Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare to Support Pain and Palliative Care for Veterans in Partnership with The Mayday Fund and The Milbank Foundation

NEW YORK, June 9, 2014 – The Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare (Jonas Center) today announced a partnership with The Mayday Fund and The Milbank Foundation to support doctoral nursing students focusing their studies on pain and palliative care for veterans, an expanding group with special challenges related to care.

Of the roughly 21 million veterans in the U.S., nearly half – 9.6 million – are 65 and older.[1] More than 54,000 veterans, mostly from World War II and Korea, die each month, and the number of Vietnam-era veterans over 65 will continue to grow through 2034.[2] Soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered grave physical wounds: since 2000, nearly 6,000 service members have experienced traumatic amputation. The need for chronic pain, hospice and palliative care are great – and growing.

“Caring for our nation’s heroes as they age and especially reach the end stage of their lives is central to our mission at the Jonas Center,” said Darlene Curley, executive director of the Jonas Center. “The Veterans Administration and other veterans service organizations are working overtime to meet the growing needs of this population, but more help is needed. The Jonas Center is proud to partner with The Mayday Fund and The Milbank Foundation to support a new generation of nurses dedicated to serving gaps in veteran care.”

The partnership expands the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program and Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program (JVHP), established in 2008 and 2012, respectively. These programs address the shortage of nursing faculty and veterans’ pressing, often life-altering, health issues. Currently supporting nearly 600 doctoral scholars nationwide, the Jonas Center’s goal is to support 1,000 Scholars by 2020.

Six PhD candidates have been selected to receive support from this partnership beginning in fall 2014; two are focused on pain and four are concentrating on palliative care for veterans:

  • Michael Baumgardner/University of San Diego is an assistant nurse manager of the organ transplant unit at the University of California at San Diego Medical Center, which serves a significant veteran population. He is investigating spiritual well-being and quality of life outcomes among patients who receive palliative care as part of their overall treatment.
  • Valerie Hoffhines/University of Maryland has spent the last eight years providing care at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and is currently studying chronic pain – specifically urogenital pain and its physiological and psychological effects on active military and women veterans.
  • Cassandra Krumpelmann/University of Alabama at Birmingham, a full-time Veterans Affairs nurse for the last 14 years, is focusing her research on improving quality of life for breast cancer survivors during and after treatment and at the end of life.
  • Natalie Meyers/University of San Diego is examining the relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and the acute pain of surgery and medications to help manage symptoms experienced by veterans with these conditions upon awaking from general anesthesia. Meyers has served in the Air National Guard since 2005 and currently works as a nurse anesthetist at the West Los Angeles VA Hospital.
  • Tanna Thomason/University of San Diego, a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, is focused on clinical effects and perceptions of telemedicine and home monitoring among congestive heart failure patients.
  • Denise Kelsey Wishner/University of California San Francisco is interested in a critical component of quality palliative care: how well clinicians honor patients’ pre-stated wishes for end-of-life care. Her work will contribute to understanding how to assist patients in communicating these wishes. A healthcare ethicist, Wishner serves as the ethics consultation coordinator and the IntegratedEthics® Program Officer at the VA Long Beach in California.

“The work of the Nurse Leader Scholars will address the enormous burdens of pain and suffering that veterans have sustained and which are the responsibility of us all. That so many focus on palliative care illustrates how far this model has progressed as a strategy for quality medical care,” said Christina Spellman, executive director of The Mayday Fund, which is dedicated to alleviating the incidence, degree and consequence of human physical pain. “For the Trustees of The Mayday Fund, this partnership with the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare and The Milbank Foundation holds great promise, for the veterans, for the researchers, and for the better care of pain more generally.”

According to Carl Helstrom, executive director of The Milbank Foundation, which counts improving palliative care as a key priority in its mission to help people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, “Each organization brings to this collaboration specific strengths and resources that, together, can result in a new level of understanding and care for America’s service members.”




About the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare

In 2006, Barbara and Donald Jonas established the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare(formerly known as the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence), the leading national philanthropic funder dedicated to improving healthcare by advancing nursing scholarship, leadership and innovation. Its two main programs are the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program, which aims to address the dire shortage of nursing faculty by preparing nurses with doctoral degrees to step into this critical role, and the Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program, which seeks to improve the health of veterans by supporting doctoral-level nursing candidates committed to advancing veterans’ healthcare. These programs currently support nearly 600 doctoral scholars nationwide, with a goal to support 1,000 Scholars by 2020.


[1] United States Census Bureau

[2] American Association of Colleges of Nursing