Wounded Warrior Project approved a $15.7 million grant over three years to fund a UCLA Health treatment program for service members suffering from mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, it was announced Tuesday.
The Operation Mend expansion is part of the Warrior Care Network, a first-of-its-kind medical network funded by Wounded Warrior Project that will connect wounded veterans and their families with individualized mental health care, according to UCLA.
“UCLA Operation Mend is at the forefront of healing the visible and invisible wounds of war suffered by our military men and women,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “This funding will expand Operation Mend’s highly successful holistic approach to restoring our wounded warriors in body, mind and spirit. And I am confident that the collaboration between UCLA and its new partners will result in ever more effective treatments for wounded warriors and their family members.”
Operation Mend was established in 2007 as a partnership among UCLA Health, the U.S. military and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The program provides advanced surgical and medical treatment, as well as comprehensive psychological health support for post-9/11-era service members, veterans and their families.
In 2010, Operation Mend began offering advanced diagnostics and treatment planning for patients with symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
Beginning this fall, the WWP grant will enable UCLA Operation Mend to launch an intensive, three-week program for patients who require more than regular outpatient care as part of their treatment plans. The new program will be an option for service members who have not yet participated in mental health care or to complement an ongoing treatment plan, according to UCLA.
“This project will dramatically enhance the services that UCLA Health and Operation Mend can provide to veterans and active-duty service members and their families living with the challenges of mild traumatic brain injury and PTSD,” said Dr. Thomas Strouse, medical director of the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA. “The outcomes of the project will add to a critical body of clinical evidence about effective treatment plans for these patients.”
Each academic medical center involved in the Warrior Care Network will develop two- to three-week intensive treatment programs that will provide individualized care tailored to each wounded veteran and his or her family members.
WWP and the individual network sites will recruit and educate wounded veterans about the resources available through the Warrior Care Network, facilitate inter-facility collaboration, evaluate the effectiveness and scalability of the network and coordinate services and share best practices.
The Warrior Care Network plans to serve thousands of wounded veterans and family members over the next three years.
“UCLA is home to an expansive field of nationally recognized experts in neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and integrative medicine,” said Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and dean of the Geffen School of Medicine. “This innovative network creates the ideal opportunity for UCLA to fulfill our obligation to provide the best care possible to our deserving community of wounded warriors.”
— City News Service