Philanthropist Lyda Hill has given a $2 million grant to UCCS to help the university study and treat mental health issues in returning war veterans.
Hill’s grant will be used to create a Veteran Health and Trauma Clinic inside the university’s Trauma, Health and Hazards Center.
“The remarkable vision of Lyda Hill gives us new opportunities to serve the needs of military veterans throughout the Pikes Peak region, to educate and innovate, and to make effective trauma interventions available on a wide scale,” UCCS Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak said.
UCCS clinicians will begin seeing clients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other combat-induced injuries in early 2014, when the clinic’s home at UCCS’s Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences is complete. Many client visits will be subsidized and reserved for individuals ineligible for veteran benefits, helping fill a gap for high-need veteran populations.
The grant also will support a new veteran health and trauma track in UCCS’s clinical psychology doctoral program, to be among the first of its kind when it begins enrolling students in 2015. Charles Benight, a psychology professor who founded the Trauma, Health and Hazards Center in 2001, will lead the new program, and will be the first named to a new position, the Chair of Veteran Health and Trauma, a senior faculty position funded by Hill’s grant.
With 18 percent of El Paso County residents having served in the military, UCCS plans to increase mental-health research and clinical care for veterans. The clinic’s Lane Center home on North Nevada Avenue will emphasize evidence-based integrated care across health disciplines — enabling “one-stop shopping” for behavioral, rehabilitative and physical health care.
Under Benight’s leadership, the UCCS Trauma, Health and Hazards Center has forged a strong and collaborative research group, receiving more than $3.9 million in federal grant awards from the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and National Institute for Mental Health.
“Around the Pikes Peak region, many people are working very hard to respond to the needs of returning soldiers and veterans. But the need is huge, and is taxing the available resources,” Benight said. “The grant is really a dream come true in terms of fulfilling my vision of empowering veterans.”
This is the second major grant to UCCS made by Hill, who committed more than $1 million in funding to initiate the UCCS Teach program — which strives to prepare and inspire high-tech talent to teach science, engineering and math subjects in K-12 schools.
“UCCS has always had a strong connection with the community it serves,” Hill said. “I’m excited to see the strides it is taking to make things better for individuals who have made sacrifices to keep our country strong and safe.”
The Lane Center will be the first building completed in an ambitious Sport, Arts and Wellness Village that UCCS will build along North Nevada Avenue during the next decade.