Free veterans conference in downtown Muskegon to focus on suicide prevention, explanation of VA system, family support & more

The 2018 ReCon conference at the Frauenthal Center. Photo courtesy of HealthWest.

A free, full-day veterans conference that will address alternative pain management, suicide prevention strategies, an explanation of the VA system, and more will be held at the Frauenthal Center in downtown Muskegon on Thursday, May 30 from 8am to 5pm.

The second annual ReCon: Veterans Resilience Conference, which is hosted by HealthWest, is inviting all veterans, their families, community members, veteran service providers, and anyone interested in supporting veterans to attend the conference. The event is free, but participants are asked to register beforehand at The conference will also include a light breakfast and lunch.

“Pioneering a veteran resilience movement starts with all of us,” HealthWest said in a press release about the conference.

“Resilience is one of the pillars to overcoming ongoing life challenges faced by veterans in their personal and professional post-military lives,” HealthWest continued. “Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed by anyone.”

The conference, which last year drew about 1,000 people to downtown Muskegon, will include keynote sessions, lectures, panel presentations, a resource fair, and various experts talking about:

• Veteran, family and community resilience
• Alternative pain management
• Suicide prevention strategies
• Overdose prevention
• Explanation of the VA system

The conference’s afternoon keynote session is being given by Mollie Marti. Marti, a social psychologist and attorney, is the founding CEO of the National Resilience Institute, a nonprofit organization that equips helpers with trauma-informed tools to grow resilience. She also directs Worldmaker International, a global human resilience collaborative. Through these initiatives, she has convened several national and international resilience summits.

The event’s two other keynote speakers are Medal of Honor recipient James McCloughan and Bob Vandepol, the executive director of the Pine Rest Employee Assistance Program.

McCloughan, a native of South Haven, completed his tour of duty in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970. During his service, McCloughan ran 100 meters to a wounded soldier lying on the ground while dodging crossfire. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, McCloughan shouldered him and raced back to the company, saving the man from being captured or killed. In total, he is credited with saving the lives of 10 men from his company.

Vandepol has long focused his efforts on examining how executive teams can lead organizational readjustment after tragedies and has co-authored books focusing on responses to hardships in the workplace. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Vandepol managed CCN’s Command Center in Manhattan.

In addition to HealthWest, the ReCon:Veteran Resilience Conference is being presented by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the National Resilience Institute, and WGVU Public Media. For more information and to register for the conference, please click here.

2 thoughts on “Free veterans conference in downtown Muskegon to focus on suicide prevention, explanation of VA system, family support & more

  • May 30, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    As i was unable to attend I would hope the info is provided in another form. Ive fought the VA for treatment to fix a botched surgery in Heidelberg w Germany 1975 and as yet they’ve always over ruled the doctors orders including VA doctors. I’m owed back pay for misdiagnosis due to a drunk doctors mistakes. If the INSPECTOR GENERAL would be available once in 43 years thi ez could have been handled properly. No doubt many suicides are caused by these exact problems that go unaddressed by the VA directors. Vets killing themselves at hospital parking lots, in front of the White House all to no avail.

  • May 30, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    I suggest any and all look at my now 3 year old picture of just some of the beauracratic nightmare I’ve like most have to struggle through always another appeal. If 22 beauracrates suddenly died every day one would think the VA might actually start allowing treatments instead of endless delay,deny, hoping all vets die that many employees practice instead of caring for th hem. Recently the VA Clinic director of Wyoming Mi who for 4 years delayed my festering cracked tooths treatment till the root canal failed while still owing me $311.00 repeatedly infected till i got Sepsis the the VA misdiagnosed thinking i had a heart attack.I was sent to U of M hospital who correctly diagnosed me. Then VA refused to allow the dentist to use IV to save money. The mistreatment never ends till vets kill themselves. I say its time the take the VA back from these bastards.


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