Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative
FIT FOR SOCIETY
A Performance by the Veterans Center for the Performing Arts
Monday, November 12, 2012
USC University Park Campus
Ronald Tutor Campus Center (TCC), Grand Ballroom
Admission is free! Reception to follow. For more information about this event, please contact email@example.com.
Presented in recognition of Veterans Day, Fit for Society is a compelling and unflinching play about the military experience during war. Encounter the stories of actual soldiers, survivors and family members presented without pity, apology or political agenda. The play was written by Brian Monahan, the son of a Navy officer, and director Stephan Wolfert, a U.S. Army veteran and the military director of the Tony Award-winning Broadway production Movin’ Out! The LA Weekly states that Wolfert “shapes the performances of his excellent cast well, inspiring an authentic, gripping tone throughout.”
Dr. Anthony Hassan, a retired Air Force officer, clinical associate professor at the USC School of Social Work and director of the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families, will moderate a conversation with Stephan Wolfert to discuss his personal inspiration for the production. In an interactive reception following the conversation, several USC veterans will share how their military experiences have shaped their lives
Organized by Syreeta Greene (Transfer and Veteran Student Programs) and Anthony Hassan (Social Work). Co-sponsored by the Office of Campus Activities—Transfer and Veteran Student Programs, USC School of Social Work, CIR, and Office of Religious Life. For more information, please visit www.usc.edu/visionsandvoices or contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or 213.740.0483.
Visions and Voices is a USC arts and humanities initiative, established by President C.L. Max Nikias in 2006 to provide an inspiring and provocative experience for USC students in order to expand their perspective. Each year, Visions and Voices holds an array of events proposed and organized by USC faculty and schools, featuring various artists, speakers, theatrical productions, film screenings, lectures, and music and dance performances.
On May 16, 2012, Dr. Anthony Hassan participated in a briefing for Congressmembers regarding behavioral health issues related to servicemembers, veterans, and their families.
The briefing, hosted by Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus as part of National Mental Health Awareness Month, featured military mental health experts from the Army, Air Force, Navy/Marine Corps, and Veterans Administration to educate members of Congress and their staff on how the U.S. military is addressing its mental health crisis.
Yesterday, Dr. Anthony Hassan was interviewed on Veteran Outreach, an online radio show that focuses on challenges and issues affecting U.S. veterans. Dr. Hassan spoke about the work that CIR is doing, as well as the Military Social Work subconcentration within the USC School of Social Work’s Master of Social Work degree program.
Listen to the recording here.
Last month, CIR faculty and staff attended the annual Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) conference in Washington, DC. On Saturday, January 14, CIR sponsored a Special Interest Group luncheon which featured guest speaker Mrs. Deborah Mullen, military family advocate and wife of Admiral Mike Mullen.
Mrs. Mullen began her speech by reminding the audience that many thousands of military family members serve along with their servicemembers and worry every day about the safety and well-being of their loved ones. Furthermore, although military families take care of each other with great strength and dignity, the last ten years of deployment have stretched many of them to the limit. Mrs. Mullen addressed several issues that affect servicemembers, veterans, and their families, including:
Deployment cycle – Shorter times at home between deployments, exacerbated by training sessions that cut into the time a servicemember can spend with his/her family or re-adjust to civilian life, lead to greater stress for the entire family, to include anxiety, depression, and “secondary post-traumatic stress“.
Stigma – Military families often share the same stigma regarding mental health treatment as their servicemembers because they believe that getting help will have a negative impact on their servicemember’s career. Although more and more military families have started talking openly about getting mental health help, many others suffer in silence or self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
Stress on military children – The impact of a lifetime of deployment and war on today’s military children is unknown, and may never be fully understood. There has been a rise in the number of psychiatric drug prescriptions for military children, which indicates heightened levels of stress from parental deployment and reintegration.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – The long-term effects of TBIs resulting from prolonged exposure to blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are being studied, but are not well understood. Evidence from football and boxing brain injuries indicate that the effects of TBI, no matter the cause, are long-term and severe. The use of MRIs in the combat theater would help expand the knowledge and data available on concussive events from IED blasts, and may lead to new ways to treat or prevent these combat injuries.
Healing with family – For the first time in history, military families are relocating to live at the hospitals where their Wounded Warriors are recovering, and are helping care for them during their recovery. The presence of families is critical to the healing process for these servicemembers, as it lends added support and allows the family to heal together.
Military Sexual Trauma (MST) – Women make up 15% of the active duty military, and at least one in five are victims of MST—cases of which are vastly underreported—often at the hands of fellow servicemembers. This betrayal of trust, in addition to the stress of deployment and exposure to combat, can cause mental trauma which impedes the female servicemember’s mental health, career, and reintegration into family and civilian life. When these problems result in homelessness, women veterans with children have greater difficulty in finding shelters that can house families with young children.
Suicide – Suicide rates for servicemembers and veterans are rising, due to many different reasons that require further study, including previous trauma. Also, current suicide studies do not include spouses or family members of servicemembers and veterans and this data must be collected in order to examine the reverberating effects of deployment and reintegration on military families.
Loss and remembrance – Many military families suffer the ultimate loss—the death of their servicemember. These families need support from their communities during their time of mourning as well as help in remembering and honoring their loved one’s service and sacrifice.
Mrs. Mullen asserted that all of these issues affect not only servicemembers and veterans, but their families as well, and therefore studies of these topics must expand to include military family members, such as spouses and children. She offered the following list of topics as possible research areas:
- What is resiliency? How do we build resilience in military families and when do we begin? When and under what circumstances does resiliency begin to break down?
- What are the long-term effects of multiple deployments on the family? A longitudinal study on the impact of these deployments on children is needed.
- For children who have experienced long separations from a deployed parent – How will this affect their future relationship with that parent and their relationships with other people in their lives?
- What are the near-term and long-term effects of multiple deployments, PTS, TBI, or traumatic physical injury on reintegration into both civilian and family life?
- Why is this generation of veterans becoming homeless at a faster rate than those who became homeless after Vietnam?
- What are the effects of suicide on surviving family members?
- What will be the long-term effect on the children of homeless women veterans? How will a mother’s suffering from Military Sexual Trauma (MST) affect her children?
- How must the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs change and grow in order to adapt to the new needs of this generation of veterans?
- How must our communities prepare and adapt in order to fill the resources and services gaps for returning servicemembers, veterans, their families, and surviving families of the fallen?
On January 19, 2012, Dr. Jill Biden — spokesperson for the White House’s Joining Forces initiative and wife of Vice President Joe Biden — visited USC to learn about the University’s efforts to support veterans and military families.
Dr. Biden, whose son Beau Biden was deployed to Iraq in 2008 with his Delaware Army National Guard unit, spoke about her personal experience as the mother of a servicemember and the importance of community support for military family members.
The private gathering was attended by faculty and staff from the University and School of Social Work as well as a panel of parents, educators and children who have participated in Dr. Ron Astor’s Building Capacity in Military-Connected Schools project.
Dr. Anthony Hassan — CIR’s director — briefly addressed the crowd to praise Dr. Astor’s work as well as to highlight the growing need for organizations like CIR, whose mission is to strengthen the transition of servicemembers, veterans, and military family members into the community by developing comprehensive, research-informed support for these populations.
For more photos of this event, check out CIR’s Facebook album.
On November 28, 2011, Mr. John R. Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Wounded Warrior Care & Transition Policy), visited the USC campus to learn about CIR’s projects and contributions to the Military Social Work sub-concentration within the School of Social Work’s MSW program. Mr. Campbell also met with students and veterans during his visit, to hear about their experiences and concerns.
Mr. Campbell was appointed by the Secretary of Defense as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy in 2010. He is responsible for that ensuring wounded, ill, injured and transitioning servicemembers receive high quality services including the tools needed to transition seamlessly to civilian life.
For photos of the event, check out CIR’s Facebook page.
Every Veterans Day we recognize all of the men and women who have served the United States in military service. To honor those who have fallen, we read their names in Roll Calls like this one, and gratefully remember their service and sacrifice. To honor those who still serve or who are currently living in our communities, we publish news stories, hold parades, and promote retail sales–but this is not enough and is generally short-lived.
Tomorrow, Veterans Day will be old news, the crowds will be gone, and stores will move on to promote the holiday season, but hundreds of thousands of veterans will still deserve our recognition, our respect, and in some cases, our assistance. Veterans are living beside us in our community, where they work to support their families or attend college to better themselves and their future. Many, in fact, live here in Southern California, and all of them would benefit from our respect and welcoming spirit throughout the entire year, not just today.
Here at USC, we welcome our student veterans and are working to strengthen the transition of all veterans and their families into the Southern California communities. Some of our students are earning their degrees in order to work with veteran and military family populations–from occupational therapy to military social work.
I have in the service to our country, been fortunate to work side by side with some of the greatest servicemen and servicewomen in our history. I have witnessed extraordinary courage and perseverance. I have witnessed sacrifice by servicemembers for the greater good and a higher purpose. As former servicemembers reintegrate with mainstream society and academia, I encourage educators and higher education administrators to broaden the paradigm of the veteran student from deficits to strengths, from shortcomings to possibilities, and from isolation to community. Consider looking through a different lens when you interact with this most capable veteran student. How will you see the veteran student in 2011 and beyond?
Regardless of our area of study or occupation, we all can honor our veterans consistently through our recognition, our respect, and our service to them. I hope that you will join us as we remember and honor all of those who have served–today and every day thereafter.
Dr. Anthony Hassan
Director, Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR)
Major, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
This address was delivered by Dr. Hassan at the Roll Call that was held on the USC University Park Campus on November 11, 2011, to honor the fallen servicemembers who have served during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.