Volunteer for Research at DC WRIISC - War Related Illness and Injury Study Center
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War Related Illness and Injury Study Center


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Volunteer for Research at DC WRIISC


To Participate

  • Call us at: 800-722-8340

OIF, OEF, and OND Veterans

Diverting the Pathway to Substance Misuse by Improving Sleep

Principal Investigator: Thomas A. Mellman, MD

Co-Investigators: Tyish S. Hall Brown, PhD, MHS, Matthew J. Reinhard, PhD

Background: Sleep disturbances are very common among those with recent deployments and sleep problems are associated with other psychiatric symptoms and misuse of alcohol and other substances. The experience of being on guard and potential threat appears to contribute substantially to these problems and is not explicitly addressed by established insomnia treatments.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to develop and evaluate a treatment for sleep problems related to military deployments. The intervention targets nocturnal vigilance and other maladaptive sleep behaviors. We will evaluate its impact on sleep problems and alcohol and substance use habits.

Eligibility: We are recruiting Veterans who have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan (OEF/ OIF) and report continuing sleep problems to participate in our study.

To Participate: Please call the Howard University Sleep and Stress Research group at (202) 865-7267 or email us at sleepandstressprogram@gmail.com.



Desert Shield and Desert Storm Veterans

Predictors of Response to Insomnia Treatments for Gulf War Veterans

Principal Investigator: Matthew Reinhard, PsyD

Primary DC WRIISC staff:  Lucas Crock, Jeremy Chester, Timothy Chun, Ryan Brewster, Mian Li, Walt Jachimowicz, Immanuel Samuel, Matthew Reinhard, and Michelle Costanzo

Background: Insomnia is a serious health problem in Gulf War Veterans that is often associated with extensive prescription of sleeping medications. Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is the term widely used to describe therapies that combine behavioral and cognitive therapies for insomnia, namely Sleep Restriction (SR) and Cognitive Therapy (CT). The combined CBT-I approach has well-documented, with over 650 VA mental health clinicians have received extensive training in CBT-I. Although CBT-I is efficacious, the optimal target populations for its major components has not yet been well-defined for Gulf War Veterans.

Purpose: This study proposes to address this gap and develop tools for clinicians to identify the best treatment for insomnia for individual Gulf War Veterans. This study aims to address the insomnia problem in Gulf War Veterans by providing critical information for evidence-based personalization of CBT-I for Gulf War Veterans. Two treatments (SR and CT) will be compared in a randomized clinical trial with a parallel groups design. Efficacy and effectiveness data will be collected prior to the beginning of treatment, after six weeks of treatment, and at the end of a six-month follow-up.

Eligibility: Gulf War Veterans ages 42-80 with chronic multi-symptom illnesses. Lives approximately 40 miles within the DC VAMC. Independent living (not in a nursing home or VA extended care facility ).

To participate: Please contact Lucas Crock 202-745-8000 ext. 57553 or view the flyer.  

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for Sleep, Health Functioning, and Quality of Life in Veterans with Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses

Principal Investigators: Matthew Reinhard, PsyD and Mary Ann Dutton, PhD

Background: It is well known that many Veterans of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (ODSS) report a myriad of symptoms that began during or shortly after the war ended. These symptoms include but are not limited to fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbance, and cognitive complaints (ex. concentration, memory).

Purpose: This study is looking to explore the effectiveness of iRest Yoga Nidra/Auricular (ear) Acupuncture and Gulf War Health Education (GWHE) for Veterans with Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (GWVI). Preliminary data suggests that an effective treatment approach for what appears to be a broad spectrum problem found in some Gulf War 1 Veterans may include complementary alternative medicine (CAM) approaches. Mindfulness, meditation, and acupuncture can target multiple biological systems all at once, and therefore may be well suited for GWVI. Gulf War Health Education group will promote wellness and prevention by utilizing a practice patient care model.

Eligibility: Veterans who were deployed during Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991)

To participate: Please contact the Study Team at (202) 745-8000 ext. 5-5768.



Other Veteran Studies

Recruitment Protocol for Effect of Exercise Training on Physical, Cognitive and Behavioral Function in Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury

Principal Investigator: Matthew Reinhard, PsyD

Primary DC WRIISC staff:  Michelle Costanzo and Lucas Crock

Background: The DC WRIISC is helping experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) examine the effects of exercise on cognitive performance, physical functioning and health-related quality of life after head injury. The VA role is supporting Veterans through giving them direct access to the NIH thus the study will take place completely at the NIH. The NIH offers unique assessments (e.g. brain imaging and blood biomarkers) that could provide insight into recovery. In addition, Veterans have the potential to receive direct benefit from participating in this research through not only improving their physical fitness but also potentially their cognitive function and quality of life. Finally, through providing support for recruitment of Veterans to meet eligibility for the NIH study and engaging in data sharing from the NIH study (NIH to VA data sharing), this will strengthen NIH-VA collaboration and improve knowledge for Veterans related to rehabilitation following TBI.  

Purpose: The broad objective of the NIH study is to examine the effects of moderate and more intense aerobic exercise as an intervention on cognitive performance, physical functioning and health-related quality of life in patients with chronic (more than 12 months post-injury) traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Eligibility: Veterans with a diagnosed non-penetrating TBI . Injury occurred at least 12 months prior to enrollment. Ages 18-79. Physically inactive as identified by a physician. Able to stand and walk independently and safely without any assistance.

To participate: Please contact Kevin Balibay - 202-745-8000 ext. 51923 


Clinical Bio-Behavioral Assessment of Inhibitory Control in PTSD: A Pilot Study of the Anti-Saccade Paradigm

Principal Investigator: Matthew Reinhard, PsyD

Primary DC WRIISC staff:  Nate Allen, Michelle Costanzo and Arghavan Hamedi

Background: The state of the science for clinical diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) continues to rely solely on psychiatric interview and/or self-report measures. In this study we explore a novel biobehavioral marker of PTSD and mTBI. The proposed study will further our understanding of inhibitory control, emotional processing, and diagnostic markers of PTSD or mTBI.  

Purpose: This study will explore the relationship between eyetracking performance and selected clinical neuropsychology measures, and, additionally, assess the utility of the anti-saccade as a sensitive measure in the cognitive assessment of PTSD and mTBI.

Eligibility: Veterans between the ages of 18-60. Confirming evidence of existing TBI diagnosis OR existing PTSD diagnosis in CPRS. Those with a PTSD diagnosis in CPRS must also meet diagnosis of PTSD according to the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Those with a TBI diagnosis in CPRS must have non-PTSD threshold criteria on the PCL. Diagnosis of moderate TBI according to the Ohio State University Traumatic Brain Injury (OSU-TBI) Scale.

To participate: Please contact Arghavan Hamedi at (202) 745-8000 extension 56824


The War Related Illness and Injury Study at Washington, DC Data Repository (DC)

Principal Investigator: Nate Allen, BS

Purpose: This goal of this protocol is to establish a data repository that addresses both the clinical and research mission of the WRIISC. This data repository consists of clinical, administrative, satisfaction and health care utilization data for Veterans who provide informed consent to include their data in the repository and are seen in the DC WRIISC. Clinically, the compilation of this data will allow the DC WRIISC to systematically collect, organize and view complex clinical data for use by practitioners as they formulate diagnoses and recommendations. Additionally, data analysis will guide continuous quality improvement practices within the DC WRIISC. In terms of research, the establishment of a data repository will help us to better define the health concerns of the Veterans we see. By collecting data about the demographic, clinical, and biomedical findings of Veterans seen at the DC WRIISC, we hope to gain insights into the cause, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions that are difficult to diagnose and treat. With the information gathered from a repository, the DC WRIISC will establish future IRB research protocols designed to improve the post-deployment health of these Veterans.

Eligibility: Veterans who are seen in the DC WRIISC National Referral Program are eligible to participate in this database repository protocol.