The University of South Florida (USF) provides an ideal location for conducting research related to veterans' reintegration, rehabilitation and resilience. About one quarter of Florida's 1.72 million veterans reside in counties served by USF. USF is affiliated with two major VA hospitals. The 523 bed James A. Haley VA hospital, adjacent to USF's main campus in Tampa, houses the busiest among the five VA polytrauma hospitals in the U.S. Across the Bay is the Bay Pines VA Hospital (397 beds). Over 2,100 veterans and their families are enrolled as students at USF. In 2013, Military Times Edge Magazine ranked USF the 4th best college for being veteran friendly or “Best for Vets” in the U.S. out of 4,000 colleges and universities based on a survey of veterans rating what they consider to be the most important school services for veterans. It is the only university in Florida that participates in the "Yellow Ribbon" program covering tuition, fees, and housing expenses.
Numerous USF researchers are involved in funded studies related to such topics as traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), robotics and prosthetics, speech and audiology, gait and balance, and aging-related disorders. This website links to the various USF colleges and collaborative efforts with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
USF Rehabilitation Research Project: Our Vision
Mission: The mission of the USF Veterans Reintegration Steering Committee is to foster research collaborations, identify funding opportunities, build the research infrastructure, and conduct state-of-the-art research aimed at the rehabilitation of military veterans and their adjustment and reintegration into civilian life. To accomplish this mission, the Committee aims to improve the lives of veterans (and families) by focusing on issues such as: the causes and treatment of traumatic brain injury, development of prosthetics and robotics, treatment of behavioral health disorders, the science of physical rehabilitation and rehabilitation for wounded veterans, and the adjustment of over 1,500 veterans and their families enrolled as USF students.
Based on a very successful record of extramural funding as well as longstanding partnerships with the systems serving a large population of veterans, the Committee was formed by the USF Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation to build on these successes. A major goal is the formation of a nationally recognized research center aimed at the rehabilitation and successful reintegration of veterans.
The USF Veterans Reintegration Steering Committee is co-Chaired by Lt. General Martin Steele, USMC, (Retired), Associate Vice President for Veterans Research, Executive Director, USF Military Partnerships and Paul R. Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., USF Senior Vice President for Research & Innovation. Committee members from USF include representatives of six colleges (Arts & Sciences, Behavioral and Community Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and The Arts), USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, USF Center for Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, USF Office of Veterans Services, Undergraduate Studies, USF Division of Research and Innovation and the USF/Draper Laboratories collaborative. Committee members from the VA represent the Veterans Integrated Services Network 8 (VISN-8) including the James A. Haley VA Hospital. The Department of Defense has representation from US Special Operations Command at MacDill AFB.
Making the Dream Come True: USF's Rehabilitation Science, Engineering, and Medicine Building
"Let's resolve to take care of our veterans as well as they have taken care of us—not just talk, but actions. Not just in the first five years after a war, but in the first five decades. For our Vietnam veterans, this means disability benefits for diseases connected to Agent Orange. It means job opportunities and mental health care to help you stand tall again."
—President Obama, Memorial Day Speech 2012.
The mission of the USF Veterans Reintegration and Resilience Initiative is to provide the best care possible for our veterans and their families. The major goal is to build a unique, nationally recognized research, education and treatment center for the rehabilitation and successful reintegration of veterans as well as concurrently providing holistic care for their families. The mission's program and location make this project unique in the nation and will establish the universal standard for comprehensive care.
The Rehabilitation Science, Engineering and Medicine facility will be the only one of its kind and will accommodate an innovative array of comprehensive services and research "under one roof." The main focus will be on wounded veterans with issues such as but not limited to: traumatic brain injury, trauma induced blindness, technologically advanced prosthetics and robotics, assistive devices, behavioral health disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, speech pathologies, cognition, audiology, psychology, gait and balance, age-related disorders, physical rehabilitation, neurosciences, new drug therapy development, translational research, holistic family resilience, and coping skills. In the history of previous wars, many of the injured who once would have died on the battlefield can now be saved, even to return to serve many more years. Approximately one quarter of Florida's 1.72 million veterans and their families reside in surrounding counties. The state of Florida has a relatively high percentage of an aging population, including Vietnam Veterans who are now in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. Due to the concentrations of aging Veterans in the area, there is also an opportunity to make major advances in cancers and degenerative disorders research through clinical trials. Research applications on battlefield injuries will help treat injuries from sports and car accidents, among other traumatic physical and psychological injuries; all of humanity will benefit from the many associated applications of this research.
To accomplish this unique mission, the Initiative is committed to pursue collaborative Public and Private Partnerships with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense as well as potentially Draper Labs, National Science Foundation, and other public and private entities. Based on a very successful record of extramural funding as well as longstanding partnerships with the systems serving a large population of veterans, the Initiative was created at USF to build on these successes. With representation from six colleges and Undergraduate Studies on the Initiative's Steering Committee, this unique program and facility will promote globally competitive undergraduate, graduate and professional programs with interdisciplinary hands-on learning opportunities. Students, our future researchers and practitioners, will have opportunities to participate in collaborative team-based care via internships and fellowships in clinical and basic research applications in interdisciplinary areas such as physical therapy; bioengineering, robotics, and prosthetics development; neurological units such as neuroaudiology, cognitive memory, and visual and sensory sciences; behavioral therapy counseling; and innovative regenerative medicine such as stem cell and molecular therapies.
The building will be located in the USF Research Park, Tampa FL, which is next to the USF Health colleges and schools (Medicine, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Public Health, Pharmacy, Social Work, Engineering, Arts, etc.) and the James A. Haley VA Hospital (the busiest of five polytrauma facilities in the U.S. with services available to more than 116,000 veterans). It will also be affiliated with the Bay Pines VA Hospital (a national VA center for the treatment of women veterans who have experienced sexual trauma during their military service.) located nearby in St. Petersburg. Proximity also exists to the Fisher House, Moffitt Cancer Center, the USF Joint Military Leadership Center, MacDill Air Force Base, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. USF is currently ranked 5th in Nation for Best Colleges for Veterans, recognized for its exemplary services in supporting the success of over 2,100 current USF student veterans and their families.
The USF Initative project is committed to providing the nexus to foster research collaborations in pursuit of excellence in the rehabilitation adjustment, resilience, and reintegration of wounded warriors and their families into civilian life. Our nation's dedicated heroes from all wars deserve to the have the benefit of the best research and services available in order to return to their lives with jobs and homes for the sacrifices they and their families have made for our country.
The conceptual diagram illustrates a plan to integrate the combined expertise and resources of USF's Colleges, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, private industry, and the community to develop state-of-the art therapies, technologies, products, training and educational curricula for the current and future workforce, and services to improve the lives of veterans, wounded warriors, and their family members. We welcome inquiries, comments, and suggestions from those of you interested in assisting in this process.
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The USF Veterans Reintegration Steering Committee is co-Chaired by Lt. General Martin Steele (USMC Retired), Associate Vice President for Veterans Research, Executive Director, USF Military Partnerships and Paul R. Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., USF Senior Vice President for Research & Innovation.
Associate Vice President for Veterans Research
Executive Director, USF Military Partnerships
Paul R. Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Senior Vice President for Research & Innovation
Committee members from USF include representatives of six colleges (Arts & Sciences, Behavioral and Community Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and The Arts), USF Office of Veterans Services, Undergraduate Studies, USF Division of Research and Innovation and the USF/Draper Laboratories collaborative. Committee members from the VA represent the Veterans Integrated Services Network 8 (VISN-8) including the James A. Haley VA Hospital. The Department of Defense has representation from Strategic Operations Command at MacDill AFB. » VR Steering Committee