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April 22nd, 2016

New program helps vets suffering from invisible wounds of war

By Meg Sullivan
Guests attending the opening of UCLA Operation Mend’s new intensive mental health program wite messages of hope on rocks as inspiration for future patients. Photo credit: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

Guests attending the opening of UCLA Operation Mend’s new intensive mental health program wite messages of hope on rocks as inspiration for future patients.
Photo credit: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

More than 100 well-wishers gathered April 13 at a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for UCLA Operation Mend’s new program that is designed to heal the hidden, yet lingering, wounds of war.

“This is a new day, a program we can be proud of,” said retired General Peter W. Chiarelli an executive advisor to the Ronald A. Katz Center for Collaborative Military Medicine at UCLA, told L.A. Daily News reporter Susan Abrams.

In addition to Chiarelli, who is a former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, dignitaries in attendance included UCLA Chancellor Gene Block; John Robert, executive vice president of warrior relations with the Wounded Warrior project; Ann Brown, medical center director of VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System; and philanthropist Robert Katz.

Wounded Warrior Project helped fund Warrior Car Network, which includes Operation Mend and similar programs at three other U.S. academic medical centers dedicated to addressing effects of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress in post-9/11 military veterans. Katz founded Operation Mend, which so far has served 152 patients in need of reconstructive surgery.

With three weeks of intensive care at UCLA and three weeks of follow up in the veteran’s community, Operation Mend’s intensive mental health program provides highly individualized, intensive treatment that draws on UCLA’s nationally recognized expertise in neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and integrative medicine.

The service is provided at no cost to participating veterans or their families.

The clinic will treat seven to ten veterans and their families at a time for three weeks living on UCLA's campus at the Tiverton House and then three weeks once they return home. Families participate too, Operation Mend program director Melanie Gideon explained to KPCC reporter John Ismay.

"Families are suffering along with our wounded warriors," Gideon said.

For more information, visit www.operationmend.ucla.edu or call (310) 267-2251.

Tags: Amy Albin, integrative medicine, intensive care, media, military, neurology, neurosurgery, News & Insights, Operation Mend, psychiatry, Tiverton House, traumatic brain injury, veterans, Warrior Car Network

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