Newswise — CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Feb. 15, 2017 - Veterans returning from active duty often face serious challenges as they reintegrate to civilian roles. This task can be even more demanding when the service member has suffered a traumatic injury. Supporting veterans and their families through this process is the focus of the 2017 UNC Charlotte Veterans' Health Conference.

The conference will emphasize biopsychosocial issues related to reintegration, including physical health challenges faced by this population and access to and use of services among veterans, service members and their families, including potential strategies for supporting reintegration to their life roles in the community.

“While asking ‘Have You Ever Served in the Military?’ is an important start, it must be accompanied by an in-depth understanding of what it means to have served and what the accompanying health risks are for that individual based on when and where they served,” said Maj. Gen. Margaret Wilmoth, deputy surgeon general for mobilization, readiness and Army Reserve affairs, and a keynote speaker at the event.

“Joining Forces for Veteran Health and Reintegration” will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28, in UNC Charlotte’s Popp Martin Student Union.

Other keynote speakers include:James Prosser, assistant secretary for veterans affairs, N.C. Department of Military and Veterans AffairsRichard Tedeschi, a professor in the UNC Charlotte Department of Psychology whose research focuses on posttraumatic growth in survivors of various traumas, including combat

"​In the aftermath of a traumatic experience some people may find posttraumatic growth, and this is true for veterans as well, said Tedeschi. “This growth may involve a greater sense of personal strength, appreciation of life, relating to others, new possibilities in life or spiritual change. A combination of a program based on posttraumatic growth principles, in a setting that fosters reflection and within a safe interpersonal environment, may have the best opportunity for promoting optimal reintegration for veterans."

The Feb. 28 conference, which is free and open to the public (registration information on the web), will feature a research poster session and opportunities for audience interaction and questions with the presenters. Attendees also will have the opportunity to visit a vendor fair that will feature community service providers.

“North Carolina is home to more than 800,000 veterans and the third largest military force in the United States,” said Prosser. “Meeting the needs of service members, veterans and families requires interagency cooperation and collaboration.”

In March, the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry will publish a special issue on veteran reintegration featuring research by UNC Charlotte Academy for Veteran and Military Health Director Christine Elnitsky. Advance copies of the publication are available.

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