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Topics and Speakers

November 2, 2018

8.00 - 8.30 A.M.
Welcome and Introduction

President Ken Gormley
Introduction: the warrior's path and the role of community
Roger Brooke

The psychological wounds of war now described as posttraumatic stress disorder and moral injury have been named and ritually addressed in all traditional warrior societies. In those societies the experience of war -- its brutality and terrible violence - is understood as an initiation onto the Warrior's Path, which is a path of moral and spiritual development through the lifespan. It is a path imbued with cultural meaning, but it requires community support and participation.

The rituals from the Lakota Sioux to the South African Xhosa vary but there are shared themes: 1) isolation and tending before reentering the civilian world; 2) acceptance of warrior destiny (instead of avoidance); 3) purification and cleansing; 4) story-telling to the civilian community, which transforms the individual's experience into a legacy and community responsibility; 5) restitution in community, when the community accepts the warrior home and his or her continued service; 6) initiation into warrior status, honored by the community and rich with spiritual and cultural meaning (Tick, 2014). I add 7) making peace with the dead. Thus: "Warriorhood is not an outer role but an inner spiritual achievement" (Tick, 2005, p. 199).

This path of transformation and homecoming communalizes experience, transforms private memory into family and communal legacy, carries moral injury as a communal responsibility, freeing the individual of its burden, transforms private grief into communal mourning, and takes the lessons learned from violent conflict back into the civilian society. Mental health care workers can draw from this knowledge in their work, especially appreciating that it bypasses the need for psychiatric diagnosis and the cascading negative consequences that stem from that.

This perspective, which we may call archetypal, forms the conceptual backdrop to today's conference, where various dimensions of our communal lives are discussed in terms of their role in the veteran's homecoming.

Learning Objectives
  1. Attendees will be able to describe the lessons learned from traditional warrior societies in the healing and homecoming of our veterans.
  2. Attendees will be able to discern the moral injury at the center of what is often taken to be posttraumatic stress disorder.

Roger Brooke, Ph.D., ABPP., is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Military Psychological Services at Duquesne University. He is a Board Certified and licensed clinical psychologist, President of Soldiers Heart, and brings to bear an archetypal approach to his work with veterans. In 2018 he was honored with the Pennsylvania Psychological Association's Public Service Award for his volunteer work with veterans. In addition to working individually with veterans, he has run a number of 4-day healing retreats for Soldiers Heart, and on three occasions he has taken groups of veterans down the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. He is author of Jung and phenomenology: classic edition (NY: Routledge, 2015), as well as numerous publications on Jungian psychology, psychotherapy, and phenomenology. His most recent publication is An archetypal approach to treating combat posttraumatic stress disorder. In D. Downing and J. Mills (Eds). Outpatient treatment of psychosis: psychodynamic approaches to evidence based practice, pp. 171-196. London: Karnac Books, 2017. In his youth he became a paratrooper to impress his girlfriend. (It didn't.)

8:30 - 9:30 A.M.
Keynote Address

The aftermath of violent conflict: lessons from around the world
Derek Summerfield

This paper will critique what the medical, psychological, anthropological and other literature demonstrates about the personal and public aftermath of violent conflict for combatants and others, and of the role played by differing social and cultural contexts worldwide. These would include the way the conflict is viewed in wider society ('good' war versus 'bad' war), whether the conflict is transnational or civil, and what approaches to healing and recovery traditional in a particular society might be mobilised. The paper will also critique the extent to which the rise of the medicalisation and professionalisation of everyday life in the West, and of the discourse of "mental health", has influenced public understanding of the legacy of violent conflict, and the way it is recorded and addressed.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast medicotherapeutic from sociomoral ways of seeing.
  2. Describe posttraumatic stress disorder as a social construction rather than as the diagnosis of a medical fact.
  3. Describe the very different discourses and approaches to healing that may prevail in non-Western settings.

Derek Summerfield, MBBS, MRCPsych., is an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College, University of London. He was previously a National Health Service consultant psychiatrist in HIV; Research Associate, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford; consultant to Oxfam and other humanitarian agencies; principal psychiatrist, Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture; consultant occupational psychiatrist to the Metropolitan Police Service, London. He has done war-related clinical or research fieldwork in his native Zimbabwe, in Gaza, in Bosnia, and in Nicaragua. He has had a long involvement with human rights work, in particular Israel-Palestine in a campaign about medical complicity with torture. He has 250+ publications.

9:45 - 10:45 A.M.
Moral Injury and the Politics of Recovery

‘What do the gray clouds whisper:' moral injury as burdensome knowledge
Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon

Moral injury is most often defined as an issue of guilt and shame requiring self-forgiveness. It is suffering that must be treated and resolved. Although helpful to an extent, this understanding of moral injury does not address the profound suffering of veterans who struggle to make sense out of the policies in which they participate and which they have been ordered to execute. For a veteran, their participation in the politics of war can raise questions about the justness of the war they fight and, beyond this, the justness of one's own life, one's culture, and its effect on the wider world. Because war reflects the decisions, values, and policies of one's own society, however, a veteran who struggles with these painful questions may gain important insights into one's own culture, its political policies, and its effects in the world. This can be a burdensome knowledge that, nevertheless, can help a veteran reorient the shape of their life and that may form the beginning of a social and political critique that one's society may need to hear.

In this talk, we will approach moral injury not so much as the result of what an individual has done or failed to do to but instead as a reaction to one's participation within these larger political policies. We will look at veterans who have developed different practices in response to their injury, some of which reflect critically on the moral and political consequences of that injury. These can range from hiking pilgrimages to the development of politically engaged social ethics and activism. Moral repair, then, may require not only clinical treatment for individuals but the empowerment of veterans to change both their lives and the lives of others in a way that puts such burdensome knowledge into action.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the ways in which moral injury and moral repair are not only consequential for individual veterans but for society, as well. 
  2. Describe practices that veterans can use to repair themselves as well as address social injustice and suffering. 
  3. Help veterans and their communities think through practices that can be used to support veterans as community members with rich skills and much needed insights.

Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon is an ethicist who works on moral injury and the way that violence can transform identity and one's sense of self. He is a research fellow at a European-Union funded center for ethics in the Czech Republic and has taught at Denison University, Sewanee: The University of the South, and Birmingham-Southern College. He has written a book manuscript called Shattered Worlds: Moral Injury and the Promise of Virtue, and is currently developing an international working group around "trauma, injury, and justice" to exchange ideas between various disciplines on the moral aspects of violence and the experience of violence.

11:00 A.M. - 12:15 P.M.
Military Sexual Trauma and the Community of Women (and Men)

A Warfighter Narrative - Surviving Moral Injury after Military Sexual Trauma
BriGette McCoy

Reducing the effects of the moral injury of military sexual assault is an important area of cultural competency for communities and professionals serving and interfacing with the veteran population. Most military focused discussions, research and clinical interventions highlight direct combat and the losses felt of troops through death and physical injury. This relegates seeking care for military sexua trauma to a lesser injury than PTSD and TBI from combat and leading many survivors to seek alternatives to mental health treatment or no treatment or support at all. The multilayered moral injury to those who experienced military sexual trauma as a primary injury of wartime or peacetime service is an important area of training and discussion. First person narrative experiences from survivors, illuminate gaps in assessment, diagnosis and treatment. These narratives assist in developing policies and programs for more equitable services within the survivor diaspora and reduce the stigma of seeking care. Brief discussion on language, biases and the concept of weaponized diagnosis, underemployment, survivors as trusted advisors and SME, homelessness, Traumatic Brain Injury and Polytrauma, VA Disability, VA Claims Process and VA mandated diagnosis for certain claims. My personal and professional experience will be presented as an example from a service connected disabled veteran and military sexual assault survivor.
O'Hara C & Vicars, C. (2018) Military Moral Injury: Assessment and Treatment Interventions for Veterans with Military Service-Related Invisible Wounds. Combat Stress 7(3), American Institute of Stress.
Meagher, R. E. & Pryer, D.A. (Eds.). (2018). War and Moral Injury: A Reader. Eugene OR: Cascade Books.

Learning Objectives
  1. Participants will be able to examine personal and professional bias, behaviours and language to shift perspectives for improved survivor interaction. 
  2. Participants will be able to evaluate current clinical interventions, programs and research language for improvements to increase survivors participation. 
  3. Participants will be able to implement use of welcoming language and behavior processes for more equitable interventions for survivors.

BriGette McCoy, is the Founder and CEO of Women Veteran Social Justice Network, City of Atlanta Veterans Affairs Commission Vice Chair, Protect our Defenders Advocacy Committee Member, Author, and US Army Gulf War Era Veteran. Ms. McCoy uses technology for community building, civic engagement and consulting for multimedia programming. She is a media trained presenter who produces live streamed, on demand broadcasted and social media live veteran programing for awareness and empowerment of veteran women. Her 2013 Senate Testimony on Military Sexual Trauma has been utilized to help change military culture and policy. She has been interviewed by Trevor Noah and extensively by CNN, HLN, Good Morning America, Al Jezeera America, NPR News, Huffpost and many Print and Online Media Radio and TV Shows, which have brought her narrative of resilience before international audiences. Ms McCoy is a service connected disabled veteran and personally understands the challenges that military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury can bring into a veterans life and she works tirelessly to help remove the stigma and their associated challenges. She holds a BS in Psychology a ThM in Pastoral Care, and Masters courses in Education Media Design Technology and Instructional Design Technology.

A Community Approach to Working With Female Veterans
Kate Dahlstedt

Although many women enjoy successful careers in the military, the story of female veterans, who comprise only 15% of our military, is often a tale of isolation, abuse and degradation. They are often one of only a few women on a base or in a unit, their professional efforts are frequently overlooked and they are passed over for well-deserved awards and promotions.

Raised to be nurturers and life givers, female veterans must suppress their natural feminine qualities in order to succeed. For many this creates an internal struggle. Despite their best efforts, the fact that they are women often defines them negatively in the minds of their fellow troops.

Military sexual abuse has been well documented in recent years, with women being the primary victims. Victims are often told to "suck it up," even after being raped. Once home, female veterans struggle with social isolation, depression, MST, and PTSD. They report that family or friends frequently do not believe them when they share their experiences down range, thus furthering their sense of isolation and mistrust.

In my experience, therapeutic interventions with female veterans must include a community of civilian women. First and foremost, they need to be heard and believed by those around them. A community of civilian women who will listen deeply, empathize and understand creates a kind of "tribe" that is essential to the reintegration process, providing a safe place to return to and be tended.

Relating together simply as women in our culture, not separated by military experience, provides a larger canvass in which female veterans can view themselves. It reminds them that they are part of a much larger group, a group that will make room for them. By sharing common experiences between military and non-military women, they begin to see their own lives in a different context that often leads to greater acceptance of their own experiences.

Learning Objectives
  1. Participants will be able to describe common aspects of military life that female troops experience.
  2. Participants will be able to discuss 3 ways isolation impacts female veterans.
  3. Participants will be able to explain how community can help female veterans heal.

Kate Dahlstedt, M.A, has worked with veterans and their families for over 30 years. She founded Soldier's Heart, Inc. with her husband and partner Dr. Edward Tick after his book, War and the Soul, was published in 2005. Together, they have created the Soldier's Heart Model, which they continue to shape and adapt. Kate is a Soldier's Heart Program Leader, leading intensive veteran healing retreats as well as healing journeys to Vietnam and Greece. She provides consultation, training, supervision and advanced education to other professionals and clergy, organizations, communities and colleges on veterans' emotional and spiritual concerns. Kate holds a master's degree in clinical psychology as well as post-graduate certification from the Hartford Family Institute. She has maintained a private practice for three decades, is an experienced group leader, and has additional clinical experience in sexual assault and Hospice. She is a published author of journal articles, poetry and anthology chapters. She is a former adjunct professor at Russell Sage College and is presently teaching at Southern Connecticut State University.

Re-Politicizing Moral Injury and Military Sexual Trauma
Jessica Payton

Moral injury is one of the signature wounds of our servicemembers and veterans. This term has been used to define the invisible wounds that servicemembers and veterans carry as a result of exposure to, witnessing of, or participation in acts that violate deeply-held, orienting beliefs about what's right and what can be expected of themselves and other human beings. Though invisible, these wounds result in often-devastating impacts on veterans' identities, social connections, and capacities to envision meaningful futures.

This presentation centers on the role played by the leadership and organizational community in preventing or compounding MST-related moral injury-an often-neglected and highly political issue. Although moral injury is commonly depicted as stemming from the active, agentic stance of the warrior who engages in or fails to prevent actions that violate his or her moral code, equally morally injurious is the victimization that occurs when a servicemember in a position of trust or power purposefully inflicts atrocity or harm upon a subordinate-as frequently occurs in military sexual assault. Such violent acts and their aftermath not only steal veteran victims' sustaining agency; they also shatter their moral trust and deny them social belonging, rendering communal validation and reparation unavailable.

This presentation outlines some common experiences contributing to MST-related moral injury and describes manifestations of MST-related moral injury among servicewomen and veterans, including shame, rage, and expectations of exploitation, humiliation, and harm that may present themselves across a variety of relational settings. This presentation encourages participants to view such manifestations as calls for communal validation, reparation, and healing of social wrongdoing, and concludes with discussion of the roles that participative community, restorative justice, and rediscovery of meaningful purpose and agency can play in the healing of MST-related moral injury.

Learning Objectives

Following this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Define moral injury and describe how MST-related moral injury may differ from combat-related moral injury
  2. Identify contributors to MST-related moral injury, including roles played by military leaders and organizations
  3. Recognize manifestations of MST-related moral injury 
  4. Discuss community-based approaches to healing MST-related moral injury

Jessica Payton, Ph.D., is a staff psychologist at the San Francisco VA Health Care System. She currently serves as SFVAHCS' webSTAIR Champion, a role funded by the VA Office of Rural Health that focuses on outreach, implementation, and evaluation of a skills-based and trauma-informed treatment program for rural women veterans with MST histories. Jessica received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. She completed her predoctoral internship at Stanford University's Counseling and Psychological Services and postdoctoral fellowship at San Francisco VA Healthcare System, specializing in Women's Mental Health and Trauma. She serves on the Soldier's Heart Board of Directors. She also holds a master's degree in religious diversity in North America from Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. Jessica's research interests include the intersection of social context, organizational response, and trauma, as well as the impact of military leaders on the well-being and recovery of service members who have experienced sexual assault. She is passionate about reducing barriers to healthcare for women veterans.

12:15 - 1:00 P.M.

1:00 - 2:00 P.M.
Veterans, Healthcare and the Legal Community

Opening remarks
Provost David Dausey
Reboot of the Justice System for Veterans
John T. Rago and Daniel W. Kunz

The Duquesne University Veterans Clinic, provides legal representation to justice-involved veterans, assisting the veterans to avoid the unnecessary criminalization of mental illness and extended incarceration. The program's goal for the veteran is to provide competent representation while ensuring that eligible justice-involved veterans are assisted in connecting with timely access to the VA and community mental health and substance use services, when clinically indicated, and other services and benefits as appropriate.

Criminal justice is not a static construct. New thinking arising out of the natural, applied, and social sciences remind us of this condition nearly every day. Successful approaches to working with police, offenders, courts, victims, corrections, probation and parole, mental health care providers, social workers, among many others, requires a high level of interdisciplinary focus, deep deliberation, and genuine compassion. We all find ourselves in the pursuit of truth which rarely reveals itself all at once and forever. We understand that truth is a difficult conquest; but we also understand that difficulty is no excuse for not doing our best at finding truth when working with individuals who have become justice involved.

Every successful pursuit of justice is marked by sacrifice, suffering, and struggle. But these words from a speech given in 1865 by Abraham Lincoln underscores, perhaps, the most important value in our timeless pursuits when he said . . . "I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."

The global philosophy for dealing with these situational veterans is to reframe the presenting problems. Normally you would look at a situation such as a veteran who is physically abusive to a spouse co-worker or other person. At first blush the abusive nature would appear to be caused by substance abuse (alcohol, illegal and or prescription drugs etc.) but, upon closer examination it is the underlying mental health problem which the veteran is experiencing, in many cases as a collateral affect of their service which is the cause of their substance abuse which cascades to their other inappropriate behaviors.

A holistic understanding of criminal justice may be our next frontier. We now must bring our thinking far beyond our ancient theories for punishment and public safety. Thankfully, the notion of being "tough on crime" has gone the way of the pet rock. And not a moment too soon!

Learning Objectives
  1. Participants will be able to describe the assessment techniques utilized by the Veterans Law Clinic in order to evaluate Veteran service needs.
  2. Participants will be able to describe the use of diversion techniques as problem solving and extended lifestyle change reinforcement.
  3. Participants will experience hands on knowledge of actual clinical situations and their steps from inception to conclusion, and will be able to integrate these into their clinical work as required.

John T. Rago, JD, Esq. is a Professor of Law at Duquesne University where he teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Wrongful Convictions, Law, Science and Philosophy, Veterans Clinic, Law & Public Policy, and Functions of the Prosecution. As Special Council to the Allegheny County Criminal Justice Advisory Board, Professor Rago works locally and statewide in collaboration with policy makers, law enforcement, prosecutors, and public defenders to develop evidence based, best practices in support of conviction integrity initiatives. Under the auspices of the Joint State Government Commission, Professor Rago was selected by Senator Stewart Greenleaf to chair a statewide committee to study wrongful convictions in Pennsylvania. See Report of the Advisory Committee on Wrongful Convictions (2011).

Daniel W. Kunz, J.D., MBA, Esq., is a practicing attorney and adjunct professor at Duquesne University School of Law, where he has been teaching since 2003. Currently, Kunz supervises the award-winning Veterans Clinic, named among the Top 15 innovative clinics in the country by PreLaw magazine, and supports the Urban Development Practicum's work in the region. Kunz sits on several boards and committees across Western Pennsylvania including serving the Foundation of Hope as immediate past president, as well as chairing the Allegheny County Bar Association's Sports Law Committee. He is a mental health first aid trainer and is a frequent guest lecturer and public speaker appearing on local television and radio stations discussing issues involving veterans, athletes, mental health, and substance abuse. Among his previous roles, Kunz was a certified contract advisor for the National Football Players Association, 2010-2016.

In 2018, Duquesne Law's Public Interest Law Association named Kunz as the recipient of the Public Interest Law Alumni Award. The Student Bar Association honored him as the Adjunct Faculty Award recipient in 2017. Saint Vincent College, his undergraduate alma mater, named him the Young Alumni of Distinction awardee in 2013. Kunz holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Duquesne University's John F. Donahue Graduate School of Business and a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law.

2:15 - 3:30 P.M.
The Role of the Religious Community

Identifying the Transitional Needs of Military and Veteran Students
Don Accamando

Veterans transitioning from military service to college campuses face a variety of challenges. A vast majority of these college bound students are older, have families and in some cases must work while going to school.

In many ways they are very different from their younger traditional college classmates. Therefore, it is imperative that Colleges and Universities like Duquesne stand ready to provide variety of support services to ensure a smooth transition for this non-traditional military and veteran student (MVS). Some MVS will transition smoothly, others however will experience financial strains, academic and social challenges, and in some instances emotional and mental health concerns, many of us can't see.

The Office for Military and Veteran Students at Duquesne University collaborates with a wide range of on-campus support services as well as a vast array of community based service providers to ensure a more seamless transition and play a vital role in the academic success of the students in our care.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the social, academic and emotional challenges many transitioning military and veteran students face.
  2. Explain the importance of special transitional programs designed to aid in the successful completion of the MVS first semester and across their academic career.
  3. Explain the role that faith and community play in the successful transition of the MVS.

Don Accamando, Ph.D., Lt. Col. USAF, retired, is the Director of the Office for Military and Veteran Students at Duquesne University. Don brings 28 years of military and academic leadership experience to the position.

While serving the nation in the Air Force and Pennsylvania Air National Guard, Don has flown over 4,500 hours on the KC-135 refueling tanker serving as an instructor and evaluator navigator. He is a veteran of Desert Storm, Allied Force and the nation's Overseas Contingency Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Don also served in a variety of leadership capacities as a Maintenance Officer and as the Logistics Squadron Commander. He ended his career assigned to the Wing Headquarters where he served as a Staff Officer.

In addition to his military service, Don has worked in education as a teacher and principal. He earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, both in Education. He also earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Duquesne University in 2017. His thesis focuses on the Transitional needs of Military and Veteran Students.

Don is responsible for the social, financial and academic needs of the military and veteran student population at Duquesne University, and serves as the representative for military issues across the University.

Don serves as the Staff representative for the Duquesne University Student Veterans Association and the ROTC sponsored, Annual Run for Ryan Lane Memorial 5K Run. Don also serves the University as a member of the School of Education Alumni Board and is a member of President Gormley's Advisory Council for Diversity and Inclusion. Off campus, Don works on veteran's issues while serving as a Board Member for the Military Affairs Council, and as an Advisory Board member with Pittsburgh Hires Veterans. He is also an active member of Life Changing Service Dogs for Veterans.

100 Years of Community Based Support for Veterans: from Daniel Brottier to the Present
Father William Christy

In 1918 Fr. Daniel Brottier, CSSp began the National Union of Servicemen in France to support veterans of WWI. This pioneering effort has led to numerous veterans organizations that were modeled on his vision for community based support for veterans that encompassed physical, social and spiritual health. Participants will be able to describe how this multifaceted approach to veterans community support has been proven successful across nationalities and societal change for the past 100 years.

Bill Christy served five years as a United States Marine. He left military service to enter the seminary and was ordained in 1992 as a Spiritan missionary. He served 15 years in Tanzania, East Africa. His ministry was primarily in First Evangelization with the Maasai people in North Central Tanzania. He was recalled to the US in 2004 and served at Duquesne in Campus Ministry for 3 years before being sent to Australia to work in Aboriginal ministry. He ministered for 6 years in the Aboriginal reservations of Western Australia. In response to the needs of the Aboriginal ministry, Fr. Bill completed a Master of Counseling Psychology at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle, Australia focusing on Child and Adolescent Counseling. Now having returned again to Duquesne he is again part of the Campus Ministry team and serves as the Director of Spiritan Campus Ministry and University Chaplain.

3:45 - 4:30 P.M.
Veterans Themselves: Healing and Homecoming Through Community Relations

Megan Andros and Theo Collins

Megan Andros joined The Heinz Endowments in 2013 as a program officer for community and economic development. In 2018, she was promoted to senior program officer for veterans. At the Endowments, she focuses primarily on improving the quality of life for veterans in western Pennsylvania. Her goals are to strengthen the community of veterans and their supporters, improve veteran access to quality health and service organizations, and increase opportunities for veterans in the workforce.

Before joining the Endowments, Megan served for five years as an ordnance officer in the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, reaching the rank of captain. She is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, having served in northwest Baghdad from January 2009 to January 2010.

Megan is from Charlotte, N.C. She graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in international law, completed a Master of Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College in 2018, and completed the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in 2013.

Theo Collins is a Marine Corps infantry and Afghan war veteran, attorney, and frequent speaker on issues facing post-9/11 era veterans. He executive-produced the feature-length documentary film, Project 22, which explores the veteran suicide epidemic and several alternative treatment options available to veterans living with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.

Theo is a 2015 graduate of the Duquesne University School of Law and continues to sit on the university's Veterans Advisory Board. He is also a director of the Coraopolis Community Development Foundation and the Chairman of the Coraopolis Zoning Hearing Board. He lives in the west hills and practices business and real estate law with Edward J. Krug & Associates in Moon Township. Project 22 can be streamed in-full at pbs.org.

4:30 - 5:00 P.M.
Conference Summary and Q&A

Closing comments, questions, and responses from the speakers