I am a big fan of fall — the start of school, K-State football games, pumpkin spice lattes, to name just a few of my favorite things! This fall marks the seventh year of the Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families, which launched on Oct. 2, 2009. I was pregnant with my second child, so it also reminds me how quickly time flies!
In this annual newsletter, I provide an overview of the major events that occurred during the past year and an update on what is to come. In the fall 2015 semester, we had our annual K-State Season of Service, which involved military-related events at the university. Two of our events were lectures by nationally known individuals, Wes Moore and Francis Gary Powers Jr. If you saw the movie, “Bridge of Spies” with Tom Hanks, then you know the story of the U-2 incident involving Powers’ father.
We have added some new projects and partners in the past year. In August 2015, the institute and our Invisible Wound Alliance partners received preliminary funding from the Walter Reed Society to conduct four of our integrative, community-based retreats for service members/veterans and their primary support persons. We have conducted three of the four retreats in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Illinois, and Manhattan, Kansas. The institute has served as the primary research lead for these retreats, and we submitted our first manuscript for publication with data from our first seven retreats. Our preliminary research indicates a reduction in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in both veterans and their support persons, and improved couple relationship functioning in both veterans and spouses. Read more about our unique retreat model in an article in this newsletter.
We also added a new annual event, the Military Spouse Appreciation Day Luncheon. More than 75 K-State and community military spouses attended the event, which included a guest speaker and recognition of two military/veteran spouses who demonstrate resilience.
The end of summer brought some exciting progress for the institute and recognition of our work. We received some space in our on-campus building to house the institute for at least the next year. We have been working for more than 18 months to obtain space to house our ever-growing programs and personnel. Running the institute out of my office had become less than ideal. Enclosed are some pictures of our new space and work areas for our outreach programs, research projects and personnel, including graduate and our army — literally — of undergraduate interns and students.
Last but definitely not least, I was honored in September by the chief of staff of the U.S. Army, Gen. Mark Milley. I was one of four recipients of the Outstanding Civilian Service Award at the Salute from the Chief and Twilight Tattoo in September. To say that this is exciting is an understatement — I’m not sure it has quite sunk in yet!
As you can see, the institute continues to work to support our service members, veterans and military families through our work. Stop by the new office in 245 Justin Hall anytime to see our team in action!
Briana S. Nelson Goff, PhD
Professor, School of Family Studies and Human Services
Director, Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families
1324 Lovers Lane
343K Justin Hall
Kansas State University