One of the most-anticipated veterans and military healthcare conferences in the Western Region will return to the Anschutz Medical Campus, April 21-23, 2023.
PVMHC team from the College of Nursing, the Marcus Institute for Brain Health, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the CU Center for COMBAT Research
Co-hosted by the University of Colorado College of Nursing, the Marcus Institute for Brain Health, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the CU Center for COMBAT Research, the Third Annual Partnerships for Veteran and Military Health conference will gather participants from academia, research institutions, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, community healthcare providers, and veteran service organizations. Veterans, service members, their families, and caregivers also attended previous conferences.
The three-day, hybrid event will feature national and local speakers, breakout sessions, activities, and arts and entertainment, to highlight health-related issues facing veterans and positive advances in public policy and healing.
“We hear from people that this is the best conference they’ve ever attended,” says Mona Pearl Treyball, PhD, RN, an organizer for the conference who also serves as the specialty director for the Veteran & Military Healthcare Program at the CU College of Nursing. “It has really created new partnerships within the community, and it has really grown into a national event.”
Treyball notes that participants from 20 states attended last year’s conference, and she expects the excitement for the third annual event to continue to grow in influence.
“We hear from people that this is the best conference they’ve ever attended. It has created new partnerships within the community, and it has really grown into a national event.” – Mona Pearl Treyball, PhD, RN, Specialty Director for the Veteran & Military Healthcare Program at CU Nursing.
What’s in store for 2023?
The conference gives participants insights into the challenges that veterans and members of the military face, as well as a wide array of solutions for improving and saving lives. Veterans’ unseen health issues – from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – have been well-documented over the years.
One of the guiding forces behind the event is CU Nursing Associate Professor and (Retired) Colonel Lori Trego, PhD, CMN, FAAN, who chairs the planning committee. Trego teaches graduate students in CU Nursing’s Veteran and Military Health Care Program. She was deployed twice while serving – once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. Trego encourages anyone with an interest in veterans and military health to participate in the conference.
“There are many ‘invisible wounds’ with veterans and service members – such as those resulting from toxic exposures, chronic stress, sexual trauma, biases and other social determinants of health,” Trego says. “Some people use their experiences, recovery, and growth to advocate for others. I believe we have a professional, social, and human obligation to be advocates. I hope the attendees will reach the similar conclusion during this conference.”
Workshop from 2022 Partnerships for Veteran and Military Health Conference
Though the overarching theme of this year’s conference is “Networking to Address Gaps in Healing,” Treyball says that advocacy – particularly regarding a new law that expands healthcare and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances (the PACT Act) – will be among the recurring topics addressed by speakers. She adds that bringing the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion will be another key component to the conference.
Speakers and activities include:
- A keynote from University of Colorado School of Medicine Professor and Executive Director of the Marcus Institute for Brain Health, James Kelly, MD, MA
- A discussion on the advocacy efforts behind the recently approved PACT Act
- U.S. District 6 Representative and Former Army Ranger Jason Crow, making his third consecutive appearance in the event (barring unforeseen circumstances)
- A presentation on strategic priorities and engagement for the VA by Michael Kilmer, a veteran and director of the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System
- Insights from Major Alivia Stehlik, an openly transgender woman, concerning her role as a healthcare provider and advocacy for LGBTQ military service members
- An exclusive film screening of Modern Warrior LIVE, an immersive music and narrative experience in which U.S. Army veteran, Jaymes Poling, recounts his journey through three deployments, followed by a Q&A session
- Ten veteran artists will display two pieces of art each during a reception
- Virtual poster exhibits from students with topics ranging from firearm suicide prevention to the impact of military service on veterans’ health
- A workshop with acclaimed mixed media artist Wayne Brezinka, and a workshop on basic storytelling writing skills from Joe Lambert, of StoryCenter, the founders of the digital storytelling movement
- A roundtable on women’s health issues, including a discussion on the plight of homeless women veterans from CU Nursing Associate Professor Deborah Kenny, PhD, RN, FAAN
- Several “track sessions” with themes ranging from social determinants of health to integrative care
- A closing keynote on positive life change after sexual assault from Taniki Richard USMC (Ret.), author and podcast host
A life-changing event
During the previous two conferences, organizers received a wave of positive feedback from participants who were moved by the presentations and activities.
“It speaks to people’s hearts,” Treyball says. “There’s a shared sense of community and a shared understanding of the significant sacrifices that these people have made in order to assure the freedoms of our nation.”
In a letter nominating Trego for the Nightingale Luminary Awards last year (for which she was named as a Luminary for the creation of this conference), Brig. Gen. Kathleen Flarity, DNP, PhD, CEN, CFRN, FAEN, said the conference was “truly groundbreaking in ways in which the multiple issues were addressed and attendees from academia, clinical practice and the community were engaged with each other.”
Flarity is the Deputy Director of the Center for COMBAT Research at the CU School of Medicine.
Vendors and events from 2022 Partnerships for Veteran and Military Health Conference