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MUSC committed to veterans who have served

MUSC College of Medicine has committed to enhance its mission to support Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative to support America's veterans when they return home from duty.

In addition to the MUSC College of Medicine, 129 medical schools answered the call of first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, Ed.D., to unite with other institutions, employers, and government agencies and create partnerships to meet the health needs of America's veterans.

The stress of war, multiple deployments, and frequent moves can affect the wellness of military families. Military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan may carry visible and invisible wounds such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Children and spouses can experience anxiety, changes in relationships with family and friends, isolation or emotional challenges in dealing with relocation, deployments, illness, or injury. These issues are known well by the MUSC Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Ralph A. Johnson Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center, two entities that have collaborated on military personnel studies and treatments.

Dr. Pisan in
                                          Washington for Joining ForcesDr. Etta Pisano, at first lady Michelle Obama's left, commits MUSC's support to America's veterans.

"It was quite inspiring to meet with the First Lady and representatives of the other groups that have joined this effort," said Etta Pisano, M.D., vice president for medical affairs and College of Medicine dean. "We had the opportunity to hear first-hand from several veterans about the challenges they face when returning home from duty. MUSC is already a leader in PTSD and TBI research and treatment, and we are committed to working with the VA to advance evidence-based treatment in these and other areas that affect our veterans."

In 2012, MUSC has pledged to:

  • Train medical students, faculty and staff to better diagnose and treat veterans and military families;
  • Develop new research and clinical trials on PTSD and TBI to better care for those conditions;
  • Share information and best practices through a collaborative web forum;
  • Continue to work with the VA and the Department of Defense to provide the best care available.

"MUSC is fortunate in that we already have numerous studies and programs in place for our veterans through the Department of Psychiatry and the VA," said Mark Lyles, M.D., MUSC chief strategic officer. "We feel particularly confident in our ability to answer this executive call to action on behalf of those who have served our country. PTSD and depression are particularly widespread and debilitating across the military population, so our inclusion in an elite group of nationally recognized depression centers not only speaks to our ability to handle this kind of treatment, but also that we are able to do it extremely well."

In addition to the ongoing work at the VA and within the MUSC National Crime Victims Center, current projects in the Department of Psychiatry that serve Joining Forces also include: Use of innovative reality exposure therapy that combines sights and sounds with olfactory stimuli to simulate the combat scenes of Iraq and Afghanistan; Working with other universities and government agencies to develop a statewide network of PTSD centers to serve vets and non-military citizens; Development of a cultural competency card for treating military personnel; and Development of support and treatment for military caregivers.

For more information about this national initiative, visit



Friday, March 23, 2012

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.