APA collaborates with Rep. Buerkle for military and veteran mental health workshop

APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO) collaborated with Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), Chair of the Health Subcommittee of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, to host a December 13 workshop for faith-based providers on the mental health needs of military service Workshop presenters with Congresswoman Buerkle (fourth from left)members, veterans, and their families.  The workshop was held at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York and included over 100 faith-based providers and community leaders from veterans organizations. 

Rep. Buerkle’s opening remarks provided an overview of key issues facing service members, veterans, and their families and extended her thanks to APA for its partnership in coordinating the event.  The first workshop panel included APA members M. David Rudd, PhD, ABPP, University of Utah; Judy Hayman, PhD, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); Caitlin Thompson, PhD, VA; and George Ake III, PhD, Duke University Medical Center and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.  These experts discussed:

  • Signature mental wounds of America’s current conflicts; 

  • Warning signs and strategies for suicide prevention; 

  • Unique stressors facing military children and families; and 

  • Local, state, and national resources available to service members, veterans, and their families. 

The second panel included veterans Jason Hansman, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Tim Bejian, Retired Air National Guard Chaplain.  They shared experiences and recommendations from their own military service and identified opportunities for collaboration between mental health providers and the faith-based community.  The workshop included two Q&A segments with thoughtful questions and recommendations from participants. 

Several local media outlets attended the workshop, with one airing an interview with Dr. Ake for their nightly news broadcast.  In addition, APA joined Rep. Buerkle and colleagues at IAVA in providing live updates about the meeting over social media.