Extension Provides Resources for Military Families



child hugs military servicemanAMES, Iowa – Iowa military families also serve when a family member is deployed. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach can connect these families to support, information and resources to help them throughout the deployment cycle.

President Obama directed the National Security Staff (NSS) to develop a coordinated federal approach to supporting military families in May 2010. ISU Extension and Outreach answered the President’s call by sharing Extension resources with families, including these hotlines:

  • Iowa Concern Hotline, 800-447-1985, providing information on a variety of topics from disasters to finances
  • Answer Line, 800-262-3804, with professional family and consumer scientists who answer questions on topics ranging from child development to cleaning
  • Teen Line, 800-443-8336, available for teenagers 24/7 to answer questions on many relevant topics from stress to relationships

Extension family program specialists Joy Rouse and Kim Brantner are in charge of coordinating ISU Extension and Outreach efforts to aid military families. Recently they created a military family survey and distributed it through the Operation Military Kids Facebook page and email lists from various people working with military families. According to the results, military families wish to learn more about family finances, communication and dealing with stress.

“We learned a lot through this survey,” Rouse said. “It helped determine which direction ISU Extension and Outreach should take and gave us ideas to forge ahead with. We will be exploring financial aspects in the coming year. Many of the families in the survey mentioned a desire to participate in more hands-on workshops, so we will be working with Extension staff and other agencies to plan workshops for military families, along with sharing the other resources Extension currently offers.”

According to Brantner, there is a lot of interest in learning about resources beyond what the military offers. ISU Extension and Outreach provides many resources for families through online webinars, extension.org (a multi-university interactive learning environment), publications and hotlines, as well as local programs. Extension offers programming in a vast number of areas.

“Items of special interest to military families might include preparing quick and simple meals, how stress affects different ages of family members, what parents can do at home or in the community to help children succeed at school, creating a family budget with a change in income when a partner or spouse leaves and more,” Brantner said. “Extension gives these families a connection, especially for the youth. The 4-H program is working with youth in local communities and provides opportunities for youth to connect with caring adults in their community.”

Another popular resource for military families is the game, Deployment: It’s Not a Game. This game helps families deal with issues surrounding the deployment of a family member. For more information on the game and instructions, visit http://www.4-hmilitarypartnerships.org/p.aspx?tabid=173.

ISU Extension and Outreach offers several other resources. Visit http://www.extension.iastate.edu/topic/parenting-and-familiesfor more information on parenting and families. 4-H also offers resources for military families at http://www.4-hmilitarypartnerships.org/p.aspx?tabid=35.

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