Veterans Counseling Veteran is embarking on a yearlong Veteran Suicide Campaign. We believe the community needs to be engaged all the time. Our first event is Military Sexual Trauma Conference on 28 Mar 2020 at the Veteran Resource Center in Veteran Memorial Park 3602 US-301, Tampa, FL 33619. We are kicking off with MST because it is the least discussed when it comes to Women Veteran suicides. Women Veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide than non women veterans but they are rarely discussed when we talk about the Veteran suicide epidemic. MST is one of the primary Disorders linked to suicidal ideations and completion. https://www.rand.org/multimedia/podcasts/veterans-in-america/why-so-many-military-women-think-about-suicide.html, https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/docs/Women_Veterans_Fact_Sheet_508.pdf
The conference will include MST survivors:
Bonnie Arlene Walker is the founder, advocate, and blogger for the MST Survivor Project http://mstsurvivor.com/author/bonnieawalker42/ and Journey of an MST Survivor. These platforms were a compliment for her healing while she maneuvered through the VA mental health system as a result of a military sexual trauma that occurred early in her Navy enlistment. To build on her passions in seeing survivors and providers locate resources nationwide both in the government and private sector, Bonnie is a student at Florida Atlantic University in the Social Work program working towards her master’s in clinical social work.
Heath Phillips joined the Navy when he was 17 years old. Heath is a male MST. He grew up in a military style family; his father was in the Army and had Uncles that served in Vietnam. Heath’s stepfather was also in the Army. Heath Phillips has chosen to be a speaker and trainer to relay his life, his truth, and the effects it has had on him, the obstacles he had/must overcome, and most importantly educate our military and others, with regards to the damage sexual assault and hazing does to anyone (to include males). One of the things Heath brings is not only first-hand experience but also, he makes it personal by engaging the audience. This is not the normal “tell a story” or “raise your hand” type of engagement that audiences have come to expect. Instead this is a full-blown experience that will truly awe every individual on a personal level. In this presentation he also discusses the role of the active bystander and how to become an active one instead of a passive bystander. Heath Phillips was featured in the NYTime as one of 6 male MST survivors. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/10/us/men-military-sexual-assault.html
Lynn Geiser, founder of Hope 4 Veterans, Army and MST survivor. Her passion and dedication to veterans and their families leads to her history of challenges that she faced after she left the military. She faced homelessness, unemployment, lack of resources, support and peer help but her dedication working with military families, helping with Employment needs has gained the ability to feel that she is strong and important to be able to tell her recovery story. She still needs the tools to conquer her goals and the assistance from other military women to make HOPE4VETS the opportunity for other Military Women to find their purpose/dream. With the help of our community, Military Women and their families we try to give HOPE back. https://www.hope4veterans.org/about-us/
Demika Jackson is a US Army War Veteran and the Chief Executive Officer of ReInVentU, LLC which assists nonprofit organizations with strategic planning, organizational development and professional services to increase sustainability.
She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Armstrong Atlantic State University and currently pursuing her MA Business Administration and MA Christian Counseling. She is a certified trainer within a variety of disciplines to include over 15+ years of experience within nonprofit, military operations, leadership development and training, sexual assault prevention, mental health and program development.
Her background includes working within diverse populations to include the military and multicultural communities providing education, advocacy, and empowerment. She serves several boards and organizations to include the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women, Mayor’s Hispanic American Advisory Board, The Mission Continues, Annie Ruth Foundation, and Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority, Inc to name a few.
This conference to be substantive, so I am creating an advisory Committee to help shape the conference. If you feel or know someone that can add value please DM me. The purpose of the conference is to bridge the gap of understanding about MST to the civilians community. There will be 4 panels (MST survivors, family members of MST Survivors, Military Veteran Counselors and Peers and Subject matter experts of MST claims process. Thanks again Mary for helping me spread the word. It’s important we take care of our own. At Veterans Counseling Veterans INC, We don’t just sympathize, we empathize!
Who should attend this conference: Mental Health providers, MST Survivors, family members of MST, community leaders who serve veterans and their families, VA and organizations that provide mental health services to Veterans.