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Jonas Nursing Scholars Program for Veterans Health Established to Improve Care for Nation’s Servicemembers

Support for doctoral nursing candidates, with special focus on former military

NEW YORK, November 9, 2011 – In recognition of the dedication and sacrifice of the nation’s veterans, the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence has established the Jonas Nursing Scholars Program for Veterans Health. The program aims to improve the health of veterans, notably those of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, by supporting doctoral-level nursing candidates who are committed to advancing veterans health care, from patient care to policy and administration.

Believed to be the first of its kind, the program will formally launch next fall seeded by $500,000. The Jonas Center’s goal is to support 50 nursing scholars across the nation in 2012 and further expand the program in the coming years. The first PhD/DNP cohort includes five students from the University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing (see sidebar), selected as the pilot site for the program.

“Nurses are key professionals on a veteran’s health care team, and veterans may confide information about their mental and physical health and their deepest concerns about recovery that they may not be comfortable sharing with others,” said Gale S. Pollock, Major General (Retired), former interim Army Surgeon General, CRNA, FACHE, FAAN. “The Jonas program will go a long way toward better preparing nurses to care for the unique and growing needs of veterans.”

Each scholar will receive $10,000 from the Jonas Center to pursue research focused on veterans’ health needs identified by the White House and the Veterans Administration (VA). Priority selection will be given to nursing scholar candidates with veteran-health care experience, either through active duty or work with the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and the Public Health Service. Thus, many of the scholars will be veterans themselves.

An estimated 39,000 troops will be returning home by year’s end, joining the nation’s 22.2 million veterans. It is widely reported that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have served more tours of duty than in any previous war, resulting in an alarming rate of psychological and physical health issues. For example:

  • Veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars represented four percent of total VA mental-health visits in 2006, a number that tripled to 12 percent last year.1
  • One veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Support for doctoral nursing candidates, with special focus on former military attempts suicide every 80 minutes; more than 1,800 veterans made suicide attempts in 2009 alone.2
  • Upwards of 360,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may have suffered brain injuries. Among them are 45,000 to 90,000 veterans whose symptoms persist and warrant specialized care.3
  • Approximately 20 percent of the 1.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression.4

“The tremendous health challenges facing our veterans require a specially trained workforce and this program is a significant first step in preparing nurses to be on the frontlines of veterans’ care,” said Darlene Curley, Executive Director, Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence. “The Jonas Nursing Scholars Program for Veterans Health will help change the landscape in two significant ways: first by providing returning veterans with a significant academic opportunity to pursue the highest level nursing degree; and second, ensuring that veterans – now and in the future – receive optimum care.” (Listen to a podcast with Curley.)

Partnering academic institutions will help select scholars. Universities affiliated with a VA and/or Department of Defense health care organization will also be given priority in the selection process. Among the research areas that the nursing scholar candidates will pursue include: mental health, poly-trauma, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, prosthetics, vision impairment, aging and women’s health.

The Jonas Nursing Scholars Program for Veterans Health builds on the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program, an ongoing effort to address the nation’s continuing shortage of nursing faculty. The Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program currently supports nearly 60 doctoral nursing students; it is on track to support more than 250 scholars across all 50 states by 2013, including those in the Veterans Health program.

“There is an urgent need to reassess, improve and provide resources for veteran health care. The Jonas Nursing Scholars Program for Veterans Health is but one way we can contribute directly to restoring the well being of so many who put their lives on the line to defend our nation’s freedom,” said Donald Jonas, founder.


1 US Government Accountability Office, Oct. 2011
2 The Center for a New American Security, Losing the Battle: The Challenge of Military Suicide, 2011.
3 Pentagon's Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
4 RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, Invisible Wounds of War, 2008.


SIDEBAR: The First Jonas Nursing Scholars Program for Veterans Health Cohort

The University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing partnered with the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence to serve as the pilot site for the Jonas Nursing Scholars Program for Veterans Health.

“We are pleased and excited to partner with the Jonas Center on this important program,” said Dean Sally B. Hardin, PhD, APRN, FAAN. “This is a significant step in caring for our servicemen and women, meeting the evolving needs of our health care system and expanding opportunities for military members.” The first scholars, all of whom have maintained 4.0 grade point averages, are:

Lourdes Januszewicz, MSN, APRN, is a Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist. Upon completing her career in the United States Navy as a Lieutenant, she served for six years as an active reservist in the Navy Nurse Corp. She has practiced as a Critical Care Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Balboa Naval Medical Center, San Diego, and at the Naval Hospital, Newport, Rhode Island. Currently, she is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse at Palomar Pomerado Healthcare, working in the Intensive Care and Intermediate Care Units. The Bronx, New York native’s research focuses on pain management in critical care.
Shari Jones, MSN, APRN, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, is an active duty Commander in the Navy Nurse Corps and serves as Chief Anesthesiologist and Vice-Chairman for Administration at Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego. She is a three-time recipient of the Naval and Marine Corps Achievement Award, a two-time recipient of the Naval and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and has received the Humanitarian Service Medal, among other military awards. Jones has been deployed numerous times and served on the USNS Mercy during its Tsunami Relief Project that provided anesthesia services, medical relief and aid to more than 300 Indonesian nationals following the 2005 tsunami. The San Diego native’s research examines military-related sleep apnea.
Karen Reavis, MSN, APRN, served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Air Force Nurse Corps for three years and in the Navy Reserves. She served in active duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Reavis currently practices as an Intensive Care Advanced Practice Registered Nurse with Sharp Healthcare in San Diego. Her research focuses on withdrawal of care.
Rydell Todicheeney, MSN, MBA, APRN, is a Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist. He served as an Active Duty Specialist E4 in the United States Army stationed in Germany and in the United States Army Reserves prior to earning his nursing certification from through the American Indian Nurse Credentialing Center. Todicheeney has more than a decade of acute care hospital experience. Raised on a reservation in Window Rock, AZ, his research interests include culturally appropriate and community based participatory research surrounding Hepatitis C Virus and its impact on American Indian communities.
Mary Vann, MSN, APRN, Certified Nurse Midwife, is a retired Captain in the Navy Nurse Corps, where she served for nearly twenty-five years. While in the Navy, Vann served as a Certified Nurse Midwife stateside and in overseas medical facilities. The Oklahoma City native was deployed for combat missions in the Persian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom and on MEDFLAG Humanitarian missions in Algeria. She also worked in Navy recruitment. Her research focuses on obstetrical care in the military population.

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About the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence

Founded in February of 2006, the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence is supported by the Barbara and Donald Jonas Family Fund. Its mission is to advance professional nursing through grant making and programs that improve nurse recruitment and retention, increase ethnic and racial diversity among the nursing workforce, advance innovative practice models and improve practice settings in New York City

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