UM to Host Conference on Strengthening Veteran Families

April 09, 2018

MISSOULA – The Neural Injury Center at the University of Montana will host a free public conference on strengthening veteran families from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 14.

“Meeting in the Middle: Tools for Strengthening Veteran Families” will take place in the Bitterroot Conference Room at the Doubletree Hotel at 100 Madison St. in Missoula.

Those interested in attending should RSVP to 406-243-4017. The event max seating is 110 people.

The schedule follows:

  • 8:30 to 8:40 a.m. – “Welcome,” Cindi Laukes, UM Neural Injury Center chief operating officer.

Laukes works with veterans and athletes on brain injury research and a clinical team in the UM Neural Injury Center. She currently is a sub-investigator on a clinical trial of a medication for post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans. She also is a translational research navigator for the Institute of Translational Health Sciences at the University of Washington. 

  • 8:40 to 9:30 a.m. – “Unique Challenges for Veterans and Families,” Jera Stewart, Missoula Veteran Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic neuropsychologist and behavioral health supervisor.

Stewart has worked as behavioral health director for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana, research director for the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, neuropsychologist at the VA Southern Nevada Health Care System in Las Vegas and integrated behavioral health consultant for the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

  • 9:30 to 10:10 a.m. – “New Research on Cognitive Fatigue and TBI,” Thomas Rau, VirtualMind and Wintermute Biomedical chief scientific officer and neuroscientist.
Rau specializes in traumatic brain injury and stroke, and he worked on developing biomarkers for TBI diagnosis as an associate research professor at UM. He started two private research companies, VitrualMind and Wintermute Biomedical. VirtualMind designs new cognitive assessments for TBI and cognitive rehabilitation programs in virtual reality for PTSD and TBI recovery.

  • 10:10 to 10:30 a.m. – Break with light refreshments
  • 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. – “Healing the Moral Wounds of War (A Dialogue),” Natalee Charlton, Missoula Vet Center readjustment counselor; Roy Savage, Heroes Therapeutic Outreach Program manager.

Charlton has worked as a licensed clinical social worker for 18 years. She works at the Missoula Vet Center with the military population on PTSD treatment and therapy for the moral impact of war zone deployment. 

Savage served from 1989 to 1993 as an operations specialist and ship’s rescue swimmer in the U.S. Navy on three tours of duty. He advocates for veteran issues, helps veterans seek services and serves as a community leader while majoring in community health at UM. Savage started Mindful Warriors and helped implement the Heroes Outreach Program.

  • 11:15 a.m. to noon – “Military Couples and Families: A Path Toward Resiliency (A Dialogue),” Meaghan Lee-Moriarity, Missoula Vet Center director; Shawn Grove, UM VETS Office director.

Lee-Moriarity has worked with veterans in Massachusetts, children experiencing early childhood trauma and veterans with PTSD and substance abuse issues. She now works at the Missoula Vet Center with trauma-impacted combat veterans and their families as the team marriage and family therapist. 

Grove worked as a social worker for the state of West Virginia and as a Persian linguist in the U.S. Army, and he served in Iraq for one year. He now helps his fellow veterans and family members use VA education benefits. Grove is a member of the Montana National Guard and the director of the UM VETS Office.

For more information on the conference, call Laukes at 406-243-4017 or email


Contact: Cindi Laukes, chief operating officer, UM Neural Injury Center, 406-243-4017,