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Published on January 29, 2008

Illinois Officially Launches Screening and Assistance Program for Veterans Coping with Brain Injury and PTSD at RIC

Dr. Joanne Smith speaks during a press conference to announce the Illinois Warriors  Assistance Program as Gov. Rod Blagojevich looks on.

Dr. Joanne Smith speaks
during a press conference to
announce the Illinois Warriors 
Assistance Program as Gov.
Rod Blagojevich looks on.

RIC hosted a national press conference today at its flagship hospital alongside Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth to announce the official launch of the Illinois Warriors Assistance Program. This first-in-the-nation program will screen all returning Illinois National Guardsmen and women for signs of mild and moderate brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) using a tool developed at RIC under the leadership of Dr. Felise Zollman, medical director for RIC’s brain injury medicine and rehabilitation program.

During the press conference, Dr. Zollman described the types of questions included in the screening questionnaire, as well as the fact that screeners will observe respondents for nonverbal cues that could be a sign of a brain injury or a post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Zollman and her team not only developed the tool, but also traveled across our state to train those who will screen returning servicemen and women and be available via 24-hour, toll-free hotline. Every National Guardsman and woman returning from active duty will be required to take part in the screening before being discharged and allowed to return home. In addition, all veterans and their families will have access to the hotline to address any issues or concerns at any time of day. Director Duckworth noted that the hotline represents a solution for veterans from these wars or any others who may have been reluctant to speak up about problems they were experiencing at the time of their return but who are ready to ask for help now.

This program represents an important step forward for our nation’s war veterans in which RIC played a significant role – demonstrating what is possible when government, civilian and military organizations collaborate with a common purpose. 

To seek help through the Illinois Warriors Assistance Program, call the hotline at 866-554-IWAP (4927).