top of page

2023 Summit Recap

After we at VTRL held our first summit in Fall of 2022, we walked away inspired. We excitedly looked ahead to the wealth of possibilities that we knew could come from the passion and talent of those willing to lean in and collaboratively investigate the challenges veterans and their families face. Thanks to the financial support of VTRL’s sponsors; including LinkedIn, Amazon, Hiring our Heroes, CVS Health, USAA and The Call of Duty Endowment; at the 2023 summit we were able to bring seven new researchers into the fight. 

After a warm welcoming reception at the Duke Athletics

Hall of Fame on Wednesday evening, we started the summit

program on Thursday morning with some encouraging

words from Duke men's basketball coach, Jon Scheyer. 

Coach Scheyer shared his perspective on the unique

leadership challenges and opportunities he faced replacing

the legendary Coach K, and honoring history while making

room for innovation and change.  The message resonated

with Summit attendees as we brought together many

leaders who have never focused on veteran research along

with experts in the field, leading programs and

organizations which serve veterans. 

Following Coach Scheyer’s remarks, the majority of Thursday’s program was dedicated to VTRL’s research funding pitch competition. Ahead of the 2023 summit, VTRL sent out a call for academics from all across the fields of social psychology and organizational behavior to propose novel programs of research that would expand scientific understanding while making a tangible positive impact on the veteran community. Throughout the day on Thursday, summit attendees heard pitches from the seven competition finalists who were competing to have their projects selected for funding by VTRL. This seed round of investment is critical to the VTRL vision to create a new field of research and rapidly expand participation.  Following deliberation, all seven projects received funding from VTRL, totalling a $90,000 investment in expanding the community of academic researchers using their expertease to serve the veteran community.

                                                       In addition to the pitch competition, on Thursday

                                                       Matt Stanley provided an update on VTRL’s in-house

                                                       research, sharing findings from his latest publication

                                                       on the negative effects of heroization. Additionally,

                                                       Cory Boatwright shared a preview of the, then

                                                       unreleased, LinkedIn 2023 Veteran Opportunity

                                                       Report. Not only did Cory inform us about the new

                                                       insights LinkedIn is learning about the veteran community’s educational and career trajectories, he also challenged us to work together to leverage each of our unique skills, perspectives, and access to make a larger impact than any one of us could do alone.

On Thursday night, we had the honor of singer-songwriters

Johnny Bulford, Heidi Raye, and Kenny Foster sharing the

powerful songs and stories of veterans they have worked

with through CreatiVets. Especially meaningful to us at

VTRL, Johnny, Heidi, and Kenny sang the story of Scott

Smith’s love for his wife, Melissa. Scott is a retired Marine

and Melissa is VTRL’s former administrative assistant.

You can listen to many of the powerful stories CreatiVets

artists help tell by searching for CreatiVets on any music platform.

To close the summit, on Friday we heard from key industry partners; Elizabeth O'Brien and Brooke Prouty from Hiring Our Heroes, David Lee from CVS Health, and Charlotte La Belle from Amazon; as well as policy and advocacy partners; Rajeev Ramchand from RAND Corporation and Allison Jaslow from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Each partner spoke about their unique insights and approaches to serving the veteran community while identifying continued opportunities for partnership and serving veterans in new ways.

As was the case after our 2022 summit, we at VTRL walked away from the 2023 summit feeling inspired. We are inspired by the continued passion and support for our mission of blending the strengths of rigorous academic research with efforts to address the challenges military veterans and their families face. We are also inspired by the impact funding seven novel, veteran serving research programs will have in the coming months and years.

In many ways the VTRL 2023 summit felt like a turning point. No longer are we simply discussing the benefits of leveraging academic research to improve the lives of military veterans. Through our investment in growing the number of academics working on veteran serving research, to building and strengthening key partnerships to expand the scope of what research is possible, the future is bright. We are securing our final supplies and making plans for our next big push. Will you join us in our fight?


Duke University's Veteran Transitions Research Lab Co-Directors

Aaron Kay, David Sherman, & Sean Kelley


The event would have not been a success without our sponsors. Beyond the financial support, these sponsors engaged with the attendees and laid the foundation for a platform of deep learning. 

bottom of page