Wounded Warrior Project has approved a $15.7 million grant over three years for UCLA Health to expand its Operation Mend program. The grant will fund a new, intensive structured treatment program for service members suffering from mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Operation Mend expansion is part of Warrior Care Network, a first-of-its-kind medical network funded by Wounded Warrior Project that will connect wounded veterans and their families with world-class, individualized mental health care. In addition to Operation Mend, the network will include three other programs based at academic medical centers — the Veterans Program at Emory University in Atlanta, the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program in Boston, and the Road Home Program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
WWP and Warrior Care Network partners will commit a total $100 million over three years to fund the initiative, including $7.5 million each that the medical centers will contribute through their own fundraising efforts.
“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 groundbreaking 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.
It will integrate evidence-informed behavioral health care and rehabilitation medicine with wellness, nutrition, mindfulness training and family support. After they complete the on-site program, participants will receive an additional three weeks of telehealth sessions. As with all of its services, Operation Mend covers all expenses, including travel and housing at UCLA’s Tiverton House, at no charge to qualifying service members and participating family members.
The new mental health program will operate under the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and draw on UCLA’s nationally recognized expertise in neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry.
“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, professor of clinical psychiatry and vice chair for clinical affairs in the department of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and 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 Warrior Care Network will develop innovative 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 Warrior Care Network, facilitate inter-facility collaboration, evaluate the effectiveness and scalability of the network and coordinate services and share best practices. 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.”
Service members or their family members interested in learning more about the new intensive treatment program at UCLA or any of the healthcare services offered through Operation Mend can visit the website at www.operationmend.ucla.edu or call 310-267-2110.
“I am delighted to congratulate UCLA on receiving a $15.7 million grant from Wounded Warrior Project to expand its mental health services through Operation Mend,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, who represents California’s 33rd congressional district. “Studies have confirmed that mental health services are particularly critical to veterans suffering from mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. With this funding, Operation Mend will develop a state-of-the-art treatment program for veterans and their families, enhancing their remarkable program even further. I commend UCLA and Operation Mend for providing cutting-edge surgical, medical and mental health treatment to our most wounded warriors.”
Since the end of World War II, UCLA medical school faculty and residents have provided healthcare to veterans at the West L.A. VA campus. Over the years, partnerships have developed between the VA and UCLA’s schools of dentistry, nursing, public affairs and law, providing services to more than 3,000 veterans on the campus every year.
Inspired by the vision of U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald, UCLA is committed to the creation of a vibrant and veteran-centric West L.A. campus and to energizing and reinvigorating its own role on the campus. UCLA plans to enhance its existing extensive collaborations with the VA and to work creatively with the VA to enhance the quality of life for veterans on the campus.
For more information on UCLA research, programs, and services that support veterans, please visit the UCLA Veterans website.
The mission of Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.