March 12, 2013
College of Nursing PhD student, Teresa Yambo, MSN, RN, was recently named a Bob Woodruff Foundation-Jonas Nursing Scholar. This award honors doctoral students who have a research interest focused on veterans' health and is recognized by the White House and Veterans Administration. In 2012, the Bob Woodruff Foundation partnered with the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence to provide $200,000 in grants to 20 doctoral nursing students focused on the “invisible wounds of war". The ultimate goal of the partnership is to equip nurses to address the tremendous health challenges that prevent post-9/11 injured service members from thriving once they return to civilian life.
Yambo was selected for her research interest in creating early intervention strategies for military families with mental health issues. Yambo’s interest in veteran families stems from her own experience in the U.S. Air Force. Before she was admitted to the Rush University College of Nursing PhD program in 2009, Yambo served on active duty as a staff development officer. She met with returning airmen to assess their training needs and repeatedly witnessed how mental health issues were affecting not only the veterans but also their spouses. Yambo recalls a particular military airman who had difficulty communicating with his wife throughout his deployment. “The breakdown in communication continued when the airman returned home, and the relationship eventually ended in divorce. I remember his frustration with the lack of awareness programs to support his wife,” said Yambo. This encounter inspired Yambo to respond; she plans to conduct a phenomenological study to explore and address the experiences of military spouses living with service members with post-traumatic stress disorder. Yambo explains, “We need to create early mental health intervention strategies for our military families. Sound mental health is an essential aspect of physical health for the veteran, the spouse and the entire family.”
In addition to this research study, Yambo’s service as a Bob Woodruff Foundation-Jonas Nursing Scholar will include assisting the American Academy of Nursing Veteran’s Healthcare Expert Panel with the development of a policy statement and campaigning for quality health care for veterans and their families.