The Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy is continuing its support of eXtension’s Military Families Learning Network (MFLN). An additional year of funding was provided and the MFLN was asked to grow in scope and in reach. There are some exciting plans that will unfold in the coming months.
The MFLN provides professional development, educational programming, and resources to military family service professionals within the Department of Defense system, Cooperative Extension (CES), and in communities throughout the country – the world actually! The new funding will continue much of the current MFLN effort, transform and expand other areas, and add new concentration areas with an emphasis on training CES staff and even transitioning to directly serving the military families themselves in some cases.
The new funding will grow the Learning Network to transform Wounded Warriors (currently an Army program) to Military Caregiving (serving all branches of the service). This needed and somewhat unique focus will include a component of civic ecology as a means of working with wounded, ill, and/or injured service members and their families. MFLN staff will provide training and resources associated with traditional methods of caregiving but also include the natural environment (resource consumption, habitat restoration, and recreation) in some cases as a means of supporting these professionals and families.
Another new effort will focus on family advocacy and fall under the concentration area of Family Development. It will provide the latest research, continuing education materials, and training opportunities related to the prevention, intervention and treatment of family violence for military families. Our target audience includes professionals working within the Family Advocacy Program and other mental health professionals who work with military families.
Finally, two additional, and slightly unique concentration areas will be developed in the areas of Community Capacity Building and Re-Location. The intent here is to create engagement spaces for professionals interested in these areas to gather, share, and discuss various training, assessments, and mapping tools. The efforts would focus on strategically sharing these tools and other resources through social media outlets, professional development opportunities, a resource clearinghouse, and other mechanisms that will provide an increased ability for interested professionals, community leaders, and families to grow community capacity and support re-location efforts in and across communities where members and families of our military live.