MIRECC / CoE
VISN 17 Center of Excellence
The VISN 17 Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans (CoE) is a unified scientific and educational center of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs designed to foster broad spectrum inquiry into the mental health problems associated with combat exposure. Our Center is uniquely capable of conducting translational research on the biochemical, neurological, and psychological bases of the physical and mental health problems commonly afflicting our Veterans and their families. Furthermore, the CoE is dedicated to developing high quality clinical providers and research professionals by training the next generation of scientist-practitioners to meet patient care needs within VA. In alignment with the VA’s statutory missions, "To educate for VA and for the Nation", the CoE conducts several tiered training programs for health profession students ranging from undergraduate research internships to post-doctoral fellowships.
Our mission is to use a multidimensional analysis to study the most prevalent mental health conditions experienced by Veterans returning from recent military conflicts (e.g., Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn), particularly focusing on improving the assessment and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and suicidal behaviors. Additionally, our research also explores the broad and specific factors that may affect the psychological functioning and wellbeing of post 9/11 servicemembers and Veterans including depression, substance use, interpersonal relationships, family functioning, and adjustment issues.
To fulfill this mission, the Doris Miller VA Medical Center in Waco, Texas was chosen by Congress to host the VISN 17 CoE due to its proximity to Ft. Hood -one of the largest active duty U.S. military installations- and the heavy concentration of discharged Veterans in the Central Texas region. The VISN 17 CoE is a tenant unit of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (CTVHCS), one of the largest integrated health care systems in the United States, which serves over 28,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. Thus, the CoE is ideally located in a geographical area of high need for post 9/11 Veterans. Our state-of-the-art facilities feature a 3 Tesla MRI for structural and functional neuroimaging, biochemistry laboratories, electroencephalography, electrocardiography, a transcranial magnetic stimulation suite, and clinical space.