By PTSDJournal Staff —
Robert McDonald faced significant challenges when he took over the Veterans Administration in June 2014. Following a scandal that forced the agency to admit to widespread corruption and misconduct in its administration, McDonald’s beginning to make moves to improve the VA’s reputation while getting the massive organization on track to supporting America’s former and current troops.
One example is a two-day summit that kicks off in Washington D.C. today focused on traumatic brain injury, or TBI.
The VA has corralled a group of experts to discuss trauma’s impact on the brain. McDonald will lead the Veteran-centric summit of researchers in TBI from the VA and Department of Defense, along with leading university researchers to assess past research efforts, our current understanding of TBI today, and potential future research directions.
Scheduled to participate are Dr. Geoffrey Ling of the Defense Advanced Research Projects (DARPA), Dr. Ross Zafonte of Harvard Medical School, Ms. Pam Payeur of the Wounded Heroes of Maine, and retired General Pete Chiarelli of One Mind.
This collaboration is exactly the type of work Gen. Chiarelli says is vital to battling traumatic brain injury (http://mydigimag.rrd.com/publication/?i=269275&p=58). Dr. Ling is a program manager at (DARPA), where he has responsibility for a broad research portfolio. His most prominent programs are the Revolutionizing Prosthesis (RP) and Preventing Violent Explosive Neuro Trauma (PREVENT) programs. The RP program develops brain controlled robot prosthetic arm for amputees. The PREVENT program aims to create new understanding and treatment of blast related brain injuries.
Dr. Zafonte’s work at Harvard focuses on improving rehabilitation treatment centers and caring for neurological or musculoskeletal function. His team of physicians is constantly evaluating the efficacy and delivery of treatments by conducting research to develop new technologies. Pam Payeur is the Executive Director of the Wounded Heroes of Maine. She has been cited for her consistent support of veterans and was recently honored by the Joshua Chamberlain chapter of the Association of the United States Army as its Person of the Year.
Getting individuals like this together, working and sharing information is a necessity to Chiarelli. Since retiring from the military after 40 years of service in which he oversaw more than 1.1 million troops, Chiarelli’s taken the fight against brain trauma through his Seattle based One Mind organization. He’s often said one of the main issues preventing successful treatment is the alphabet soup approach of many different organizations working separately and not together.
The VA’s State of the Art Research Summit is the just the beginning of what Chiarelli believes is a necessary step toward finding better ways to treat veterans suffering from trauma.
It’s also another example of McDonald making the VA a place veterans can go for real healing and help.