Alumna Carol (Riedel, 82) Lopinski presented a study on “Educating the Community in Supporting Military Families from the Present Conflicts” during Homecoming Weekend 2012. During the weekend, Mrs. Lopinski also received an Alumni Achievement Award for her work in the social work field.
The purpose of Carol’s presentation entitled was to provide participants with information regarding the culture of the military; an overview of current trends and issues affecting today’s veterans, military members, and their families; and knowledge of resources available to support the military population. While all families experience stresses related to child development issues, sibling rivalry, raising teenagers, setting limits, financial concerns, and the like, military families experience the added stress due to deployment. This added stress includes separation from support systems, re-establishing roles, single-parenting during deployment, depression, and anxiety of military member in imminent danger.
These factors can seriously impact family relationships and result in such outcomes as increased anger and irritability, denial of problems, reckless behavior, and drug and alcohol use. Carol offered three specific ways that participants can support military families. These include: be informed of the added issues and stressors that military families experience; raise awareness to others about the stressors affecting military families and find ways to help; and become knowledgeable of resources available in the community for military families.
Carol’s interest in military family support began seven years ago when her son joined the Air Force ROTC program in high school. With another colleague, she began Operation Family Support, a community coalition which educates the community about the experiences of military families. Carol’s son is now an officer in the AF which gives Carol a whole new perspective as a military mom. The presentation was sponsored by the Social Work Department and offered Continuing Education Units to participants needing credits for social work licensure.