By Karen Shirer, Ph.D.
Although the holiday season is behind us, I want to share with you an email from a sewing blog that I received in mid-December. The sender shared how many fellow sewers were too stressed to sew gifts for their friends and families due to the ongoing pandemic. Her intent was to give fellow sewers permission to NOT sew gifts as a way to be kind to themselves. I’m certain the message was a gift to many readers.
This story highlights one of the difficulties of weathering another holiday season with COVID-19 for individuals and families. The season came with a new variant, Omicron, and increasing case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the Delta variant. Hope is on the horizon as more people, including children, are getting vaccinated and receiving boosters.
But COVID-19 remains a serious slow-burn disaster, impacting all aspects of our lives, especially mental and physical health. Experts continue to believe that we will not be free of the pandemic’s impacts for some time to come. Many of us had hoped to be past it all by now and may feel pandemic fatigue. Yet, we need to continue focusing on both responding to and planning for recovery from COVID-19 in order to ensure military family readiness.
Most military families will be resilient and recover quickly from the pandemic’s impacts but some will need extra support. Military Family Service Providers (MFSPs) can play both an active role in helping families manage the ongoing pandemic, and in supporting recovery and preparing for the next pandemic.
This blog post’s aim is to highlight MFLN webinars and other resources from 2021 that can assist you with responding to and planning for recovery from COVID-19.
2021 Blog Post Series: Military Family Readiness During and After COVID-19
In 2021, the MFLN Family Transitions team created a blog post series titled Military Family Readiness During and After COVID-19. The series described how acute family stress caused by disasters like COVID-19 affects families. If unmanaged, acute stress contributes to chronic stress and mental and physical health challenges for family members. Each blog post describes best practices and strategies for addressing family stress and directs you to additional resources.
2021 Webinars: Military Family Readiness Academy (MFRA): Disaster and Hazard Readiness
The 2020-2021 MFLN Military Family Readiness Academy offered a series of 11 webinars on disaster and hazard readiness. These webinars were designed specifically for MFSPs who serve military families. The first three webinars focus on foundational knowledge and skills for disaster preparedness and response. The remaining eight webinars applied the information from to the pandemic as well as to co-occurring and other disasters.
2021 MFLN COVID-19 Resources
MFLN also has many COVID-19 related resources. Here is just a sampling of them:
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruptions and stress for families and communities. MFSPs can play an important role in helping individuals and families recover from the pandemic.
MFLN webinars and resources can help you obtain the professional development needed to support family and community recovery from the pandemic.
Look for more blog posts coming over the next year as we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karen Shirer is a member of the Military Families Learning Network Family Transitions Team and previously the Associate Dean with the University of Minnesota, Extension Center for Family Development. Karen is also the parent of two adult daughters, a grandmother, a spouse, and a cancer survivor.
Charumilind, S., Craven, M., Lamb, J., Singhai, S., & Wilson, M. (2021). Pandemic to endemic: How the world can learn to live with COVID-19. McKinsey & Company.
Hegwer, L. (2021, December 14). Why Do We Keep Getting New Coronavirus Variants? Infectious disease specialist: ‘We need to slow down the number of people getting infected’. Rush University Hospital, Illinois.
Shirer, K. (2021, May 8). Military Family Readiness During and After COVID-19. Military Families Learning Network.
Urbieta, D. A., Akin, J. L., Hamilton, W. M., Brock, W. W., Yablonsky, A. M. (2021). We’re Stronger Together: A Collaboration to Support Military Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Military Medicine, 186 (2), 23-24. https://doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usab213