Getting Our Bearings and Moving Ahead: Reflecting on Navigating Change and Family Readiness Resources

Christopher Plein, Ph.D.  West Virginia University and MFLN Caregiving Team Member

Last week members of the Military Families Learning Network joined together to offer a virtual conference that brought together participants from across the country and from many different professional backgrounds.  I hope that you were able to participate in some or all of the conference which focused on Learning Through Change. There were many sessions that brought together many different perspectives on change in the organizational, professional, social, cultural, and personal sense.

My Reflection

One lesson, from the conference, I want to share relates to our discussions of family readiness. Especially in the session, Navigation Skills: Charting Your Course Through Organizational, Social, and Cultural Change, but indeed across the whole conference one gained an appreciation for family readiness in both its formal and functional sense.  Formally, I am referring to the Department of Defense’s Family Readiness System. This session, featuring Barbara Thompson and Judi Dekle, highlighted the origins, purpose, evolution, and future of this program.  We also understood family readiness in a functional sense, Barbara and Judi highlighted this and so too did the many participants who offered insights and reflections in the chat box.

Given all of this interaction, knowledge, and passion for mission and results, what struck me immediately were the various stakeholders and groups, such as the Department of Defense and many in higher education, who are seeking to make connections and pathways for those wanting to learn more and to better serve others in navigating their journeys through change and adjustment in the military family context.  After the session on “Navigating Skills” I posted to the ‘Conference Conversations’ page some of the many resources offered in the session.  I thought it might be helpful to elaborate on resources in the paragraphs that follow.

Resources

The Department of Defense has dedicated significant resources to helping families manage and navigate change. A good place to start in understanding DOD’s efforts is with a quick overview of the Family Readiness System. In addition, the Department of Defense has organized and established an ever-evolving – and very useful – portal to resources called Military One Source. This online resource provides a pathway to many different resources for military families and professionals both in and around the military context.

Universities and faculty are also playing an important role in developing and sharing information and resources that can be helpful to military families and the professionals who work with them. It’s really quite amazing to see what Extension Services, land-grant universities and others in and around higher education are doing to provide practical, grounded and useful resources.

For example, The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University provides many different publications and resources spanning a range of issues relating to caregiving, veteran’s issues, deployment and reintegration, and so much more.

At the University of Minnesota, the REACH program provides an impressive array of tools and resources to better understand and assist military families facing change and managing life’s challenges and opportunities. There are a host of professional development and research resources available through this portal.

Pennsylvania State University’s Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness highlights the many different programs and resources that can be accessed which cover many different topic areas relating to readiness and adjustment. Here can be found valuable tools to assist in developing programs and services for military families.

Because we archive our past webinars, we are able to offer resources from the previous webinars.  For example, those interested in Family Readiness can access the “Building Blocks for Military Family Readiness” webinar offered October 2016 by the Family Transitions and Community Capacity Teams.

It’s been an exhilarating and educational few days with the Virtual Conference.  I hope that you have been able to join in, but if not please know that the virtual conference will have a sense of permanence as the various presentations will be archived and resources posted for future reference.  To learn more about the MFLN 2017 virtual conference Learning Through Change, please take a look at the conference homepage.


This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on October 2, 2017.

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