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UF Health Jacksonville launches Brain Wellness Program to help veterans, first responders with mental health

The program will help heal the hidden wounds of post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and substance abuse.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Gary Sinise Foundation gave a $12.5 million dollar grant to UF Health Jacksonville for a Brain Wellness Program, which will go towards helping veterans and first responders.

The program specifically targets post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries and substance abuse.

The program will help our nation's heroes heal holistically through everything from physical therapy and acupuncture to K9 therapy. 

“I was in the Air Force for 22 years," said Ron Hasty, veteran outreach  coordinator of the Brain Wellness Program.

“I served active-duty Navy for 15 years," said Mike Sorna, medical director of the Brain Wellness Program.  

Now Hasty and Sorna are coming together helping other veterans.

“What you see around us is construction of our brand-new facility, a little over 12,000 square feet designed from the ground up. The space had office spaces, dedicated physical therapy area, as well as examination rooms," Sorna said. 

“We put them through a three-day evaluation period in which they will be seen by providers that have the disciplines of psychology, neurology, neuropsychology," Hasty said.

Then the veterans can go into an intensive three-week outpatient program at no cost to them. 

Crews in the building are working hard now. They're putting down the blueprint of a new building and start for those who have served our country. 

“Veterans are committing suicide at a rate of 17 a day," Hasty said. "With our program, we won’t be able to stop these suicides, but we can definitely reduce some impacts the invisible wounds have on these veterans.”

The Brain Wellness Program is expected to launch in November. The Gary Sinise Avalon Foundation Network funded the grant that will be used for the program.

Applications are being taken now. Click here for more information on the program.