Monday, June 20, 2011

Free Conference for Clergy and Spiritual Leaders Focuses on Mental Health of Returning Veterans Affected by Combat Stress

June 20, 2011 – BOSTON -- Clergy members and spiritual leaders of all denominations are invited to attend an innovative symposium on Friday, July 15th, that focuses on understanding and guiding the recovery of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as their families. Spiritual & Biopsychosocial Responses to Deployment: Helping Veterans & Their Families is a free education program and takes place at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel from 10:00am to 3:30pm.

The event is held in conjunction with a three-day conference on Complexities and Challenge of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Traumatic Brain Injury, and is presented in collaboration with the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program.

“An increasing number of veterans seek care and guidance in the community, outside of military healthcare systems – a trend that has intensified with a high number of National Guard and Reserve troops experiencing deployment- and combat-related stress,” says John A. Fromson, MD, associate director of postgraduate education at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the event’s leaders. “Clergy and spiritual advisors are front-line responders to veterans with mental health needs, as well as to their spouses, children, and other family members.  We want to help clergy become more knowledgeable about how to identify those who may need medical intervention.”

The free symposium allows clergy and leaders from all denominations to have an open dialogue about common issues and challenges involved with counseling veterans who may suffer from PTSD and related disorders.  Topics include:

  • Best practices and success stories for collaboration between spiritual leaders and mental health professionals in the assessment and treatment of veterans
  • Expert advice on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of PTSD and TBI to assist individuals in seeking specialized care
  • The role of spirituality in helping to heal trauma survivors

In addition to Dr. Fromson, speakers include recognized experts on care of veterans and their families, including LTC Chaplain Paul Minor, full-time support chaplain and chaplain operations officer with the Massachusetts National Guard; Terence Keane, PhD, director of the Behavioral Science division of the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; and Paula Rauch, MD, director of the Home Base Family Team and director of the Marjorie E. Korff PACT (Parenting at a Challenging Time) Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"We encourage leaders, counselors and spiritual advisors from all communities of faith to attend.  Clergy members’ unfiltered access to veterans makes them uniquely advantaged to identify the need for medical intervention, and it's important for them to know how and where they can help veterans seek mental healthcare,” Fromson adds.

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

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

Home Base provides clinical and support services to veterans and their families who are affected by combat or deployment-related stress and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Home Base serves veterans of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, works throughout New England to raise awareness of the "invisible wounds of war," and conducts research in the understanding and treatment of PTSD and TBI.  Home Base collaborates with the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and a wide range of veteran-serving organizations. Learn more at

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, interactive learning formats, 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


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

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