MILWAUKEE, March 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Approximately 14,500 Iraq and Afghanistan (OEF/OIF) veterans are returning to Wisconsin, the majority living a great distance from the one, small, active duty installation in the state. As these service members return from war, many will reintegrate with wounds that are not just physical, but behavioral, emotional and spiritual. As the process of healing begins, these families will first seek services and support in the communities where they reside.
Behavioral health among OEF/OIF veterans is an area which has warranted significant attention in recent years. A July 2012 report found that an estimated 13 to 20 percent of service members deployed since 9/11 may have PTSD and a 2011 study showed that 6.5% of 9/11 veterans stated they were experiencing active suicidal ideation. In Wisconsin, this equates to as many as 2,900 service members with PTSD and almost 1,000 experiencing suicidal ideation.
While there are many quality behavioral health services available in Wisconsin communities, utilization by service members and their families is low. Often service members are not aware of available services and need information on military-friendly programs in their area. Additionally, many service providers are not educated on military culture and the unique behavioral health issues that may impact military families. These factors, along with a perceived stigma towards mental health issues, may make service members resistant to using behavioral health services or returning after one visit.
Fortunately, a group of behavioral health and military support organizations in Wisconsin are working to reverse this trend. On March 21st Mental Health America of Wisconsin, Dryhootch Veterans, The Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, and Army OneSource are putting on the Wisconsin Warrior Summit aimed at ensuring every service member, regardless of component or geographic location, has access to, and feels comfortable utilizing, the services they need. Veterans, service members, their families, mental health providers, clinicians, social workers, educators, law enforcement officers, and other members of the community interested in learning more about serving military families, are invited to attend.
The event will take place at the Milwaukee County War Memorial, Thursday, March 21st from 8:30 – 4:30 and will feature key note speaker, COL David W. Sutherland, U.S. Army, Retired, and Executive Director of the Dixon Center. The event will also include a Veterans Panel highlighting stories of struggle and recovery, breakout sessions on various issues impacting service members and over 50 exhibitors who provide services to military families. Social workers and counselors can earn up to 6 CEUs.
For more information and registration visit www.mhawisconsin.org/warriorsummit2013.aspx. Act now, space is limited.
Wisconsin communities have a great responsibility in serving the military families in their communities. Working together in an informed and synchronized effort to address the unique challenges facing today's military will go a long way in ensuring our service members and their families live the lives they deserve.
SOURCE Army OneSource