2019 Conference Schedule


7:30-8:00 am: Light Breakfast & Networking

8:00-8:15 am: Opening Remarks

8:15-9:15 am: Bob VandePol, MSW - Who Bounces Back: Characteristics of Resilient People and Systems (1 CEU)

9:15-11:30 am: Breakout Sessions (CEUs available)

11:30 am-12:15 pm: Lunch

12:15 pm-12:30 pm: Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth T. Clement

12:30-1:00 pm: Medal of Honor Recipient James “Doc” McCloughan

1:00-3:15 pm: Breakout Sessions (CEUs available)

3:15-4:30 pm: Mollie Marti, Ph.D., J.D., President and CEO of the National Resilience Institute, “Resilience: Helping our Veterans Thrive” (1 CEU)

4:30-4:45 pm: Veteran Advocate Recognition

4:45-5:00 pm: Closing Remarks

**This agenda is tentative and session times and topics may change.

Social Work CEUs are being offered for some of the conference presentations. 

"I saved lives in Vietnam and he's saving many lives now"- McCloughan about Gripentrog

"I saved lives in Vietnam and he's saving many lives now"- McCloughan about Gripentrog


Breakout #1

9:30am - 11:45am


Female Veteran Challenges & Triumphs

The discussion panel will explore the different programs available for female veterans in the State of Michigan. The participants will hear from community providers focused on women veterans issues in subjects such as Military Sexual Trauma (MST) survivors, female veteran health care programs, women veteran in-service organizations, and more. Attendees will also learn about current initiatives, as well as desired initiatives. The panel will provide an opportunity to have questions answered by experts in the field.

Mindfulness and Alternative Pain Management (2 CEUs)

Dr. William Fitzgerald is a Clinical Psychologist at the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek, MI. Dr. Fitzgerald will provide a better understanding of how to increase emotional awareness, which allows individuals to respond by choice as opposed to reacting to situations. Learn principles associated with mindfulness that can be used to strengthen one’s ability to be resilient. He will also resent a brief overview of Battle Creek Veteran Affairs alternatives to pain management, including: Pain Interventionist, Behavioral Health Services, Chiropractic Care, Acupuncture, Kinesiotherapy – Aquatic Therapy, Recreation Therapy, MOVE! Weight loss program, and Chaplain spiritual services.

Operation S.A.V.E. for Suicide Prevention (2 CEUs)

Operation S.A.V.E. is a training program provided by VA suicide prevention coordinator Derik Vanbaale to veterans and those who serve veterans. Optional role-playing exercises are included.

Operation S.A.V.E. consists of the following components:
1. Brief overview of suicide in the veteran population
2. Suicide myths and misinformation
3. Risk factors for suicide
4. Components of the S.A.V.E. model (Signs of Suicide, Asking About Suicide, Validating Feelings, Encouraging Help and Expediting Treatment)

Welcome Home, Now What?

This panel offers insight to those who are experiencing problems with the transition process out of the military. Heroes that are located right here in Michigan will have the opportunity to share some of their own transitioning experiences. This panel will provide information to those who are seeking to understand more about this transition. Learn strategies that will assist in overcoming challenges faced during this transition period.


Breakout #2

1:00pm - 3:15pm


How can I Help? Family and Friends Helping Veterans

This session includes an hour presentation by Warriors and Caregivers United.  They seek to embrace warriors and caregivers in a non-judgmental and safe environment. They seek to develop utilization of existing resources and systems, assist children in understanding the effects of PTSD on their loved ones, encourage and support development of new and old relationships, and provide venues for the gathering of the WACU community.  This organization will dive into those hard topics that past military members and family members are faced with.  It will then be followed by a panel of individuals who have or are currently working through these challenges sharing their experiences.


Levels of the VA explained & New Legislative Initiatives

Representatives from the federal, state, and county VA will present on the services that are covered at each level of the VA. They will briefly discuss the services provided by their level and how they do and don’t overlap in services. This will be followed by a panel discussion of experts working on veteran legislative initiatives. This will be an excellent session to catch up on all the things changing for veterans.

Overdose Prevention and Response Training (2 CEUs)

This training session involves learning about overdose prevention. You will receive response training with Naloxone (aka. Narcan) and even get your own first response certification.

You will also learn more information about SMART Recovery including SMART’s stance on religion, spirituality, self-empowerment, how SMART Recovery is different from 12 step programs, and SMART Recovery tools. Information will be given regarding how to access online and in person meetings, and other resources that are available to you.

SMART Recovery consists of these four key components:

  1. Building and maintaining motivation

  2. Coping with urges

  3. Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors

  4. Living a balanced life

7 Things Not To Say to a Veteran (2 CEUs)

Jason Moon, an Iraq War veteran, will highlight the seven things people say to veterans that alienate and anger them. Things like, “Glad you made it back home okay,” and, “What did you do over there?” may seem like pleasantries, but Moon will explain how these comments can trigger trauma. He will tell his story of denying and then facing PTSD, as well as share what he has learned through music. Moon is the founder of the non-profit Warrior Songs, which brings hope and healing to veterans through the creative arts.