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Military Projects updates U.S. Army “Victim Advocacy Program Manual”

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The U.S. Army in collaboration with other government and non-government agencies is committed to addressing domestic/ partner abuse with a comprehensive response to soldiers, victims, and their families. Army victim advocates have the crucial role of providing non-clinical advocacy services and support to victims. Their effective crisis intervention, on-going risk assessment, safety planning, and collaboration with other first responders is essential to communicating the seriousness of domestic abuse to both the victim and the offender.

The Military Projects was recently awarded NIFA (USDA) funding to update the U.S. Army Family Advocacy Program “Victim Advocacy Program Manual” that standardizes the information and training provided to victim advocates in order to optimize the advocacy services they provide to military members and their families. The training manual will be converted in to a user-friendly self-guided tutorial that will serve as an orientation for new victim advocates on policy guidance and relevant Army protocols about domestic/partner abuse prevention and intervention. However, it will also serve as a refresher for experienced advocates with the inclusion of specialty topics that advocates use in their work with victims of domestic/partner abuse such as lethality assessments, safety planning, domestic abuse reporting options, male victims, children and domestic abuse, and provider self-care. The tutorial also informs advocates about the many additional resources found within Army culture that emphasize strengthening and maintaining resilience and readiness.

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Celebrating Hamilton and McPheron as they retire

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This summer the BCTR celebrated the careers of Steve Hamilton and Mary Lu McPheron, who both retired this year.


Jutta Dotterweich, Jane Powers, Steve Hamilton, Kris Mesler, and John Eckenrode at Steve's retirement event

Steve Hamilton served as an associate director of the BCTR since its founding in 2011. He was also a professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology (CHE), where he had worked since 1974 when he started as an extension associate. Steve also worked in the CHE's Family Life Development Center (the FLDC merged with another center to form the BCTR), serving as co-director from 1999-2005.

His research on adolescent development and education emphasized the interaction of school, community, and work during the transition to adulthood, especially in the contexts of work experience, experiential learning, community service, and mentoring relationships.

Steve himself served as a mentor to numerous students in his nearly 40 years as a faculty member in the department of human development. Several former students attended an event this June celebrating Steve's years at Cornell and relayed stories of his impact on them in a panel discussion. In remarks at this event, the BCTR's Jane Powers (director, ACT for Youth) read from the acknowledgements section of her dissertation, "My chairman, Steve Hamilton, provided me with inspiration and encouragement throughout every stage of the thesis. His advice was critical, constructive, and above all, practical. I value Steve as a mentor, role model, and friend. “

Steve recently led efforts to ground New York State’s 4-H program more firmly in research, training 4-H educators to identify problems, review related research, and implement a plan of action. Another recent extension program Steve headed, undertaken on behalf of the New York State Education Department, led to changes in the Regents exams, newly allowing high school seniors the option of a Career and Technical Education (CTE) examination.

Steve moves on to become president and director of research at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, part of an innovative charter school organization in San Diego that is committed to social integration and achievement for all students.

Founding BCTR director John Eckenrode on Steve's contributions:

Steve has been a great role model for a successful faculty career blending research and extension. He excelled at both. He had a major impact on a field of research now generally labelled positive youth development, while also connecting research to practice and policy. His work foreshadowed and laid some of the foundation for the increasing attention now being paid in policy circles to two issues around which he has made major contributions: mentoring and apprenticeships. We will miss having him as a colleague on campus but know that he will continue to do great things to benefit youth in his next job.


Mary Lu McPheron in the rocking chair, a gift from the BCTR, at her retirement party

Mary Lu McPheron in the rocking chair, a gift from the BCTR, at her retirement party

Mary Lu McPheron arrived at Cornell as a trainer for the Child Protective Services Training Institute in the Family Life Development Center (FLDC) in 1986, subsequently becoming the project's director and working there until 2002 when the program ended. She was able to continue on at the FLDC doing assigned projects until 2003 when she joined the Military Projects, where she worked until her retirement this summer.

In her 30-year career at Cornell, Mary Lu was a dedicated advocate for children and families. Brian Leidy (Military Projects director) and Marney Thomas (Military Projects co-director) said of Mary Lu,

Mary Lu has been an integral part of many projects at the center starting in 1986 with the Child Protective Services Training Institute (CPSTI) and NYS Risk Assessment and most recently as a valuable colleague for the last 12 years in the Military Projects that support Department of Defense Family Programs across the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Her background in child maltreatment and family violence, her skill at curriculum development, literature review, and interviewing will be greatly missed. Above all we will miss her passion for advocating for children and families.

At her retirement party, the center presented Mary Lu with a rocking chair with the following inscription: "In recognition of your service to the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research and Cornell University, and with great appreciation for your dedication and tireless efforts to improve the lives of children, youth and families."

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Military Projects join global experts to examine military research

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Brian Leidy

Brian Leidy

Brian Leidy (director, Military Projects) recently participated in an invitation-only summit at the University of Southern California considering the problems faced by military, veterans, and their families. Fifty researchers from national and international universities met to discuss how research can help understand and address such issues as employment, homelessness, health care, and suicide. Leidy gave a talk emphasizing the need for more and better program evaluation. His talk was part of a panel addressing the research needs of military families. Leidy noted that "the main concern was that the attention families receive will fade even faster than the attention the veteran population receives. At least the Services all have extensive family programs. The VA [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] still does not have any programs that address the needs of military families. The closest they come is offering support programs for family members who end up being caregivers to veterans." Leidy also worked with a group to create  a ten-year research agenda for military families.

The inaugural summit, titled Closing the Gap, aimed to start the conversation and work towards creating a national research agenda targeting the most critical issues faced by service members, veterans, and military families.


Global experts convene to drive military research - USC News

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The impacts of military deployment

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A recent post on the BCTR's Evidence-Based Living blog looked at the long-term effects of military deployment on veterans' health, citing meta-analyses from the journal Epidemiological Reviews, finding,

Even though Operation Enduring Freedom – the war to combat terrorism in Afghanistan and across the globe – has officially ended, there are still about 15,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. All U.S. service members who have served abroad will likely feel the effects of their deployment for decades.

0089_12_003.jpgThe post quotes Brian Leidy, director of The Military Projects, regarding new research showing that often the impacts of post traumatic stress disorder aren't evident until later in life, saying,

In dealing with the aftermath of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, there are many reasons to believe the worst is yet to come.

The impacts of military deployment - Evidence-Based Living

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Roundtable addresses women veterans’ particular challenges

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Dawn Seymour '39, a World War II flier with the Women Airforce Service Pilots, participates in the roundtable.

Dawn Seymour '39, a World War II flier with the Women Airforce Service Pilots, participates in the roundtable.

Brian Leidy, director of the BCTR’s Military Projects, participated in a panel at a recent roundtable discussion at Cornell on the issues women veterans face. These issues include invisibility, devaluation, work/family balance issues, the lack of jobs in a recession, and the translation of military skills into civilian ones. The panel, Cornell Women Veteran Roundtable: From Service Boots to Civilian Shoes, also included Jordanna Mallach from the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs and was moderated by veteran Lyndsi Prignon.

The focus of the roundtable was to provide a forum for employers to better understand how to recruit and retain veterans as employees. Through their years of work with military families, the BCTR’s Military Projects staff are familiar with the experiences of service men and women and are connected to and knowledgeable about the military and civilian programs and services available to assist them in work and life transitions. Brian Leidy noted,

The majority of women veterans that we engage with have transitioned to civilian work in military family support programs or are the spouses of active duty or reserve military who are currently serving. Although these women veterans may have a lot in common with the women who took part in the Cornell Women Veteran Roundtable, they are still very much associated with the military by employment and/or family ties and have not transitioned back to civilian life in the same sense as the women veterans who may now be students or employees in the Cornell and Ithaca communities. Only a small percent of the US population serve in the military, so many may not understand the specific challenges faced by veterans. Our involvement on the panel was to provide information, background, and a framework for a non-military audience about the experiences and challenges that women veterans may face as they leave military service.

The Military Projects have been working with military family support programs since the early 1990s, initially with the Army and Marine Corps but more recently with all the Services through the Department of Defense. They also recently began working with the Army Reserve Family Programs. Currently The Military Projects conduct research and program evaluation projects, facilitate outreach efforts to engage military families in services, and provided evidence-/research-based programming materials and technical assistance to support the military staff professionals who provide direct family services. The Military Projects’ involvement with military service men and women and their families primarily occurs while they are still serving on active or reserve duty. Nonetheless, having done deployment and reintegration studies as well as needs assessments for various military programs, Military Projects staff are familiar with the challenges that service members and families face when transitioning back to either installation or civilian life.


Women veterans face challenges, panel says - Cornell Chronicle

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Karen Snyder honoroed with Daniel J. Donahoe Award

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0089_12_131.jpgKaren Snyder, extension associate in the BCTR's Military Projects, is recipient of the 2014 Daniel J. Donahoe Award. This annual award, given by the Chemung County Youth Bureau, its board and the community, recognizes outstanding service to youth and families in Chemung County. In part the award recognized her work bringing child and family serving agencies together to form a very collaborative safety network.

Karen currently works with The Military Projects on a study of reintegration/reset for the Army with returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, their families and the military service providers who work with them. She has along association with the BCTR, and its precursor, the Family Life Development Center, where she was a trainer for Child Protective Services (CPS) workers, wrote and trained CPS curricula, and was involved with NY State Risk Assessment training.  She has additional experience as director of Chemung Child Welfare.

Karen's background in child abuse and neglect, training, experience with families at risk, supervision of child welfare staff, ability to interview, conduct focus groups, and research evidence based literature as well as write curricula have been invaluable to the Military Projects over the past 20 years.

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Military Projects and CORE partner to evaluate the military’s Healthy Base Initiative

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On September 26, 2013, BCTR's Military Projects and the Cornell Office for Research on Evaluation (CORE) were awarded a grant by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense under Agreement No. 2013-39580-21518 to partner with the Department of Defense Military Community & Family Policy, Healthy Base Initiative (HBI) team to assist with measurement and evaluation. HBI is a demonstration project for Operation Live Well, aimed at increasing the health and wellness of the total force, including civilians and family members by focusing on making informed nutritional food choices, increasing physical activity, controlling weight, and encouraging tobacco cessation.

Eleven of the pilot sites participating in the assessment are military installations (Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Ft. George G. Meade, MD; , Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Sub Base New London, Conn.; Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; Yokota Air Base, Japan; Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center/Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass.; March Air Reserve Base, Calif.; and Camp Dodge, Iowa). The remaining two sites participating are the Defense Logistics Agency, Fort Belvoir, Va.; and Defense Health Headquarters, Falls Church, Va.. Each site is offering an innovative mix of nutrition, fitness and wellness programs and services.

During this one year project, BCTR and CORE will be assisting HBI in the development of evaluation plans for individual programs as well as assessing the overall impact of their interactions at pilot site locations. This will be the third partnership between CORE and the Military Projects.

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The Military Projects conducts training for Army Reserve leadership

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On April 15, 16, and 17, the BCTR’s Military Projects and the Cornell Office for Research on Evaluation (CORE) hosted a three-day training program on evaluation capacity building for the leadership of the Army Reserve Family Programs (ARFP). The group attending consisted of 44 Headquarters, Regional, and command support level staff who are responsible for the management and delivery of training and family support programs throughout the United States and its territories. The training served as the launch of a two-year partnership beginning April 1st to develop performance metrics and measures of effectiveness for the family support programs that the Army Reserve provides for all Reserve soldiers and their families. This work is funded by an award through United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Army Reserve. In addition, the partnership will develop a standardized needs assessment to gather community input on the needs of Reserve soldiers and family members which will be used by each Family Programs Center to prepare for their tri-annual accreditation review.

During their three days on campus, the group began the process of developing pathway models for their programs and services. These models will be finalized during a one-day follow up training in Boston in August. During the time between now and August, concept mapping will be conducted with a large group of program stakeholders to assure that the models incorporate the broadest range of perspectives of those who have a vital interest in the program. Evaluation plans will be developed from the finalized models and outcome metrics will be selected from the evaluation plans for piloting. As outcome metrics are validated they will be incorporated into the ARFP’s client tracking system to be used for ongoing monitoring and evaluation. The work begun in Ithaca in April will serve as the basis for a long and careful process to develop valid and credible measures of these critical programs and services.


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BCTR briefs Army Reserve Family Programs’ leadership

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Brian Leidy and Marney Thomas

The quarterly meeting of the Army Reserve Family Programs leadership was held in Raleigh, NC the week of January 28 to February 1, 2013. Attending along with Army Reserve Headquarters staff and center directors and coordinators throughout the United States were representatives from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) Military Projects. Dr. Brian Leidy and Dr. Marney Thomas provided an overview of the Cornell plan to partner with Army Reserve Family Programs staff to evaluate the efficacy of their family outreach programs. This work is funded by a grant through United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Army Reserve. The two-year project beginning April 1st will involve staff from the BCTR and the Cornell Office for Research on Evaluation (CORE). The Army Reserve-Cornell partnership will develop performance metrics and measures of effectiveness for the family support programs that the Army Reserve provides for all reserve soldiers and their families. In addition, the partnership will develop a standardized needs assessment to gather community input on the needs of reserve soldiers and family members who are geographically dispersed, usually living many miles from the nearest military installation. This needs assessment data will be used by the Army Reserve to prepare for a forthcoming accreditation process that each Family Programs Center will undergo on a tri-annual basis.

This project is an expansion of the work that the Military Projects have been doing for over ten years with the Active Duty Army family programs, and project staff are looking forward to bringing applied research methodology to the Army Reserve and entering into a second collaboration with CORE. Currently BCTR and CORE are partnering through another USDA NIFA-Department of Defense (DoD) grant with the DoD Office of Community Support for Families with Special Needs to develop process and outcome metrics for the Exceptional Family Member Programs across all four Services. Other projects include outcome evaluation with the Army Family Advocacy Program, and Army Community Services Program, and assisting the Air Force Family Advocacy Program in developing public awareness campaign materials for their Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, Domestic Violence Prevention Month, and Dating Violence Prevention Month.


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BCTR in the Fall ’12 issue of HE magazine


The newly-published issue of Human Ecology Magazine focuses on the ways the college supports diverse populations in communities. The work of the BCTR and BCTR projects is featured throughout the issue:

p. 2: New York State 4-H's Eat4-Health Program

p. 3: Iscol Family Program students hold health fair in Brooklyn

p. 10: BCTR Innovative Pilot Grant recipients Anthony Burrow and Janis Whitlock discuss interventions that help teens transition to adulthood

p. 27: The Military Project's programs supporting military families
The magazine can be viewed online here.

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