Chez Veterans Center's MSKC Quarterly Newsletter
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MSKC Quarterly Newsletter
Research with, not for.


Adapt & Overcome

The past few months have been challenging for us all in both collective and individual ways. The pandemic coupled with the national mourning, learning, and actions surrounding racial inequality are powerful turning points for our culture and society. Through the past few months I have found myself regularly repeating a familiar phrase from my own time in the military, “adapt and overcome.” Change is the only constant and the ability to adapt to change both fosters growth and propels us to overcome our challenges, both individually and as a collective.

The MSKC is rooted in the collective; it is founded on the premises of listening, community-building, reciprocity, and meaningful discovery ignited through collaboration. The MSKC is all about coming together for a common mission.  During this time of tumult, I invite you to continue combing forces—keep doing the work that matters, keep adapting and overcoming, and keep coming together for a common good.

The MSKC is here to support you in your work by facilitating partnerships, helping you identify potential sources of funding for your work with Military/Veteran communities, and creating meaningful and lasting community impact. Keep reading to learn of our recent announcements, celebrations, and opportunities for collaboration. I’m here to support you and I look forward to growth that will emerge from all of this adapting and overcoming.



Student research awards

We are so proud to announce the winners of our inaugural Chez Veterans Center Student Research Award and are grateful to the UIUC Illini Veterans for sponsoring this award!

Sarah Ann Clark is a United States Air Force Veteran, current PhD student in Linguistics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a military sociolinguist and research assistant at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Construction and Engineer Research Laboratory. Sarah’s research focuses on several avenues of sociolinguistic analysis of military and veteran discourse. About her work, Sarah told us, “As an Air Force veteran, my military and veteran experiences are critical to understanding military social norms and veteran identity processes as I engage with critical discourse analysis and critical narrative analysis to examine themes of power, ideology and discursive influences on military and veteran identity.”

Paul Saban is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and a senior in the School of Social Work. Paul draws on his personal experiences as a Marine to shine light into the masculine nature of the military institution and Veteran identity. Paul shared, “it is my intention that my research can perhaps elucidate some of the underpinnings of masculinity’s more confounding behaviors and unconscionable acts such as aversion to treatment and help seeking, high-risk behaviors, domestic violence, and sexual assault and harassment.”

IHSI Summer Scholar

We are inspired to be working with a student in the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute Community-Academic Scholars Initiative. Liz Spurlock, a senior pursuing a double major in Psychology and Molecular & Cellular Biology, is working with Reginald Alston, Interim Director of the Chez Veterans Center and professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Community Health, Jeni Hunniecutt, a visiting research specialist at the Chez Veterans Center, 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. 

MSKC 2020 Seed Grant Awards

The MSKC Seed Grant Program provides support for research projects solving Military/Veteran issues through establishing and developing partnerships with stakeholders from Military/Veteran community organizations. We are thrilled to announce this year’s funded projects: 

  1. "Identifying Changing Responsibilities and Support Needs of Aging Caregivers of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury." KCH Assistant Professor Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo is collaborating with KCH Professor Wendy Rogers and SHS Associate Professor Raksha Mudar on this project, which aims to understand changes in responsibilities and capabilities of older caregivers of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury, and identify support and services older caregivers of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury need over time for sustained wellbeing while aging. Partnerships for this project include the Caregiver Advisory for Research Engagement (C.A.R.E.), the Cook County Office of Veterans Affairs, and the RAND Corporation.
  2. "Examining the Intersection between Cannabis, Opioids and Benzodiazepine Use by Older Veterans in Illinois," is a collaboration between Julie Bobitt, Director of the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences program, Hyojung Kang, Assistant Professor in KCH, Kelly Clary, a recent PhD graduate in the School of Social Work and stakeholders from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Vets Prevail, and Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access. The goal of this project is to develop a deeper understanding of cannabis use in older veterans who are using it as a substitute or complement for opioids and/or benzodiazepines.
  3. "Investigating the neurochemical nature of tinnitus and hearing loss using magnetic resonance spectroscopy," is a collaboration between Fatima Husain, an Associate Professor/Director of Undergraduate Studies in SHS, and Fan Lam, Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, with the aim of engaging Veterans with an innovative magnetic resonance spectroscopy based imaging strategy to map out the neurochemical signature of tinnitus in auditory processing and higher-level cognitive functioning brain regions, and dissociate it from that of hearing loss. Partnerships for this project will be facilitated by the MSKC and will be informed by the insight of our project with IHSI Community Scholar, Liz Spurlock, who is exploring strategic engagement practices with Veterans in the Champaign-Urbana community on the topic of Veteran brain health.


In this newsletter, we are proudly highlighting the very first study facilitated by the MSKC! This collaborative project started when stakeholders from Jobpath, a tech company designed to address issues facing Veteran recruitment and retention in the job force, approached the MSKC seeking research on the effectiveness of Veteran hiring fairs to inform their organizational development. The MSKC built a team of researchers from the School of Labor and Employment Relations, including Robert Bruno, Alison Dickson, and JooHee Han, and well as Jeni Hunniecutt and Dustin Lange from the Chez Veterans Center. Stakeholders from Jobpath and the research team worked collaboratively to design a study focused on understanding the work experiences of the post 9/11 military-connected cohort and discovering best practices for organizing and hosting Veteran employment fairs. Stay tuned for announcements this fall for the unveiling of our discoveries from this project!


Paralyzed Veterans of American - Grants Program
Deadline: July 1, 2020

DOD - Neurofibromatosis Program: (1) Clinical Trial Award; (2) Early Investigator Research Award; (3) Exploration–Hypothesis Development Award; (4) New Investigator Award
Deadline: July 9, 2020

DOD - Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Program: (1) Clinical Translational Research Award; (2) Exploration–Hypothesis Development Award; (3) Idea Development Award
Deadline: July 9, 2020

Air Force Office of Scientific Research - Young Investigator Program
Deadline: July 14, 2020

DOD - Prostate Cancer Program: (1) Clinical Trial Award; (2) Health Disparity Research Award; (3) Population Science and Outcomes Research Award; (4) Translational Science Award
Deadline: July 16, 2020

DOD - Epilepsy Program: (1) Idea Development Award; (1) Research Partnership Award; (3) Quality of Life Research Award
Deadline: July 21, 2020

DOD - Lung Cancer: (1) Career Development Award; (2) Clinical Translational Research; (3) Idea Development Award; (4) Investigator-Initiated Translational Research Award
Deadline: July 29, 2020

DOD - Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes: (1) Clinical Research Award; (2) Clinical Trial Award
Deadline: July 29, 2020

DOD - Ovarian Cancer Research Program: (1) Clinical Translational Research Award; (2) Early-Career Investigator Award; (3) Investigator-Initiated Research Award; (4) Pilot Award; (5) Proteogenomics Research Award
Deadline: July 30, 2020

DOD - Bone Marrow Failure: Idea Development Award
Deadline: August 5, 2020

DOD - Kidney Cancer Program: Concept Award
Deadline: August 5, 2020

DOD - Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program: Focused Program Award
Deadline: August 6, 2020

DOD - Military Burn Clinical Translation Research Award
Deadline: August 20, 2020

DOD - Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program: (1) Career Development Award; (2) Virtual Cancer Center Director Award
Deadline: August 20, 2020

DOD - Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program: (1) Investigator-Initiated Research Award; (2) Technology/Therapeutic Development Award
Deadline: August 20, 2020

DOD - Spinal Cord Injury Program: (1) Clinical Trial Award; (2) Investigator-Initiated Research Award; (3) Translational Research Award
Deadline: August 25, 2020

DOD - Kidney Cancer Program: (1) Academy of Kidney Cancer Investigators—Early-Career Investigator Award; (2) Translational Research Partnership Award
Deadline: August 26, 2020

DOD - Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program: (1) Behavioral Health Science Award; (2) Idea Award; (3) Impact Award; (4) Translational Team Science Award
Deadline: August 27, 2020

DOD - Tick-Borne Disease: (1) Career Development Award; (2) Idea Development Award
Deadline: August 27, 2020

DOD - Gulf War Illness Program: (1) Clinical Evaluation Award; (2) Idea Award; (3) New Investigator Award; (4) Patient-Provider and Health Communications Award; (5) Research Advancement Award; (6) Therapeutic/Biomarker Trial Award
Deadline: September 10, 2020

DOD - Peer-Reviewed Orthopaedic Program: (1) Applied Research Award; (2) Clinical Translational Research Award; (3) Clinical Trial Award
Deadline: September 10, 2020

DOD - Neurotoxin Exposure Treatment Parkinson's Program: (1) Early Investigator Research Award; (2) Investigator-Initiated Research Award; (3) Synergistic Idea Award
Deadline: September 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

The Army Futures Command released a Broad Agency Announcement for Disruptive Applications. Proposers are required to submit white papers through the Army Applications Lab. AAL will notify applicants if they have been invited to submit a full proposal. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis until May 1, 2024. The Army Futures Command’s modernization strategy and priorities can be found here.

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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