Monday, June 20, 2011

Mental Health of Returning Veterans is Focus of 3rd Annual Boston Conference

Topics include: Screening and Treatment for PTSD and TBI; Interventions for Suicide, Substance Abuse, Homelessness; and Impact on Families

BOSTON -- Many of the nation’s top experts in mental health care for veterans gather in Boston on July 15-17 for the third annual Complexities and Challenges of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) conference. The sole focus of the event is educating community-based healthcare professionals – including physicians, nurses, psychologists and social workers – to effectively identify and treat returning veterans who suffer from psychological and physical wounds of deployment such as PTSD and TBI, the signature injuries of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.  The conference is presented in collaboration with The Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program, and takes place at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. The complete agenda is available at

“Right now there is a large and continued need – across hospitals, private practices, and even university clinics – for education on treating veterans,” says Robert J. Birnbaum, MD, PhD, executive director of postgraduate education for Massachusetts General Hospital and program director of education for the Home Base Program. “Many returning veterans are treated outside VA and military facilities in private practice and primary care settings.  This conference proactively reaches out to those physicians on the front lines of care and provides education on new research, community-based resources, and innovative ways to assess and effectively treat veterans with the complex issues they present, as well as family members who may be affected by those issues.”

The conference was created through a unique collaboration between the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy and the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program, and draws expertise from numerous organizations that conduct pioneering research on treatment and care of veterans.  Co-directors of the conference include Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, MD, Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Massachusetts General Hospital; Terence M. Keane, PhD, Associate Chief of Staff, VA Boston Healthcare System; and Colonel (Ret.) Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, MD, MPH, Chief Clinical Officer, District of Columbia Department of Mental Health and former Medical Director, Office of the Army Surgeon General. Mass General brings a 30-year history of educating mental health professionals through continuing medical education, while the VA and US Army have focused their efforts in recent years on effective screening and treatment strategies for PTSD, TBI and other disorders among active-duty and discharged veterans.

“The timeliness and relevance of this conference allows us to secure an extraordinary list of experts, some of whom are rarely accessible to community-based clinicians because they are either deployed across the world or have duties within the VA or Department of Defense,” says Dr. Birnbaum. Speakers include top physicians and researchers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, National Center for PTSD, Yale Medical School, Department of Veterans Affairs, Tulane Traumatology Institute, Uniformed Services University, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and more. This provides “a truly unique perspective as these experts share the latest research and pioneering treatments that are being used in medical facilities across all these organizations,” adds Dr. Birnbaum.

In addition to Mr. Keane and COL. Ritchie, prominent speakers include:

  • Jonathan Woodson, MD, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs
  • Stephen J. Cozza, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, the Uniformed Services University
  • Charles R. Figley, PhD, Professor, Paul Henry Kurzweg Distinguished Chair and Director, Tulane Traumatology Institute
  • USPHS Cmdr. Michael T. Handrigan, MD, FACEP, Director, Standards of Care, Traumatic Brain Injury, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE)
  • Ross Zafonte, DO, Earle P. and Ida S. Charlton Chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School; Vice President Medical Affairs, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital; and Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • CAPT Robert Koffman, MD, MPH, Director, Deployment Health, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, National Navy Medical Center

For information on the full agenda, faculty list or registration information for the conference, visit or or contact the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy at (866) 644-7792 or

About Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy

For physicians and healthcare professionals who value the highest standards of clinical care, the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy provides world-renowned education that improves clinical practice and leads to better lives for patients and their families. Advanced teaching methods, an interactive learning format, and focus on solving real-world, practice-related challenges give the Psychiatry Academy international recognition for helping providers effectively diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders. Learn more at

About the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program

The Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program  provides: clinical care to New England-area Service Members and Veterans of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan who experience combat or deployment-related stress and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI); clinical and support services to family members including spouses, parents, children, siblings, partners and other family members facing deployment or re-integration challenges; community education for caregivers throughout New England who serve veterans and families including primary care physicians, social workers, clergy, and first-responders; access to clinical trials and the newest and most effective therapy and treatment for PTSD and traumatic brain injury. For information about the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program, please visit

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Lee Chelminiak, Home Base Program (617) 617-643-9231

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