Every September, our team at America’s Warrior Partnership hosts the Warrior Community Integration Symposium. The event gathers hundreds of leaders from the private and public sectors to share best practices, connect with new resources and build partnerships to enhance how communities can support military, Veterans, their families and caregivers.
The theme of this year’s Symposium will be “Empowered Veterans,” and there are few individuals who embody this ideal more than our keynote speakers: Scotty and Tiffany Smiley. Major (Retired) Scotty Smiley is an Iraq War Veteran and the first blind active-duty officer in Army history. After losing his sight in a confrontation with a suicide car bomber in 2005, Scotty continued to serve his country in the U.S. Army. Today, he and his wife, Tiffany, share their family’s story of overcoming adversity to inspire others to serve their communities.
The Smiley’s keynote presentation on the “Journey to Empowerment” is the unifying theme of this year’s Symposium workshops and breakout sessions. Here is a snapshot of some of the learnings that attendees can expect to take away from the event:
Building collaborative partnerships – No single organization can holistically serve every Veteran on its own, which is why collaboration is a central element of the Symposium. Local and national service providers will have the opportunity to learn how they can connect with each other, using technology platforms to streamline case coordination and referral processes.
Engaging ALL warriors – Empowering Veterans in an all-inclusive mission that not only includes Veterans from all walks of life, but also their families and caregivers. That is why several sessions will outline how Veteran-serving organizations can gain a better understanding of the unique journeys taken by families and caregivers, and how they can be supported.
Tapping into research – With the proper data, organizations can build a more comprehensive understanding of the Veterans they serve and the resources, programs and opportunities that communities need to prioritize. This is particularly important in the mission to end suicide among Veterans, so the Symposium will include updates on the latest research from projects such as Operation Deep Dive.
The Symposium combines informational sessions with hands-on workshops to ensure Veteran-serving organizations have the opportunity to consider how they can implement these learnings within their own communities. A special pre-conference workshop will occur the day before the Symposium teaching attendees how they can create an interconnected network of community services that links local Veterans to national resources.
Our 2019 event–the Sixth Annual Warrior Community Integration Symposium–will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, from Sept. 4-6. More details, registration information for the Symposium and the separate pre-conference workshop are all available online at AmericasWarriorPartnership.org/2019-Symposium.
Jim Lorraine is President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership