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2013 MOAA/NDIA Warrior-Family Symposium

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2012 MOAA/NDIA WFS header image 


Read the 2013 Warrior-Family Symposium Transcript

Watch video from the event:

Opening Remarks & Keynote Speaker: Robert L. Jesse
Fireside Chat: Six Degrees of Separation for Warriors & Families: The Impact of Mental Health Across Generations
Discussion Panel: The Significance: The Impact of Mental Health on Government & Society
Lunch Keynote Speaker: Gen. John. F. Campbell, USA
Interactive Open Lunch Forum: Innovative Mental Health Solutions—Today & Tomorrow
Closing Keynote Speaker: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Celebrity Keynote Speaker: Brian Delate & Closing Remarks 



 WFS 2013 panel image 
Panelists at the 2013 MOAA-NDIA Warrior-Family Symposium discuss the impact of mental health issues across generations. (Photo by Sean Shanahan.) 



MOAA and the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) cohosted the Warrior-Family Symposium Sept. 12 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. This year’s program, “Mental Health: Linking Warriors and Their Families, Government, and Society,” takes a broad look at mental health and the challenges facing wounded warriors and their family members in a post-war environment.

Panelists and key speakers discussed the scope of mental health among military families; the mental health implications on individuals, government, and society; and innovative solutions taking place in the mental health field — culminating in a call to action for individuals and organizations to effect change outside of the forum to help warriors and their families today and tomorrow. Emerging themes focused on erasing the stigma associated with mental health issues, peer support as a way to encourage seeking treatment and during the treatment process, innovations in the mental health field, and integration between the mind and body, the public and private sectors, and DoD, the VA, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

During the Fireside Chat, “Six Degrees of Separation for Warriors and Families: The impact of Mental Health Across Generations,” moderator Scott Thuman, anchor, Good Morning Washington and ABC7 News, led panelists in a discussion about psychological-cognitive traumas and physical injuries and the effect they have on servicemembers and their families. Panelists Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors; Maj. Kevin Polosky, USA, executive officer for the vice director for Logistics, Joint Chiefs of Staff, J4, and caretaker of his Army veteran wife; Debbie Sprague, author, A Stranger in My Bed: 8 Steps to Taking Your Life Back from the Contagious Effects of Your Veteran’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; and Lt. Gen. Bernard “Mick” Trainor, USMC (Ret), Korean War and Vietnam War veteran, author of Endgame, and former military correspondent for The New York Times, shared stories of struggle and hope.

Alex Quade, a freelance war reporter, moderated the discussion panel, “The Significance: The Impact of Mental Health on Government and Society,” featuring Debbie Paxton, MSN, R.N, mental health advisor of the U.S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment and spouse of Gen. Jay Paxton, USMC, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps; Kathryn Power, M.Ed., regional administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services; Capt. Richard Stoltz, USN, director, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury; and Terri Tanielian, senior social research analyst, RAND Corp. Panelists discussed the impact of mental health on the government and in civilian communities, focusing on the extent and consequences of psychological-cognitive injuries in the military and veterans’ populations.

An interactive open lunch forum, “Innovative Mental Health Solutions — Today and Tomorrow,” moderated by Dr. David Brown, chief, Behavioral Health, Clinical Operations, Pacific Regional Medical Command, Honolulu, joined Lily Casura, freelance writer and editor, social media expert, founder of Healing Combat Trauma, and chapter author of Healing War Trauma: A Handbook of Creative Approaches; James Kelly, M.D., FAAN, director, National Intrepid Center of Excellence, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.; and Greg Montgomery Jr., founder and CEO of ZenPunt 5.0, a former NFL All-Pro punter, and spokesperson for the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Illness Research, to offer insight into practical and promising medical advances and alternative solutions taking place in the field of mental health.

The event featured four keynote speakers. Robert L. Jesse, M.D., Ph.D., principal deputy under secretary for Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, kicked off the event as the morning keynote speaker. Jesse, who still sees patients as a way to stay tuned in to the problem, emphasized the stigma for seeking mental health care should not keep servicemembers and their families from getting help. He noted how training prepares troops to go to a combat zone, but the problem lies in the lack of preparation they receive when they’re reintegrating into society. But with innovations like primary care teams that enable physicians to refer patients to mental health specialists immediately after the physicians identify a problem and more involvement from community partners, Jesse hopes a solution is in sight.

Gen. John F. Campbell, vice chief of staff, Army, the lunch keynote speaker, spoke about the importance of overcoming challenges associated with behavioral and mental health. He outlined six lines of effort -- embedded behavioral health, a behavioral health data portal, child and family behavioral services, family advocacy programs, telebehavioral health, and internal behavioral health consultants – which he believes will help the Army overcome these challenges.

The daylong event ended after speeches from celebrity closing keynote speaker Brian Delate, an actor, filmmaker, playwright, and Vietnam War veteran, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, chair, Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Delate noted the topic of mental health hit close to home. Until he was diagnosed with PTSD, he had gone through life, since serving in Vietnam, feeling as though something was missing. Like a shadow, he said, PTSD would be there. But through allies and gaining trust in people, he was able to break through to deal with the past and find a new sense of normalcy for the future. For others to move forward to seek help for mental health issues, peer-to-peer interaction among veterans and bridging the gap between veterans and society will be key.

Sanders, like others during the day, talked about eliminating the stigma of seeking help and noted when troops return from war, the focus must be on getting them help and making their transitions back into society as smooth as possible. For it to work, he said, we need to understand it is a family issue, not just the servicemember’s issue. It takes a community-wide effort, too, Sanders said, through which society must give an equal amount of attention to the so-called invisible wounds as it does to physical wounds of war.

Sponsors for the 2013 Warrior-Family Symposium include executive sponsor USAA; patron and lunch Haven Behavioral War Heroes Hospital; gold sponsors Health Net, Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman, UnitedHealthcare, and U.S. Family Health Plan; silver sponsor Express Scripts and Boeing; bronze sponsors CUBIC, Day & Zimmerman, and Delta Dental; breakfast sponsor American Physical Therapy Association; and media sponsor Military.com.   


Opening Remarks & Keynote Speaker: Robert L. Jesse 



Fireside Chat: Six Degrees of Separation for Warriors & Families:
The Impact of Mental Health Across Generations



Discussion Panel:
The Significance: The Impact of Mental Health on Government & Society



Lunch Keynote Speaker: Gen. John. F. Campbell, USA 



Interactive Open Lunch Forum: Innovative Mental Health Solutions—Today & Tomorrow 



Closing Keynote Speaker: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 



Celebrity Keynote Speaker: Brian Delate & Closing Remarks 





 Executive Sponsor      

Patron and Lunch Sponsor      

  WFS Haven  
Gold Sponsor
WFS US Family

WFS Lockheed

WFS Health Net

WFS Northrop

WFS United Healthcare


 Silver Sponsor

WFS Express Scripts 


WFS Boeing

Bronze Sponsor

WFS Cubic

  WFS Day and Zimmerman  
 Breakfast Sponsor


Media Sponsor  

militarycom WFS 2013 


 jeannette wagner logo
Thank you to J. WAGNER Event Design
Providing Strategic Program Content Development, Multimedia Direction and Event Producer Services