is Improving Health Services for Our Combat Military from the Ground up

A unique team of active duty service members, veterans, and researchers from the RESTORE LIVES Center at the University of South Florida and the University at Albany, State University of New York, has developed an array of innovative projects to improve the behavioral healthcare of our returning service members and veterans. “The mission of RESTORE LIVES is to improve the lives of our combat veterans through the development of innovative research and treatment programs,” said Lt. General Martin R. Steele, USMC (Ret.), the Associate Vice President for Veterans Research and the Executive Director, University of South Florida Military Partnerships.

One of the projects recently launched is known as MY SERVICE IMPACT. This study is designed to better understand the health needs of combat veterans who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. “The first step is to understand the full extent of the needs of returning combat soldiers, so we can then get the right resources, in the right place, at the right time,” said Dr. Edward Hickling, a RESTORE LIVES primary investigator. The acute need for a study of this type was highlighted in the Department of Veteran Affairs April Review on Veterans Access to Mental Health Care, which noted that the “VHA does not have a reliable and accurate method of determining whether they are providing patients timely access to mental health care services.”

MY SERVICE IMPACT is a brief, online, non-intrusive, and completely anonymous study to work with veterans and service members on their own terms. The study uses specialized techniques to mitigate the impact of mental health stigma on honest responding to self-report measures. This study will help identify more accurate base rate estimates of behavioral health concerns associated with combat deployment. This work is vitally important to the effort of determining and allocating appropriate resources to ensure returning military personnel and veterans are offered the best treatments possible in a timely fashion.

With the combination of openly seeking insights into the military and veteran community and expertise with novel assessment methodologies and alternative treatment delivery approaches, the team at RESTORE LIVES is uniquely suited to make substantial progress in improving the lives of our military personnel and veterans as well as in supporting the resiliency of the men, women, and families who have served honorably in defense of our nation. If you are a service member or veteran who deployed in support of OIF/OEF and have access to a web connection, you can participate in MY SERVICE IMPACT by visiting Of note, RESTORE LIVES is offering financial compensation to survey participants.

-Matt Donati