Update: Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program (JVHP)

By Brigadier General (Ret.) Bill Bester, Senior Advisor, Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program

The Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program continues to focus on improving the physical, emotional, and mental health of our military and veteran population through the profession of nursing. The program’s priority is to educate the next generation of clinical nursing experts, faculty and researchers who will be specifically focused on the multitude of healthcare needs of our deserving veteran and military population. We work to increase the number of Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Scholars trained to serve as primary care providers for veterans; increase nursing research focused on veterans’ healthcare through support for PhD Scholars; and prepare faculty to educate future generations of nurses on veterans’ healthcare needs by supporting both DNP and PhD Scholars.

We are proud to have grown the program from the initial pilot program of five PhD scholars at the University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science in 2011 to 170 current JVHP scholars located at 79 universities in 40 different states. Seventy-two of these scholars are PhD scholars and 98 are DNP scholars. Of special note is the fact that 45 are VA nurses currently serving in 30 various VA hospitals in 12 different states. In addition, 28 are active duty military, 26 are veterans and 12 are reservists. Our next cohort of JVHP scholars, who will start this Fall, number 118 with about 50% PhD and 50% DNP. They will be participating from 60 different universities in 33 different states. The top three schools, numbers-wise, participating in this next cohort are the University of Utah, the University of San Diego and Duke University.

Our graduates have already had a tremendously positive impact throughout the professional nursing community as faculty at prominent colleges and universities nationwide and as clinical leaders in major VA, military and civilian healthcare systems. Our alumni have also presented at numerous conferences and symposiums and have published articles related to military and veterans’ healthcare needs.

This has also been a special year for the Jonas Center, as we have celebrated 10 years of improving healthcare through support of 1,000 Jonas Nurse Leader and Veterans Healthcare Scholars, and five years of the Jonas Center Golf Classic – two exciting milestones!

At the Jonas Center’s 10th Anniversary Gala in March, we recognized Lieutenant General (Ret) Patricia Horoho, as one of our honorees, with the Jonas Award for Nursing and Military Medical Leadership for her service as the 23rd Chief of the Army Nurse Corps and the 43rd U.S. Army Surgeon General, which made her the first woman and the first non-physician to be selected as Surgeon General in any of the three military services.

The Fifth Annual Jonas Center Golf Classic at The Stanwich Club in Greenwich, CT proved to be another great event this past June. To date, the tournament has raised more than $1,000,000 over the last five years—which has supported 100 JVHP Scholars. We were also fortunate to have the Connecticut Army National Guard perform the presentation of colors to kick off the event, along with Sergeant Joseph Colavito who sang the national anthem; the 102nd Army Band Quintet, which performed before the evening events; and the many veterans and military members who participated that day to remind us of the importance of our work to support veterans’ healthcare.

Another highlight of the JVHP Program this year was the announcement of our partnership with The Geneva Foundation, which will support a scholarship for nursing research to advance military medicine. Tamar Rodney, a PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and a Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, will be the first Scholar supported by this partnership, as she focuses her research on identifying biomarkers to aid in the screening process for PTSD in veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI). We look forward to working collaboratively with The Geneva Foundation in the months and years to come to improve upon the care we provide to our veterans and military service members.

The lasting impact of the many injuries sustained in these past two wars will require the nation, and the various healthcare institutions throughout the country, to continue to serve our dedicated veterans for many years to come. The need to continually address the emotional, psychological and physical needs of those who have given so much is a national commitment that we at the Jonas Center take very seriously. We are proud to be committed to the nurses serving our military members and veterans, as we know that this effort will have a lasting impact on the lives of our veterans and their families.

Bill Bester

Brigadier General (Ret), U.S. Army

Jonas Center Senior Advisor