SMU eNews
L-R Elizabeth Valente, Dennis McReynolds, student, Che Abram, Jenniffer Samatra, Aara Amidi-Nouri, Jenny Hoang, Renee Smith, Kendra Murthild, Regina Bell and Kira Allen

SMU Faculty and Staff Discuss Ways to Serve Military Families and Vets

On February 10, University of California San Francisco (UCSF) hosted its Second Annual Florence Stroud Black History Month Conference Series presenting a special symposium, "Joining Forces: Answering the Call to Serve Military Families.''  The event focused on the many challenges facing members of the military and their families, including post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, and other psychological issues and the care and need to support military families.

The conference was held at UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco with special guest speakers Congresswoman Donna Christensen, (D-Virgin Islands), MD, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, (D-California), who spoke on policy and fiscal solutions to advance health equity among military personnel and their families.

"As the daughter of a veteran, I believe we have a moral responsibility to keep our promise to the people who have served our nation.  Veterans, service members, and their families deserve our full support and I will continue to fight to keep the promises made to our veterans who have served selflessly and answered our nation's call to duty in times of peace and war," said Congresswoman Lee.

Samuel Merritt University assistant professor Renee Smith, MPH, RN, found the conference ‘unexpectedly surprising, and moving.'  "If our goal is to recruit veterans, I hope we have adequate social support systems in place first."

On hand to speak about personal experiences living and being in the military environment were SMU staff Elizabeth Valente, Associate Director of Media Relations who spoke on military dependents and the lifestyle they face, and adjunct professor Dennis McReynolds, MA, RAS, who spoke about what life is like after you leave active duty. 

"I am a disabled combat military veteran and was stationed throughout Europe for nearly ten years dealing with military families on many levels," said McReynolds. 

Since getting out of the military McReynolds has been working as a drug and alcohol counselor counseling homeless veterans and those coming off of active duty and trying to adjust to civilian life.

"At this conference I met people in the field of medicine both military and civilian that truly were interested in the quality of life for all our veterans."

The conference honors the late Florence Stroud, a pioneering nurse, professor at UCSF and a public health researcher, who was the first African American to serve as health director of Berkeley. The event was hosted by the UCSF School of Nursing, the UCSF Medical Center, Samuel Merritt University and the Bay Area Black Nurses Association.


Did You Know...

Dennis McReynolds, M.A., R.A.S (Registered Addiction Specialist), Adjunct Professor/Student Services Coordinator and Veteran's Resource Specialist at Samuel Merritt University –
Before Dennis McReynolds began teaching about the physiological, psychological, and social aspects of drug and alcohol use in society to nursing students at SMU School of Nursing, he worked as a graduate assistant at Western Michigan University (WMU) in a sociology program. 

While at WMU, McReynolds was certified in the Special Programs in Alcohol and Drug Abuse (S.P.A.D.A) as a drug and alcohol counselor and taught the undergraduate curriculum.  He also worked as a drug and alcohol educator in the Basic Substance Abuse Education and Treatment Readiness Module for the Michigan Department of Corrections. 

Since coming to California, McReynolds has worked as a substance abuse counselor at the Marin Drinking and Driving Program in San Rafael and at the Bay Area Addiction, Research and Treatment program in San Francisco.  Before coming to Samuel Merritt University he was working as a case manager and drug and alcohol counselor for the Episcopal Community Services in the City.

McReynolds served in the Armed Forces for 15 years and is a disabled Army combat veteran.