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WIU and Veterans Affairs officials at the Sept. 12 ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially opened the Center for Military/Academic Transition and Health at Western Illinois University. L to R: Mary Beth Skupien, director, Office of Rural Health, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs; Mary Margaret Harris, director of WIU Beu Health Center; and Dau-shen Ju, psychologist/local recovery coordinator, Iowa City (IA) VA Medical Center. Photo credit: Robert Emmert

Center for Military/Academic Transition and Health Now Open at WIU

September 16, 2011


MACOMB, IL – Military veterans who are Western Illinois University students can now take advantage of a new service offered via the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Rural Health. According to Beu Health Center Director Mary Margaret Harris, the Center for Military/Academic Transition and Health is now open in Seal Hall on the WIU-Macomb campus. Through it, student veterans are able to access mental health services via remote "telemedicine conferencing" sessions.

On Sept. 12, Harris, along with Kathy Meyers, assistant director of WIU's Veterans Resource Center; Mary Beth Skupien, director of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Rural Health; Carolyn Turvey, core investigator with the Center for Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE) at the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs and an assistant professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Iowa; and other dignitaries from the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially opened this service for WIU veterans.

"Access to care can present a challenge for a rural community. We are pleased that we now offer student veterans access to this type of service at WIU," Harris said. "This will enable student veterans who are located on the Macomb campus to be able to access their mental health services remotely, via a video-conferencing connection. The Center for Military/Academic Transition and Health is located in Seal Hall, second floor, east wing, and we have set up a designated room in which student veterans can attend their appointments with their VHA providers, who may be in Galesburg or some other remote location."

Harris added that the Center for Military/Academic Transition and Health at WIU came about via a meeting she and Meyers attended with personnel in the VHA Office of Rural Health in 2009.

"We started talking about the services we could provide to veterans who enroll in Western, and two years later we feel very fortunate to be able to bring telemedicine to campus via this partnership," she said.

The Center for Military/Academic Transition and Health is just one other way Western serves military veterans. For the third consecutive year, Western has been recognized as a "Military Friendly School" by G.I. Jobs Magazine. According to G.I. Jobs, the 2012 Military Friendly Schools list recognizes the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America's military service members and veterans as students. Western is one of eight Illinois public four-year universities selected for the 2012 list. The 2012 list of Military Friendly Schools is compiled through extensive research and a data driven survey of more than 8,000 schools nationwide.

According to Harris, the opening of the Center also aligns with WIU's 2011-12 theme,"Science and Technology: Discover, Innovate, Create."

"I can't think of a better way to bring the University theme to life than bridging the gap of time and space with technology -- bringing VHA mental health services to our veterans," Harris noted.

Contact the Center for Military/Academic Transition and Health between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at (309) 298-3697. For more information, contact Harris at (309) 298-1888 or MM-Harris@wiu.edu. Learn more about the Veterans Health Administration of Rural Health at www.ruralhealth.va.gov.

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg, University Relations
Phone: (309) 298-1993 * Fax: (309) 298-1606