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Event Summary

Chairman Mike Coffman of the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel (R-CO) delivered a keynote Thursday afternoon at AEI to discuss the difficult transition of military personnel back to civilian life. Chairman Coffman’s remarks were preceded by a panel of experts who contextualized his comments within emerging veteran disability trends. Dr. Chris Frueh set the stage by discussing the perverse incentives driving the increase in veterans’ disability claims. Dr. Deborah Beidel explored the role of post-traumatic stress disorder, how the disorder affects veteran disability claims, and how the disorder could be better addressed. Dr. Mark Duggan covered the impact of veteran compensation enrollment on the labor market.

The second panel discussed opportunities to encourage veterans to return to work. Thomas Meyer talked about the “disability trap” and the need to develop innovative programs to incentivize work. Michael Sarraille talked specifically about his organization, Vetted, and the unique way the program equips veterans to succeed at the job search.

–Clayton Hale

Event Description

The transition from active duty to civilian life can be difficult and complex. A premature decision to pursue long-term disability compensation can lead many veterans into a cycle of invalidism at the expense of their recovery and a return to a productive private life.

Join AEI for remarks from House Armed Services Committee Military Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Mike Coffman (R-CO) on transitioning from war to work. Following his remarks, experts in veterans’ mental health, labor economists, and veterans discuss the growth of the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ disability policies, workforce reentry issues, and novel programs designed to assist veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in reentering the work force and fostering individual entrepreneurship.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.



12:00 PM
Registration and lunch

12:25 PM
Thomas Donnelly, AEI

12:30 PM
Panel I: Disability trends and post-traumatic stress disorder

Deborah Beidel, University of Central Florida
Mark Duggan, Stanford University
B. Christopher Frueh, University of Hawaii

Sally Satel, AEI

1:05 PM

1:15 PM
Thomas Donnelly, AEI

1:20 PM
Mike Coffman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, House Committee on Armed Services (R-CO)

1:50 PM

2:10 PM

2:15 PM
Panel II: Entrepreneurship

Morgan Luttrell, Boot Campaign
Thomas Meyer, Philanthropy Roundtable
Michael Sarraille, Vetted Foundation

Gary J. Schmitt, AEI

3:05 PM

3:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Clayton Hale at [email protected], 202.862.5920.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Deborah Beidel is Pegasus Professor of Psychology and Medical Education and director of UCF RESTORES at the University of Central Florida. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical research at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Dr. Beidel holds diplomates in clinical psychology and behavioral psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology and is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. She is the author of more than 250 scientific publications, including journal articles, book chapters, and books on the treatment of anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, and she has been the recipient of more than $19 million dollars in research funding throughout her career. Her recent work focuses on using technology to translate and disseminate efficacious treatments for anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder into standard clinical practice. Along with her colleague Clint Bowers, she is developing a new multidisciplinary center devoted to using technology to enhance and disseminate empirically supported treatments for anxiety, stress, and trauma-related disorders.

Mike Coffman is a former small business owner and a Marine Corps combat veteran with a combined 21 years of military service between the US Army, the Army Reserve, the US Marine Corps, and the Marine Corps Reserve. He served in both the first Gulf War and the Iraq War. He grew up in Aurora and attended Aurora Public Schools, earned a high school diploma through an Army program, and is a graduate of the University of Colorado. Before being elected to Congress in 2008, he held the offices of state representative, state senator, state treasurer, and secretary of state. In Congress, he serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and is the chairman for the Military Personnel Subcommittee for the House Armed Services Committee.

Thomas Donnelly, a defense and security policy analyst, is the codirector of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at AEI. He is the coauthor, with Frederick W. Kagan, of “Lessons for a Long War: How America Can Win on New Battlefields” (AEI Press, 2010). Among his recent books are “Ground Truth: The Future of U.S. Land Power” (AEI Press, 2008), coauthored with Frederick W. Kagan; “Of Men and Materiel: The Crisis in Military Resources” (AEI Press, 2007), coedited with Gary J. Schmitt; “The Military We Need: The Defense Requirements of the Bush Doctrine” (AEI Press, 2005); and “Operation Iraqi Freedom: A Strategic Assessment” (AEI Press, 2004). From 1995 to 1999, he was policy group director and a professional staff member for the House Committee on Armed Services. Mr. Donnelly also served as a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He is a former editor of Armed Forces Journal, Army Times, and Defense News.

Mark Duggan is the Trione Director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and the Wayne and Jodi Cooperman Professor of Economics at Stanford University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992 and 1994, respectively, and his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1999. His research focuses on the health care sector and the effects of government expenditure programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on the behavior of individuals and firms. Some of his more recent research explores the effect of federal disability programs on the labor market and of the Affordable Care Act on the labor market and health care costs. His research has been published in leading academic journals, including the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and has been featured in many media outlets, including The Economist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

B. Christopher Frueh is a clinical psychologist and holds the positions of professor of psychology and chair of the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Through his experience with federally funded research and contributions to the scientific literature, he has extensive experience with clinical trials, health services, and epidemiological and qualitative research relevant to innovative treatments and mental health service improvements. He is a licensed clinical psychologist and received his master of arts in clinical psychology and his doctor of philosophy in clinical psychology from the University of South Florida, Tampa. He also is the author of a series of historical crime novels, writing as Christopher Bartley.

Morgan Luttrell joined the Navy after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in psychology; after eight years of enlisted service, he became a commissioned officer and served 14 years with Naval Special Warfare and the SEAL teams, retiring as a lieutenant. With nine combat deployments to multiple theaters around the globe, he joined the Brain Performance Institute and the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas, pursuing an advanced degree in applied cognition.

Thomas Meyer is the program director of veterans services at The Philanthropy Roundtable and cofounder of the Independence Project. He authored two guidebooks on veterans philanthropy, “Uniform Champions (The Philanthropy Roundtable, 2017) and “Serving Those Who Served” (The Philanthropy Roundtable 2013); published articles in Philanthropy and Security Studies; and has been quoted on this subject in The New York Times and elsewhere. Before joining the Roundtable, he completed research with US and UK army officers focused on counterinsurgency work in Iraq and Afghanistan. He completed a Fox Fellowship at the University of Cambridge and graduated with distinction from Yale University.

Michael Sarraille is a 19-year prior-enlisted military officer. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University, where he obtained his B.B.A. from the Mays Business School, and a current full-time M.B.A. student at the University of Texas McCombs Business School. He is the founder of Vetted, a Texas-based veteran service organization. Vetted is the optimal veteran transition platform to transform proven military leaders into tomorrow’s industry leaders and entrepreneurs. It identifies military talent for transition preparation and planning, executive education, and industry placement in the private sector. Vetted is creating the first state model, the Texas Model, to serve as the launchpad for successful veteran transitions.

Sally Satel is a resident scholar at AEI and the staff psychiatrist at Partners in Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation Counseling. Dr. Satel was an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University from 1988 to 1993. From 1993 to 1994, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow with the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. She has written widely in academic journals on topics in psychiatry and medicine and has published articles on cultural aspects of medicine and science in numerous magazines and journals. Her essays have appeared in the 2003 and 2008 editions of “Best American Science Writing.” She has testified before Congress on veterans’ mental health and disability, federal funding for mental health, and substance abuse. Dr. Satel is author of “Drug Treatment: The Case for Coercion” (AEI Press, 1999) and “PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine” (Basic Books, 2001). She is the coauthor of “One Nation Under Therapy” (St. Martin’s Press, 2005) and “The Health Disparity Myth” (AEI Press, 2006) and editor of “When Altruism Isn’t Enough: The Case for Compensating Organ Donors” (AEI Press, 2009). She most recently coauthored “Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience” (Basic Books, 2013).

Gary J. Schmitt is a resident scholar and the director of AEI’s Program on American Citizenship. He was a staff director of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and executive director of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. His work in the area of citizenship focuses on challenges to sustaining a strong civic culture in America and a fuller appreciation of the principles of the American regime and the Constitution. He has published widely on the separation of powers and the American presidency, and he is the author and contributing editor of several volumes, including “The Imperial Presidency and the Constitution” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017) and “Is Congress Broken? The Virtues and Vices of Partisanship and Gridlock” (Brookings, 2017).

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