U.S. Air Force Secretary and USC alumnus Michael B. Donley (B.A., International Relations, ’77; M.A., International Relations, ’78) was recently profiled in the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of the USC Dornsife Magazine.
Mr. Donley–an Army veteran who served from 1972 to 1975 with the XVIIIth Airborne Corps and 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)–was sworn in as Secretary of the Air Force on October 17, 2008. With over 26 years of policymaking experience, he is a recognized expert in national security organization, planning and budgeting.
At a recent Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce event, Colonel David Sutherland spoke about the importance of providing support to veterans who return from battle. Col. Sutherland–the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Warrior and Family Support–emphasized the need for community members and neighbors to help veterans reintegrate into civilian life as well as provide support to their families. He called on community organizations and volunteer programs to provide support for this population and specifically recognized the Torrance-South Bay YMCA outreach program being launched in partnership with the USC School of Social Work.
The program, called the Armed Services YMCA DoD Military Outreach Initiative, offers free YMCA memberships to families of deployed servicemembers. The program’s partnership with USC will also give these families access to counseling and other services through student interns working at the YMCA. To date, approximately 100 families have been involved in the program.
On May 18, the CIR team met with Gary Sinise to personally thank him for his dedication to supporting veterans and military families as well as CIR and the USC School of Social Work. Mr. Sinise recently endowed a scholarship for servicemembers, veterans, or their family members to attend the School of Social Work. Isaac Ford Jr. was the first recipient of this scholarship, awarded earlier this year.
Despite his financial generosity, Mr. Sinise’s biggest contributions to veterans and their families are his time and energy. He has performed hundreds of USO concerts with his band, the Lt. Dan Band, both at home and abroad for deployed servicemembers and their families. In addition, he is a co-founder of Operation International Children (OIC), a program which provides school supplies to children in countries where U.S. troops are deployed, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
This Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Sinise and his band will perform a concert in St. Louis to benefit Cpl. Todd Nicely, a quadruple amputee Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan. In partnership with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, the Lt. Dan Band will raise funds to build a smart home for Corporal Nicely, as well as the two other quadruple amputees who survive the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan–Marine Cpl. John Peck and Army SPC Brendan Marrocco.
This week Reuters profiled a surf therapy program aimed at helping servicemembers and veterans who return from combat with mental or emotional wounds.
Carly Rogers, an alumna of the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, created the Ocean Therapy program for wounded warriors within the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, an organization which employs surfing to help individuals coping with mental or physical illness.
To view Lucy Nicholson’s photoblog on the Ocean Therapy program, click here.
Walk for Warriors
Monday, May 30, 2011
8:30 AM 5K Run Start | 9:00 AM 5K Walk Start
Event Location: New Directions, Inc. West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Bldg. 116
Join New Directions, Inc. and the West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce in a Memorial Day 5K Walk/Run to honor those who have served and are currently serving in the Armed Forces as well as to benefit veterans who are transitioning from homelessness back to families and community.
To register for the run/walk, sponsor a participant or donate, please visit the Walk for Warriors website!
On Thursday, April 28, CIR and the School of Social Work were honored to welcome the staff members of Representative Grace Napolitano’s California and Washington, D.C. offices to the Social Work Center for an informational session and a live demonstration of the Virtual Patient.
The Congresswoman’s staff was briefed on CIR’s current projects, including the development of a continuing education course series designed to produce a high-capacity behavioral health workforce to care for servicemembers, veterans, and military families. Currently, the need for a behavioral health workforce to treat servicemembers, veterans and their familiesfar outstrips the availability of qualified practitioners–a gap which CIR is striving to fill by training providers and by educating future generations of behavioral health professionals.
Staff members from both CIR and the Congresswoman’s office also discussed their common goals in improving mental health access and services for veterans and their families, and conferred on the various ways in which they might support each other in their endeavor.
Since her election to Congress in 1998, Rep. Napolitano has represented California’s 38th District, which includes Norwalk and Pomona. Rep. Napolitano currently co-chairs the Congressional Mental Health Caucus along with Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania. The bipartisan caucus includes dozens of members of the 112th Congress who work to inform, educate, and advocate to Congress and the public on a variety of mental health issues, including:
- Reducing negativism & stigma by raising awareness of both mental health and mental illness and providing examples of successful treatments.
- Improving access to mental health services by identifying who, when, and where mental health services should be offered to improve the lives of those afflicted, including veterans.
- Improving work-related productivity by assisting businesses in lowering employee health care costs by providing information and mental health programs.
- Protecting veterans by ensuring that they and their families receive access to mental health services for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other related mental health conditions.
For further information on Rep. Napolitano’s efforts, or to contact her staff, please visit her website.
CIR & ICT Workshop at the 41st National Council Conference: Avatars for Clinical Training & Interventions
On Monday, May 2, Dr. Jan Nissly and members of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT)–CIR’s partner in developing the Virtual Patient–hosted a workshop at the 41st National Council Mental Health and Addictions Conference in San Diego entitled “What’s Next? Avatars for Clinical Training and Interventions.” The session highlighted the use of innovative technologies in clinical settings and explained how practitioners can be trained using avatars.
The conference featured speeches by various guest speakers, including Bill Clinton (Founder, William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States) and Don Berwick (Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare provides a unifying voice for America’s behavioral health organizations and advocates for public policies to ensure that people coping with mental illness and addiction disorders can access comprehensive healthcare services.