The Bob Woodruff Foundation and Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare Partner to Address “Invisible Wounds of War”

Collaboration funds scholarships for nurses dedicated to vets; helps fill void of medical professionals specifically trained to work with soldiers

NEW YORK, February 9, 2015 – The Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare and the Bob Woodruff Foundation today announced an expansion of their partnership to provide scholarships to doctoral nursing candidates focused on the “invisible wounds of war” – traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress (PTS), military sexual trauma and intimacy after injury (MST), among others. The partnership will fund 20 Bob Woodruff Foundation-Jonas Nursing Scholars nationwide through 2016.

The two organizations share a goal to ensure veterans and their families thrive long after they return home. This specific partnership will support the educational advancement of nurses dedicated to addressing the complex, heart-wrenching issues affecting many of our nation’s heroes.

“Our Scholars, many of whom served in the military, have chosen to dedicate their nursing careers to addressing the physical, emotional and mental challenges that characterize the lingering wounds of our recent wars,” said Darlene Curley, executive director of the Jonas Center. “Our partnership with The Bob Woodruff Foundation is key to supporting these nurses as they lead research, policy and clinical care of this special population.”

With this expansion, the Bob Woodruff Foundation – founded by award-winning television reporter Bob Woodruff, who sustained serious injuries in 2006 covering the Iraq war– and the Jonas Center have supported 40 Scholars since 2013. The goal is to train nurses to address the increasing health challenges of post-9/11 injured service members, and to prepare them to become the next generation of nursing leadership.

The 2012-2014 cohort of Bob Woodruff Foundation-Jonas Nursing Scholars attended some of the top nursing programs across the nation including Johns Hopkins University, University of Washington, Vanderbilt University, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Several in this original cohort of Scholars currently hold leadership, research and clinical positions at institutions such as University of Maryland, University of Miami, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (Houston, TX) and the Department of Veteran Affairs in West Los Angeles. Others are anticipated to graduate within the next one to two years. This partnership also builds on the nationally recognized Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program.

“As a veteran and military spouse, specializing in veterans’ healthcare is very important to me,” said Teresa Yambo, PhD(c), MSN Ed, RN, a 2013 Bob Woodruff Foundation-Jonas Nursing Scholar at Rush University College of Nursing. Yambo is retired from a career in the U.S. Air Force. She also previously served in the U.S. Army for eight years. “Because of my dual-service experience, I witnessed the sacrifices that military families make to support our troops. These career experiences inspired my research interest in the mental health of military families. Having the opportunity to work with the Bob Woodruff Foundation-Jonas Nursing Scholar program expanded my knowledge of nursing leadership, connected me with a network of colleagues, and made me aware of the need for more doctoral-prepared nurses at the frontline to enhance the quality of veterans’ healthcare.” 


The Toll of War and the Need for Specialized Nurses

There is a critical shortage of medical professionals, especially nurses, trained in this specialized field, according to Curley. While the Veterans Administration (VA) has committed to filling the gap, a strained federal budget makes meeting this need difficult. The Jonas Center stepped into the fold in fall 2012 with its Veterans Healthcare Program, which supports more than 170 doctoral-level nursing candidates. To date, 61 Jonas Veterans Healthcare Scholars have had military experience (25 veterans, 27 active duty and 9 reservists) and 24 are current/previous VA or Department of Defense employees.  These scholars are pursuing research focused on veterans’ issues identified by the White House and the VA, including mental health, multiple trauma, TBI, aging and women’s health.

The situation is dire:

  • Approximately 22 veterans commit suicide each day.
  • In 2014, male veterans under 30 saw a 44 percent increase in suicide and females saw an 11 percent increase.
  • One in five female veterans suffers from PTSD.
  • One in four women and 1 in 100 men say they’ve experienced MST.
  • 51 percent of homeless veterans have disabilities.
  • 1.4 million veterans are at risk of homelessness due to poverty, poor living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing and lack of support networks.

“We are pleased to partner with the Jonas Center to grow the cadre of nurses who have a deep understanding of the issues facing our veterans,” said Ann Marie Dougherty, executive director of The Bob Woodruff Foundation. “The Bob-Woodruff-Jonas Nurse Scholars represent a novel approach and this work underscores our shared commitment to help those who’ve been injured restore their health and rebuild their lives.”

Sources: Suicide Data Report Update January 2014, VA; MST Fact Sheet (October 2014), VA; National Coalition for Homeless Veterans; American Psychological Association



 About the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare

The Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, established in 2006 by Barbara and Donald Jonas, is 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 have supported 600 doctoral scholars nationwide. The Jonas Center’s goal is to support 1,000 Scholars by 2016.

About the Bob Woodruff Foundation

The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) is the nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring injured service members and their families are thriving long after they return home. A national organization with grassroots reach, the Bob Woodruff Foundation complements the work of the federal government —diligently navigating the maze of more than 46,000 nonprofits providing services to veterans—finds, funds and shapes innovative programs, and holds them accountable for results. To date, BWF has invested more than $25 million in public education and solutions, reaching more than 2 million service members, support personnel, veterans and their families. The Bob Woodruff Foundation was co-founded in 2006 by award-winning anchor Bob Woodruff and his family, whose own experiences inspired them to help make sure the nation’s heroes have access to the high level of support and resources they deserve, for as long as they need it. For more information about the Bob Woodruff Foundation, please visit