By Chieu Dao
The first Vietnam War Symposium will be held Oct. 20, 2012 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Lake Hallie Eagle’s Club, 2588 Hallie Rd, Chippewa Falls, Wis.
The event is hosted and organized by Thuy Smith International, with partners including Lake Hallie Eagles, Club, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Multi-Cultural Affairs Department.
The event emcee will be Eau Claire’s WEAU 13 NEWS Anchor Judy Clark.
The Symposium Keynote Speaker will be Andrew Lam, author, journalist, PBS commentator, and founding editor of the multi-ethnic media outlet “New American Media.” Lam is the son of General Lâm Quang Thi, who served for the Republic of Vietnam. He will share his Vietnamese American experience.
There will be two panel discussions. The first panel will on “Reconciling the Vietnam War experience.”
Psychologist Michael Muller, Ph.D., who served in MACV CORDS as an operations advisor in the Binh Chanh District back in 1970, went on to become a veterans psychologist who counseled combat veterans for many years.
Muller recently published the novel, “A Dream of Heaven”, under his pen name, Michael FitzGordon. It is available on Kindle and is based on his experiences in Vietnam and as a psychologist working with combat veterans.
Muller will focus on the concept of PTSD as a mental illness. He will explain when it is helpful to have a diagnosis, and where it is simply not an illness at all.
He explains that the primary effects of traumatic events are not an illness, but that they make you different, which isolates you as a form of cruel punishment. This leads to developing secondary effects of depression and substance abuse from the isolation and not the traumatic events.
Having PTSD just makes you different from normal, not sick, he states. So you have to learn to cope with being different than ‘normal’ people.
Cindy MaCaulay is the second panelist. She has worked at the Duluth Vet Center since 1984 and will tell of her experience working with Northland veterans from W.W.II., and from wars in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada. She will include stories of working with veterans of Operation Desert Shield/Storm and OIF/OEF.
MaCaulay’s vast experience has led to developing strategies of talking toward peace of mind and a healthier way to cope with struggles that may always be present. She is also knowledgeable of how a veteran’s pain affects their families and loved ones, friend, co-workers and communities.
MaCaulay will focus on the loss of control issues and the need to take care of yourself at this life stage. She encourages veterans to ask for and accept help when it often runs against their conditioning to do so.
She will discuss other aspects relationship change after retirement, health issues, and dealing with unstructured time. All three speakers will also talk about things that are specific to the Vietnam Era.
The third panelist is Allan Cutter, a Doctor of Ministry who was most recently executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of South Louisiana. Also as U.S. Navy veteran from 1969 to 1975, as both an enlisted man in the Naval Security group, then as an officer advisor in Vietnam, and as a teacher at the Naval Academy prep School.
Cutter will speak about “War as a prayer”, as a way in which he reconciled his own experiences. Among the things he lost in Vietnam was a sense of meaning for right and wrong, or a sense of connection between the community and himself.
The second panel of “Minority Veterans” that will share a variety of perspectives of veterans from the Native American, African American, and Hmong American communities.
This panel will feature an African American, Native American, and a Hmong American who served in the war in Vietnam. The veterans will discuss their various wartime experiences and then talk about what it was like after they returned home.
The panel moderator will be Gary L. Quaderer, a member of the Ojibwe Tribe Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970 as a radio operator with B Company, 63rd Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade.
Symposium updates and registration information can be found
For more information call Thuy Smith, President and Founder at 715-404-8500.