January 2021

Helping Military Families Prepare and Respond to Disasters and Hazards, Part 1

In most cases, little can be done to prevent natural and technological/responsible parties (man-made) hazards and disasters, but a great deal can be done to prepare military families before disasters occur. A recent MFLN Family Transitions blog post by Jenny Rea, Preparing Military Families for Natural Disasters by Utilizing Resiliency Skills, highlighted that all military service members receive emergency preparedness training. But many of them and their families are at risk for negative impacts from hazards and disasters due to lack of planning. When military families are transitioning or caring for family members with disabilities, they face even greater risk from hazards and disasters.

Military Family Service Providers (MFSPs) along with other community organizations play important roles in helping families plan and respond to hazards and disasters especially if they are experiencing military and/or family transitions. This blog post is part one of two parts that outline five areas that MFSPs can focus on to support military families through disasters and ensure that they are prepared for hazards and disasters.

The need for disaster planning, attending to the current COVID-19 pandemic and supporting military families’ mental health during disasters are described here. The content stemmed from an interview with Dr. Angie Lindsey, who works at the University of Florida and is the lead facilitator of the Military Family Readiness Academy (MFRA) series on Disaster and Hazard Readiness Foundations. She offers important strategies to consider for military families going through transitions.

Step One:  Prepare and plan ahead

Military families face increased risk because they frequently move from one geographic region to another in which the natural hazards and disasters may differ. These relocations result in change of residence, community, job, child care, health care, schools, and more. As a result, military families have less accessibility to local resources that could help in the event of a disaster.

Dr. Lindsey stated that the best way to help military families in transitions is to make them aware of the potential natural disasters for the area to which they are moving. MFSPs can play a critical role in informing military families about these local hazards. They can equip families with local mobile device apps, acquaint them with the emergency management system and provide resources for planning and preparing for disasters accordingly.

From her experience with hurricanes in Florida, Dr. Lindsey cited several problems related to lack of planning for disasters and hazards. The first was the failure to follow local mandates to evacuate. Some people chose to ride out the storm in their homes while others lacked the necessary resources to evacuate. Sometimes in rural and urban pockets, people were not aware of the need to evacuate or experienced language and technology barriers to obtaining this information. In most cases, many people just didn’t have a plan or didn’t know they needed a plan.

Other issues that Dr. Lindsey shared included having uncharged cell phones, not knowing how to make an insurance claim, dealing with pets during evacuation, and not having access to child care when returning to work, especially when schools or childcare centers remained closed.

Research studies have shown that almost two-thirds of all households either have no disaster plan or inadequate ones, and just over half have disaster supplies on hand (Preparing Military Families for Natural Disasters by Utilizing Resiliency Skills).

As part of the 2021 Academy series, Disaster and Hazard Readiness in Action, the MFLN will have a session on February 17, 2021 entitled Going Beyond the Checklist in Emergency Preparedness — Taking Action, that will provide in-depth information on preparing military families, especially those who are caregivers, to prepare for hazards and disasters. Additional information and resources on preparing for disasters, many tailored to the needs of military families, can be found in this resource list

Continue reading this blog post written by Karen Shirer, Ph.D.

Asset-based Community Recovery Workshop

Workshop cover image - graphic of a cluster of professionals or community members to represent a networkThis workshop, facilitated by Bob Bertsch and Jessica Beckendorf and based on the Asset-based Community Recovery Framework, will allow you to discover the assets and capacities of your community to make our military families more resilient and aid in their recovery after a disaster.  This framework is different because it’s a bottom-up approach allowing individuals, organizations, and businesses to think about the roles people and communities play in moving forward.

We encourage Extension educators and service providers to contribute their voices, experiences, and lessons learned to this workshop. Register for one of the three workshop dates/times!

January Webinars – RSVP today!

Intentional Inclusion for People with Disabilities – A New Year’s Resolution 
How confident are you in serving as an ally for individuals living with a disability who are members of military families? Disability is a dimension of diversity that is becoming more of a focus for organizations seeking to enhance their inclusive practices. 

Ethical Considerations During Challenging Times 
In this webinar, Dr. Michael Gutter discusses circumstances related to current events that require ethical guidance.  This webinar will seek to provide practical guidance on the application of ethical values central to financial professional’s practice.

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – New Revisions and Uses 
This webinar discusses the process used to develop the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Guidelines) and how recommendations have changed since the last edition (2015) of the Guidelines and what it might mean for your family.

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Healthy Eating for Older Adults
Eating healthy as an older adult is essential for improving and maintaining a high quality of life. Changes in appetite are often seen in older adults due to aging and can directly affect food intake regardless of health status

Dealing with Depression: Self-Care for Early Childhood Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Shortened daylight hours, holiday stress, and other factors may lead to an increase in depressive symptoms during this season. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt life as we knew it, 2020 poses additional challenges for people’s mental health. 

10 Money Saving Tips
One of the biggest reasons many military families do not save money is because they do not know where to start. While there are many different ways to find the money to save, here are 10 easy ways to help military families you work with as Personal Finance Managers (PFMs)  get started now.

Caregiver Problem-Solving
Problem-solving is a task all of us have done throughout our life but as a caregiver problem-solving seems to be different. As I care for my adult son, who has cancer, I find problem solving becomes more complicated.

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A Discussion on Art Therapy for Military Families with Melissa Walker, Jessica Herman, and Valli Rebsamen | Anchored Episode 22

In this Anchored podcast episode, we will be discussing the application of art therapy and military families. We will be joined by three art therapists; Melissa Walker, Jessica Herman, and Valli Rebsamen, to discuss their work, the therapeutic practices used in art therapy, and the prevalence of mental health issues and “invisible wounds of war” (traumatic brain injury, PTSD, etc.) for active duty service members and how these issues affect both the individuals and each member of the family.


Lending a Hand to Women Veterans as They Transition from Military to Civilian Life

In this Let’s Talk Transitions! Podcast, Jennifer Rea chats with Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, U.S. Marine veteran officer and behavioral health researcher. Kate shares her personal experience of the challenges she had when transitioning from the active duty component to civilian life. These “hurdles” motivated Kate to research and then educate others about the importance of mental fitness and performance – to ensure that other service members who follow after her, do not have to fight the same battles as Kate once did. Several culturally specific resources are shared to better assist professionals as you work (specifically) with female service members, women veterans, and their families.


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