Mental Health and Wellness Summit

August 14, 2018

Public Information Officer

ST. PHILIP’S COLLEGE’S GOOD SAMARITAN VETERANS OUTREACH AND TRANSITION CENTER TEAM OBSERVES ITS FIRST ANNIVERSARY FROM A STANDALONE FACILITY BY HOSTING SOUTH TEXAS VETERANS HEALTH CARE SYSTEM’S VA COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS SUMMIT AUG. 9

The free event was open to providers, veterans, and their families, but also all who wanted to know more about where to refer the veterans of Military City USA for healthcare and non-healthcare assistance.

St. Philip’s College’s Good Samaritan Veterans Outreach and Transition Center team observed its first anniversary as a standalone facility with a large all-work event in the field, featuring the professionals who ensure that all who want to know more about where to refer the veterans of Military City USA for healthcare and non-healthcare assistance could be accommodated during the free 2018 VA Community Mental Health and Wellness Summit at the college Aug. 9. 

The summit in the Artemisia Bowden Alumni Center of the college's G. J. Sutton Learning Center building and the Heritage Room of the college’s Campus Center Building was the South Texas Veterans Health Care System’s first in partnership with St. Philip’s College’s Good Samaritan Veterans Outreach and Transition Center team. From guests to practitioners, guests expected to learn what more Military City USA’s leading providers of transition and wellness services plan to do differently in 2018-2019 for veteran success and national security in a critical 24-month period---12 months before discharge and 12 months after discharge from military service commitments.

They learned much more, explained college nursing program alumnus Daniel Blasini, vice president of military affairs at Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital of San Antonio.

“It was a good idea to hold the event on such a beautiful college campus, away from the Medical Center and the bases in a place where everyday people have probably never seen this many veterans or veterans service providers and their resources at work as a team,” Blasini said. “It helps the public understand, and St. Philip’s College was a great host,” said Blasini.

The summit lineup included Army veteran Roberta Castaneda who is both the senior advisor at the Good Samaritan Veterans Outreach and Transition Center and a perennial summit presenter. Castaneda was also a 2018 summit planning committee member.

"I have been a part of the South Texas VA Mental Health Planning Committee for a few years, as I have been a keynote speaker in the past. Today’s event was a complete success from partner and client attendance to networking," said Castaneda. "Working collaboratively with the Veterans Affairs Administration, our center team supports innovative VA medical, mental health and claims-benefits services from our center. We currently provide re-adjustment counseling from licensed social workers in our facility on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through a memorandum of understanding with the VA. The summit was a success because it was open to anyone—especially providers, veterans, and their families, but also anyone who encounters veterans and wants to know more about where to refer them,” said Castaneda.

Other summit authorities present included speakers Robert Walton, director of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System and Dr. Betsy Davis, VA local recovery coordinator. Presenters were physical therapy assistant, peer, vocational, eligibility and enrollment experts from VA. The topics of summit sessions included creating veteran-friendly spaces, PTSD, promoting resilience during transitions, and self-care for caregivers. One highlight was a veteran panel themed Overcoming Mental Health and Transition Challenges, moderated by Eric Montgomery of the VA Veterans Experience Office and including Juanita Sepulveda of the PTSD Foundation of America. Suicide prevention was also addressed as on average 20 veterans die by suicide each day, and 14 of those 20 were not engaged in VA care at the time.

Created in 2011 immediately following the end of the Iraq War, the St. Philip's College Good Samaritan Veterans Outreach and Transition Center (GSVOTC) opened as a standalone facility at 202 Connelly St. on Aug. 9 of 2017, demonstrating the intent of the college in partnership with the City of San Antonio to ensure the most modern and effective free outreach systems for human services benefits for veterans.

Since grand opening in 2017 alone, the center has engaged over 7,000 transitioning armed forces personnel and while that number includes 4,386 personnel at outreach events throughout the community, the figure also includes 2,705 who have received service within the facility through 113 workshops and seminars sponsored or conducted. The center is an innovative interagency public intake site where any veteran in Military City USA can come for assistance in higher education, training and assistance programs beyond the bevy offered for veterans who are students enrolled within the Alamo Colleges District. Continuity of commitment to all veterans through the center and interagency team is facilitated, as the center is a City of San Antonio-owned facility currently in a 25-year lease with Alamo Colleges District (2011-2036) to provide the personalized services and referrals to all of Military City USA's active duty, national guard, reserve, retired veterans, their families and the community through partnerships with independent service providers. Widely considered a unique best practice partnership for a municipality and a postsecondary institution, the free center service includes such partners as Armed Forces Services Corporation, Goodwill Industries of San Antonio, Grace After Fire, U.S. Veterans Administration, and U.S. Small Business Administration.

For details on St. Philip’s College Good Samaritan Veterans Outreach and Transition Center operations and partnership opportunities, contact center director William Moseley at (210) 486-2506, wmoseley1@alamo.edu - spc-gsvotc@alamo.com.

CAPTION: Images from the South Texas Veterans Health Care System’s first 2018 VA Community Mental Health and Wellness Summit in partnership with St. Philip’s College’s Good Samaritan Veterans Outreach and Transition Center team are a reminder that the successful event for ensuring that all who want to know more about where to refer the veterans of Military City USA for healthcare and non-healthcare coincided with the center team’s first anniversary at a standalone facility Aug. 9. (Courtesy Image)