GREENVILLE — Helping military members transition to civilian life will be the focus of an upcoming conference sponsored by Clemson University, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Upstate Warrior Solution and Greenville Health System.

“Coming Home: Key Transitions for Warriors and Families” will be from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday at GHS’ Greenville Memorial Hospital, 701 Grove Road. The symposium will cover best practices identified by researchers and service providers for assisting veterans and their families with the transition from active duty to civilian life, including topics such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), recreational therapy and heart rate variability.

“It’s important that we have events like this, which has a focus on our post 9/11 veterans,” said Kevin McBride, director of GHS’ Military and Government Liaison Office. “The Upstate often shows its support of our servicemen and women and this conference will give us an opportunity to come together to share best practices.”

The event is open to service members, veterans and their families, as well as health care and social service providers and researchers. The conference is free but pre-registration is required and seating is limited. Lunch will be provided. Register by visiting ghs.org/healthevents or calling 877-447-4636.

Research poster presentations and vendor exhibits will be part of the day. Presentations will be held until 4 p.m. The conference will close with a showing and discussion of the documentary, “High Ground,” which follows 11 wounded veterans as they climb Mount Lobuche in the Himalayan Mountains.

“The goals of the conference are to provide information about three things: the experience of transitioning from military to home and community, the programs that are available to military and their families to assist with the transition and the most current research and best practices to optimize health and facilitate transition,” said Clemson public health sciences faculty member Cheryl Dye.

The partnership for this symposium grew from relationships that GHS has with Clemson University and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dye and Windsor Sherrill, associate vice president for health research at Clemson and chief science officer at GHS, served as co-principal investigators on research titled “CU/GHS Accountable Community of Support for Warriors and Their Caregivers.”

Dye and Brent Hawkins, an assistant professor in the university’s parks, recreation and tourism management department, built upon the synergy that occurred during proposal development among Clemson faculty in public health; psychology; and parks, recreation and tourism management with GHS and the VA by providing leadership for the three organizations to host a conference together highlighting each institution’s research and services and how that work can be advanced through collaboration.

Clemson also invited another group of researchers, the Carolinas Heart Rate Variability Coalition, which Dye co-founded with others at Clemson, VA and GHS, to participate in the conference in order to share how heart rate variability research can benefit service members, veterans and their families.

The Department of Veterans Affairs became interested in the symposium after the success achieved during last year’s Upstate Mental Health Symposium. Most of the VA’s presenters in the symposium work in its Upstate Community Based Outpatient Clinics Mental Health Service.

According to estimates by Upstate Warrior Solution, a nonprofit that connects veterans and families with community resources and support, approximately 100,000 veterans live in the five counties of the Upstate, many of whom have challenges with transitioning from active duty to civilian life and with coping with health issues such as PTSD.

The complete list of speakers includes:

  • Michael Riordan, CEO, Greenville Health System
  • Timothy McMurry, director, Dorn VA Medical Center
  • Robert Jones, provost, Clemson University
  • Gen. Mastin Robeson (retired, U.S. Marine Corps)
  • Jim Capobianco (retired, U.S. Army), VA Greenville Community Outpatient Clinic
  • John Jachna, licensed psychiatrist and geropsychiatrist
  • Charlie Hall (U.S. Marine Corps Reserves), Upstate Warrior Solution
  • Marissa Shuffler, James McCubbin, Cynthia Pury, Thomas Britt and Heidi Zinzow, Clemson University psychology department
  • Brent Hawkins and Jasmine Townsend, Clemson University parks, recreation and tourism management department
  • Greg Linke, Clemson Pre-collegiate Programs Office
  • Jack Ginsberg and Christian Graves, Dorn VA Medical Center and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine
  • Mark O’Rourke and Alex Christ, GHS Cancer Institute
  • Tim Wiles, Renovo Advantage Human Capital Services.

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