Former President George W. Bush will host a symposium on traumatic brain injury and combat-related mental health conditions just before the Invictus Games sports competition scheduled for May in Orlando, Florida.
Bush, who has spent much of his post-presidency work supporting injured veterans and their caregivers, announced Thursday that the George W. Bush Institute will team with Invictus Games chairman Ken Fisher to hold a policy forum focusing on brain injury and combat-related mental health conditions, with an emphasis on the role of sports and activity in recovery.
"I have dedicated the rest of my life to honoring the service and sacrifice of the men and women with whom I served as commander in chief," Bush said during the announcement at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. "Those who wear their nation's uniform — some of whom have overcome both visible and invisible injuries — deserve our support."
The Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative arm was established to support troops transitioning from the military through educational opportunities, jobs and support.
The initiative also focuses on reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, which Bush and others have lobbied to call "post-traumatic stress" to recognize the condition's genesis as a war injury.
Institute officials said the partnership between the organization and the Invictus Games, an Olympic-style adaptive sports event for injured and ill troops and veterans, will raise awareness of the challenges facing injured veterans and serve as a force multiplier for the work already underway in these areas.
Former President George W. Bush, top right, watches a demonstration of sitting volleyball at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York on Thursday.
Photo Credit: Seth Wenig/AP
The Invictus Games are scheduled for May 8-12 in Orlando and will feature more than 500 veterans from 15 countries participating in 10 adaptive sports, including archery, cycling, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, powerlifting, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis.
Founded by Prince Harry and held in London in 2014, the Games drew more than 65,000 spectators in their inaugural year.
Officials said the symposium, to be held in the days before the Invictus opening ceremonies, will draw veterans groups, members of the military, businesses, nonprofit organizations and government officials to discuss "solutions for improving outcomes for injured veterans transitioning to civilian life."
"We must continue the dialogue that will inspire these men and women to reengage, to embody what they can do and shine a light in the often dark and isolated area of invisible injuries," Fisher said.
Patricia Kime is a senior writer covering military and veterans health care, medicine and personnel issues.