This year’s Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy focused on the question of how to help veterans — centering on the National Guard and reservists — reintegrate within their community when they come home. The Guard and reservists have an especially difficult time, because they are outside the usual military structure of benefits and services (although more recently, some benefits have been extended to them because of the extended fighting in the two wars the U.S. has been engaged in in Afghanistan and Iraq).
The two-day meeting presented views, personal stories and data on three main themes of veterans’ “reintegration” — within the family, the workplace and the community. It also offered the opportunity to learn about dozens of great service programs around the country that are reaching out and trying to help this group of returning soldiers (during a poster session).
Today, I’m going to focus on the beginning of the symposium, because of Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s energetic opening remarks to the group.