UK Conference to Address Mental, Behavioral Health Issues in Military

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 5, 2015) — “It’s critically important that professionals who work with military and veteran populations understand the military as a unique culture, with its own rules and rituals, but most importantly its own value system,” said Chris Flaherty, associate professor in the UK College of Social Work. Flaherty worked for 20 years in U.S. Air Force mental health and social services systems, and is currently preparing, along with others, for a one-day conference Friday, May 8, that will help mental and behavioral health professionals better serve their military clients. Hosted by the UK College of Social Work in partnership with the UK Department of Family Sciences in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Veterans Resource Center and the Lexington VA Medical Center, the “Contemporary Perspectives on Treating Veterans, Military Members, and their Families” conference will be held from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Campbell House, located at 1375 South Broadway in Lexington. The conference will cover state of the art and best practices for supporting veterans, military members and military families. Attendees will hear from Col. Jennifer Humphries, director of the Army-Fayetteville State University Master of Social Work Program and a leading expert in military behavioral health, on current trends in military social work. Following her plenary speech, breakout sessions will address topics such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma, suicide, supporting military families, military cultural competence, student veterans and more. Recent research findings on veterans’ exposure to suicide will also be presented by Julie Cerel, UK College of Social Work associate professor, licensed psychologist and president-elect of the American Association of Suicidology. Her research shows that almost half of veterans have lifetime exposure to suicide. The study also found that if a veteran was exposed to a suicide first and was later exposed to a traumatic death in their military career, such as someone dying in combat, the veteran had a worse reaction than if the sequence was reversed. Cerel will explain these and other significant findings at the conference. The cost to attend is $120 until May 7. On the day of the conference, May 8, the cost will be $160. The price includes six hours of continuing education credits, as well as lunch. Continuing education credits for the conference are approved by the Kentucky Board of Social Work; the Kentucky Board of Psychological Examiners; the Kentucky Board of Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board; and the Kentucky Board of Nursing. “With the daunting challenges facing our veterans, service members, and military families, and the demands recent and ongoing military operations are placing on military, as well as community-based behavioral health care systems, it is imperative that providers are trained in assessment and treatment models proven to be effective with this population,” Flaherty said. For more information, or to register, visit       MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396,

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