FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Aynisa Leonardo
Date: September 20, 2017
Veterans Training Initiative Hosts ‘Moral’ Injury Forum and Film Screening in Rome
ROME, NY – The Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative, in collaboration with the Mohawk Valley Division of the National Association of Social Workers – New York State Chapter, is hosting a veterans’ mental health forum on the topic of ‘moral injury’ on Wednesday, September 20 at Rome Capital Cinemas from 12:00PM – 4:30PM.
The forum, titled “A Closer Look at Moral Injury: Existential Challenges Faced by Returning Veterans”, is presented and moderated by Aynisa Leonardo, founder of the Military Resilience Project, Inc. The event is approved for continuing education credits for NYS licensed social workers, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and psychoanalysts, and is free for veterans and service members to attend.
“I’ve worked with Veterans and First Responders for a decade now in inpatient psychiatric, outpatient mental health, and 28-day addiction rehab facilities. Moral Injury has been a consistent trend, and often emerges within these settings, as individuals start to examine their past experiences and subsequent identities,” said Leonardo. “From my experience, methods that are most helpful in processing and progressing with Moral Injury are based around ritual, expression, community, and peers.”
The event also features a documentary screening of ALMOST SUNRISE (2016), which follows two Iraq veterans, Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson, both tormented by depression for years after they returned home and were pushed to the edge of suicide. Both veterans embark on an extraordinary journey – a 2,700-mile walk across the country from Wisconsin to California, in order to reflect on their haunting experiences of war and to ultimately save themselves. Directed by Michael Collins, this documentary explores the concept of “Moral Injury” as it relates to war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Moral Injury can be described as a wound to the soul,” said Susan Koniewicz-Everett, Chair of the Mohawk Valley Division of the National Association of Social Workers – New York State Chapter (NASW-NYS). “As a clinician, helping clients understand that all wounds heal and that time is their friend not their enemy, I believe is the most effective practice for those experiencing this internal conflict. Practicing mindfulness and learning that the discomfort will pass is invaluable in treatment.”
Following the screening, there will be workshops and a discussion panel featuring veterans and military service members. The workshops will provide an overview of military culture and the challenges of transitioning to civilian life, with particular focus on the concept of moral injury — the factors that can lead to a moral wound and its lasting implications for one’s spirituality, identity, and ethics.
Made possible by a grant from the New York Legislature, the Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative (VMHTI) is a collaborative endeavor of the Medical Society of the State of New York, New York State Psychiatric Association, and New York Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers to educate and train community mental health and primary care providers on veteran-specific mental health issues, including among others post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, suicide, suicide prevention and substance use disorders. Entering its fifth training cycle, the goal of the VMHTI is to build the capacity of New York’s community mental health workforce to better serve our returning veterans and their families.
For more information, visit www.naswnys.org/vmhti
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About the Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative
The Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative is a collaborative endeavor of the Medical Society of the State of New York, New York State Psychiatric Association, and New York Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers to educate and train community mental health and primary care providers on veterans-specific mental health issues, including among others post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, suicide, suicide prevention and substance use disorders. The initiative is made possible by a grant from the New York Legislature and is administered by the NYS Office of Mental Health.