Newswise — Equine-assisted psychotherapy is known to help people address mental and behavioral health issues, but there remains little evidence-based research to prove it. New Mexico State University School of Social Work Associate Professor Wanda Whittlesey-Jerome is dedicating her academic career to establishing and promoting scientific standards for gathering such information. “Horses are prey animals, so they are constantly scanning their environments,” Whittlesey-Jerome said. “When we enter the arena, they sense if we are calm and balanced – or troubled and on-edge – and react accordingly. “When they meet us on their own terms, horses become mirrors,” she added. “They react to our inner feelings that we may not show outwardly. They teach us so much about ourselves and can give us insight into what it means to be human.” Whittlesey-Jerome has conducted several studies with at-risk charter high school students and adult female survivors of interpersonal violence. The findings indicate the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association’s equine-assisted psychotherapy model has had positive impacts on resilience, general self-efficacy, depression, anxiety and global functioning among human participants. These pilot studies of the model focused on using EAP as an add-on to existing conventional treatments. The first study was with at-risk charter high school students attending Los Puentes Charter School in Albuquerque in 2009. “There were positive results among the students receiving EAP compared to the students just receiving the psycho-educational component of the study,” she said. A second study was done with women receiving services from the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Albuquerque in 2013. “These were women already in the process of trying to manage their abusive relationships,” she said. “While the women received individual counseling and group therapy from the center’s staff, we added EAP to approximately one-half of the overall women studied.” The results of this study have been published in The Practitioner Scholar: Journal of Counseling and Professional Psychology. “The data showed an improvement in the women in the equine group; their self-esteem increased as depression and anxiety decreased,” she said. “But what really intrigued the reviewers of the manuscript was the richness and depth of the qualitative data from the women’s journals. After the groups were over, several of the women were willing to take the next step to walk away from their abusive relationships and move on with their lives because of the self-realizations they gained by participating in the eight EAP sessions.” A third study is currently being planned for future implementation. The Behavioral Health Services Division of the New Mexico Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of providing funds to two non-profit equine therapy organizations to provide free EAGALA-informed equine groups to military families, including warriors and veterans. In addition to funds to pay for the groups, funds are available for gas cards, healthy food and snacks, and healthy beverages, as well as recruitment supplies. “The Family Fun with Horses Program is an add-on to conventional treatments already available to these families,” she said. “We’re hopeful that overall family well-being and communication will improve for our military families served through this program.” Recently during a Quarterly Commander’s Call, Whittlesey-Jerome spoke to more than 400 airmen at Kirtland Air Force Base about the availability of this program. “This program has the support of Lt. Col. Bérnabé F. Whitfield, commander of the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, who is concerned with the increased numbers of suicides and divorces among his airmen,” she said. Southwest Horsepower in Albuquerque’s South Valley and Equine Therapeutic Connections in Albuquerque’s North Valley will be conducting the free military family equine groups. Whittlesey-Jerome will provide program evaluation services pro-bono to help the agencies evaluate the effectiveness of the military family equine groups, and she will submit reports to the state on program outcomes. EAGALA’s mission is to become the global standard for equine-assisted psychotherapy and personal development. “Part of EAGALA’s work is to promote the use and scientific measurement of the effectiveness of its EAP model,” said Whittlesey-Jerome, who is a member of the association’s board. Prior to being chosen for the board, she served on the organization’s research committee. One of her contributions to the organization is the creation of a graphic model that presents a complete picture containing all of the various components of EAGALA’s EAP. This model is currently under review by the leadership of the association. “An important component of the EAGALA EAP model is that an EAGALA-certified team of professionals – a mental health specialist and an equine specialist – co-facilitate the sessions,” she said. “The sessions consist of solving problems in groups within the context of being 100 percent on the ground with horses. Participants learn to negotiate and develop a mutual relationship with the horses built on trust and respect,” she continued. “At the same time, they learn to work together with other participants in new and creative ways that often lead to insight through metaphors that naturally develop in the arena with horses.” In one example, participants are asked to create an obstacle course with props such as traffic cones, plastic pipes, swim noodles, hoola hoops and buckets. The task is to get the horses, without halters or lead ropes, to move through the obstacle. After completion of the task, the group members discuss their experiences and write or draw in journals or sketchpads about what they experienced in the session. “Eventually, I hope to be able to gather additional research data that continues to build an evidence base to further support the use of the EAGALA EAP model,” she said. “EAGALA has 4,500 members worldwide; however, there are many variations of equine therapy currently being used,” she said. “If we want to build an evidence base that supports the use of EAGALA’s EAP model, practitioners need be doing the same things in the same ways, and researchers need to measure outcomes using similar tools and procedures. In addition, we need larger studies with more participants. I see this as a possibility as we increase our outreach efforts and develop more university-community partnerships.”
Newswise — Just as the Zika virus is causing concern worldwide, a University of Florida insect specialist with 36 years of experience at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory has been named the lab’s new director. Professor Jorge Rey started at FMEL, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in 1979, the year the Vero Beach, Florida, lab came under UF’s umbrella. He moved up the faculty ranks from research scientist to professor in 1994 and was named interim director last year. Now, he’s the lab director, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “With his many years of top-quality research and his time as interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, Dr. Rey has earned the respect of the lab’s faculty members. Thus, he’s an ideal fit as director,” Payne said. “Dr. Rey is well-positioned to lead the FMEL scientists to new heights in research and Extension as we continue to look for solutions to mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika.” As director, Rey is in charge of a facility with 11 UF/IFAS faculty members and 50 other employees. One of the top issues on the agenda of faculty at FMEL is the Zika outbreak that started last year in Brazil. Zika is most likely transmitted by Aedes aegypti – the yellow fever mosquito – and Aedes albopictus – the Asian tiger mosquito. Some people are bringing the virus back to the U.S. and giving it to others. As of March 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 273 travel-associated cases of Zika in the U.S., but none was locally transmitted. Several FMEL scientists are working on potential solutions to the Zika outbreak. “We continue to work on all aspects of the biology of the more likely vector species, Aedes aegypti, and Aedes albopictus,” Rey said. “These species are also involved in transmission of other important arboviruses such as dengue and chikungunya, so we have been conducting research on them, from populations to individual genes, for some time now. Currently we’re developing grant proposals to work on Zika, including a collaborative grant involving several faculty.” That project will include modeling, vector competence and insecticide resistance. As Zika-specific data become available, associate professor Cynthia Lord will use transmission models to investigate potential consequences of Zika introductions into Florida and how this may differ from chikungunya or dengue introductions, Rey said. Associate professor Chelsea Smartt is returning to Brazil to look at virus detection, and assistant professor Barry Alto is working on how well Florida mosquitoes transmit Zika to humans. As for his own research, Rey will continue to work on the field ecology of container mosquitoes such as yellow fever and Asian tiger, and on the biological control of mosquitoes, in other words, when bugs eat other bugs. He’ll also collaborate with other faculty as opportunities arise. Rey completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Miami, then moved on to earn his master’s and doctorate at Florida State University.
Newswise — VetsinTech, in partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families’ (IVMF) V-WISE program, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) hosted the nation’s first hackathon exclusively for female veterans at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. The event was aimed at supporting STEM-focused female veteran entrepreneurs looking to launch businesses in the technology sector. More than 40 well-qualified and highly skilled female veterans from around the U.S. attended. “This hackathon recognizes the wealth of leadership skills, technological aptitude and real-world experience veterans bring to the civilian workforce,” said Katherine Webster, VetsinTech Founder. “Research shows that veterans are 50% more likely to succeed as business owners than their civilian counterparts and we want to encourage that capability.” Notable speakers will include Maria Contreras-Sweet, 24th Administrator of the U.S. SBA and an Obama Administration Cabinet member, and Terry Gerton, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Policy) for Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS) at U.S. Department of Labor. Facebook provided advisors and employed veterans to support the teams and lead a “LeanIn” session for participants, focused on empowering women in the workplace. “At Facebook, we believe that the power of community and technology can foster change,” said Amanda Talbot, a Facebook Diversity Recruiting Strategist and veteran. “This is an exciting opportunity to leverage that power with a hardworking, dedicated group of women, and we look forward to working with them.” “Bringing together female veterans in and of itself is extremely powerful. When you team their passion and drive to be successful in a niche industry with a dynamic support system, you create an energy and network that is unstoppable,” said Meghan Florkowski, V-WISE Program Manager with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF).
Newswise — Northern Michigan University has announced a new scholarship that will guarantee in-state tuition for all eligible U.S. military veterans who want to pursue a college degree. The NMU Veterans Scholarship covers any tuition costs beyond NMU’s in-state rate that are not addressed by veterans' benefits and NMU’s participation in the federal Yellow Ribbon program. “As a veteran myself, I’m pleased that Northern can offer financial assistance as a way to thank men and women of all military branches for their unselfish commitment and valuable service to our country,” said NMU Interim President David Haynes, who was a member of the U.S. Air Force from 1965-69. “We want to make it easier for veterans to get a college education, regardless of their home state.” The NMU Veterans Scholarship expands on the qualities that previously contributed to NMU’s third-straight appearance on the annual Military-Friendly Schools list released by G.I. Jobs. The designation honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools “that are doing the most to embrace America's service members and veterans as students.” Northern already offers in-state tuition to active duty, National Guard and Reserve personnel and their dependents. G.I. Jobs also cited the university for—among other benefits—its status as a VA-approved institution that gives American Council on Education credit for military training and experience, its ROTC program and its membership in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges consortium. “NMU has already gained national recognition for its efforts to accommodate veterans as they transition from military service to higher education,” said Jason Allen, senior deputy director for the State of Michigan’s Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs. “This scholarship builds on that foundation by helping those whose college costs exceed their calculated federal benefits. We are happy to see NMU take this important step toward making college more accessible and affordable for all veterans.” The NMU Veterans Scholarship is available to individuals with an honorable discharge. Documentation is required to receive in-state tuition. For more information on the scholarship, call the NMU financial aid office at 906-227-2327 or visit www.nmu.edu/veterans.
Newswise — The United States is more likely to use force in a military dispute when the president is a Southerner, according to a new study coauthored by a Yale political scientist. The study, published this month in the journal World Politics, argues that “Southern honor” — an ethical code that emphasizes a reputation for resolve — pervasively shapes Southern presidents’ approach to disputes with other nations, making those presidents less willing than their peers from northern states to back down during international disputes. Consequently, Southern presidents have been more likely to use military force, resist withdrawal, and ultimately achieve victory, the study finds. “Our study provides evidence that a president’s concern for reputation directly influences how they approach international conflicts,” said Allan Dafoe, an assistant professor of political science at Yale and coauthor of the study. “It is something for voters to consider when they go to the polls in the fall — how a candidate’s worldview could affect decisions regarding the use of force.” Dafoe and his coauthor, Devin Caughey '04, assistant professor of political science at MIT, analyzed the behavior of U.S. presidents during international conflicts from 1816 to 2010 that involved either the threat of force, a show of force, or the use of force. Their analysis shows that when militarized disputes occurred under Southern presidents, they were twice as likely to result in the use of force, lasted on average twice as long, and were three times as likely to result in an American victory. “Our findings are consistent with Southerners being more concerned with demonstrating a reputation for resolve,” said Dafoe. “They provide evidence of the powerful influence that concern for reputation has on international conflicts.” The dataset includes 36 presidents and 215 disputes between the United States and another country, as well as 296 disputes between multiple countries in which the United States was an originator of the conflict. Presidents were labeled as “Southern” if they were born and raised in the South, or were either born or raised in the South and had spent their pre-presidential political career there. Eleven of the 36 presidents in the study met these criteria: James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James Polk, Andrew Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
Newswise — University of Chicago Booth School of Business alumnus Eric Gleacher has made a $10 million gift to his alma mater to fund a groundbreaking scholarship program for U.S. veterans seeking a Chicago Booth MBA. The Gleacher Veteran Scholars Fund will provide a permanent source of scholarship support to help veterans bridge the gap between the benefits they have earned from the government and the remaining costs associated with receiving their MBA degrees from Booth. The number of veteran students in Booth’s programs has increased substantially over the past several years, and currently, there are 78 veterans enrolled. “My experience in the Marine Corps gave me a boost in self-confidence, and my Booth education gave me direction, helping me decide which area of business I wanted to pursue,” Gleacher said. “It was a winning combination, and I want to make it possible for those who have served our country to have the same opportunity.” Booth has built a reputation for providing veteran support through participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a voluntary program that allows universities to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the established thresholds under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Gleacher Veteran Scholars Fund will serve as a permanent source of scholarship support, allowing Booth to sustain and expand its financial support for veterans. “Military veterans bring a great deal to the Chicago Booth community in terms of their experience, commitment to service, and maturity. I’m delighted we have significantly increased the number of veterans in our programs,” said Sunil Kumar, Booth Dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management. “Eric’s gift will make pursuing an MBA at Booth significantly more affordable for many of these veterans, and thus will have a substantially positive impact on the Booth community as a whole.” After completing his undergraduate work at Northwestern University in 1962, Gleacher served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years prior to earning his MBA at Booth in 1967. Gleacher joined Lehman Brothers in 1968 in New York. He became a partner in 1973 and founded the firm's mergers and acquisitions business. He went on to head the mergers and acquisitions practice at Morgan Stanley, where he played a pivotal role in some of the highest-profile business deals of the 1980s: Revlon, Texaco, Union Carbide, and RJR Nabisco, among others. With others, Gleacher is credited with creating the business of merger advice. In 1990, he founded Gleacher and Company, a successful mergers and acquisition boutique which he ran and developed until 2009 when he sold it and retired as CEO. “The Marines taught me a great deal about leadership, which is crucial to the success of every business,” Gleacher said. “Most veterans have learned those same leadership skills, which can be successfully applied in a variety of business contexts. A Booth MBA can inspire veteran students as future business leaders, preparing them for successful careers as entrepreneurs and executives in major companies.” In 1996, Gleacher gave $15 million to Booth to help finance its downtown Chicago riverfront Gleacher Center, which houses Booth’s evening and weekend programs, as well as its North American executive program.
Newswise — Veterans’ access to timely, quality healthcare was the focus of a rally held today on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol by approximately 500 nurse anesthetists from around the country. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) have been outspoken in their support of a plan proposed by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to expand veterans’ access to healthcare by allowing advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), including CRNAs, to practice to the full extent of their education and licensure. The policy, recommended by a major Independent Assessment of the VHA as well as by the Institute of Medicine and already in place in America’s military and Indian health systems, would help eliminate the dangerous wait times for needed care that America’s veterans currently endure. By updating its regulations to include APRN/CRNA full practice authority, the VHA will make use of an already existing workforce that ensures veterans have access to essential surgical, obstetric, emergency, and pain management healthcare services without needless restrictions or having to travel long distances for care.“Because more veterans need care today, long wait times for appointments or procedures—sometimes a month or more just to receive basic health services—are the unacceptable norm veterans routinely encounter,” says American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) President Juan Quintana, DNP, MHS, CRNA. “Delays are not justified after these honorable men and women have already put their lives on the line while serving our country.” This was the second year in a row that CRNAs and student registered nurse anesthetists have rallied on Capitol Hill in support of patient care improvements. The rally was organized by the AANA, which represents more than 49,000 nurse anesthetists nationwide. More than 6,000 APRNs, including 900 CRNAs, work in VHA facilities across the country. In addition, the AANA’s National Health Leadership Award was presented during the rally, honoring Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Mike Rounds (R-SD). Merkley and Rounds are co-sponsors of Senate legislation (S. 2279) which expands veterans' access to care by supporting APRN full practice authority in VHA facilities. Both senators spoke at the rally. Also speaking were AANA President Quintana; President-elect Cheryl Nimmo, DNP, MSHSA, CRNA; and AANA Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs, Frank Purcell, BS. Caring for America’s active-duty and reserve military personnel, as well as military veterans, has long been a hallmark of the nursing community at large, and nurse anesthetists in particular. Nurses first gave anesthesia to wounded soldiers on the battlefields of the American Civil War, predating physician anesthesiologists by decades.
American Petroleum Institute’s Vets4Energy campaign has launched an initiative to help veterans connect with companies in the oil and natural gas industry. Vets can use the new Veterans Energy Pipeline website to translate their job skills from the military into the oil and gas industry. For example, you select your branch of service and your military occupation, and the website will show you which civilian jobs are similar. Employers can also use the site to find veterans with the skills they’re seeking. Don Loren, retired rear admiral and the national liaison for Vets4Energy, said the group aims to spur discussion about energy policies, which are linked to national security. He said a significant element of national security is veteran employment. “What better way to promote a sound oil and natural gas energy industry than to incorporate these skills and experiences into that environment,” Loren said. With the United States and other countries trying to move away from fossil fuels, however, there are concerns over whether this is a secure industry for veterans in years to come. “I know there’s a lot of conversation taking place out there right now,” said Jack Gerard, API president and CEO. “By 2040, 2050, 60 percent of the energy the U.S. uses will be oil and natural gas. “If you want a long-term opportunity in an industry, look at these industries that are fundamentally the backbone of our society,” he said. To read full story CLICK HERE Credit Charlsy Panzino, Military Times
Newswise — Prescription opioid abuse and a nationwide heroin epidemic are claiming the lives of tens of thousands of Americans each year. To help address this problem in addition to supporting our service members who may struggle with prescription misuse associated with chronic pain, the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) has implemented a new pain management curriculum – the first medical school in the nation to do so. Focusing on standardized pain care practices, USU’s extensive pain management curriculum teaches clinical pain assessment, pain assessment tools, pharmacologic and psychological approaches to pain management, and behavioral management of chronic pain. It also highlights evidence-based alternative modalities for chronic pain management, and pain as it relates to specific pain conditions, and substance use disorder. USU is the first medical school to fully incorporate each of the elements included in the Joint Pain Education Program (JPEP), set forth by the USU Defense & Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management (DVCIPM). Committed to training providers, and building a new model of pain care, the JPEP is a collaborative effort between the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to standardize pain management curriculum. “The Joint Pain Education Program integrated into the USU curriculum follows more than five years of close work with the Veterans Administration and Federal and civilian pain experts through the USU Defense & Veterans Center for Integrated Pain Management (DVCIPM),” said retired Army Col. (Dr.) Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier, DVCIPM program director. “We are very proud of this work and immensely pleased that our own university is the first adopter of this valuable program.” To continue optimizing care for warriors and their families, USU will also require its students to take some form of prescriber education beginning in fall 2016, in order to graduate, in line with the newly released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. As outlined by President Barak Obama through the CDC, USU’s new pain management curriculum stresses non-drug solutions first and non-opioid drugs when pharmacological supplementation is needed, said retired Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric Schoomaker, professor and vice-chair for Leadership, Centers and Programs, Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, USU. “The root of our national opioid problem is poorly managed chronic pain,” Schoomaker added. “Proactive pain education is a major step forward for USU and the Military Health System. It educates new uniformed health professionals about a team-focused, multi-professional and multi-modal approach to pain management that places the patient at the center of the plan.”
Newswise — Among military veterans identifying as transgender, 90 percent have at least one mental health diagnosis, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression, and nearly 50 percent had a hospitalization after a suicide attempt or suicidal thoughts. These study findings, from a single veterans’ hospital, will be presented Friday at The Endocrine Society’s 98th annual meeting in Boston. “As more of our active military returns from deployment and transitions to veteran status, the health care system will be faced with treating more transgender veterans who have mental health issues,” said principal investigator Marissa Grotzke, MD, an endocrinologist at Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Salt Lake City. Compared with the general U.S. population, the military and its veterans have a fourfold higher rate of gender dysphoria, according to Grotzke. Formerly called gender identity disorder, gender dysphoria is substantial distress associated with nonconformity to one’s assigned sex. Patients with gender dysphoria have unique health care concerns, Grotzke said. In general, they have high rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Past research also has shown high rates of mental health disorders in military veterans, including PTSD and depression. Less is known, however, about the mental health of veterans with gender dysphoria, she noted. By examining medical records at Salt Lake City VAMC between January 1, 2014, and October 1, 2015, Grotzke and her colleagues found 39 patients who had a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Eight transgender patients identified as transitioning from female to male, and the other 39 as male-to-female. They included both combat and noncombat veterans and ranged in age from 21 to 68 years. The researchers then searched the medical records for mental health conditions that coexisted with the gender dysphoria. They found that PTSD was the most commonly identified mental health diagnosis, affecting 46 percent of these veterans, followed by depression in 41 percent. Tobacco use disorder reportedly occurred in one-third, and anxiety was present in 15 percent. Nine patients (23 percent) had other substance abuse, bipolar disorder or schizotypal personality disorder. Eighteen patients (46 percent) carried two or more mental health diagnoses, according to the researchers. Only four patients (10 percent) with gender dysphoria had no additional mental health problem. “These findings highlight the need to improve the quality of care for our transgender veterans,” Grotzke said. To address these concerns, the Salt Lake City VAMC formed a multidisciplinary gender dysphoria team composed of an endocrinologist, mental health professional, pharmacist, speech therapist and vocational rehabilitation providers. Team members meet together twice a month to discuss patients and treatment plans, which Grotzke said already has been “very beneficial” for patients. Probably multiple reasons exist for the increased rates of mental health disorders they observed in transgender veterans. Grotzke said that traumatic brain injuries sustained in combat, military sexual abuse, and stigma related to gender struggles are common in this population. Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.