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Caring For Those Who Served: VA Care: Excellence in Mental Health, Research, High Reliability and Innovation – An Educational Networking Program

April 27, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Topics Will Include:

*Overview of VA Healthcare System*
Russell Armstead, CGFM, Acting Medical Center Director
VA Connecticut Healthcare System

*Oncology Clinical Trials Program and Care Coordination*
Dr. Michal Rose

*Mental Health: The Opioid Epidemic – Innovation, Research and Service Integration*
Dr. Ismene Petrakis, Debbie Deegan, LCSW & Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu   

  • We continue to be in the midst of an opioid epidemic; substance use remains a challenge for all CT residents, and Veterans are no exception.  The VA in general and VACHS are addressing this issue in a multiple pronged approach. This talk will address the services and treatments available for Veterans at VACHS as well as innovative initiatives, including; safe opioid prescribing initiatives, harm reduction modalities and research.  In addition, VACHS has an extensive community outpatient in-vivo continuum of services, which includes mental health and homeless services. Connecticut was the first state in the country to End Chronic Veteran Homelessness through programming and partnering with State, Federal and Local partners.  When working with homeless Veterans, we need to meet them where they are, and this includes resources to combat substance use disorders.


  1. Identify specific treatment options offered at VACT
  2. Knowledge of in-vivo mental health & homeless services
  3. Knowledge about VA initiatives including safe prescribing, harm reduction and research

*Battlefield Acupuncture – A Promising Alternative to Managing Chronic Pain*
Dr. Daniel Federman

  • Battlefield acupuncture treatment, provided to veterans at the chronic pain clinic at the VA Medical Center in West Haven was developed by an air force flight surgeon who was trying to employ a new technique to get soldiers either with minor maladies to go into the field, or for people who were wounded. Each As the Department of Veterans Affairs embraces non-traditional methods for managing pain, veterans are able to benefit from this program at the West Haven clinic.


  1. Learn what Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) is
  2. Learn whether BFA is successful for pain reduction

Staff representing the Business Office Eligibility, Care in the Community and Transportation programs will also be on-site to answer your questions regarding VA care! 


Registration and Networking: 6pm-6:30pm
Program presentations: 6:30p-7:30pm
Dessert and networking: 7:30pm-8pm
*Refreshments to be provided 


VA Connecticut West Haven Campus
950 Campbell Avenue
West Haven, CT
*This event is being held outdoors. In the event of inclement weather, a rain date will be scheduled. 


Students: $10.00
Members: $20.00
Future Members: $30.00
Scroll down to register now! – This program will be valued at 2.0 hours of ACHE Qualified Education 

Meet the Speakers: 

Russell Armstead, CGFM

Russell Armstead, CGFM, assumed the duties of Acting Medical Center Director at VA Connecticut Healthcare System on March 14, 2022. He previously served as the Deputy Medical Center Director since September 2021. In that role, Mr. Armstead oversaw healthcare operations at VA Connecticut Healthcare System for access to care, business processes, care coordination, customer service, health care delivery, infrastructure, performance management, and resource management.

Mr. Armstead joined the VA in 2011 as an Administrative Officer for VISN 6 Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network after serving 21 years of active duty in the United States Army. Russell is a combat Veteran who was awarded two Bronze Star medals for exemplary achievements in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to his appointment as the Deputy Executive Medical Center Director, he served as Assistant Medical Center Director and Associate Medical Center Director at VA Maine Healthcare System. Russell is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a graduate of the VA Health Care Leadership Development Program, a Certified Government Financial Manager, and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.

Mr. Armstead holds a bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and a master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management from the American Military University.

Debbie Deegan, LCSW, ACSW, CPRP

Debbie Deegan, LCSW, ACSW, CPRP is the Director of the Errera Community Care Center Firm, a subsection of the Mental Health Care Line, at VA Connecticut Healthcare System.  She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale School of Medicine.  The Errera Center is a nationally known psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery center with a multitude of community-based programs that serve Veterans who have serious mental illnesses, substance use disorders and/or experience homelessness-related issues. The Errera Center is also home to the Connecticut Veteran Legal Center, one of the first and largest, medical-legal partnerships in the VA.   With a VA career spanning 35 years, Debbie has been a front-line clinician, administrator, educator, subject matter expert in recovery and community-oriented mental health programs, and an innovator during her tenure.  She has personally nurtured many Errera programs over the years and is honored to be a part of the ongoing evolution of the Errera Community Care Center Firm.

Dan Federman, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Daniel Federman, M.D. F.A.C.P. is a Professor of Medicine and Vice-Chair of Medicine at the Yale University School of medicine, and the Chief of Medicine, at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. Dr. Federman received his undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College, and his medical training at New York University School of Medicine, NY., NY. After completing an internship, residency, and chief residency at the University of Miami, he began his academic career at the University of Miami/Miami VA and moved on to the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and Yale in 1993. He currently is a Professor of Medicine and Vice-Chair of Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine and Chief of Medicine at VA Connecticut Health Care System. In addition to providing clinical care to Veterans, he has published extensively on the interface between primary care and dermatology, quality of care, cancer screening, venous disease, peripheral arterial disease, and pain management. He serves on several journal editorial boards, has served on the scientific advisory board for the American College of Physicians, has over 200 publications, lectures nationally, and has been the recipient of several teaching awards. He is also the medical director of Community Health Partnership-Honduras and strong believer in work-life balance. He is most proud of being a tireless advocate for Veterans, VA staff, and a Clinical Champion from the Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation.

Ismene Petrakis, M.D. 

Ismene Petrakis, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and the Chief of Psychiatry and Mental Health Services at VA Connecticut Healthcare System.  She is also the Director of the Addiction Psychiatry Residency at Yale University School of Medicine, and the principal investigator of a National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA-T32) training grant.

Dr. Petrakis received her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University and her medical training at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine.  She completed her residency training at Yale University School of Medicine and then completed an Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, also at Yale University.  Since completing her training. With over 25 years of experience, Dr. Petrakis is considered an expert in the clinical treatment of addictive disorders, research in this field, and in the education of residents, medical students, post-doctoral fellows and other mental health trainees in the assessment, accurate diagnosis and treatment of patients with substance use disorders. Dr. Petrakis received the 2021 David M. Worthen Career Achievement Award, given to outstanding health professions trainee education champion whose lifetime contributions have profoundly advanced and impacted the educational mission of the Veterans Health Administration.

Michael Rose, M.D. 

Michal G. Rose, M.D. is the head of the Cancer Center and the Section Chief of Hematology/Oncology at VACT. She received her medical education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and her training in hematology/oncology at Yale. She has been an attending physician at VACT since 1999. Dr. Rose is currently a Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology) at Yale School of Medicine. Her research interests focus on studying and implementing systems of care that streamline care for patients with cancer.


Mehmet Sofuoglu, M.D.

Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu is the Director of VA New England Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) and a Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University. He serves as the physician lead for the VISN1 Clinical Trials Network (CTN), Mental Health Consortium (MHC) and the Acting Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development at the VA Connecticut. The majority of Dr. Sofuoglu’s work has been on treatment development for substance use disorders including cocaine, opioid and tobacco use disorders and associated comorbidities. His research is funded by the VA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and National Institute of Health (NIH).

Registration is now closed. 



April 27, 2022
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Categories:


VA Connecticut
950 Campbell Avenue
West Haven, CT United States
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