On March 17, 2015, Adelphi University and the Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island (VHALI) co-hosted the Third Annual Veterans Mental Health Conference. Bearing the theme “Honoring the Past, Looking Towards the Future,” the conference brought together many veterans service providers from around Long Island. A dedication to Vietnam War veteran Richard Whitmarsh and the late Korean War veteran John “Red” Pelan recalled the words of President John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
The conference addressed current social, psychological and economic issues of veterans and policies of institutions working to improve veteran services. Speakers included retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John Javis, operations director and VHALI Advanced Health Network chair; retired U.S. Army Col. Eric J. Hesse, director of the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs; and Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton, M.D.
The speeches were followed by workshop sessions on such topics as post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse among veterans, traumatic brain injury, multigenerational effects and reintegration to society. During an interactive panel, attendees also brought their experiences and insights to the table.
“Our Third Annual Veterans Mental Conference proved to be very beneficial to both our veteran providers and veterans,” said Adelphi Coordinator of Veteran Student Services Christina Wease. “The topics of older veterans and suicide prevention were highlights of this year’s conference. It was well attended and we received positive feedback from many of the attendees. We have already started to plan this event for next year. We are also fortunate to have Dennis Higgins, a veteran Ph.D. student, help us begin to plan for veteran events in the upcoming academic year.
In addition to the conference, Adelphi hosted the Our Veterans Meet and Greet event in March and and a graduation dinner. According to Wease, there is more to come in the future.
“We’re starting Vet2Vet support group meetings on campus and our graduating vets are invited to a precommencement dinner hosted by University College,” Wease said. “We’re constantly planning events on campus to get our students involved.”
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