The University of Southern California’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families kicks off its annual ‘State of the American Veteran Conference 2017’.
Los Angeles, California – The Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families, or “CIR” (pronounced “Sir”), at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is once again presenting a conference aimed at addressing the critical issues facing today’s veterans.
The State of the American Veteran Conference 2017 (Sept. 28 – 29, 2017, Los Angeles), will focus on understanding the military transition issues of veterans and families, learning about their needs and challenges, and moving toward concrete policy recommendations to ease their transition and increase their well-being.
300 attendees from across the nation and comprised mostly of representatives from veteran oriented companies and nonprofit organizations, will gather to discuss research and identify best practices. The policy recommendations formed as a result of this conference will be distributed to 18,000 individuals from veteran oriented organizations who will be providing direct services to the 350,000 new veterans transitioning from military service in 2017.
California is home to almost 2 million veterans and more than 57,000 service members currently serving in the National Guard and Reserve components. With more veterans than any other state, CIR stresses that California has the unique ability to show the way forward for the rest of the nation.
One in three veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress symptoms, and veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. Returning service members face everything from marital problems to traumatic brain injury to substance abuse.
Last year CIR’s conference focused on making California more military and veteran friendly. This year’s conference will continue CIR’s statewide efforts, while also identifying common themes that can be carried out across America.
In 2014, CIR Director Dr. (COL.) Carl Castro, and Dr. Sara Kintzle, CIR research assistant professor, led the first comprehensive needs assessment of the veteran community in the Los Angeles area, followed by similar studies in San Francisco, Chicago and Alabama. It is with this data in mind that CIR seeks to bring together leaders in the veteran sphere to spotlight the main issues facing veterans and families, and guide the work moving forward.
In an interview with Lima Charlie News, Dr. Kintzle explained, “The State of the American Veteran Conference is an opportunity for people to come together to try to solve the challenges that those who have served in the military face. And it’s different than a lot of other conferences … the idea of this conference is to have people from all different backgrounds, practitioners, funders, corporations, researchers, professors, people who work in the legal system – all coming together to solve problems that people who have served in the military face.” Kintzle stressed that “these problems require all of us” and that this is an opportunity “to get everybody in the room together to really focus on certain topics and to come up with solutions that can really improve the lives of our veterans.”
Dr. Hazel Atuel, research associate professor at CIR told Lima Charlie News, “There’s not very many conferences like the one we’re going to have next week … this is truly going to be a meeting of the minds from different sectors, coming together and coming up with a game plan to move forward, whether it’s going to be new policy, or new programs, or new studies, that need to be done.”
SAVC Conference Tracks
The State of the American Veteran Conference will include five different tracks focused on (1) Combat Veterans, (2) Student Veterans, (3) Women Veterans, (4) National Guard and Reserve, and (5) Children and Families. Breakout sessions across the two days will tackle the unique transition experiences, programs and policy recommendations.
Scheduled speakers include Sen. Josh Newman (29th Dist., CA), Chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs, Kayla Williams, Director of the Center for Women Veterans, Department of Veteran Affairs, Col. (Ret.) Dr. Carl Castro, Director of CIR and Nathan Graeser, CIR’s Community Program Administrator.
Breakout sessions across the two days will tackle the unique transition experiences, programs and policy recommendations of each group.
What CIR Does
According to CIR, it takes a holistic approach to the needs of veterans:
“Most organizations support one or two needs of veterans while ignoring other needs or they do not work in concert with agencies to comprehensively support veterans’ needs. CIR established and manages the LA Veterans Collaborative (LAVC), a 500 member-organization collaborative of community leaders, community-based organizations, government agencies, and other stakeholders who serve veterans and military families in the Greater LA area.”
CIR also conducts and disseminates educational and behavioral health research relevant to the long-term health and well-being of service members, veterans and their families. According to CIR, its approach includes identifying critical and emerging issues, and fostering collaboration among its faculty and other experts who share a commitment to improving programs and policies that serve veterans and service members.
CIR is also ahead of the tech curve by researching such advancements as Virtual Reality as a tool for enhancing the proficiency of behavioral health providers. CIR’s published articles and technical reports have tackled such topics critical to veterans and service members as military trauma, suicide, sexual assault and LGBT issues.
Internationally, CIR participates in NATO Research Technology Groups. CIR Director Dr. Carl Castro also chairs NATO’s research groups on Transition from Military to Civilian Life and Sexual Violence Within the Military.
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Read about more from the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR):