Sixth VA Mental Health Summit Focuses On African-American Veterans

Jun 20, 2018

The Zablocki VA Medical Center and UW-Milwaukee have discovered they make good partners in providing military veterans with a wide range of services. For the past few years, the Zablocki VA has teamed up with UWM's Military and Veterans Resource Center, or MAVRC, to hold a veterans mental health summit. The sixth annual summit takes place this Saturday, June 23 at UWM's student union.

VA Mental Health Summit
Credit Zablocki VA/MAVRC

The event is free, and all veterans are welcome, but this year the focus is on the experiences of African-American veterans, who often face additional challenges once they separate from the service.

Presentations throughout the day will focus on racial trauma and inequality, African-centered approaches to healing, and the disparities found in African-American healthcare.

William Johnson, minority veterans program coordinator at the Zablocki VA, says working with MAVRC and UWM for this yearly event is just common sense.

"We are always looking to reach out with partners who will provide access to veterans and there is a huge cohort of veterans at UWM," he explains. "What we are constantly trying to do is engage the veterans where they are."

Jayne Holland, interim director at MAVRC, agrees. She says the two organizations have worked together on a number of projects in the past few years. "The VA's mobile Vet Van visits the campus three times a month during the fall and spring semesters and many of UWM's graduates go on to work at the VA Medical Center after they graduate," Holland explains.

Many vets simply don't know what kinds of services they qualify for one they leave active duty, whether it's healthcare or educational benefits. So in addition to offering access to mental health options, the summit will also provide eligibility information as well.

If a veteran attending the summit isn't already in the VA or MAVRC system, he or she should bring along their DD-214, or discharge papers, that proves time in service.