USI plans military veteran workshop for future health practitioners


Local and national military experts are joining forces with faculty members from the University of Southern Indiana to teach future care providers about the unique challenges facing combat veterans and their families. The Veterans Interprofessional Case Competition, planned for Tuesday, April 7 at USI, will give 30 USI undergraduate and graduate students an introduction to military culture and make them aware of post-combat readjustment experiences and the often complex needs of veterans of all ages.


“Over the past 50 years, nearly eight million United States military personnel have been deployed to wars in Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Dr. Vaughn DeCoster, associate professor of social work, who served in Iraq as a clinical social worker with the Army Reserves. “Including families and friends of these troops, the quantity of people affected by these wars is staggering. Given these numbers, area healthcare providers are likely treating this population or someone affected by their war experiences. We want to give our students pursuing careers in healthcare and social service areas an introduction to dealing with war-exacerbated issues, especially as these veterans age.”


Health and social service practitioners must remain sensitive to this, and work as a team to provide coordinated, quality care for these veterans and their families. For this reason, the USI case competition is planned for students from the following disciplines: Social Work, Occupational Therapy (OT), Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Nursing and Food and Nutrition.


The workshop will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the presentation of the colors by USI’s Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) color guard, under the direction of Major Christopher Dalrymple, assistant professor of military science at USI.


During the workshop, Tony Sanabria, a retired lieutenant colonel with more than 25 years of active duty service in the military, will share experiences from his tours in Germany, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan and the issues many of his fellow veterans face after deployment.


Interdisciplinary student teams will also hear case vignettes presented by veterans. Each team will then create a viable intervention plan and present this plan to a panel of experts.


“This activity is unique because it combines essential knowledge of the military, combat and post-war readjustment, along with evidence-based approaches and local resources,” said DeCoster. “During this team activity, students will apply what they have learned and interact with care providers and actual representatives from the veteran patient population. This is a great opportunity for the student teams to learn assessment skills, identify key problems, develop a holistic intervention plan and problem solve possible care challenges.”