Military and Veterans Mental Health Conference 2020

Thanks to everyone who attended the Florida State University College of Nursing's virtual conference on Mental Health Issues Facing Military & Veterans in Florida on September 25, 2020! The presentations were recorded and are available below. 






8:15 am - 8:45 am

Welcome and Introduction, Dr. Susan Porterfield



Welcome, Dr. Laurie Grubbs, Interim Dean, College of Nursing



8:45 am - 9:45 am

Understanding the Health of Those Who Have Served

Tracy Malone

President of United Health Foundation



10:00 am - 11:00 am

Mental Health Care and Suicide Prevention at the VA

Dr. Kelly Fethelkheir, DNP, RN, NE-BC, VHA, CM




11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Venturing Into “No Man’s Land”

Dr. Judy Hefren, PhD, LCSW





1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Lifestyle Interventions and the Role of Gut Microbiome in Mental Health 

Dr. Alicia Craig-Rodriguez, DNP, MBA, APRN, FNP-BC



2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Mental Health Issues Impacting Military Personnel & Veterans

Dr. Kenneth Fowler, PhD, LMHC



3:15 pm - 4:00 pm

Equipping Nurses to Better Address Mental Health Issues in Florida Schools

Jerri Edwards, BSN, RN




Conference Speakers


Tracy Malone
President of the United Health Foundation

President, Military and Veterans Health, UnitedHealth Group External Affairs, as the primary liaison for UnitedHealth Group’s military and veterans’ health care initiatives.  She has led efforts to advance the company’s commitment to service members, veterans, and their families, distinguishing the Enterprise as a thought leader on military and veterans’ health, and advancing military and veterans’ growth opportunities.  She also led philanthropic partnerships with military and veterans organizations with the United Health Foundation.  Ms. Malone served 26 years as a Navy Officer, including as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and a tour at the White House Medical Unit coordinating medical support for President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush.  Ms. Malone holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree from St. Anselm’s College and a Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Colorado.  Her military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards) and the Navy Commendation Medal (2 awards).

Dr. Kelly Fethelkheir, DNP, RN NE-BC, VHA, CM
Chief Nurse, Mental Health & Behavioral Science Services

Kelly Fethelkheir, DNP, MSN, RN NE-BC works as the Chief Nurse for Mental Health & Behavioral Science Services at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, Bay Pines, Florida. She has 30 years of experience in nursing to include med/surg, rehab, mental health, and nursing administration. She is an active member of the Florida Nurses Association. Dr. Fethelkheir earned her Bachelor of Science degree from St. Petersburg College. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice in Health Systems Leadership from The Florida State University. She also earned her Nurse Executive certification from the American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC). Dr. Fethelkheir also is an adjunct faculty at the State College of Florida. Interests include recovery and mental health, and patient safety in health care systems. She is currently the co-principle investigator on a research study examining the impact of a Whole Health Nursing Engagement Training on the use of a Whole Health approach in nursing practice, self-care, compassion satisfaction, and compassion fatigue.


Dr. Judy Hefren, PhD, LCSW
FSU College of Nursing Faculty Member

Dr. Hefren, PhD, LCSW joined the faculty of the College of Nursing at Florida State University in Fall 2019. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is currently developing courses that will focus educating individuals in helping professions, such as Nursing and Social Work, to appreciate the impact that military service may have on their clients. This would include those who are serving and their families as well as veterans and their families. Dr. Hefren has focused on clinical training and work on issuesrelated to grief, loss, and trauma.


Dr. Alicia Craig-Rodriguez, DNP, MBA, APRN, FNP-BC
FSU College of Nursing Faculty Member

Alicia (Ali) Craig-Rodriguez, DNP, MBA, ARNP, FNP-BC is a nationally certified Family Nurse Practitioner who serves as FSU College of Nursing’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar. As a former President and Chief Operating Officer of two nationally recognized clinical research organizations, Dr. Craig-Rodriguez is committed to advancing knowledge in the areas of leadership, clinical excellence and entrepreneurship in clinical practice. Dr. Craig-Rodriguez has also been actively involved in the development of health policy initiatives to improve health care access to all Floridians. In her current integrative health practice, Dr. Craig-Rodriguez is dedicated to helping her patients identify the underlying triggers of their chronic illness, and with pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches, assists them in restoring function and achieving optimal health.


Dr. Kenneth Fowler, PhD, LMHC, CT
Chief Executive Officer, Systemic Effects, PLC

Dr. Kenneth E. Fowler, PhD, LMHC came to Florida in 1988 to pursue his undergraduate degree at Florida State University. Upon receiving his Bachelors of Science degree in Economics with a business minor, Dr. Fowler went on to pursue a Master’s Degree in Mental Health from Florida A&M University. He went on to receive a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Florida State University, and established his private therapy practice, Systemic Effects. He is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and an Approved Supervisor for mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists and social workers. Throughout his time in Florida, Dr. Fowler has been involved with programs ranging from Godby’s Teen Life Options Program that assists 9th graders that are having a hard time adjusting to high school, to the DADS Project where he teaches a monthly parenting class to incarcerated fathers at Leon County Jail. He has also served as an adjunct assistant professor at Florida State and Florida A&M Universities. Currently, he consults with the Southcom Command of the United States
Dr. Kenneth Fowler, PhD, LMHC, CT Armed Forces to help returning soldiers and their families deal with the effects of war as well as Chief Executive Officer, Systemic Effects, PLC post-traumatic stress disorder. As a leader in his field, Dr. Fowler trains other therapists in this difficult work of trauma and crisis. He has become affectionately known as Florida’s “Dr. Ken.”


Jerri Stone Edwards, BSN, RN
Executive Community Health Nursing Director, Florida Department of Health

Jerri Stone Edwards, BSN, RN, a lifelong resident of Jackson County graduated with her Associates Degree in Nursing from Chipola College in 2012 and earned her Bachelors from Troy State University in 2015. Currently, Jerri is a second-year Doctorate student in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program in the College of Nursing at FSU. In addition to her role as a full time graduate student she also serves as the School Health Administrator of the Bureau of Family Health Services for the Florida Department of Health at the State Health Office in Tallahassee. Jerri oversees the School Health Program staff, participates in the development of program specific components of the budget, builds relationships with voluntary and academic organizations who have an interest and expertise helpful in the development of school health programs, provides nursing and administrative consultation as well as technical assistance to county health departments, county school boards, nursing, and assists in interpreting rules, policies, or procedures. Jerri gained psychiatric nursing experience while working as a Registered Nurse Specialist at Florida State Hospital (FSH) located in Chattahoochee, Florida. While at Florida State Hospital, Jerri worked closely with psychiatrists, psychologists and other healthcare professionals to provide care and management of residents within the Civil Admissions Unit.







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