School of Education News

Seminar to help future health professionals better understand military veterans

April 11, 2017

Student veterans and representatives with expertise in veterans issues will be taking part in an event on Saturday, April 22 that’s designed to help future health professionals better understand the history and trends of service-related injuries, different types of combat experiences, and more.

The seminar is titled, “Military and Veteran Culture for Healthcare Professionals and Students,” and it is being co-sponsored by the organizations Veterans, Educators and Traditional Students (VETS), and Diverse-OT.

Diverse OT logoDiverse-OT is a new student organization on the UW-Madison campus that was created by Caitlin Rhoten and Toni Solaru, two students with the Department of Kinesiology’s Occupational Therapy Program. Diverse-OT aims to advance the cultural climate within the School of Education’s OT program, and the greater UW-Madison campus by providing opportunities for discussion and education on diversity and inclusion.

One of Diverse-OT’s executive board members is Brittany Lowen, an Iraq war veteran and occupational therapy student.

Lowen explains that there is a growing body of research that supports the call for healthcare curricula to include opportunities for students to learn about underserved and marginalized populations in an effort to provide more culturally-competent care. But veterans, notes Lowen, are often left out of this narrative and students studying in health fields generally receive very little training on the background of the veterans they may one day serve.

This often contributes to a disconnect between veteran patients and their civilian practitioners –- a divide Lowen says that she has experienced personally. This breakdown can be detrimental to veteran patients in a number of ways, research indicates.

Brittany Lowen
“Veterans make up such a small percentage of students here on campus, and so since many healthcare students are unlikely to have student veterans in their programs, I found it imperative to address their gaps in knowledge another way,” says Lowen, who is Diverse-OT’s professional development coordinator.

Lowen has been working with Diverse-OT executive board members Noreen Jeglum and Sarah Maloney, and Talmage Kegley -– another UW-Madison student veteran who is a member of VETS -– to coordinate the upcoming event.

The event runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in room 1345 of the Health Sciences Learning Center.

Participants will attend breakout panel sessions that will cover topics such as:

• Military branch differences, rank structures, and training experiences

* Unique perspectives of female combat veterans

* Different types of deployment experiences

* History and trends of service related injuries with the changing nature of warfare

“This is the first event on campus of its kind, but we are hoping to make this an annual event,” says Lowen.  “We hope that this event will grow in size,” says Lowen.

The event is free, but registration is requested by April 15. RSVP at

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