I was in Birmingham Alabama last week to attend the University Of Alabama’s (UA) School Of Social Work Service to Civilian Summit (S2C). The summit is in place to bring together Veterans and those that serve them to share practical and actionable information about working with Veterans in their families in the community. Based on those who attended and the presenters and speakers involve, I can assure you that this Summit is set up to become the premier event for discussing and solving the issues surrounding the Veteran transition.
First, Karl Hamner and David Albright of UA’s School Of Social Work Service deserve recognition for developing and putting on a wonderful event. In years past I’ve attended other Veteran based conferences. Based on my experience, a majority of them get mired in the discussion of Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) based issues, like VA educational benefits, Healthcare issues and VA interworking.
The UA S2C is a breath of fresh air because it focuses on a holistic view of our Veterans, and not just on the Veteran’s experience with one government agency. At the event I was very interested to learn of the significant work The Southern Company is doing to engage and hire Veterans, The Serra Club’s unique outdoors program for Military and Veterans and of the stout and aggressive work that the Call of Duty Endowment is doing to get Veterans back to work.
Also, I had the great honor of facilitating the second day’s keynote panel, Community Exemplars for Veteran Connections and Support. The panel was a discussion between John Boerstler - Combined Arms Houston, Paula Broadwell – NCServes, Stephen Ferrante – Mission United Broward County and Nathan Graeser – USC Center for Innovation and Research for Military and Veteran Families. These community representatives had great insights on working as a community to develop better services for the Veterans in your area. They all come from locations that have fostered grassroots movements, with Veteran involvement, to create and deliver unique local models that are engaging and serving Veterans. Check into their work, interesting stuff.
If you didn’t make it this year I suggest you do next year. Also, monitor the UA S2C website, it is my understanding that they are going to post videos of certain speakers and share a majority of the presentation materials.