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Kevlar for the mind: Universities aid in post-combat psychological research

Feb. 9, 2012 - 02:10PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 9, 2012 - 02:10PM  |  
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About the author

Bret A. Moore is a clinical psychologist who served in Iraq and is the author of "Wheels Down: Adjusting to Life after Deployment." Click here to email him. Names and identifying details will be kept confidential. This column is for informational purposes only. Readers should see a mental health professional or physician for mental health problems.

Q. As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I understand the psychological toll of combat. I also appreciate the importance of finding better ways to care for our troops when they return home. What role, if any, are our universities playing in finding better treatments for our heroes?

A. The military is engaged in clinical research to develop better methods for assessing and treating psychological injuries resulting from combat. This is likely no surprise, as the military culture is to "take care of its own."

You may be surprised to learn, however, that many prominent universities, including Ivy League schools, are leading the way in military mental health research and treatment.

The">Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies at Cornell University in New York is a prime example.

Housed under Weill Cornell Medical College's Department of Psychiatry, PATSS has been studying the latest state-of-the-art treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder since 2005. Through its active research department, the program is researching novel treatment approaches such as virtual reality therapy as well as finding methods to build psychological and stress resiliency.

PATSS also provides a variety of treatment services at no charge, such as couple, family, group and child therapy.

The">South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience, or STRONG STAR, is a San Antonio-based organization dedicated to developing and evaluating the most effective assessment, prevention and intervention methods for combat PTSD and associated conditions.

Under the auspices of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, this program consists of nearly 100 researchers and clinicians studying issues such as suicide, sleep disorders, couples therapy, alcohol dependence and genetic factors associated with PTSD.

Created in 2000, the">Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University in Indiana is a collaborative research and outreach organization dedicated to improving the lives of service members and their families. Although the MRFI is engaged in research, community outreach is a large part of its mission.

During the past 12 years, the academic community has rallied around the mission of improving the lives of troops and families like no other time in the past and it's making a difference.

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