General Sessions

Friday, August 24, 2018 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Plenary 1: Down on the Farm: Responding to the New Farm Crisis

Charlie Griffin, MS, Kansas State University

The agricultural sector is experiencing financial crisis much like in the 1980's. The New Farm Crisis raises behavioral health concerns along with the threat to rural communities across our country. It's time to examine the lessons learned from the 1980's and think creatively about how behavioral health specialists can respond effectively in this era of renewed stress for farm and ranch families.

Charlie Griffin is an assistant research professor in the School of Family Studies and Human Services, College of Human Ecology, Kansas State University. For the past 23 years, he directed Programs for Workplace Solutions, a project providing training and curriculum development in conflict resolution and mediation, collaborative work skills, facilitation and leadership development. The project has worked widely with state agencies and non-profits. He provides a monthly leadership development course in the U.S. Army’s School for Command Preparation at Ft. Leavenworth. Charlie was also the Administrative Coordinator for Kansas' All-Hazards Behavioral Health Project 2005-2008, coordinating FEMA funded state-wide disaster behavioral health responses following the South Central Kansas Tornado and Eastern Kansas floods in 2007. He has been involved in rural mental health work professionally since the farm crisis years of the early 80's, most recently as director of the Kansas Rural Family Helpline, a telephone based crisis hotline, 200-2010. Charlie has a background as a marriage and family therapist, working widely with family relationships, family and home-based business management, change and stress management, chemical dependency treatment, dispute resolution and mediation. In 2007, Charlie received the Nation al Association for Rural Mental Health's Victor I. Howery Memorial Award for significant contributions to the field of rural mental health. In December 2010, he was awarded the Barbara S. Stowe Endowed Faculty Development Fund Award for work in developing collaboration between K-State and South Africa's University of Limpopo. He was recognized in August 2011 by Farm Aid for his service to farmers and ranchers as a farm family advocate.

Friday, August 24, 2018 1:40 PM - 2:20 PM

Plenary 2: The VA Health Care System: A History and a Future

Harold Kudler, MD, Duke University School of Medicine

As we draw closer to the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, this presentation looks at the history of the VA’s treatment of mental health and the resources and tools that have been provided to Veterans to aid in their resiliency during reintegration.

Harold Kudler received his M.D. from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, trained in Psychiatry at Yale and is Adjunct Associate Professor at Duke. Harold co-chaired VA’s Special Committee on PTSD which reports to Congress and founded the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies’ (ISTSS) PTSD Practice Guidelines taskforce and has served on the ISTSS Board of Directors. He co-led development of the joint VA/Department of Defense Guideline for the Management of Post Traumatic Stress and serves as advisor to Sesame Street’s Talk Listen Connect series for military families. Harold has served as VA’s Chief Consultant for Mental Health Services and VISN 6’s Rural Health Clinical Lead.

Saturday, August 25, 2018 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Plenary 3: Rural Resiliency: Facing Reality

Perry Blankenship, MA, MDIV, MBA, MEd, LPC, LSC, McDowell County Schools

The family structure is one of the greatest keys to resiliency, however, places like McDowell County has over 50% of its children living with someone other than their biological parents. McDowell County has gone from one of the richest countries in the nation to one of the poorest countries in the nation. Rural areas face challenges in the fact that they are limited in their professional resources and therapist are driving between 1 ½ to 2 hours to provide services.

Perry Blankenship is the Project Aware Coordinator for McDowell County School System. He is also the Pastor at Fincastle First Church of God in Bluefield, VA, the Clinic Supervisor for McDowell County Alternative Sentencing Program, a contractor for Magellan, and a volunteer Chaplain for Princeton Community Hospital in Princeton, WV. Perry has served the people of Southern West Virginia (Coalfields) for numerous years in a variety of positions. He is a 100% service connected disabled veteran of the Persian Gulf War.

Sunday, August 26, 2018 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Plenary 4: The Federal Parity Law: Where Do We Stand 10 Years Later?

Torie Keeton, BS, The Kennedy Forum

In 2008, former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy escorted through Congress the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (the Federal Parity Law). Since then, Kennedy founded The Kennedy Forum to educate individuals about the rights afforded to Americans through the Federal Parity Law and advocate for the law’s full implementation, enforcement, and compliance. The Kennedy Forum runs, a website that tracks federal and state legislation, laws, and regulations that contribute to true mental health equity. Additionally, acts as a resource where consumers can learn about the Federal Parity Law and how to file appeals when claims are denied.

Torie Keeton works for former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy as the Research and Advocacy Advisor at The Kennedy Forum. As an individual living with mental illness, her efforts focus on changing the discussion surrounding mental health and increasing American’s access to effective treatment for mental health and substance use disorders through evidence-based policies. She acts as the ambassador of, the Kennedy Forum’s online resource to help assist individuals and families understand their rights through the Federal Parity Law and demand coverage when wrongfully denied claims by their insurers for mental health and substance use disorder services.