Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital is teaming up with the University of Missouri to hold a mental health summit to better understand the Veteran experience and identify available resources for students who have served in the military.

Truman VA holds a mental health summit each year as part of National Suicide Prevention Week. 

The annual summit is meant to bring behavioral health specialists and resources together in support of the entire mid-Missouri community.

“Veterans have been part of something that is very unique,” said Randall Rogers, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Truman VA. “In fact, less than 7 percent of our current population has served in the armed forces.”

Rogers adds, “Because of the time they’ve spent in the military, Veterans tend to be older when they enroll in college, so they’re more likely to be married and have children. They’re also twice as likely to be employed as a way of supporting themselves financially, and many have some form of disability related to their service. These issues can make the transition from active duty to student life quite difficult. In fact, many Veterans report feeling out of place, and at times, isolated from their peers.”

The summit will take place in Columbia on Tuesday, Sept. 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in University of Missouri’s Memorial Union at 518 Hitt St.

Participants of the mental health summit will spend the day in an interactive environment that will feature guest speakers and panel discussions. Some of the day’s topics will include:

— Challenges and strategies for adjusting to civilian life.

— Higher education success for student Veterans.

— On-campus resources.

— The availability of behavioral health services.

— Suicide prevention.

— Research and future directions in transitioning from the military to civilian life.

“An important aspect of this summit is that it is a community venture,” Rogers said. “Participants range from VA behavioral health professionals, to student Veterans and those outside of VA who are there to make a difference. It’s about us coming together to share the load and help our Veterans successfully transition – and not just into campus life, but life in general. Our Veterans deserve our help and support, and we want to provide them with the best opportunity for achieving success.”

In addition to the mental health summit, Truman VA and University of Missouri recently partnered to develop the Mizzou Veterans Wellness Center. Located within the University of Missouri School of Law Veterans Clinic, the wellness center provides students, faculty and staff who are Veterans with access to on-campus behavioral health services, as well as VA enrollment, eligibility and whole health coaching.