HealthWest ReCon Veteran Resilience Conference – May 28, 2020

HealthWest to host statewide ReCon Veteran Resilience Conference featuring former Detroit Lions QB Eric Hipple, military social worker April Thompson

The ReCon Veteran Resilience Conference will be returning to Downtown Muskegon on Thursday, May 28, for its third year of assisting military veterans, their families, and veteran service providers in developing the tools they need to lead resilient lives after leaving the military.

Resilience is one of the pillars to overcoming ongoing life challenges faced by veterans in their personal and professional post-military lives. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed by anyone.

The full-day conference will include keynote sessions, informative lectures, panel presentations, and resource fair. This year’s keynote presenters include former Detroit Lions quarterback Eric Hipple and military social worker April Thompson.

Breakout sessions will include discussions on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, suicide prevention, substance use, intimate partner violence, and more.

“We are excited to have two dynamic and engaging keynote presenters scheduled for this year’s conference,” said Doug Card, HealthWest’s veteran system navigator and chair of the ReCon planning committee. “This event will provide invaluable tools to military veterans, their families, and their supporters.”

ReCon, which began in 2018, has grown to include participants from across Michigan and even neighboring states. Since its beginning, ReCon has drawn more than 1,300 participants.

“You do not need to be a mental health professional to benefit from ReCon,” said Card. “Every participant can leave with the resources they need to face life’s obstacles head-on and develop the tools they need to live a healthier life.”

ReCon is organized by a team that includes mental health professionals, members of veteran service organizations, and military veterans.

About Eric Hipple
Since his 15-year-old son Jeff’s suicide, Hipple has devoted his life to building awareness and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health. Hipple’s message of resilience has provided mental fitness awareness to professional groups, military, law enforcement, schools, communities and, through the Under the Helmet program, reached thousands of high schools and youth coaches across the country.

In conjunction with Navy’s U.S. Fleet Forces and PAC Fleet, he has provided workshops on suicide and destructive behavior prevention focusing on the Mental Fitness Program. He also established the After the Impact program, a neuro-behavioral residential treatment program serving military veterans and former NFL players.

About April Thompson
Thompson is working as a Military Behavioral Health Social Worker with the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland. In this capacity, she is responsible for the development and delivery of both live and web-based training to military and civilian behavioral health providers on deployment-related topics.

For more than 20 years, Thompson has primarily worked with military couples and families in a wide range of settings, including on bases in Virginia, Florida, Hawaii and Japan. She has expertise in couples counseling, addressing the stresses associated with military life, as well as prevention and treatment of intimate partner violence and suicide.

During ReCon, Thompson will be presenting about incorporating families into clinical care to support veteran resilience.

ReCon Veteran Resilience Conference Details:
The ReCon Veteran Resilience Conference is being held on Thursday, May 28, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (registration opens at 7:30 a.m.) at the Frauenthal Center in Downtown Muskegon. The conference is FREE to attend and includes a light breakfast and lunch. Veterans, their families, community members, veteran service providers, and anyone interested in supporting veterans or gaining skills to grow resilience are invited to attend. Social Work CEUs are being provided for a $25 fee. Participants can register at

The ReCon Veteran Resilience Conference is being presented by HealthWest in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Mercy Health. Additional sponsorship opportunities are still available by visiting

Fruitport VFW Post – Veterans of Foreign Wars

Elections were held on May 7th & the following are the post officers for 2018-19

• Commander: Max Riekse; Vietnam & Iraq Veteran.
• Senior Vice Commander: Floyd Peplinski; Panama & Iraq Veteran
• Junior Vice Commander: Edward Vokal; Korean Veteran.
• Quartermaster: George Kotkowicz; Iraq Veteran.
• Trustee: Wesley Owen; Korean era veteran
• Trustee & Assistant Chaplain; Larry Davis; Korean era veteran
• Trustee & Assistant Chaplain: Andy Peck; Persian Gulf veteran.
• Surgeon: Darrell Huddlestun; Vietnam Veteran
• Adjutant: Floyd Peplinski
• Guard: Larry Davis
• Judge Advocate: George Kotkowicz.
• Legislative & POW/MIA Officer: Max Riekse
• Offices of Chaplain & Community Services remain open.

The Fruitport VFW normally meets on the first Monday of the Month at 7:30pm; call Max Riekse for more details; If you’re a veteran of Iraq & or Afghanistan, think about joining your local VFW Post – especially if you live in Spring Lake & Fruitport; This is a non-drinking post as we have no Bar; George Kotkowicz is the Fruitport Cub Scout Master; and Andy Peck is both a Cub Scout & Boy Scout leader; Floyd Peplinski is the post Edward Jones financial adviser; Our post, along with the local Fruitport Cub Scouts & Fruitport Boy Scouts, place American flags on the graves of local veterans at the Fruitport – Pine Hill cemetery on the Friday before Memorial day at 5pm; and on Monday, hold a Memorial Day event at 11:00am at the Fruitport – Pine Hill cemetery; along with leading the parade with our Fruitport color guard which we have done for over 40 years. Our post also helps the children of local veterans go to Cub Scout camp; Boy Scout camp; VFW summer camp; etc; If you’re a veteran who has been awarded a military service medal, give Max Riekse a call and ask about joining your local VFW post; (231) 865-3238.

Post activities coming up are: Meet the Candidate/legislative event on Wednesday July 11th 5:30pm – 7pm for the upcoming August primary; & on Wednesday, October 17th 5:30pm – 7pm for the November election; On Friday July 20th, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, a special meet & greet of our new 2018-19 VFW Post officers will be held for members, their families; and prospective members; especially those from Iraq & Afghanistan. Food and refreshments will be served. Bring your own band/music. Spouses of veterans can join the Fruitport AUX; Female Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans are especially welcome to become active in our/your local Fruitport VFW – Veterans of Foreign Wars Post.

Max Riekse
May 11, 2018

Marty Keller Joins the NVBDC Advisory Board


DETROIT, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES, March 23, 2017 — Keith King, President of the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Marty Keller to the NVBDC Advisory Board.

Mr. Keller brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization, having held a number of positions working on behalf of disabled Veterans and the small business community.

“Marty is the type of leader we need to help the NVBDC grow nationally. With his knowledge and expertise of the issues faced by our Veteran Businesses he will be able to help us deliver the message of why our SD/VOBs must become certified” said Mr. King.

Mr. Keller served as Deputy Executive Director of the Disabled Veterans Business Alliance (DVBA) from July, 2014, through November, 2016. The DVBA’s mission is to support disabled veteran entrepreneurs through training, networking, and connecting to public and private programs to encourage business contracting with disabled veteran business enterprises (DVBEs).

In his leadership capacity, Mr. Keller directed many of the Alliance’s initiatives, including the Pass the Torch program which helps younger Veterans buy the businesses of older Veterans.

“I have always had a special respect for the sacrifices our Veterans have made in the service of this great country,” Keller said. “And I very much look forward to supporting the NVBDC in its outstanding work on behalf of our service men and women. It’s an honor to be able to continue my work in this regard.”

Mr. Keller previously served as Director of the Office of Small Business Advocate for the State of California to which he had been appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in May, 2007, and reappointed by Governor Jerry Brown in January, 2011.

Prior to this post, Mr. Keller served as Executive Director of the California Automotive Business Coalition, and in a number of other executive positions that supported the small business community. He has won numerous well-deserved awards for his dedication and vision.

“We have worked with Marty over the past couple of years and we have seen his dedication to our Veterans first hand, we are very pleased that he is bringing that dedication to the NVBDC” said King.

The NVBDC is the only Veteran Owned Business Certification organization developed by Veterans, for Veterans. The purpose is to provide a credible and reliable certifying authority for all size businesses ensuring that valid documentation exists of Veteran ownership and control.