COLUMBUS (WCMH)–Promising news for Ohio’s veterans who battle mental health issues. A new program aims to make treatment available across the state. It was offered through a pilot program at OSU Wexner Medical Center called “Veterans Now.”
That program was suddenly paused after the doctor in charge was mysteriously put on leave and it fizzled out of existence when funding dried up and left those who relied on “Veterans Now” wondering what happened.
The Ohio lawmaker, Senator Frank Hoagland, behind “Veterans Now” told said that the treatment is back and soon to be even more accessible through a new partnership.
Hoagland, who is a former Navy Seal, the lawmaker also represents military veterans.
“The only partners I have in this is going to be the brothers and sisters to serve with me or like me, all over the world to keep this country free,” said Senator Hoagland.
Though he’s reluctant to take credit, Hoagland spearheaded legislation that could help those who served. $12 million of Ohio’s most recent state budget is dedicated to a mental health treatment called “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation” (TMS).
It’s given through a partnership with a California company called “Wave Neuroscience.”
Doctor Erik Won is the president and chief medical officer and a former U.S. Navy flight surgeon.
“We’re looking for disruptions in the communication of different areas of the brain,” said Dr. Won.
Once doctors find the disruption, they can target it non-invasively with magnetic stimulation.
“It’s mostly about brain function and identifying areas of the brain and neurons that may be misfiring. And we’re just trying to tune those up,” said Dr. Won.
Veterans told NBC4 during the original investigation that the program helped.
“You don’t even realize it’s working. The anniversary of my wife’s death came up, and when people asked me about it, I would talk about it and I wouldn’t get depressed.”
Thomas Paschal was one of a small group of veterans who were getting the treatment as part of a temporary program at OSU Wexner Medical Center.
He talked about the treatment this past spring after the program abruptly shut down.
Paschal’s hope was to make the TMS treatment available again to help others like him.
The new partnership allows different providers across Ohio to sign on, get trained, and give treatment at no cost to veterans and first responders.
“We still got to stay focused on the mission and the mission is going to be helping our veterans and our law enforcement personnel so they live a quality life,” Hoagland said.
The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services oversees the program. Organizers are still in the process of getting it set up before treatment becomes widely available across the state.