Empathy and Info on Warrior Family Mental Health

Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) to Hold Symposium on September 12 at Ronald Reagan Center

A young wife helps her medically retired Army husband, a double above-the-knee amputee, with his daily physical therapy as she simultaneously attends to her two children's needs.  An older Vietnam veteran struggles with disturbing mental images of a war, which even after these many years, will not go away – he is divorced and alone.  In an assisted living environment, a now elderly gentleman, stares out his window.  He wonders how it would have been if so many of his buddies could have come home, as he did, from Korea – this emptiness and pain he feels has never been revealed.

What do these generations of American heroes have in common?  How have they experienced and processed their war related traumas?  Is it the same or different between generations and the conflicts America has asked her sons and daughters to engage in? 

As painful as these past 13 years of war have been, the generations who have gone before have their own personally unique - yet similar experiences which have transcended over time. These and many other areas will be explored in the 2013 Warrior-Family Symposium (WFS), co-sponsored by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA).

Now in its seventh year, the symposium will continue the collaborative efforts of government and non-government organizations by providing a public forum for exploring opportunities to collectively improve the physical, psychological and overall well-being of those wounded, ill and injured, and their families.

The program this year takes a broad look at mental health and the challenges facing our warriors and family members across the generations, our government and society today, and in the years ahead, with particular focus on a post-war environment.  The forum will delve into 3 provocative and engaging discussions on the significance of psychological-cognitive injuries, including the impact on individuals, communities and systems.  Broad areas which will be addressed are:

  • What is the scope of mental health among our military members, veterans and their families?
  • What are the mental health implications to individuals, government and society?
  • What are some of the innovative solutions taking place in the mental health field – ways that individuals and organizations can affect change outside of today's forum to help warriors and their families today and into tomorrow?

Important and relevant transition topics such as medical-disability benefits, care coordination, family-caregiver support, and employment-transition services will also be addressed.

With the date of this year's Symposium scheduled on the day after September 11, we are presented with a poignant reminder of the many sacrifices our wounded warriors and their families have made since that initial tragic event in our Nation's history. 

We are reminded that 2.6 million troops have deployed during the 13 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, placing unprecedented demands and stressors on them.  Most troops come home relatively unchanged and perhaps more resilient – others will be forever changed by their traumatic and life-altering experiences which can transcend for generations.

As in past Symposia, members of the Administration; Congressional, Department of Defense, Military and Service Departments; Department of Veterans Affairs; Department of Labor; Department of Health and Human Services and many other governmental and non-governmental leaders and staff will take past.  They will be joined by medical, non-medical professionals, industry, academia, community leaders, service members, veterans and their families and caregivers for one of the only forums of its kind.

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