety.

Debra Wood

Debra Wood helps families build financial management skills. Military families can be vulnerable to the normal pitfalls in managing money, yet also have more relocation expenses or, after returning from deployment, be tempted to spend a bonus quickly, without considering long-term financial goals, she said.

Wood has a master´s degree in family studies and human services with an emphasis in personal financial planning. A Certified Financial Planner, she teaches financial management as part of a new youth apprenticeship program called Hired! The effort focuses on workforce preparedness, and classes are already scheduled through 2010. She and Schoneweis teach families how to manage food dollars when eating at home or in a restaurant.

Bryant earned a bachelor´s degree in marketing and management at the University of Texas El Paso-BBA and a master´s degree in hospitality management and dietetics-consumer food safety at K-State.

The effort is funded by a grant from the U. S. Department of Defense.

More information on the program is available by contacting the Military Life Skills office at 785-239-9991 or by visiting the program web site.

Prepared by K-State Research and Extension News Media Services and Human Ecology communications.
Photo by K-State News Media Services.

This article was posted on Friday, September 18, 2009, and is filed under Uncategorized.