Enhancing Clinical Competence to Serve Veterans, a Statewide Symposium

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Illinois Joining Forces to conduct training in Springfield, IL for social workers, counselors, and therapists about supporting Veterans and their Families.

The symposium will be a great opportunity for providers to learn more about how to work with women Veterans and their families

The Illinois Joining Forces Behavioral Health Working Group (IJF BHWG) will host a statewide symposium (tinyurl.com/ILBHC14) focused on improving care for Service Members, Veterans, and their Families. Sponsored by the VNA Foundation, Thresholds, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veteran’s Lottery Cash Grant, and Health & Disability Advocates, the symposium will be held Thursday October 9th at the Hilton Hotel in Springfield, IL. The symposium features keynote speakers and sessions where attendees can pick the topics of interest.

“Research shows, and Veterans confirm, that healthcare providers are not sensitive to their needs because they don’t understand the military culture and experience. We specifically picked topics that give healthcare providers that understanding,” says Tom Miller, chair of IJF BHWG.

Topics at the symposium will include military culture, the emotional cycle of deployment, suicide prevention,, an overview of, and techniques for working with Traumatic Brain Injury, Family Interventions, and Recreational and Wellness therapies. In addition, several topics have an application and a particular relevance for women Veterans such as Post Traumatic Stress and Military Sexual Trauma.

The symposium will be opened by the acting Director of Veterans’ Affairs, Rodrigo Garcia and keynote speakers include “Erasing the Distance” a performance of Veterans true stories and the Honorable Christopher R. Stride presentation of “Highlighting the Healing” through Veterans’ Treatment Court.

“We think the symposium will be a great opportunity for providers to learn more about how to work with women Veterans and their families,” says Ginnie Fraser Director of Clinical Services at The Thresholds and a member of the IJF BHWG.

“There is a surge of Veterans needing help now, and we want to make sure that our communities are ready to help. One way we can do this is by having these trainings that give healthcare providers the information they need to provide competent services,” says Laura Gallagher Watkin of Health & Disability Advocates and a member of the IJF BHWG.

The goal is to create a day where providers come together, network, and receive a core foundation in military culture knowledge about the signature wounds of more than a decade of war, and attend the sessions that they want. Having multiple options during the breakouts allows for individuals with less knowledge to pick introductory courses while others may select a session that provides more in-depth discussions.

Even if a practice is not specifically Veteran focused, attending the symposium would be beneficial. “We want to make sure that our communities and providers are “Veteran Friendly.” In our experience, sometimes providers don’t even know that they’re working with service men and women. After our trainings, they find out that they do in fact have several clients who served in the military.” says Gallagher Watkin.

The symposium will be held Thursday October 9th at the Hilton Hotel in Springfield, IL, and costs $30 with scholarships available upon request, and is approved to provide seven and a half (7.5) Continuing Education Units for Illinois licensed behavioral health professionals. To learn more about the symposium, or to register, visit tinyurl.com/ILBHC14.

Health & Disability Advocates plays an active, leadership role in creating information, distributing resources and building the capacity of communities and providers throughout Illinois to better meet the needs of Veterans, military service members, their families, and families of the fallen. HDA’s programs improve health care access, educate the behavioral health community about the unique needs of military service members, and provide training and resources for military service members including finding and retaining employment. HDA receives and responds to multiple invitations to provide webinars and trainings to local organizations, participate in panel discussions, and work with military partners across the state on collaborative trainings.

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Zach Hunsinger