14th Annual Symposium Recap


Dear Friends and Supporters,

If you missed the 14th Annual Statewide Symposium in Support of Service Members, Veterans, & Their Families, you missed a great one. We had a jam-packed line-up of unbelievable guest speakers, panel discussions, and presenters. The good news is that the General Session videos are available to view in our virtual event center and we have a terrific photo gallery online

Looking back, when we gathered for the very first Symposium in 2010, we could have never imagined the power of collective action and community engagement in addressing the needs of our service member and veteran population. I could not be prouder of how the Symposium has evolved to be a cornerstone of collaboration that brings together people, helpers, organizations, communities, and systems all focused on improving the lives of those who have served our country. Thank you to everyone who participated this year. We invite you to save the date for the 15th Annual Statewide Symposium happening April 16 & 17, 2025. 

Warm regards,
Thomas Winkel
Director, Arizona Coalition for Military Families

Day 1 General Session: April 17, 2024

  • Lt. Col. (ret) Dana Allmond, Cabinet Executive Officer, Executive Deputy Director, Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services spoke about serving together for a lifetime through the various phases of life by providing warm handoffs for the people we serve.
  • Carolyn Clancy, M.D., MACP, Assistant Undersecretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration shared with us her gratitude for the Arizona community for our collective work to connect veterans to support…calling Be Connected a best practice for helping veterans get the right help they need.
  • We were joined by the Directors of Arizona’s VA Health Care Systems including Jennifer Gutowski, Director of the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System; Bryan Matthews, Director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System; Steve Sample, Director of the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System and Chris Norton, Director of the Phoenix Regional Office. The Directors and Dr. Clancy participated in a round table discussion regarding perseverance and the importance of accessing benefits, care, and programs.
  • Lori Highberger, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Behavioral Health, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, a longtime collaborator of the Coalition, provided a staggering statistic that TriWest has provided over 64 million community care services in the community, with nearly 5 million in Arizona.
  • Nicola Winkel, MPA, Project Director for the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, provided an inspirational address about having a builder mindset and helping each other grow because we have more to do and build.

Day 2 General Session: April 18, 2024

  • Tonya Hamilton, Cabinet Executive Officer/Tribal Liaison, Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith, and Family, a long-time supporter and collaborator of the Coalition, introduced special guest, Katie Hobbs, Governor of the State of Arizona. Governor Hobbs recounted how Arizona is working to make a difference for veterans with Veteran Suicide Mortality Review, workforce and access to care initiatives. Governor Hobbs praised the strength of Arizona’s Ecosystem of Support for service members, veterans, and their families and the collaborative nature of the work.
  • Sheila Casey, Special Assistant to the President, Executive Director, Joining Forces shared her praise for the work being done in Arizona to answer the call put out by Joining Forces in April 2011 by then First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. And for providing support for service members, veterans and their families for their wellness, education and employment opportunities. After a detailed overview of the work being done by Joining Forces, Ms. Casey introduced a special address by the First Lady.
  • Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady of the United States, provided a heartwarming firsthand account of what it has been like within her military family. It is this experience that motivates Dr. Biden and her husband, Joe Biden, President of the United States, to continue to support service members, veterans, and their families. Dr. Biden provided a warm appreciation for the work being done in Arizona to support those who serve our country.
  • Brig. Gen. Jason Rueschhoff, Commander, 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, and Col. John Ives, Garrison Commander, Fort Huachuca provided a fascinating and eye-opening look into the reality we face as a nation and what motivates their resolve to carry out their mission. One message was clear across the branches – how important it is to have community support for their service members and their families. 

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Special thanks to the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family for their partnership and support.

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