MAYDAY! Peace Conference to Focus on Veteran Reintegration

Posted on April 1st, 2015 by

PrintThe 35th annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College is titled “The War Within: Can the Soldier Be at Peace?” and will be held Wednesday, April 29.

This year’s Conference will feature a morning keynote address by Major Matthew Scherer ’93, an afternoon keynote address by photographer Devin Mitchell (Veteran Vision Project), and three panel discussions focusing on the challenges veterans face upon returning from military service. All events are free and open to the public.

Major Scherer, who will deliver the morning keynote address, titled “Identity, Loss, and Reintegration in the Decade of Heroes,” is a 1993 graduate of Gustavus who currently serves as detachment commander at the Andrew Radar U.S. Army Health Clinic. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geology and philosophy from Gustavus, a master’s degree in physical therapy from Baylor University, and his Ph.D. in rehabilitation science from the University of Maryland.

Major Matthew Scherer '93

Major Matthew Scherer ’93

Scherer accepted his commission in the U.S. Army in May of 1993 and subsequently served four years with the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, New York. In 1997, Scherer and his wife, Anastasia Norton ’94, joined the Peace Corps and served in Suriname for two years. After returning to active duty in 2001 and completing his master’s degree in 2003, Scherer was assigned to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Over the past decade, he has served in a variety of clinical and leadership positions including a two-year assignment as the Chief of Amputee Physical Therapy at Walter Reed (2005-07), Team Leader of the first Amputee Provider Training Team to Iraq in 2006, Research Physical Therapist at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (2010-12), Deputy Director of Rehabilitation Science Research for the Extremity and Amputee Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (2013), and Chief of Physical Therapy at the Andrew Radar U.S. Army Health Clinic (2013-14).

The afternoon keynote address by Los Angeles-based photographer Devin Mitchell is titled “Veteran Sociology and Parallel Integration to Society.” In August of 2014, Mitchell began to photograph subjects for his Veteran Vision Project, which has been featured by numerous media outlets including The Washington Post, CBS This Morning, Fox & Friends, and Buzzfeed. Mitchell identifies military veterans as his subjects and then takes two photographs of them in a room with a mirror. One is a picture of the subject in uniform, while the other is a picture of the subject in civilian attire. Mitchell then uses Photoshop to create a final image that aims to both empower veterans and enlighten the public about the issues veterans face upon returning home from duty. A number of Mitchell’s photographs will be on display at this year’s conference.

The entire schedule for this year’s MAYDAY! Peace Conference is as follows:

  • 10 a.m. / Welcoming Service; Keynote Address by Major Matthew Scherer / Christ Chapel
  • 11:45 a.m. / Lunch Break
  • 1 p.m. / Keynote Address by Devin Mitchell / Alumni Hall
  • 2:15 p.m. / Concurrent Panel Discussions / Jackson Campus Center and Johnson Student Union
  • 3:30 p.m. / Closing Reception

The annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference was founded at Gustavus 1981 by the late Florence and Raymond Sponberg of North Mankato, Minn., and is designed to educate the campus community about issues related to peace, human rights, and social justice. The conference occurs every year on the last Wednesday in April or the first Wednesday in May. Previous conference themes have focused on land rights, violence in community, hunger, the banning of landmines, food security, global water issues, and political policies relating to peace issues.

For questions or more information about this year’s conference, contact the Gustavus Office of Marketing and Communication at 507-933-7520 or


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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