Waco: VA Center for Excellence opens officially on Thursday

(Photo by Ke'Sha Lopez)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The new Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans will open its doors Thursday at the Doris Miller VA Medical Center in Waco.

This new 53,000 square foot facility will focus on post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain trauma in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Researchers will look at three main areas of interest: neurological, biological, and psychological.

"This approach that we are trying to take here at the center is it’s kind of unique in a way and that can lead to a lot of different therapies that we will come and see in the future,” Dr. Rakeshwar Guleria said.

He is confident that with 5 to 6 years researchers will be close to identifying markers within the body that predict if a person is at a higher risk of developing PTSD or TBI and use that information for better diagnosis and treatment of these illnesses, as well."

More than 50 people will be on staff including graduate students from Baylor University, Texas A&M University, and Tarleton State University.

"So that's one of our missions is to not only conduct state-of-the-art research to make sure that we are training the next generation of researchers and practitioners. We also supervise several clinical psychologists who are providing direct care in the field right now,” Dr. Richard Seim said.

The center is one of 23 in the VA hub system and the only hub focused on PTSD and TBI.

"If we can really determine what's happening molecular, neurologically psychologically hopefully we can provide better care earlier on for those men and women who are coming back from maybe future wars,” Seim said.