Across campus, UAB students, faculty and staff are engaged in partnerships that are offering opportunity and healing for veterans, and helping to prepare and protect those who serve in harm’s way.

Proudly Serving Those Who Serve

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On Veterans Day, UAB pays tribute to those who have served in the U.S. armed forces with a special wreath-laying ceremony at 1 p.m. on the Campus Green. This is the most visible token of the university's respect and support for the more than 400,000 men and women across Alabama who are veterans of military service in war and peace.
But throughout the year, all over campus, UAB students, faculty and staff are engaged in partnerships with the military that are offering opportunity and healing for veterans, and helping to prepare and protect those who serve in harm's way. The stories below explore a few of these life-changing collaborations.

Preparing a new generation of leaders

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For more than three decades, UAB has hosted highly successful Reserve Officers Training Corps programs in partnership with the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. UAB ROTC students are leaders in the field and the classroom. The Blazer Battalion recently earned a cumulative cadet GPA of 3.44, the highest mark among ROTC programs in the Southeast, with 40 students receiving scholar awards; cadet Brian Nykanen was a finalist for the prestigious Truman Scholarship. UAB ROTC cadets also lead the Southeast region with more than 10,000 community service hours. The program's Intercollegiate Varsity Ranger Challenge Team, meanwhile, has taken top statewide honors for the past three years.

In September, cadet Joseph Green, a political science major in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences who has already served a tour of active duty in the U.S. Army, was selected as the seventh-ranked cadet nationally on the ROTC Order of Merit List — a measure of athletic and academic performance. Read his story.

Green's honor, along with the academic, service and athletic achievements of the Blazer Battalion, were recognized in recent unprecedented visits by senior leadership in the U.S. Army Cadet Command. Brigadier General Darrell Guthrie, deputy commanding general of the USACC, and himself a UAB ROTC alumnus (1985), mentored cadets and presented awards Oct. 23. The following week, Major General Peggy Combs, USACC commanding general, met with cadets and toured the campus and city with UAB President Ray L. Watts, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, and other institutional and civic leaders.

UAB ROTC cadets have a cumulative 3.44 GPA and have logged more than 10,000 hours of community service — leading the way in the ROTC Southeast region in both categories.

Learn more about UAB Army and Air Force ROTC.

Protecting those in harm's way

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More than 80 percent of potentially survivable U.S. battlefield deaths from 2001–2011 were due to severe blood loss. New therapies are needed to give wounded soldiers more time to receive lifesaving treatment. Researchers in the UAB School of Medicine have found an exciting drug, a form of the hormone estrogen, that adds several hours to survival times in lab models. Now, with a $10 million contract from the Department of Defense, UAB is launching the first human trials of this therapy, which could eventually help trauma victims worldwide. Learn more about the new study, and discover the 19-year research journey that led UAB researchers to their estrogen breakthrough.

Researchers in the UAB School of Engineering have a long history of innovative partnerships with the Department of Defense. In projects with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, UAB's Materials Processing and Applications Development center has created lighter, stronger composites for helmets, body armor and rocket parts. A current project is investigating improved ballistic and blast performance for military vehicles. The UAB Computational Mechanics Group is developing high-fidelity methods for simulation of weapons effects, vulnerability and survivability analysis, and force protection. And a UAB vehicle dynamics specialist is working with the Army to develop robot-driven convoys that could keep more soldiers out of the line of fire.

Restoring the wounded

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The Department of Defense has invested $2.7 million to bring innovative UAB-designed rehabilitation therapies to soldiers with traumatic brain injuries. The three-year Brave Initiative project is offering free, intensive therapy to improve arm function and physical fitness in 80 veterans and active-duty personnel with TBI. Previous research has shown that Constraint-induced Movement Therapy, developed by UAB psychology professor Edward Taub, Ph.D., can bring significant improvements in limb function to patients with TBI even years after they have sustained injuries. The Brave Initiative is examining both CI Therapy and Lakeshore Enhanced Fitness Therapy, which focuses on physical and mental fitness and was developed with the laboratory of James Rimmer, Ph.D., professor of occupational therapy in the UAB School of Health Professions. Read one participant's story, and find out more about the research behind the Brave Initiative.

"We are eager to make the services provided by this grant available to as many of Alabama's brave veterans and active-duty personnel with TBI as possible. We believe that our treatments can have a major impact on the quality of their lives." — Edward Taub, Ph.D., UAB psychology professor and director of the Brave Initiative project.

Veterans Affairs hospitals around the country, including the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, are partnering with UAB in the Brave Initiative. This is just one of many examples of close collaboration between the two institutions. The VA Nursing Academic Partnership, a joint project of the UAB School of Nursing and the Birmingham VAMC, trains compassionate, highly educated nurses at the undergraduate and graduate levels to meet the health care needs of veterans. The partnership is seen as a nationwide model, earning a 2015 American Association of Colleges of Nursing Exemplary Academic-Practice Award. Learn more about veterans programs at the School of Nursing.


Providing opportunity for those who return

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In the fall 2015 semester, 638 U.S. military veterans are studying in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs at UAB. The university offers a number of services and resources for student-veterans through the Office of Veteran Recruitment and Student Services, including additional scholarship opportunities. UAB also has specialized educational programs for returning veterans.

When Katelyn Camacho Yau (right) left the U.S. Air Force, she had an associate degree in radiology and a desire to work in health care — but a service specialty in aircraft mechanics. It's a familiar challenge as veterans return to civilian life, where they often find it difficult to translate their unique experiences into college or vocational credit. But with the Veterans Career Advancement in Nursing (Veterans CAN!) program at the School of Nursing, Yau is now on her way to a new career as a registered nurse. Learn more in UAB Magazine.

"Putting into place those hours that a lot of nursing schools don't even count—including tons of hours upgrading our training in the military—without feeling behind is amazing." — Katelyn Camacho Yau, U.S. Air Force veteran, current UAB nursing student

UAB is committed to supporting veterans in education, employment and health care

Learn more about career resources for veterans at UAB
Offer your own message of support with the Thank a Veteran project from UAB Human Resources