25 Years of PTSD Research, Education and Technology Provides Comprehensive Mental Health Care for Veterans
VA’s National Center for PTSD Commemorates 25 Years
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (NCPTSD) celebrates its 25th anniversary.
“We are extremely proud of the Center’s work over the last 25 years,” said Interim Under Secretary for Health Dr. Carolyn Clancy. “VA will continue to study, create awareness, educate and develop policies which better the lives of Veterans with PTSD for years to come.”
VA created the Center in 1989 to address the needs of Veterans and other trauma survivors with PTSD. Congress called for a center of excellence that would set the agenda for research and education on PTSD without direct responsibility for patient care. VA initially established the Center as a consortium of five divisions but now it consists of seven VA academic centers of excellence across the U.S.
“Our most important accomplishment is that we helped educate policymakers as well as the general public that PTSD was not something that happened only to Vietnam Veterans, but could happen to Veterans of other wars and to any man, woman or child faced with a catastrophic event,” said Dr. Matthew Friedman, currently the Center’s Senior Advisor and former Executive Director from 1989 through 2013. “When we started, PTSD was a controversial diagnosis. The Center’s research and educational initiatives helped establish the scientific basis for PTSD, and disseminated that information globally.”
Major accomplishments of the Center over its 25-year history also include:
Applying the latest technology to disseminate information and education about PTSD. In 1995 the Center launched its website, www.ptsd.va.gov. Since then it has become the number one website on PTSD. The Center has become the technological leader in PTSD online continuing education for VA clinicians and in the creation of mobile apps (such as the award-winning PTSD Coach) for Veterans with PTSD. The Center’s AboutFace program, http://www.ptsd.va.gov/apps/AboutFace, an online video gallery of Veterans talking about living with PTSD and how treatment turned their lives around, has improved access to care through Veterans encouraging fellow Veterans to get into treatment.
Assessment and diagnosis. The Center developed the leading assessment measures for PTSD in VA, DoD, and organizations around the world. These measures include the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), the gold standard for assessing PTSD. They have advanced research on PTSD and the clinical care of Veterans living with PTSD by ensuring accurate diagnoses and assessment.
Neurobiological research. The Center’s investigators have been at the forefront of research demonstrating alterations in structural and brain function associated with PTSD, which has significantly enhanced the science and understanding of PTSD and led to improvements in the treatment of Veterans and others with PTSD.
Treatment research and training. The Center has conducted some of the leading research on the treatment of PTSD, particularly the main evidence-based psychotherapies. The Center also developed training programs that have trained thousands of VA clinicians in these psychotherapies, allowing these clinicians to provide effective evidence-based treatments to Veterans with PTSD.
Supporting evidence-based PTSD care. In 2008 the Center helped create the VA Mentoring Program, which encourages implementation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD within PTSD-specialized programs. In 2011, the Center helped establish the VA PTSD Consultation Program, which advises VA clinicians on PTSD. Both programs contribute significantly to better care for Veterans with PTSD.
For more information on PTSD and ways to raise awareness of this mental health problem, Veterans, professionals and members of the public can visit the National Center for PTSD website, www.ptsd.va.gov . This site offers resources such as: