Brittany Beneke served as an intern for the institute during the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters. She graduated from K-State in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human services, a minor in conflict analysis and trauma studies, as well as a certificate in conflict resolution. She is from Salina, Kansas. Beneke has been a volunteer for Kansas: Operation Military Kids, or OMK, since summer 2013, and began serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in July 2015. Through this role, she worked with Joining Community Forces and the Kansas National Guard, as well as continuing to work with OMK and the Institute. She is pursuing a master’s in degree social work at the University of Kansas.
Emily Betthauser served as an intern for the institute during the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters. She graduated in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human services, and a minor in conflict analysis and trauma studies. She is originally from Gardner, Kansas. In addition to the institute internship, Betthauser worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for the Kansas National Guard on the Joining Community Forces initiative. She plans to work alongside military families in the future focusing on transition periods, post-traumatic stress disorder and other challenges that come along with reintegration and the military lifestyle.
Briana Goff, director of the Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families, was honored with two awards this spring.
She received the K-State Excellence in Engagement Award for her engaged work with the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley as well as national military and veteran initiatives through the Institute. The university-wide awards recognize initiatives that demonstrate innovative and/or sustained efforts in university/community engagement through research, teaching and/or outreach that positively impacts university and community partners.
Dr. Goff also received the Fort Riley Distinguished Trooper Award. Daryl Youngman, associate professor, K-State Libraries, also received a trooper award. They were recognized for the extensive programs they have developed serving soldiers, military families and staff at Fort Riley. In 2014, they received the Department of the Army Commanders Award for Public Service.
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In March, interns Caysi Gatts and Aeriel Dodson operated a booth at the Kansas National Guard Kid’s Carnival at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Topeka. They led children’s activities such as wooden leaf painting and science related-activities. The booth was sponsored by Kansas: Operation Military Kids. More than 70 children participated in activities like face painting, a candy walk, bounce houses and potato sack races. Following the carnival, families and children attended the “Rappin’ Roy & Reggie Reg the Magic Man” show.
Jessica High, Kali Summers and Caysi Gatts attended the first GratitudeAmerica Military Support Urban Retreat in Chicago in March. The purpose of the retreat was to promote community based non-profit integrative intensive retreats for service members and their support persons in the Chicago area.
At the Union League Club of Chicago, 13 veteran/caregiver pairs included veterans and their spouses, parents, or friends. The veteran participants were comprised of active duty and retired military members from all branches.
The Institute’s role was to conduct research and assist with retreat logistics and programs.
The GratitudeAmerica Military Support Retreats are designed to provide education, life skills and community building to increase support for service members and their primary support persons. The curriculum acknowledged the strain deployment can place upon the service members and their families and the various ways they can be impacted throughout sacrifices, fears, and demands they face with their caregiver throughout the deployment cycle. Their approach is therapeutic in nature, but is not psychotherapy or counseling. If participants identified they desired additional services for themselves or their families, community resources were made available.
Events during the retreat included a visit to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, time to explore the city, yoga, iRest meditation, acutherapy and service dog visits. This was the 6th retreat conducted by GratitudeAmerica.
Funding support for Institute staff was provided through a grant from the K-State Center for Engagement and Community Development and from private K-State Foundation donors. We thank them for their support of our work with this national program that serves military and veteran families!
The Institute, in conjunction with Kansas: Operation Military Kids, distributed literature about children and deployment, books and other informational tools at the annual Month of the Military Child Festival at Fort Riley in April. The festival is a day devoted to honoring children’s service and providing the families with a variety of resources. April is nationally recognized as the Month of the Military Child, and the purpose of the festival was to celebrate the role of military children. Children of military members face a variety of unique responsibilities and circumstances in supporting their families during deployment and other service. We also had the Institute train up and running full speed for the kids to ride.