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May 30, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Combat Stress: Preparing for the Return
A National Conference at Smith College

Keynote lectures are open to the public by registration. Tickets will be distributed as space allows; requests should be made by June 23 to Lauren Thomas by e-mail or by calling (413) 585-7970. Journalists interested in attending should contact Kristen Cole.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – During the past four years, more than 28,000 U.S. Army soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Last year, army soldiers committed suicide at the highest rate since the Army began keeping records in 1980, says data released this month.

Because of the myriad health issues soldiers face, the Smith College School for Social Work, 90 years after it was founded to address the needs of World War I veterans, is hosting a national conference about troops serving in current conflicts.

The conference, “Combat Stress: Understanding the Challenges, Preparing for the Return,” on the Smith campus June 26-28, will address the mental health needs of returning veterans and their families, and how to treat them.

Nationally recognized leaders in the field – including Walter Reed Medical Center military psychiatrists and school for social work deans from around the country – will speak about the current research and understanding of traumatic brain injuries, the effects of redeployment, and the escalating suicide rate among military personnel.

Special attention will be directed toward addressing the needs of populations that are underserved in the current systems, including the National Guard and reservists; women, especially mothers and children; and partners.

To understand the trauma of combat firsthand, two veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and two veterans of the Vietnam War will also share their experiences living with the stress of battle.

While the conference is designed for mental health professionals, especially clinical social workers, members of the public are invited to attend the three keynote lectures.

Keynote lectures are open to the public by registration. The following keynotes, as well as the reaction panels that follow, will be held in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall, on the Smith campus.

Thursday, June 26

8:30 to 9:30 a.m., “The Deployment Cycle: Expectations and Implications”

Lt. Col. Carl Castro, chief of military psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and author of a study of the psychological effects of war on 6,200 soldiers and Marines, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lt. Col. Mark Chapin, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Reaction Panel

Capt. J. Camille Hall, faculty member, University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Social Work.

Laurie Harkness, director of Errera Community Care Center, VA Connecticut Health System.

Lt. Col. David D. Rabb, coordinator, Continuum of Care & Transition, VA Menlo Park.

Friday, June 27

9 to 10:30 a.m., “The Trials of Homecoming: Odysseus Returns from Iraq/Afghanistan”

Jonathan Shay, psychiatrist, Department of Veteran Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston since 1987, where his only patients have been combat veterans with severe psychological issues. Shay is also a 2008 MacArthur Fellow.

10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Reaction Panel

Kathryn Basham, professor, Smith College School for Social Work, and member of the Congressionally mandated committee on the effect of combat trauma on the  physical and mental health of soldiers and their families.

Barbara Romberg, founder of Give an Hour, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a national network of mental health professionals who provide free counseling to military personnel.

Stephen Xenakis, retired brigadier general in the U.S. Army, outspoken opponent of torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody and allay of Physicians for Human Rights.

Saturday, June 28

9 to 10:30 a.m., “Secondary Trauma and Caregivers”

Charles R. Figley, director of the award-winning Florida State University Traumatology Institute and Psychosocial Stress Research and Development Program.

Brian E. Bride, program director at the University of Georgia School of Social Work, and author of the recently published book “Stress, Trauma and Substance Use.”

10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Reaction Panel

Bonnie Carroll, director of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the national Veterans Service Organization providing peer support, grief and trauma resources and information.

Capt. J. Camille Hall, University of Tennessee

Capt. Wayne R. Brockington, Mental Health Services, Manitoba, Canada.

The complete schedule is available online.

Sponsored by the Smith College School for Social Work and Give an Hour, the conference has also been made possible by a gift from the Brown Foundation.

About the Smith College School for Social Work (SCSSW)
For 90 years, the SCSSW has provided graduate social work education to men and women around the world. Our program is internationally recognized for its dedication to and specialization in clinical social work, and for its commitment to academic excellence.

 

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Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174
kacole@email.smith.edu

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