Measuring successful veteran reintegration

Dr. Pey-Shen Wen and a group of four researchers, primarily at Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospitals around the country, are seeking ways to best measure the successful societal reintegration of veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

More than 20 percent of veterans from the Mideast conflicts suffer from TBI, many of which are serious injuries caused by blasts during the war. These veterans have a challenging time re-integrating into daily society. Accompanying depression and decreased cognitive function can make it difficult for the veterans to find work and relate to family and friends.

Many different efforts to improve reintegration are used, but Dr. Wen says there is a need to develop a tool to measure effective reintegration success. The current instrument is cumbersome and missing key criteria.

“The tool has 150 questions in the survey,” says Dr. Wen. She says that the participant (the veteran) is not required to answer them all and will be directed to the next question based on his/her previous response.

“However, questions about education were missing from the existing assessment,” Wen says.

This element is important in measuring re-integration because many veterans go back to school for additional training at the government’s expense. And like work and healthy social and family relationships, education shows that the veteran is positively interfacing with society.

Wen is searching for a researcher in the Atlanta VA to add to her colleagues in Gainesville, Fla., Houston, and Newark and applying for new grant funding to grow her research.