According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the suicide rate among veterans has increased 35 percent since 2001. The VA examined death records of more than 55 million veterans from 1979 to 2014, revealing a sobering statistic that an average of 20 veterans committed suicide every day in 2014.
In an effort to improve care for veterans and their families, the local office of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in collaboration with the University of Southern Indiana, Southwest Indiana Area Health Education Center and several community partners, will offer the annual VA Mental Health Summit and Workshop on Tuesday, July 18, 2017. This free event for veterans and health professionals will begin at 8 a.m. in Carter Hall located in the University Center at USI.
“In the past, this endeavor has been very successful in that we were able to pull together regional organizations that provide veteran-centered, recovery-oriented care to veterans,” said Joel Matherly, manager of the Veteran, Military & Family Resource Center at USI. “This year, we are expanding our horizons a bit in that we are also bringing in two experts from the National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah to share their research during the afternoon workshop.”
Dr. Craig Bryan, executive director of the National Center for Veterans Studies, will speak on “Crisis Response for Suicidal Patients.” He received his PsyD in clinical psychology Baylor University, and completed his clinical psychology residency at the Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He served four years in the Air Force on active duty as the Chief of Primary Care Psychology Services and Suicide Prevention Program Manager at Lackland AFB, and deployed to Iraq in 2009 as the Clinical Director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic located at Joint Base Balad (LSA Anaconda), Iraq. Dr. Bryan currently researches suicide, psychological health, and resiliency among military personnel and veterans.
AnnaBelle Bryan, the center’s director of education and outreach, will address the scientific advances and treatment options for victims of military sexual trauma. She served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years as a public health technician and executive officer at several military installations worldwide, to include a deployment to Iraq in 2009, where she was responsible for disease monitoring and health surveillance for over 25,000 military personnel and civilian contractors. Since her retirement from active duty service in 2012, she has been conducting research focused on military and veteran suicide prevention, PTSD, military sexual trauma and moral injury.
Their presentations will be held from 1-4:30 p.m. Free continuing education units will be available for afternoon attendees.
During the morning, from 8 a.m. to noon, there will be a resource fair and several presentations from regional experts. Topics will include access to VA and community mental health services, suicide prevention, the opioid epidemic, family support and services, and readjustment challenges from a veteran’s point of view.
To register, call 812-464-1989 or visit USI.edu/outreach/veterans/2017-mental-health-summit/.
USI Veteran, Military and Family Resource Center