What IF We Ended Military & Veterans Suicide?

The nation is grappling with service members and veterans who find it hard to cope with coming home. It affects their families and communities as well.

To address this challenge, the Military and Family Research Institute at Purdue University is hosting the 10th annual summit of “Battlemind to Home” on campus Oct. 8. Registration is open now and early bird pricing runs through Aug. 7. The event is a part of Purdue’s Ideas Festival, the centerpiece of the university’s Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign, which is a series of events that connect world-renowned speakers and Purdue expertise in a conversation on the most critical problems facing the world. One of the Ideas Festival’s themes is health, longevity and quality of life.

Legal, mental health and community leaders at the Battlemind summit will learn and share strategies to ease the transition from the battlefront to the home front for military personnel, veterans and their families. Previously held in Indianapolis attracting 340 attendees, this year the conference will take place 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Purdue Memorial Union’s Ballrooms. It is expected to draw participates from more than 100 organizations in Indiana and nearby states.

The opening addresses will be delivered by Conrad Washington, the deputy director with the U.S. Department Veterans Affairs Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiative, who will talk about available programs and resources.  In the afternoon Oz Sanchez, a former Marine and Navy Seal will address the conference. Injured in car-motorcycle accident, Sanchez is now a five-time world champion in the sport of handcycling under the Paralympic umbrella. The emcee will be Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David, whose 28 years of active duty and reserve military service included two post 9-11 deployments and three commands.

Conferees will consider physical, mental health and legal barriers to reintegration and explore tools that help veterans become essential parts of their community.

Session topics include:

* Continuing care for veterans with traumatic brain injury and other medical concerns.

* Support for caregivers and professions, who often deal with individuals in trauma.

* Domestic violence and veteran treatment.

* Finding behavioral health care and making sense of treatment options.

* Assessment of domestic violence for court professionals.

* Mock session in veteran treatment court.

* Caring in a faith-based setting.

* Office of the Indiana Attorney General assistance for service members and their families.

A preconference is planned in Stewart Center the afternoon before. Topics include suicide prevention, financial literacy education and Indiana State Bar Association VA accreditation.

More than 410,000 veterans call Indiana home. Those still serving include 4,821 who are active duty, 13,270 National Guards and 5,585 in the Reserves. As a percentage of population, Indiana military-related suicide rates are 33.3 for every 100,000 persons versus 18.3 for every 100,000 civilians

Registration for the conference is $85 until Oct. 1 or $95 at the door, if space is available. The preconference costs an additional $20. Continuing education credits and scholarships are available.

MFRI, which is based at Purdue, organizes the summit each year in partnership with the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, the Indiana National Guard and the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiative. Organizers collaborate with the Indiana State Bar Association and Indiana Office of Court Services.

The term Battlemind initially was used by military to talk about the inner strength needed to face adversity, fear and hardship during combat. The application of the term then was broadened to take in psychological resiliency both during and after deployment.

More information about the summit is available at https://www.mfri.purdue.edu/outreach-programs/battlemind-summit on the MFRI Facebook Page or on Twitter using #battlemindIN.

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