Strategies to overcome stress and trauma, and transition support programs for the well-being of veterans and military families in Ukraine were two of many areas discussed during Falk College’s March 31 Research Colloquium sponsored by the College Research Center. Yuliya Chorna, a Fulbright Scholar and 2009 MSW graduate of the School of Social Work, and her colleague, Iuliia Pylypas, met with a standing room-only audience that included students, faculty, and staff.

Chorna and Pylypas are the executive director and program developer, respectively, of the International HIV/AIDS and TB Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) focused on public health and health promotion. Both have extensive administrative and policy experience in governmental and NGO settings in Ukraine. Given circumstances in Ukraine, the organization’s current emphasis is on the development of psycho-social support and public health services for soldiers at risk for post-traumatic stress disorders and for internally displaced persons.

“Soldiers coming from the field are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorders. The same is true for internally displaced persons and the broader community. At this time, there is no sufficient training on these issues in social and military services as the circumstances we are in are very new,” notes Chorna.

Professor of social work, Eric Kingson, organized the event with the associate dean of research and professor of social work, Deborah Monahan, and her staff in the College Research Center, including assistant director, Katie Keough and graduate assistant Ayse Duygu Cakirsoy-Aslan. Dr. Kingson and fellow professor of social work, Dr. Alejandro Garcia, who were Chorna’s instructors while she was a student in the MSW program, attended the Research Colloquium as did her former academic advisor, Dr. Nancy Mudrick, Dr. Monahan, and other faculty and students from Falk College.

In addition to sharing their experiences and best practices and exploring possibilities of collaborations with Falk and other SU faculty, the guest speakers had a strong interest in learning more about community-based models addressing needs of veterans, collaborations between military and community organizations in providing services for veterans, and public policy regulating these issues.

Packing in a lot during their two-day visit, their time in Syracuse began with meetings with James Schmeling, co-founder, managing director, programs and Nick Armstrong, senior director for research and policy, both from Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, who provided an overview of the Institute’s approach to service, its creative community-based service models and approach to disseminating best practices. This was followed by site visits to learn about other innovative services as possible models in Ukraine hosted by the Social Work Department of the Syracuse VA Medical Center and Clear Path for Veterans in Chittenango, N.Y. The next day, after meeting with Drs. Ambika Krishnakumar, associate professor, Department of Child and Family Studies, and Lutchmie Narine, associate professor, Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, they also had chance to talk with Social Work professor of practice Tracey Marchese, a nationally-recognized and certified trauma expert. Their SU visit concluded with a meeting Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken, co-director of the Transnational NGO Initiative (TNGO Initiative) at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Margaret (Peg) Hermann , Gerald B. and Daphna Cramer Professor of Global Affairs and Director of the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, and Olga Boichak, a MPA student who will be returning home to Ukraine after May graduation.

As part of the visit to the United States, Chorna presented the paper, “Emergency public health and social support intervention package for internally displaced persons in Kyiv, Ukraine,” at Yale University’s March 28-29 Vision Conference.

View photos of the event (photos courtesy of Professor of Social Work Alejandro Garcia)
Watch the presentation video