2023 San Antonio Combat PTSD Conference to examine 50 years of progress

Marking 50 years since the end of the Vietnam War, the 8th Annual San Antonio Combat PTSD Conference will look at how far we’ve come in caring for those who suffer from war’s psychological wounds and where we need to go from here.

At the event, slated for Oct. 17–18, 2023, experts in the field will discuss advances, challenges, and next steps in diagnosing and treating combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and co-occurring conditions. Veterans and clinicians of different war eras also will share their lived experience.

The only national meeting to focus on the psychological needs of war fighters, the San Antonio Combat PTSD Conference is presented by the STRONG STAR Consortium and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio).

The two-day conference will be held in downtown San Antonio at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Continuing education credits will be available for the conference as well as for optional professional workshops in ethics and diversity the day after, Oct. 19, at Hyatt Place Riverwalk. Organizers emphasize early registration, as they expect to reach capacity at 400 participants for the in-person meeting. Post-conference workshops are capped at 50 participants each.

Each year the San Antonio Combat PTSD Conference draws an international audience of leaders in the field of military psychological health who gather to hear the state of the science on preventions and treatments for PTSD and commonly co-occurring conditions. Participants include researchers, clinicians, leaders and policy makers within the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs as well as from academia and the civilian sector. Numerous military personnel, veterans and community members with an interest in the mental health needs of our nation’s war fighters also join the proceedings, as do students and professional trainees.

Image provided courtesy of Cody Vance.

With the theme, “Combat-Related PTSD: 50 Years of Progress,” this year’s presentations focus on developments from the Vietnam era to today.

Karl Marlantes will set the tone as he shares his reflections in the conference’s popular “Profiles in Resilience” address. The Marine veteran received numerous medals for his heroic service in Vietnam, and years later completed his New York Times best-seller Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, which he credits with helping him heal from post-traumatic stress. In 2011, he published a second book, What It Is Like to Go to War, which includes his own memories along with an analysis of the effects of war on those who fight and thoughts on how we can better prepare service members for the experience of war.

Other highlights will include keynote speaker Terence Keane, PhD, of the VA’s National Center for PTSD and Boston University School of Medicine, who will chart the course of psychological trauma research from the Vietnam era through today. With a focus on the post-9/11 era, UT Health San Antonio’s Alan Peterson, PhD, will discuss how we’re gaining ground in the fight against PTSD as he outlines treatment advances pioneered by the STRONG STAR Consortium.

Other topics will include changes in the diagnosis of PTSD, the interplay of key comorbidities, and new efforts to address the behavioral health challenges of our war fighters and the clinicians who serve them. Sure to be popular among conference attendees will be panel discussions, including one with veterans across the eras and one with behavioral health providers.

“We’re excited to offer this conference to the community,” said Alan Peterson, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UT Health San Antonio and director of the STRONG STAR Consortium. “The wounds of battle are not new, but ways of helping them heal continue to evolve. This conference gives us the opportunity to see how far we’ve come over the past 50 years and to identify the next steps needed to keep pushing the science forward for the benefit of our war fighters.”

Peterson extended his thanks to the sponsors who help make the conference possible, with particular gratitude to the Bob Woodruff Foundation for its continued role as presenting sponsor. “They are an important partner in our efforts to advance care for military members and veterans,” he said.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation raises awareness about the tough challenges veterans and military families are facing and invests in solutions to help support them in the next chapter of their lives.

“The San Antonio Combat PTSD Conference is an outstanding opportunity for mental health experts to explore and discuss advances in diagnosing and treating combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, CEO of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “The conference’s focus aligns with our work to ensure veterans and service members have stable and successful futures, and we’re proud to support the conference again this year.”

For more information on the San Antonio Combat PTSD Conference and registration, visit www.combatPTSDconference.com

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