Mental health, drug program launched for veterans


Staff report



American Veterans (AMVETS) Department of Ohio, the Department of Veterans Services (ODVS), and the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMHAS) are launching a pilot program to make Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) available for veterans with substance use disorders (SUD) and mental illness.

The three-year pilot program will be funded by a collaboration between both the state of Ohio and industry leaders in the private sectors medical technology. This alliance will be coordinated by the Veteran’s Medical Initiative (VMI), a program of the Seattle Space Exploration and Medical Initiative (SSEMI), The Ohio State University, and Pinnacle Treatment Centers (Ohio).

“Our nation’s freedom has rested on those who borne the battle — a costly price for many, and for some, the debt is too much to bear,” said Senator Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction), retired Navy SEAL.

Don McCauley, Executive Director of AMVETS Department of Ohio, said, “This is another option for treating substance use disorders and mental illness.”

TMS treatments were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat depression in 2008. According to the Veterans Affairs (VA), numerous commissioned studies have resulted in positive effects using TMS treatments with effects having shown to last well after the treatments have been completed.

“I started medical school 57 years ago and since then I’ve seen a lot of advances in medicine. I believe TMS has the potential to be a significant addition to our therapeutic modalities for improving the lives of patients with addiction problems and certain mental health disorders” said retired Former Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy, Vice Admiral Harold Koenig, MD. Potential side effects are generally minor and include headache, tingling, and lightheadedness immediately after treatment.

Historically TMS has been used to treat depression, but there is growing evidence that it has the potential to help veterans manage PTSD and TBI symptoms. SSEMI Medical Director Dr. Sandra Vermeulen has overseen the use of TMS treatments to target specific areas of the brain using brief magnetic pulses to generate a weak electrical current in the brain which activates neuronal circuits, promoting neuronal synchronization and optimal brain function.

“I believe noninvasive TMS has the potential to help treat many cognitive disorders. I am excited to collaborate with the State of Ohio to find ways to help our veterans manage their symptoms,” Vermeulen said.

Staff report