Chez Veterans Center's Quarterly MSKC Newsletter
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Military Service Knowledge Collaborative Quarterly Newsletter

Reflection & Resiliency

We submitted annual reports at the CVC last week and it was both surreal and eye-opening to reflect on all the change this past year has brought us and how much we've still grown! Despite the challenges and hardship, I can't help but to feel grounded and inspired by the resilency I see all around me. Despite the chaos and turmoil of this year, we have progressed forward in the important work that we do. I might even say we've gotten better at it. We've learned how to quickly adapt, cope with uncomfortable amounts of uncertainty, and work cohesively as teams and groups in a way we've never had to do before. I feel proud. 

As the new year is waiting for us at this time when we're starting to see the first vaccines distributed around the world, I am full of hope lately. I hope you, too, will gift yourself with time and space to reflect this season. It's been a hard year in so many ways, but one thing we can take comfort in is knowing that hardship invites growth. Self-reflection is the catalyst to resilency and moves us closer to seeing our own individual and collective strength. As always, thank you for your partnership and for the important work that you do. 

I wish you and yours happy holidays!




Highlights from our 3rd Annual Veterans Day Celebration

Veterans in the Labor Market: Readiness-> Recruitment-> Retainment was the CVC’s 3rd Annual Veterans Day event, hosted in November, 2020. This half-day event was offered virtually, which allowed us to reach a national (and global) audience of approximately 250 people. The event focused on the experiences of Veterans in the labor market and highlighted talks from over 20 speakers, including UIUC Chancellor Robert Jones, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Illinois Dept. of Veterans Affairs Director Linda Chapa LaVia, U.S. Dept. of Labor Assistant Secretary John Lowry, representatives from Boeing and Uber, and nationally renowned Veteran speaker and activist, Jas Boothe. The event was organized around a data reveal for a national, comprehensive applied research study the CVC completed with the UIUC School of Labor and Employment Relations and a national Veteran Service Organization, Jobpath. Outcomes of the event include an applied research report published with the Project for Middle Class Renewal and partnership with state and national government agencies that serve Veterans. Further details about the November 2020 event can be found here.

Research Chat Series - Spring Semester

The MSKC Research Chat Series includes short research and Q&A talks throughout the academic year. These talks are designed to disseminate knowledge back into our Military/Veteran communities and provides researchers and opportunity to both share they work and engage potential participants. Register here for our spring talks. If you are a researcher interested in presenting in this series, please contact Natalie Nelson at

MSKC Generates Collaboration for Grant-Funded Project on Military Sexual Trauma

KCH Assistant Professor Robyn Gobin will be serving as the principal investigator on a project titled, Rising Up: Engaging Women Veterans in Mental Health Research on Military Sexual Trauma. This project is funded by the  Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) for $249,998. The objective of this project is to enhance women MST survivors’ engagement in mental health patient-centered outcomes research and empower them to be equitable partners in the research process. Gobin is collaborating with Chez Veterans Center Assistant Director for Research Engagement and Educational Programming Jeni Hunniecutt, Department of Communication Professor Leanne Knobloch, and Illinois Fire Service Institute Research Scientist Terri von Thaden. They are partnering with Smart Policy Works, a Chicago-based community organization that collaborates with stakeholder communities to respond to the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, with special expertise in veterans’ issues. 

Call for Publications on Military/Veteran Research

The MSKC is built on partnerships with Military/Veteran communities. This allows us to ensure we are researching topics that are aligned with community needs. We research with, not for Veterans. This framework means disseminating research back into Military/Veteran communities is essential to ensure partnerships are reciprocal and the research is impactful. To do this, we are generating a database of published research from MSKC members, that we will make available on the Chez Veterans Center's website. This database will highlight the work of our brilliant Illinois researchers and make it easier for community stakeholders to find important research on topics most impacting them. If you would like us to include your work in this database, please send digital copies of your published work to

IHSI DoD Grant Writing Workshop

The Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute (IHSI) invites research faculty and professionals to attend the inaugural Department of Defense (DoD) Grant Seeking Workshop. This workshop has been separated into three 90-minute weekly segments from Jan. 27 to Feb. 10, 2021, to make it easier for you to attend and learn more about seeking DoD funding. The DoD Grant Seeking Workshop aims to help health sciences researchers identify new funding opportunities and better understand the unique requirements and considerations for submitting a strong DoD proposal. This three-session event will include a comprehensive introduction to DoD, details about the application and review process, a panel of experienced DoD faculty and consumer reviewers, and a keynote presentation by Dr. Rajesh Naik, Chief Scientist for the Air Force Research Laboratory's 711th Human Performance Wing. Register here

Join the MSKC Facebook Group

We recently created a new Facebook group for the MSKC to make research engagement more accessible to our military-connected communities both locally and nationally. This is one place we will disseminate information about current studies and how to get engaged. We invite you to join and share the group with others!



Research Collaboration Spotlight

How is the Pandemic Impacting Low-Income Veterans' Legal Needs? 

Yulanda Curtis, Assistant Clinical Professor in the College of Law and Director of the Veterans Legal Clinic, received a 2019 MSKC seed grant to assess whether an intervention on service benefits would reduce risk of incarcerated Veterans experiencing homelessness upon release. After a vigorous IRB process, Yulanda's study was approved and ready to launch right when Covid-19 hit. As many of you may have experienced in your own work, her study was haulted by the pandemic and unfortunately was not able to be delivered in a virtual format. In conceptualizing a new project Yulanda stayed true to the mission of the MSKC and worked to identify a pressing community need through her partnership with the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN). To assist Veterans' with unmet legal needs, the UIUC Veterans Legal Clinic, in cooperation with IL-AFLAN, focuses on improving access to justice for low-income military veterans and their families. The Dept. of Veterans Affairs has identified legal services as one of the most significally unmet needs of homeless and low-income Veterans. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, many Veterans are experiencing economic and legal hardships for the first time, which is heightening the unmet need for legal services among Veterans in Illinois. Yulanda is collaborating with IL-AFLAN to launch a new study examining how the pandemic has impacted low-income Veterans' needs for legal services.  Such data will allow providers, such as the Veterans Legal Clinic and IL-AFLAN, to tailor their programs and services to address pressing community need.



Participate in Current Studies 

Your experiences can help transform our communities. Join us.

Veteran Brain Health Study

Are you a Veteran or do you live with or care for a Veteran? The Chez Veterans Center wants to engage with you on the topic of brain health! Brain health can refer to anything involving the physical and mental state of your brain. Some examples include but are not limited to ability to sleep, job performance, traumatic brain injuries, mental health, memory, and your emotions. We want to learn about your brain health experiences related to the military and opinions about research through a short, one-time survey. Your feedback will help us build a “Veteran Engagement Team” to inform and shape brain health research impacting Military Service Members, Veterans, and their families. Our mission is to lead the next generation of research with Veterans to optimize Veteran brain health. Take the survey here.


Post Traumatic Epilepsy Study

Have you been diagnosed with Post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) or Traumatic brain injury (TBI)? Are you willing to undergo an MRI scan? One of Chez Veterans Center seed grant recipients is leading a study on the relationship between traumatic brain injury and epilepsy. This study will be located at the Beckman Institute and will take about two hours. Participants will be compensated at the rate of $15 per hour for time and travel. Interested? Contact a clinical research coordinator at OR call (217) 326-0200. 



Funding Opportunities

DOD - Prostate Cancer Program: Physician Research Award
Deadline: January 7, 2021

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Mental Health Awareness Training
Deadline: February 5, 2021

NIH- High Priority Areas for Research Leveraging EHR and Large-Scale Data 
Deadline: September 7, 2021

Air Force -- Research Lab - Airman Readiness Medical Research (ARMR) Hybrid BAA
Deadline: May 01, 2025

Have an Idea for a New Project?  We can help shape your idea, find partners to bring your idea to life, and provide you with tools needed to create a successful project focused on solving challenges facing Military/Veteran communities. Submit your idea here.