As a graduate student working at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Topeka, Briana Nelson Goff had expected to work with veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); what she did not expect was that the veterans’ spouses and children often had PTSD, too. What Goff observed within those families is called “secondary trauma.” It inspired her 25 years of research and led to her role as the director of the Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families at K-State.
The institute focuses on conducting research, outreach, academic and clinical service programs designed to identify and address the complex effects of wartime service on the long-term health and well-being of American veterans, military personnel and their families.
“We have seen people on the brink of suicide and divorce, re-engage in life through the various PTSD services we offer,” Goff said. “It hasn’t been through handouts or pamphlets or a website; it has been through a direct connection between a person who cares and a veteran or military family members who need help.”
Outreach and engagement is an important daily aspect to the institute, which was honored in 2015 with the K-State Excellence in Engagement Award.