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First-of-its-kind program on military medicine and veteran health

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Author Ryann Nickerson | Publish Date November 10, 2015

Gen Dempsey and Col (Ret) Pearl Gen. Dempsey and Col. (Ret.) Pearl

The Veteran and Military Health Care (VMHC) program at the University of Colorado College of Nursing is offering online courses based on the unique needs of veterans and military service members. The program provides nurses and health care professionals the chance to get involved with emerging treatments at the Veterans Administration Medical Centers and Military Health System.

“Our veterans and service members have unique needs compared to the general population. The consequences of combat and military service are enduring and affect veterans and their families,” said Mona Pearl, PhD, RN, Colonel (Ret.), USAF and professor at the CU College of Nursing at the Anschutz Medical Campus. “War veterans are found to be at a significantly increased risk for suicide. With 22 veterans dying from suicide each day, they deserve health care professionals that can address the invisible and visible consequences of war by providing them with patient and family centered care.”

Col (Ret) Mona Pearl, assistant professor at CU College of Nursing Col. (Ret.) Mona Pearl, assistant professor at CU College of Nursing

In the U.S., there are over 22 million beneficiaries in the Veterans Administration, more than nine million in the Military Health System (MHS), and over 100,000 doctors and nurses. This program is designed to expose health care professionals to the nuances of military and veteran culture, systems, and services. It aims to expand their understanding of the special needs of veterans and military service members. And ultimately, it strives to not only provide care, but also help them manage their own health and wellness.

“Veteran culture is complex and unique to each veteran,” said Dr. Pearl. “We developed this program to promote an academic and clinical specialty that would address the needs of this population.  We believe our heroes and their families deserve health care tailored to both veteran and military related medical conditions and family dynamics.”

This is an online program enabling individuals to access and achieve a graduate certificate, master’s degree or a customized plan of study for a bachelor’s of science degree to a PhD either locally or remotely.

Pearl entered the USAF in 1992 as a master’s-prepared nurse and served as both an active duty and reserve officer, attaining the rank of Colonel before her retirement in 2014. As a three time Cancer survivor, she has also successfully navigated the health care system.

Col Pearl with Air Force Pilots Col. (Ret.) Pearl with Air Force Pilots