logo Click here for the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science Home Page Click here for the UC Irvine Home Page


Treating the Invisible Wounds of War


Heroes@Home is an initiative that serves Southern California by identifying, motivating and treating service members, Veterans and families affected by the invisible wounds of war.

The program focuses the energy of UC Irvine’s vision of “Discover, Teach, Heal” to address the diverse needs of this population.   Heroes@Home aims to identify unmet medical, psychological and social needs of those who have served in the armed forces and their families. Meeting these needs is accomplished through coordination with existing organizations and direct support of care.

Heroes At Home functions as a resource center for the identification and facilitation of contact with other agencies and organizations, promotes community awareness though communication and education, and discovers and supports research to discover and implement new treatment for medical and psychological conditions relevant to this population.

The Program

Our five fold mission strives to provide:

Clinical Care »

The program aims to ensure that Veterans and their families have access to healthcare. All veterans are accepted into the program regardless of their discharge status. The program serves all service personnel, every branch of service, including National Guard and Reserve. Although most patients are veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, no veterans from prior conflicts are turned away. If a veteran has insurance, the program will seek reimbursement for services, but for those with a gap or no insurance, the program aims to find the resources to cover needed services.

When one member of a family serves in the military, the entire family serves. Heroes@Home supports spouses, parents, siblings, children, grandparents and significant others of veterans. The program has as a high priority targeting the needs of all family members.  It is expected that  family diagnostic consultation services, couples therapy, family education and support groups will be in the portfolio of services coordinated by the program.

Resource Center »

The program will develop a resource center to help clients find the services they need.  Local, state and federal agencies as well as community organizations that provide specialized resources for veterans and their families will be contacted and inventory of services developed.  Heroes@Home staff will work with clients to identify their specific needs, match them with the appropriate resources, and assist with contact and enrollment.  Where a required resource does not exist, Heroes@Home will work to devise strategies to provide it.

Outreach »

Heroes@Home believes that success of the program depends on enlisting the active support and participation of the community at large. Therefore efforts will be made to increase public awareness of the contributions Veterans and their families have made to the nation and the challenges they face returning to their communities. 

Employers, policy makers, educators, and healthcare providers will be specifically targeted.  Outreach will also target veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to inform them about the services offered by the Heroes At Home program for them and their families.  An additional target for outreach will be the various Veteran Service Organizations (VSO).  They provide an important link to the community and can provide an invaluable system of peer support.  Because these VSO members are often Veterans of prior conflicts, the program believes they would benefit from education as to the unique needs of OIF/OEF Veterans.

Education »

It is well known that OIF/OEF veterans face a variety of unique challenges.  It is anticipated that combination PTSD/TBI will be a “signature” illness of this conflict.  Therefore it is critical to elevate the skill of community healthcare providers to better assess and treat this and other conditions.  Having a parent serve in the Middle East can have tremendous impact on families and it is therefore equally important to inform other key audiences such as teachers, emergency responders and clergy to recognize how invisible wounds of war can impact children and spouses.

In addition we will create seminars, symposia, and formal courses that can be readily integrated into UC Irvine’s ongoing and robust basic science and health care professional training programs.  These efforts will be designed to increase awareness in our trainees of how PTSD, TBI and other war related disorders impact the lives of individuals and their families and communities.  We hope to substantially increase the ability of our UC Irvine-trained health care professionals to recognize, identify and treat the often subtle manifestations of PTSD and TBI.

Research »

UC Irvine has a long history of innovative medical research and care, where leaders in multiple disciplines work together to solve health care challenges. Under the leadership of UC Irvine’s Institute for Clinical and Transitional Science, the UC Irvine School of Medicine is encouraging faculty, staff and research resources to collaborate with the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and NIH in the development and evaluation of promising treatments for PTSD and TBI and other combat related medical conditions.  The program will support pilot and feasibility studies that probe the biological and behavioral mechanisms through which PTSD and TBI impact the individual as well as the family.  Research will be designed to produce knowledge leading to the creation and implementation of new therapies.

Help Heroes@Home meet the needs of the Wounded Warrior and Their Family


Contact Diana Vigil for more infomration, dvigil1@uci.edu