Col. Ann McCulliss Johnson, U.S. Army (ret), MSW, and Lt. Col. Nathan Keller, LCSW, PhD, nationally recognized experts on social work practice with service members, veterans and military families, and will be the keynote speakers at the second national Military and Veteran Social Work Conference. Johnson and Keller will address this year's theme "Veterans in Transition," along with more than 50 speakers and presenters.

The only event of its kind in the United States dedicated solely to military social work, the 2014 conference is sponsored by Saint Leo University. It takes place Friday, June 6 through Saturday, June 7 at University Campus in St. Leo, Fla.

The conference includes clinical and higher education tracks for social work practitioners and educators and is open to graduate social work students, including students in Saint Leo's online Master of Social Work - MSW program.

"The conference will be very practitioner based with practical-oriented sessions and workshops," said Jose Coll, PhD, director of Veteran Student Services and associate professor of social work at Saint Leo, who is chair of the event.

"Our presenters will have time to demonstrate their work, and we will also focus on effective teaching and training of students in military/veteran social work."

The program will address:

  • Evidence-informed practice with military veterans and their families
  • Building clinical skills for work with military veterans and families
  • Effective strategies for workplace transition and occupational integration
  • Ensuring veterans' academic success in higher education and beyond the degree
  • Essentials in military/veteran social work education

Keynote speakers to address unique challenges of military lifestyle

Col. Ann McCulliss Johnson
Johnson will open the conference on Friday morning with a presentation titled "A Veteran's Transitional Expressions of Time: A Starting Point for Clinicians."

With more than 34 years of military service, Johnson served in the U.S. Army as a behavioral science specialist before completing a master's in social work at the University of Kansas in 1983. She accepted a commission in the Army Reserve as a social work officer in 1984 and deployed for service in Operation Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. In her final assignment, she served as an Army Reserve social work consultant to the U.S. Army surgeon general.

Johnson currently works as a consultant with the University of Central Florida's Psychology Anxiety and Trauma Department and as a behavioral health provider for a Department of Defense occupational health company.

Lt. Col. Nathan Keller
Keller will be the keynote speaker on Saturday morning. His presentation, "Military Culture and Social Work," will address the importance of understanding the military as a profession in order to establish effective therapeutic relationships with veterans. He will focus on how the socialization process into the Armed Forces effects veterans and impacts how social workers can effectively provide services.

Keller has been practicing social as an active duty U.S. Army social work officer since 1994 and currently serves as director of Treatment Programs for both the United States Disciplinary Barracks and the Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth. He was the deputy director for the Army's first MSW Program. He deployed for service in Operations Iraqi Freedom as chief of Mental Health Services for the 1st Cavalry Division.

An expert is assisting service members and their families with the stressors of deployment and the unique challenges of the military lifestyle, Keller has been recognized for his research and clinical expertise in a number of areas including resiliency, traumatic event management, and combat stress operations.

"Our speakers have been instrumental in helping so many understand the challenges faced by returning veterans," said Coll. "Their commitment to our military personnel and families is unwavering, and we are thrilled that they will be the keynote speakers for this important conference."

Saint Leo experts featured

The conference includes a robust platform of social work educators and clinicians who will share their experience and expertise on a range of topics that affect veterans, military personnel and their families: from strategies for helping vets transition to the civilian workplace or succeed in higher education to behavior and mental health concerns.

Members of the Saint Leo community including faculty and an alumna presenting workshops during the conference are:

  • John Jeanguenat, MSEd
    How to Civilianize Your Military Resume
  • Veronika Ospina-Kammerer, RN, PhD and Christine Gordon, PhD
    Client Self Care Through Therapeutic Gardening Activities/Walking
  • April Steen, LCSW, CCTP
    Advocating for Families of the Fallen by Joining Forces
  • Rhondda Waddell, LCSW
    Veteran Students as Agents of Change: Developing Self-Efficacy and Community Service as the New Mission
  • Moneque Walker-Pickett, JD, PhD
    An Overview of Policy: Veteran's Treatment/Diversion Courts
  • James Whitworth, PhD, LCSW, BCD
    Use of Motivational Interviewing Techniques in Counseling Homeless Veterans

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