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Monthly Members' Newsletter

To round off April's Month of the Military Child, we have dedicated May's newsletter to the voices of children in military communities.

For new friends, welcome! We are an interdisciplinary network of Masters, PhD and Early Career Researchers focused on defence, security and military topics in relation to policy, strategy, history, culture and society. We hope you find our network interesting, exciting, informative and supportive.

For old friends, thanks for your continued involvement. We would be nothing without you! This May, we are reflecting on April's theme of service children with some excellent blogs and conversation pieces, we have a host of new opportunities for you to support your research community, and we are asking what impact the 'forever wars' have on military children?

Scroll down to get up to date with the news, opinions, and events from our members...

The official flower of the military child is the Dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. The roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.

Experts say that military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. Military children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world and in every color, and that education doesn’t just come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences.

The study of warfighting, militaries, and soldiering has been practised for millennia. Humans have lamented the rules and ethics of war, its motivations, equipment, tactics, and outcomes since long before academia took notice, and arguably before the advent of writing itself. However, what rarely gets a mention in conventional war studies courses is the impact of soldiering on children and families. The literature on war has historically largely addressed children as a suffix to women, framing them as either innocently (and silently) protected or as collateral damage in wartime. The voices of children within military communities can subsequently get lost, even while appearing central to both jus ad bellum and jus in bello.

Conversely, a brilliant body of research spanning psychology, psychiatry, education, and increasingly social and political sciences puts these voices at the centre of their understanding of the military. This has opened up new avenues of inquiry into the sociological and psychological impacts of war and militarisation. Celebrating Month of the Military Child this April, a number of DRN members have been hard at work in this field, bringing us thought-provoking blogs and asking important questions about how military children learn, support one another, and understand their situation. We really want to spotlight this work and, particularly as a community of researchers that includes ex-service personnel, join the conversation around military families. You will find a couple of calls for participants below which involve exciting research into the experiences of military children relating to both education and mental health. I encourage anyone eligible to volunteer their time and share these calls with your networks.

I began this month's newsletter with the Dandelion Poem, and particularly this rendition by British charity Little Troopers, to reflect upon and celebrate the resilience of military children. Whatever your situation or background, resilience is a virtue that many of us have had to muster this year more than ever. I would say that we have much to learn from these dandelions, and I am excited to see how they touch academia in the years to come.

As always, we wish you a happy and healthy month!

The DRN Team 

In the News... 
Jet Suits: the future of vessel boarding? 
A group of Royal Marines have been testing out jet suits as a new way of tactically boarding vessels. Developed by Gravity Industries, the suit allow the user to hover and speed through the air. Watch the suit in action
RAF net-zero by 2050? 
Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston says that he and the RAF are committed to ensuring the
RAF plays its part in reducing the British Armed forces carbon emissions. The RAF uses two-thirds of the British military's fuel reserves, making it a key target for renewable fuels and reducing fuel consumption. 
What we've been up to... 
#MonthoftheMilitaryChild: Researcher Spotlight 
There is a growing body of researchers within the DRN who focus on military children, and all April they have been collaborating to bring you this bumper-pack of a newsletter. We at the DRN are extremely grateful for all that they have taught us about the experiences of service children! Here is a quick spotlight on three of this month's contributors. If you are interested in their work, don't hesitate to contact them using the links below.
Gemma Carr
Gemma is a PhD student at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds.  Her research explores the ways in which Service parents who have moved a child to a new school, navigate the admissions process for school places. Additionally, her research investigates how this experience impacts parents whose children are identified with a Special Educational Need or Disability.
Her research seeks to inform current policies and legislation and to facilitate national consistency for Service Children in relation to access to education. It will consider the measures needed to ensure Service Families and their children are supported adequately. Her research also explores whether Key Stakeholders working with Service Families are adequately supported to meet the needs of Service Families.
Connect with Gemma

Lucy Robinson
Lucy is a first-year DPhil candidate in Education at the University of Oxford, funded by an ESRC Grand Union DTP studentship.
Her DPhil research focuses on looking at how the Service Pupil Premium, a form of government funding, can better support the educational needs and experience of service children (those with military backgrounds) in English state schools. Prior to her DPhil, Lucy completed her PGCE and MEd in Primary Education at the University of Cambridge.
Lucy is a committee member and Twitter co-manager of the Defence Research Network and an incoming Trustee of a grant-giving charity for service children, the Armed Forces Education Trust.
You can connect with Lucy via email: or Twitter: @LucyGBRobinson

Shannon Hill
Shannon is a fourth-year doctoral candidate at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her doctoral research is currently exploring the school transition experiences of adolescents living in Canadian military families. Shannon grew up in a Canadian military family and has first-hand experience going through education systems as a military-connected student.
In addition to her personal experience, Shannon also brings professional knowledge as an educator to the work she is doing as she is currently a certified teacher in Ontario (OCT).
Connect with Shannon via email: or Twitter: @Shannon_LD_Hill
New Report: The Impact of Service Life on the Military Child
This week the Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research (VFI) launched a new report on the issues facing military families. Commissioned by the Naval Children’s Charity, the report is an update and review of their seminal 2009 report ‘The Overlooked Casualties of Conflict’.

The research highlights both the positive and negative impacts of service life on children. For example, the authors explore the practical and emotional effects of frequent relocation, including academic progress and access to mental health provisions. Additionally, they discuss increases in 'weekending' among military families and the benefits and drawbacks that this presents. They also note the many positives aspects of being a military child, such as having positive role models, learning resilience and discipline, and feelings of pride.

You can read the full report here.
See It To Be It: Women Leading in Air and Space

11th May 2021, 4pm - 5.15pm BST 

The Freeman Air and Space Institute (FASI), King's College London, is hosting a panel of leading women researching and working in air and space power to mark the Institute formally becoming a supporting signatory to the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter

Chaired by DRN co-founder Dr Sophy Antrobus, and featuring Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the author of the Wigston report, this online event marks the start of the Institute’s journey to promote diversity and commit to better representation of women in the air and space power arena.

They are inviting us to hear from some amazing role models in academia, air and space power research, the RAF and industry. From the role of UK Space Strategy, to industry’s role in supporting the air and space power community, to research on women’s bodies in RAF aviation medicine, the panel will touch on a diverse range of challenges and opportunities for diversifying air and space power.

Panellists Include:

  • Wing Commander Jemma Austin, CAS Fellow, Aviation Medicine Researcher
  • Julia Balm, FASI Post Graduate Researcher
  • Katherine Bennett, Senior Vice President, Airbus
  • Air Commodore Suraya Marshall, Commandant, RAF Cranwell

For more information see their website, and to register, head to Eventbrite.

Research for change: Examining the history of the LGBT Purge in the Canadian Armed Forces.
12th May 2021, 10pm BST

The Australasian Services Care Network are holding a fantastic webinar series on Military Transitions. Their latest offering - Research for change: Examining the history of the LGBT Purge in the Canadian Armed Forces - looks at the experiences and issues impacting LGBTIQ Military Service Members and Veterans in Canada. 
In this webinar, Dr Carmen Poulin and Dr Lynne Gouliquer will speak about the LGBT Purge that occurred in the Canadian Armed Forces and the role social science played in bringing about social change. 

There will be a one-hour presentation followed by a one hour interactive Q&A session that will allow participants to ask the presenters questions about points raised in the presentation or current issues on transition related to their work.

To participate in this webinar, follow this link. 
BISA Postgraduate Network
Publishing: how to choose the right journal for you

21st May, 11am - 12.30pm BST

As we all know, PhD students often feel pressure to publish in the most well-known academic journals in order to forge a successful career in research.
However, in practice, it is much more important to find a peer-reviewed journal that fits your research topic, especially in the earlier stages of your career. To find a good match, PhD students should reflect on the 'must-haves', 'should-haves' and 'could-haves' of journals in their field. To help us along our way, BISA has organised a workshop with Andrea Chiarelli, of Research Consulting, who will share his publication strategies and his experiences in applying them when publishing himself.

To find out more and register, click here.
BISA Conference 2021: Forget International Studies?
21st - 23rd June 2021
The BISA conference is renowned for being inclusive, diverse and friendly. They bring together a worldwide community of specialists to discuss, promote and develop International Studies.

In 2021 they're going virtual! Taking the provocation of ‘forgetting’ International Studies, #BISA2021 offers an opportunity both to critically engage with this period of global change and to reflect upon the possibilities and limitations of the discipline in confronting it. Highlights include three fantastic keynotes featuring Professor Gary Younge, Dr Agnes Callamard and more, 100+ panels, an art exhibition, and an IR quiz. For more information and to register, click here.

EuroISME Annual Conference 2021: Ethics and Urban Warfare
3rd, 10th, 17th June 2021

The programme of EuroISME’s virtual conference on ethics and urban warfare is online and the registration is open! With some 20 panels, 70 speakers from about 25 countries, the programme looks promising. The conference – which was originally planned to be held in Berlin – will be now held online on the 3rd, 10th and 17th of June, from 2pm until ± 8.30pm CET (1pm - 7.30pm BST). These hours have been chosen to accommodate participants in both Europe as well as North America, given the difference in time zones. What's more, with the conference being held over three consecutive Thursdays, you do not have to commit yourself to three days of uninterrupted screentime! 

As well as online spaces for panels and plenary sessions, they have set up a virtual coffee room and a virtual bookstall. The organisers hope to publish a conference volume by May 2022.

Registration is very reasonably priced and can be booked by the day. For further details and to register, see their
As always, keep an eye on our Twitter for new events and opportunities posted/retweeted every day!

Planning a future event?
If you are planning a defence-related event and you would like to reach an audience of like-minded researchers, we'd love to come along! Drop us an email and we can include it in our next newsletter.
If you are interested in any of our events but don't want to go alone, or simply want to expand your network, please reach out on Twitter or drop us an email and we can connect you with fellow DRN members who may be planning to attend.

If you would like to advertise any upcoming opportunities, please let us know via email.
Call for Abstracts: What Do We Know About War? EISA Early Career Researcher Workshop 

EISA is holding an Early Career scholar workshop to engage in critical questions on war and politics, to assess the current state of War Studies as a discipline, and to conceptualize fruitful ways forward. Their goal is to bring together diverse approaches to the study of war to better understand the range of questions these approaches illuminate, as well as to understand what might be gained by thinking across different methodologies, paradigms, and ontological givens present in this rich field of inquiry. They hope to create a space in which scholars may present innovative, creative, and rigorous approaches to the study of war and receive constructive feedback from senior scholars that advances both individual and collective thinking on war.

While the exact date of the workshop is TBD, they hope it will take place in September 2021. The deadline for abstracts is the 14th of May 2021. You can submit abstracts of 250 words max
 to Michelle D. Weitzel and Raphaël Leduc at 
Job Openings: swisspeace

swisspeace is a practice and research institute dedicated to advancing effective peacebuilding. It supports and advises local, national, and international actors relevant for peacebuilding, researches topics particularly relevant for peacebuilding practice, provides spaces for exchange and dialogue, and shapes peace policy in Switzerland and globally. 
Their Dealing with the Past team supports governmental and non-governmental actors working to overcome the legacy of massive human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law having occurred in contexts of colonialism, armed conflict and authoritarian regimes, and to prevent their reoccurrence. Particular thematic focuses are on archives and disappeared persons. Currently, they are looking for three new staff members: 

Read the full job description
Junior Program Officer 
Read the full job description
Program Officer
Read the full job description

Applications for all positions are due no later than the 15th of May 2021
Call for Papers: West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network, 28th Annual Conference: Gender and Commemoration
16th October 2021, 10am - 4.30pm BST

The West of England and South Wales Women's History Network is looking for proposals for their upcoming conference. The conference will explore the gendering of commemoration- verbally, visually and in terms of processes of formal and informal commemoration. They have lined up a fantastic keynote speaker in Carrie de Silva, of Harper Adams University, who leads a project to highlight women in street names in the UK (through the British Federation of Women Graduates, and Harper Adams University).

They invite papers on any aspect of women’s or gender history and commemoration. Topics could include (but are not limited to):
  • Commemoration of specific events e.g. war, revolution and protest, suffrage
  • Commemoration of writers and artists and their work 
  • Different types of memorialization e.g. statues, blue plaques, place names 
  • The making/ creation of memorials e.g. artists, sculptors 
  • Questions of inclusion and exclusion 
  • Public history and commemoration 
  • Commemoration of specific people, either individuals or groups 
  • Anniversaries 
  • Funerary memorials e.g. epitaphs, tombs, monuments
Papers should be no more than 20 minutes in length. Suggestions for presentations in film or other non-standard formats will be considered. Proposals of no more than 300 words should be sent to  by Wednesday 26th of May.

The organisers are hopeful that this event will go ahead in person, where they will meet at:
Friends Meeting House, Champion Square, St Pauls, Bristol BS2 9DB
However, the event will be held on Zoom if COVID restrictions are still in place.
Call for Workshop Papers: State-Led Inquiries as Political Devices: Lessons Learned and Lost from British Interventions, 1853 to the Present Day
9th September 2021
The Centre for Histories of Violence and Conflict and the Leverhulme-funded Warnings from the Archive project at the University of Exeter invite proposals for an interdisciplinary one-day virtual workshop.
This workshop reflects a renewed interest in research into processes and politics of truth-telling and lesson-learning in the wake of state-sponsored violence, intervention, and transgression. The focus of the workshop will be on the political conditions and cultural norms that determine the composition and scope of inquiries and lesson-learning. The organisers are interested in how contingent processes of investigation shape elite and popular understandings of the history and character of British military operations from the Crimean War to the present day.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together scholars working on the topic of state-sponsored violence to discuss new methodological and theoretical approaches to conceiving formal and informal processes of ‘lesson-learning’. Although not exhaustive, below are some examples of potential contributions:
  • Comparative studies of British violence across temporal contexts;
  • Geographies of state-sponsored violence and/or sites of ‘lesson-learning’;
  • Political cultures of military interventionism within British structures;
  • The archives of public inquiries and truth commissions in documenting violence and state transgressions; 
  • The prosecution of state-sponsored violence in international courts and limitations of state-accountability systems; 
  • The usefulness of the concepts of ‘truth’, ‘justice’, ‘accountability’ to understand lesson-learning processes; 
  • Informal processes of lesson-learning;
  • Media representations of military interventions in British society; 
  • Ethics of national security, declassified documents, and the use covert intelligence in public inquiries; 
  • Anti-war activism and political cultures of dissent.
The event will be structured around pre-circulated papers between 6 – 8,000 words in length. Each paper will be allotted 20 minutes in which the author will briefly summarise their paper (5 minutes) before engaging in critical dialogue with a discussant (15 minutes). There will also be time for an open Q&A. All workshop participants will be expected to read the pre-circulated papers.

The outcome of this workshop will be a special issue with a top-tier interdisciplinary journal for History, Politics and International Relations with a target publication date of 2023. This workshop is an opportunity for scholars to refine their papers before publication. A follow-up workshop will take place in February 2022 to finalise the special issue.

General queries and abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent to Margot Tudor (
) by Friday 28th May 2021. Please also include a brief biography (150 words) outlining your research expertise as well as your name, affiliation, and contact email.

A project website is under construction; in the meantime, you can follow the project via Twitter 
Call for Papers: The Journal of Aeronautical History
The Journal of Aeronautical History is looking for papers that speak to diverse and non-technical areas of aeronautical history, from scholars at all stages of their careers.
As an internationally recognized, free-to-access, web-based, peer-reviewed publication of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the JAH covers all aspects of aerospace history and the development of aircraft and aeronautical engineering. The editors are particularly interested in hearing from PGRs, ECRs, and scholars researching non-technical aspects of aerospace history, whether that be the evolution of the science and engineering of flight, biographies of notable individuals, and/or civil and military organizational and operational histories. For more information visit their website, or e-mail , or Twitter @Cobraball3.
Call for Contributors: Defence-In-Depth
The Defence-In-Depth blog is run by Kings College London and has recently featured a number of blogs from DRN members. Their content is well suited to the breadth of our network and they are keen to hear from you with contributions from a wide range of subject areas. To submit a piece or discuss your ideas, contact the editor at
Supporting our Community...
Call for Participants: Educators of Military Children
The lovely Shannon Hill is looking for participants for her doctoral study into the education of military children. If you think you can help her, get in contact via
Call for Participants: Military Teens
Danae Laut from the University of Calgary is looking for teenagers with parents who are current or former members of the Canadian Armed Forces and who have suffered an occupational stress injury to take part in her doctoral study. If you think can help, contact Danae on the email above!
e50K: Supporting Military Communities

e50K is a recently launched collective aimed at supporting military communities. By establishing networks of relevant and long-term sustainable projects for those impacted by forces living, they hope to enable active participation in community life. Combined with supporting the local community, e50K's projects provide opportunities to maintain, establish or train for a thriving long term career.

You can read more about e50K on their website. They currently have a survey out about their digital project. If their work applies to you, please fill out the survey and see what e50K can do for you.

You can find the survey here.

Call for Participants: Female and Trans-female British Army soldiers and ex-soldiers
Birbeck PhD student, Lee Arnott, is looking for participants for a PhD project researching masculinities in the British Army. Check out his call for participants and get in contact with him if you think you can help!  
Fundraising for PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide  
At the end of this year the brilliant Gav Topley, a former co-chair of the DRN, is tackling Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for PAPYRUS, the national Charity for the Prevention of Young Suicide.  

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under the age of 35 in the UK, in 2018 over 1800 young people took their own lives. PAPYRUS provides confidential support and advice to young people struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person through their helpline, HOPELINEUK. We'd love it if you would donate to Gav's challenge here, and you can read about PAPYRUS' good work here. 
#DefResChat: Service Children
Our #TwitterHour for this month was on the theme of service children. Our theme this month ties in with April being the #monthofthemilitarychild. Many thanks to everyone who has taken part. It was wonderful to engage with you all and to hear about your research with service children both in the UK and beyond.
Q1) What drew you to want to conduct research with service children?
  • For me, my own experiences of being a service child made me want to conduct research in this field. I feel passionate about listening to and valuing the experiences of an often-overlooked part of the Armed Forces community.
    • Do you find a lot of researchers in this field were service children themselves?
  • Definitely! I've found that the majority of people I've spoken to involved in research and/or practice with service children have a connection to the Armed Forces. Whether as a child, a partner, other family relation, serving member or a veteran (or indeed several!).
    • I agree! There is often some form of military connection. However, I do know a few people who do not have a military connection that does research in this field. I am always so fascinated to hear how people become connected to military, Veteran, and family research.
  • Although I grew up in a military family, it wasn't until I was completing my Bachelor of Education degree that I discovered a lack of Canadian research that focused on the educational experiences of military-connected children. Pursuing this field of research is a great way to combine my personal experience of growing up as a military-connected child with my professional knowledge as an educator.
Q2) What research are you currently working on or have worked on that focuses on service children?
  • I am currently looking to better understand the school transition experiences of adolescents living in Canadian military families. I am talking to adolescents, parents, and educators to get a multi-perspective understanding.
  • My current PhD research focuses on the educational experiences of service children in English state schools and how the Service Pupil Premium (SPP) can be used to better support their needs. Specifically, I'm looking at researching in schools where the numbers of service children (identified through being an SPP recipient) are low as this has been identified as an issue in recent reports including ones from the @CommonsDefence,  @SCISS_NEAC & #LivingInOurShoes 
  • My current doctoral thesis is an IPA study exploring the educational experiences of secondary school students from military families. At the time of interview my participants were attending schools in England and Wales.
  • I’m currently looking at mental health and resilience in teens living with a military parent and an #OSI and #PTSD 
Q3) What are some challenges/difficulties you’ve experienced conducting research with (service) children? Bonus question! What tips do you have to help with researching this group or children in general?
  • Dr Michael Hall's @scipalliance report 'Listening to Learn: the voices of service children' presents several examples of how adults could listen to the experiences of service children in meaningful ways.
  • Whilst on the topic of voice, we must mention the superb work of @NeverSuch @ladylucyfrench. For further information on their recent project, 'Voices of Armed Forces Children', please see their webpage.
  • I was just poised to link to Dr Michael Hall’s excellent report and then saw it was already here.  @RCET_Scot is also an excellent advocate for listening to Service children.
  • For more, you can check out the 'Voice of Schools Project' webpage, the Service Children's Progression Alliance's Report 'Listening to Learn', and the Royal Caledonian Education Trust webpage.
Keep your eyes peeled on our website for the next #DefResChat, and don't forget to check for more info on Twitter and our website. 

You can also find all our previous #DefResChats on the Archive section of our
website. Make sure to tag @DefenceResNet and hashtag #DefResChat to join the conversation.
Find Out More
What we're reading...
In Conversation
This month we have not one but TWO in conversation pieces for you, both of which cover April's theme of service children. Our first is Dr Claire Lee, one of the DRN's founding members and an Early Career Research Fellow in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University. Claire’s recent doctoral research was an arts-based dialogic inquiry into the learning lives of children from armed forces families in a UK primary school. We then chatted to Dr Heidi Cramm. Dr Cramm is an Occupational Therapist and Associate Professor at the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University. Her programme of research focuses on mental health in family systems shaped by the occupational risks and requirements of military and first responder roles. Check out our discussions below - they will also be available on our website!
Hi Claire! 
  • Can you tell us what got you into your field of study in the first place?
Like many others I’ve come across in this research field, I have a service background myself; my father was in the RAF for 36 years. Even though my parents chose ‘weekending’ over accompanied postings, I realise in retrospect how much of my childhood was tinged by the service lifestyle.
Later, I worked for many years as a primary school teacher in a school with a sizeable proportion of children from service families. Through everyday conversations and incidents, I realised we needed a better understanding of their priorities and concerns. Finding a gap in the research literature, and specifically a dearth of UK qualitative research, I did a small-scale arts-based study with a group of primary-school-age service children for an MSc in Educational Research. That led to ESRC funding for my PhD, a dialogic, arts-based inquiry into the learning lives of children from armed forces families, which I completed in 2020 at the University of Bristol. I am now an Early Career Research Fellow for the Children and Young People Research Network at Oxford Brookes University.
  • What advice would you like to give PhD students and early career researchers that you wish someone had said to you?
I would encourage you to present early and often, and use presentations as a way of developing and refining your thinking. If, like me, you come from a previous career in which you are judged heavily on your performance, it can be unsettling to present something that is still evolving and unfinished, but it is a valuable way of gaining feedback from experienced researchers on your ideas as well as suggestions for further reading. At the same time, learn how to present interestingly: use striking visuals and avoid text-heavy slides and reading through them. Try not to be tentative: if people are interested enough in your research to attend your presentation, they deserve something that is engaging.
  • What are your top tips for getting published?
It can be helpful to learn how the publication process works. I was offered the opportunity to co-edit a journal special issue and I have found this experience invaluable, not only for understanding how the peer review process works from the perspective of a reviewer and editor, but also for learning how authors respond to reviews, especially harsh ones, and use them positively to improve their work. An important point is to make sure your article closely meets the brief of the call for papers. Another piece of helpful advice I’ve been given is to read a number of papers from the journal you are targeting to get ideas for style and structure.
  • What are you currently reading?
I’ve been working with a number of researchers recently who take a posthuman and sociomaterial theoretical perspective to their research, and have been dipping into that literature. Karen Barad’s 2007 book ‘Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning’ is a challenging but rewarding read. After that I’m planning to read Donna Haraway’s ‘Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene’ – another daunting but intriguing title. For a recent project I’ve been reading a lot of research articles in the field of digital inequalities. And it’s important to me always to have a novel on the go; recently I read the four ‘Neapolitan’ novels by Elena Ferrante, which I’d recommend for the vivid picture she paints of life in a neighbourhood of Naples and her stories of women’s friendship.
  • How do you see your research field progressing over the next ten years? 
In the last five years I think there has been a growing awareness among policymakers of the inappropriateness of one-size-fits-all approaches to children from service families. This has partly been driven, I am sure, by qualitative researchers working in this field. I hope that research funding will be made available for qualitative studies that can look beyond cohorts and generate nuanced understandings of the complexities of individuals’ ever-changing lives, as well as attend to the diversity of experience among service children. I would also like to see research that both challenges common discourses that position service children as individually either resilient or needy and attends critically to the contexts and structures that shape children’s lives.
Hi, Heidi! 
  • Could you tell us a bit about what you are currently working on?
Right now, we are doing a few projects. One is looking to identify both how military families are impacted by COVID-19 and what kinds of organizational and communities resources and services are available to meet new needs.
We are working on building the military family researcher network and trainee capacity through a number of initiatives. There is so much that this community needs us to work on, and we can’t do it without attracting new research trainees to this important area of work. 
  • What got you into your field of study in the first place?
As an occupational therapist, I was working in child and adolescent mental health services in a military community. The number of families coming in who were from military families was surprising, but there was no research available to help me understand their unique health and health system access challenges. In Canada, there is a public healthcare system but it is administered at the provincial level, so every time a military family is posted to a new location in another province, there is a fair bit of system navigation required to be able to sort out how to get the services. Military families move 2-3 times more frequently than other Canadian families, so the impacts of these moves can accumulate in relation to health and school transitions. When I started in my faculty position at Queen’s University in Canada, I had an opportunity to work with the Canadian Institute for Military & Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR), which was based in my department, to begin to carve out a research program related to military families.
  • What advice would you like to give PhD students and early career researchers that you wish someone had said to you?
Get involved—in research outside of your own project, connect with peers, value mixed methods and cross-disciplinary approaches.
  • What are your top tips for getting published?
Target journals that will give you some breadth, but know what your discipline values.
Thanks, both, for talking with us today! 
Want to go back and read last month's 'In Conversation' interview? You can! We are cataloguing all of our In Conversation pieces separately on our website. If you know someone interesting who would be willing to take part in our In Conversation series, please let us know via email. 
Blog Spotlight: Educating Military Children
We are lucky enough to have two new blogs this week on the theme of service children. Lucy and Shannon respectively discuss the education experience for service children in the UK and in Canada, offering their unique perspectives on both the student experience and the institutions built to support this. Scroll down for an excerpt of each piece. To read the full blogs, head to our website.
Drawings of service children’s families. 2019. [Collated drawings]. Taken from the research conducted by the author: Robinson, L. (2019). Service children: a case study exploring their educational experience and the use of the Service Pupil Premium. [Master’s thesis]. University of Cambridge.
What’s in a name? Exploring the diversity and intersectionality of service children in English state schools.
Lucy Robinson, DPhil student, Department of Education, University of Oxford.

Humans love to categorise and label; to provide order to an otherwise chaotic world. Within the field of education, children are no exception. In the English education system, a multitude of categories exist to classify children; often with the purpose to drive outcome-focused data. Children are typically categorised by gender, age and perceived academic ability in addition to categories linked to their family backgrounds such as English as an additional language (EAL) and Free School Meals (FSM) recipients.

As part of the Department of Education’s (DfE) commitment to delivering the Armed Forces Covenant, since 2011, English schools have had a new label to use – ‘service child’. Although definitions vary across organisations, the DfE defines a service child as a child who is currently in the school years of Reception to Year 11 and who fulfils one of the following criteria:
  • “one of their parents is serving in the regular armed forces (including pupils with a parent who is on full commitment as part of the full time reserve service)
  • they have been registered as a ‘service child’ on a school census since 2016
  • one of their parents died whilst serving in the armed forces and the pupil receives a pension under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or the War Pensions Scheme” (MoD, 2021).
Once a child is identified using this label, the school is then able to claim the Service Pupil Premium (SPP) on their behalf. The funding currently amounts to £310 per pupil, per year and is designed so that “eligible schools...can offer mainly pastoral support during challenging times and to help mitigate the negative impact on service children of family mobility or parental deployment (MoD, 2021).” Most recent figures state that 79,343 children are in receipt of the funding for the school year 2020-21 (Education and Skills Funding Agency, 2020). This in turn is used as a proxy measure for the number of service children currently being educated in English state schools. However, this is likely to be an under-estimate due to lack of parental awareness of the funding or hesitancy of the serving personnel to declare their link to the Armed Forces.

Whilst the SPP is arguably an imperfect and controversial funding model, its introduction has significantly impacted on how English state schools ‘see’ their service children. Although visibility in schools is an important step forward, the SPP is, in one respect, a crude badge of identification. Schools are not required to note down further information in relation to the child’s link to the services (for example service type, category of service or rank) and if done so, this data is not published. This means that insights into service children at anything beyond individual school level remain partial. As a result of this, service children are often categorised into one homogenous mass and their complex service identities are rarely attended to. In turn, this can cause misleading and inaccurate assumptions around their experiences and educational needs.

To disrupt this over-simplification, it is important to bring attention to the diversity of children labelled by the term ‘service child’ by considering the individual child’s characteristics before thinking more broadly about their place within their military family unit.

To read Lucy's full blog, click here.

The Educational Experiences of Military-Connected Students in the K-12 System: A Canadian Perspective
Shannon Hill, PhD Candidate, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University

Over the past decade, military, Veteran, and family research has gained increased attention within Canada. With the support of organizations such as the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR), researchers have continued to explore a wide range of health and well-being issues across military, Veteran, and family populations. Despite Canada’s increased capacity to conduct research across these populations, a population that has remained understudied within Canada are military-connected students – students “having at least one parent as active duty in the military or the reserves, or a parent who was honourably discharged with Veteran status” (Kranke, 2019, p. 189). Given the lack of Canadian research that has focused on military-connected students to date, there remain limitations around what is known about the educational experiences of Canadian military-connected students.

Researchers in Canada who have started to study military-connected students have had to rely heavily on American research to better understand the educational experiences of these students. Academically, military-connected students may experience gaps and/or redundancies in school curricula when transitioning between schools and education systems (Garner et al., 2014). Relocating on average six to nine times between Kindergarten and Grade 12, military-connected students are often required to leave behind peer groups and develop new relationships with each subsequent move (Garner et al., 2014). Disruption to social networks can be particularly challenging for older military-connected students given the important role that peer networks play in adolescent development (Bradshaw et al., 2010). Military-connected students may also lose out on the opportunity to participate in previously enjoyed extracurricular activities due to missed sign ups or try outs (Bradshaw et al., 2010). The challenges discussed above can become further compounded for military-connected students who have special needs (Jagger & Lederer, 2014).
While American literature has provided the foundation for what is known about the schooling experiences among military-connected students, there are contextual differences that exist between the United States and Canada. A key example is the educational infrastructure in place to support military-connected students. Following World War II, the Department of Defence (DoD) established schools for the children of service members to attend (DoDEA, 2021). Known as Department of Defence Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, these schools remain active today with 160 schools located in “11 countries, 7 states, and 2 territories across 10 time zones.” (DoDEA, 2021). Recognizing the challenges that the military lifestyle can create for students, DoDEA schools offer services and supports that help mitigate such challenges (Esqueda et al., 2011). However, only a small number of American military-connected students attend DoDEA schools (approximately 86,000) (DePedro, 2011). Most American military-connected students attend what are known as “civilian-operated” schools: schools that are not funded by the military (DePedro et al., 2011). While it is suggested in the American literature that civilian-operated schools are unaware of or do not understand the unique needs of military-connected students (Esqueda et al., 2012), great efforts have been made by organizations like the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) to support the schooling experience of American military-connected students who attend civilian-operated schools.

To read Shannon's full blog, click here.
New Books
State Secrecy and Security:  Refiguring the Covert Imaginary
By William Walters 

This book makes a case for putting secrecy at the centre of critical security studies. It challenges commonplace understandings of the covert and develops new concepts, methods and themes for secrecy and security research by analysing themes such as the mobility of cryptographic secrets, the power of public inquiries, the connection between secrecy and place-making, and the aesthetics of secrecy within immigration enforcement. 
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Forgotten Wars: Central and Eastern Europe, 1912–1916
By Włodzimierz Borodziej and Maciej Górny

As the title suggests, this book is about Central and Eastern Europe, and the experience of war between 1912-1916. It uses eyewitness accounts and incorporates military and social history. The origins and outbreak of the First World War, as well as the early battles and the war's effect on ordinary soldiers and civilians, are all explored. Finally, the book demonstrates both the obvious differences and the forgotten similarities between 'East' and 'West'.
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Pause for thought...

The impact of the 'forever wars' on military children.

As US President Biden begins the mammoth job of withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan, much has been said about the impact of the move on Afghan politics, terrorism, and the creation of refugees. However, less has been said about the ways that the War on Terror, and the subsequent 'forever deployments', have affected military children, nor what adjustments may be necessary as soldiers begin to return. When researching for this month's theme of service children, a piece caught my attention. Micaela Rollo Kirwan writes:

"The president’s recent announcement that troops will be out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11 this year is welcomed and long-overdue news, but we should remember that endless war spreads far beyond Afghanistan. Troops are sent to dozens of countries, on deployments with no real link to our national interests. Our service members are put in harm’s way to accomplish vague missions that are harder and harder to argue are necessary to keep America safe."

How do military-connected young people make sense of these wars? 

What do you think? Let us know on Twitter!

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