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Daniel Perkins: Supporting Military Families

Posted: February 6, 2014

Daniel Perkins, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, was featured in the February 2014 Town and Gown ‘Get to know …’ column.

During graduate school, Daniel taught statistics and research methods to officers at Kadena Air Force Base in Japan.  Impressed with the military, he then tried to join up but, at age 28, was turned down.  Now he’s helping the defense effort in a different way, as director of the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State (www.militaryfamilies.psu.edu).

“We found that military members were not able to do their job if they were too worried about their family back home,” says Perkins, who helped launch the Clearinghouse three years ago as a professor of family and youth resiliency and policy in the College of Agriculture.  “It’s about building skills within families so they can deal with the added stress of a partner or spouse going off in harm’s way.”

A Penn State and Michigan State alumnus, Perkins says that, although no major military installations are located near University Park, Pennsylvania has one of the country’s largest National Guard contingents.  Plus, he notes, Penn State is a leader in translational research – applying basic research findings in evidence-based programs.  The Clearinghouse has reviewed programs on topics ranging from alcohol abuse to parenting, thanks to funding from the Department of Defense, all four armed services, and the National Institutes of Health.

“Today, more than half of military members are married with children,” Perkins says, “We’re preparing the family to be successful and resilient so the military member can come back safely.”