More than 160 veterans, firefighters, police officers, and first responders joined clinicians at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall on October 21 to discuss their specialized needs at the second Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic Recovery Summit: From the Frontlines Through Recovery. A presentation of colors by the Joint Forces Color Guard was followed by a welcome address by Colonel Michael Henderson, Joint Base Commander, while presentations provided specific information about caring for those living with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and substance use disorders. Attendees engaged in question and answer opportunities throughout the day, shared relevant personal experiences, and provided information about new programs. Among many exhibitors, a highlight was artist and Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves Peter Buotte’s profound collection of sculptures depicting the invisible wounds of war as part of the Spirit of Survival program.
Lieutenant Commander Seth Y. Flagg, M.D., Wounded Warrior Regimental Surgeon, presented a keynote address that stressed the significant psychological impact of serving in the Armed Forces via numerous stories of individual servicemen and women. Randy Gross, Regional Education Coordinator for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, delivered training on “Substance Abuse and the TBI Patient” to provide supporting information for working with a patient experiencing both conditions. Dodie Gill, LPC and President & CEO of New Millennium Employee Assistance Services, presented “Taking Care of Our Own: The Ever Evolving Treatment of Traumatic Exposures.” Discussion topics included therapeutic tools for firefighters who have experienced trauma, specialized training for clinicians, and concurrent treatment of trauma and addictions. The day closed with a panel of experts moderated by Melissa Fitzgerald, Senior Director of Justice For Vets, which included debate around the use of the word “disorder” when describing trauma. “It is a normal reaction to a screwed up situation,” said Deven Schei of the Warriors Speaks Wounded Warrior Project, regarding his first hand experiences and resulting preference to use the term post traumatic stress rather than post traumatic stress disorder.
Exhibitors and attendees alike expressed the belief that the success of the event stems from the shared goal to continually strive to provide the best care possible. Clinicians were enthusiastic about new resources and partnership opportunities. “Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic is honored to host such a special event as part of our commitment to serving those individuals and families who are living with these challenges,” shared Deborah Taylor, Senior Vice President and Executive Director. Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic’s Recovery Summit continues to bring communities together to progress with the evolution of substance use disorder treatment. Stay tuned for information about the next Summit!