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

Celebrating Community

In the military there is a saying that goes "got your six." Whereas in a Military/Veteran context, this phrase is directly about mental health, in general the term speaks to "having your back," which ultimately makes me think about the power of community. 

As the semester began, this concept really hit me. It's certainly a semester like none other and as each of us face our own unique circumstances and challenges surrounding the pandemic, I have been both inspired and humbled at the ways in which we have come together to collectively lean on and support each other. 

I am proud to be part of this community and I have exciting news to share in this newsletter that will embed me even deeper here at Illinois. As most of you know, I am going on my third year working at the CVC. I created a vision for the MSKC my first couple of months here. I know what it’s like to have served in the military and to feel like your experiences and voice do not matter or have any impact once you separate. As I created the MSKC and have steered its growth the past two years, empowering Veterans to use their own lived experiences and voices to inform and guide the research has been central to everything I do. It’s what makes this work not only meaningful, but transformative in the lives of our military Service Members, Veterans, and their families. This framework facilitates the concept of "got your six." 

I’m happy to share that I will be continuing this work at the Chez Veterans Center in a new position! The warm community and brilliant collaboration you each bring to the MSKC inspires me, fuels me, and makes this work possible. Thank you for your community and as always, for the important work you do. 

In service,




New Assistant Director of Research Engagement and Educational Programming at the CVC

Jeni Hunniecutt, Ph.D., has accepted the new position of Assistant Director for Research Engagement and Educational Programming at the CVC with a zero-percent appointment of Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health in the College of Applied Health Sciences. Jeni served in the Virginia Army National Guard from 2008-2014, earned her Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Denver in 2018, worked at the Sturm Specialty in Military Psychology at the University of Denver from 2016-2018, and has worked as a Visiting Research Specialist at the Chez Veterans Center since 2018. 

New Research Development Assistant at the CVC

Social Work student, Natalie Nelson, joined the CVC’s MSKC this year as our Development Assistant. Natalie graduated last May with her BSW and completed her undergraduate field placement at CVC in behavioral health services. Now, she is back on campus and just started the MSW program with a specialization in mental health. 

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!

New MSKC Research Chat Series

We’ve created a new initiative in the MSKC! Our new Research Chat Series will include a series of short research and Q&A talks throughout the academic year. These talks are designed to disseminate knowledge back into our Military/Veteran communities. Researchers who present at these talks will have the opportunity to share study results and/or engage potential study participants. See below for our scheduled talks for this semester and register here. If you are a researcher interested in presenting in this series, please contact Jeni Hunniecutt at

Save the Date: Veterans Day 2020 Celebration

It’s almost that time again! We are gearing up to host our 3rd Annual Veterans Day Celebration. This year we’re flipping the script a bit; our event is designed around an exciting data reveal from the very first MSKC study. Add it to your calendars and share with others—we have some very special speakers lined up this year and it’s sure to be one you won’t want to miss!

Research Engagement Opportunities 

Your experiences can help transform our communities. Join us.

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.

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. 


Research Collaboration Spotlight

In our last letter we announced Liz Spurlock, who was part of this year’s Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute Community-Academic Scholars Initiative. A few months have passed and we are nearing completion of study recruitment on this project and so we are thrilled to be highlighting our student-scholar, Liz Spurlock, for this MSKC Research Collaboration Spotlight! Liz, a senior pursuing a double major in Psychology and Molecular & Cellular Biology, is working with  Jeni Hunniecutt, Aaron Anderson, Beckman-Carle Postdoctoral Fellow, and Kirk Hauser, facilitator of the local CU Veterans Breakfast Club, to virtually conduct a needs assessment as part of a larger effort to develop a strategic plan for how to successfully engage with Veterans in the Champaign-Urbana community on the topic of Veteran brain health. You can learn more about this project here (Liz’s presentation starts at time 17:20 in the video).


Funding Opportunities

DOD - Lupus Program: (1) Idea Award; (2) Impact Award; (3) Transformative Vision Award
Deadline: September 23, 2020

DOD - Prostate Cancer Program: (1) Idea Development Award; (2) Prostate Cancer Pathology Resource Network Award
Deadline: September 24, 2020

DOD - Melanoma Program: (1) Idea Award; (2) Mid-Career Accelerator Award; (3) Team Science Award; (4) Technology Development Partnership Award; (5) Translational Research Award
Deadline: September 24, 2020

NEH - Archaeological and Ethnographic Field Research
Deadline: September 30, 2020

DOD - Multiple Sclerosis Program: (1) Clinical Trial Award; (2) Exploration–Hypothesis Development Award; (3) Investigator-Initiated Research Award
Deadline: October 1, 2020

Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC) is currently accepting Letters of Intent (LOI) for secondary data analyses of the MSRC Common Data Elements. The LOI instructions are available through the MSRC website: If you are interested in applying, the LOI must be submitted via the MSRC website no later than 11:59pm EST on Monday, October 12, 2020. If you have any questions, please contact Karen Gronau at

DOD - Hearing Restoration Focused Research Award
Deadline: November 3, 2020

DOD - Chronic Pain Management Program: (1) Investigator-Initiated Award; (2) Translational Research Award
Deadline: November 6, 2020

DOD - Reconstructive Transplant Program: Investigator-Initiated Research Award
Deadline: November 12, 2020

DOD - Vision Research Program: (1) Investigator-Initiated Research Award; (2) Translational Research Award
Deadline: November 18, 2020

DOD - Pancreatic Cancer Program: (1) Idea Development Award; (2) Translational Research Partnership Award
Deadline: November 20, 2020

DOD - Rare Cancers Program: (1) Concept Award; (2) Idea Development Award; (2) Resource and Community Development Award
Deadline: November 30, 2020

DOD - Scleroderma Program: (1) Idea Development Award; (2) Translational Research Partnership Award
Deadline: December 4, 2020

DOD - Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Program: (1) Idea Development Award; (1) Translational Research Partnership Award
Deadline: December 7, 2020

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.


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