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East Carolina University
Operation Re-Entry North Carolina

re entry


A Research Initiative in Support of Military Service Personnel, Veterans and their Families

Resources for Military Personnel, Veterans and Families

New and Events

  • Army To Study Soldier Suicide
  • WNCT - Channel 9 - News Story - January 28, 2011
  • On Veterans Day, Dr. Carmen Russioniello's work addressing PTSD in Wounded Warriors was featured on WNCT, CBS Channel 9 in Greenville, NC.  The newscast can be found here.  Dr. Russoniello's research addressing the effectiveness of biofeedback as a treatment for PTSD is funded in part by Operation Re-Entry North Carolina through its cooperative agreement with the US Department of Defense.  More information about Dr. Russoniello's Biofeedback Clinic and Psychophysiology Lab at ECU is available here:  biofeedback_PTSD
  • "Returning from War"
    On September 22, 2010, WUNC North Carolina Public Radio broadcasted a one-hour radio show addressing issues of reintegration and re-entry.  It was a special edition of "The State of Things" hosted by Frank Stasio.  Included among the guests on the show were Dr. David Cistola, Principal Investigator of Operation Re-entry North Carolina, and Bob Goodale, Director of the Citizen Soldier Support Program.  Dave and Bob join the conversation about 15 minutes into the broadcast. 

Description of ORNC





Military personnel returning from deployment are confronted with numerous challenges in re-entering society. Some wounded warriors face physical disabilities resulting from blast injuries, with impairments in vision, balance, gait, mobility, speech, hearing, cognition, disfigurement or loss of limbs. Some face serious psychosocial problems such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, substance abuse and depression.  Even for those not injured in combat, many face difficult post-deployment adjustments to workplace, family, career and community life. A wide array of warrior transition programs are provided through the federal military and veteran administration health systems.  However, the diverse health and rehabilitation challenges for this population far exceed the current capacity and capabilities of those programs. Therefore, effective partnerships with civilian and academic organizations must play a vital role in addressing these urgent and ongoing needs.  With its rapidly growing health sciences center, broad-based educational programs and nationally recognized telemedicine capabilities, East Carolina University stands ready to serve. 

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Operation Re-Entry North Carolina (ORNC) is a university-wide initiative to address the rehabilitation and re-entry concerns of military personnel, veterans and their families.  The approach is to mobilize the university's talent and resources – particularly in research, workforce training, clinical services, telemedicine & advanced technology, and statewide planning – to assist returning combat veterans and their families.  We are collaborating with military institutions on clinical care and research projects, and expanding access to quality health care on and off base using the latest developments in telemedicine and advanced technology.  As a comprehensive demonstration program, ORNC sets a national model for how to mobilize civilian academic expertise to honor those who have put their lives on the line for our country.

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Centered in one of the most concentrated military corridors in the nation, ECU has growing partnerships with the following organizations:

  • Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Battalion and MCI-East, Camp Lejeune, NC
  • U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune, NC
  • Durham VA Medical Center and its expanding rural outpatient network
  • US Army Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Bragg, NC
  • Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, NC
  • Citizen Soldier Support Program for National Guard and Army-Air Force Reserve Units

At the federal level, ORNC is building partnerships with the following organizations:

  • Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), Fort Detrick, MD
  • U.S. Army Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, MD
  • Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), Bethesda, MD
  • Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), Bethesda, MDDefense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) in Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, Washington, DC

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The overall goal of ORNC is to develop and expand partnerships with military and VA organizations to address the rehabilitation and re-entry concerns of men and women in uniform, their spouses and family members.  There are five focus areas:

1. Research

"We have a solemn obligation to offer the very best care, not only the warriors coming back now, but to the next generation as well."
-- COL Chris Macedonia, US Army, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, DC

In order to meet COL Macedonia's challenge, we must take advantage of every opportunity to study and collect data on the individuals returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  A major focus of ORNC is to conduct collaborative research projects that bring the best military and university resources to bear on these complex problems.

East Carolina University is anticipating an appropriation included in the FY 2010 Department of Defense budget to fund the research programs of Operation Re-Entry NC.  This funding was championed in the House of Representatives by Congressman G.K. Butterfield and in the Senate by Kay Hagan.  In order to secure this funding, ECU must submit a consolidated proposal for peer review through the US Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC).  If successful, we anticipate the funding will be available to ORNC projects by July 2010.

These funds will support pilot research projects and research infrastructure that strengthens ECU's collaboration with military institutions in order to better serve warriors and their families.  Further information will be provided once the funding is formally approved by TATRC.

Pending FY 2010 DoD Research Appropriation for Operation Re-Entry NC

Total Funding Amount $2.4M
Program Title Operation Re-Entry NC
Appropriation Bill Department of Defense
Account Army Research Development Test and Evaluation (RDT&E)
Line Title Medical Advanced Technology
Date Signed into Law December 19, 2009
Partnering Agency Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center


2. Workforce Training, Recruitment and Jobs

At the university level, ECU trains the largest number of nurses, primary care and allied health professionals in the State of North Carolina.  It houses one of the two state-funded medical and dental schools in NC and the only state-funded physician assistant program.  We graduate licensed healthcare professionals at the bachelors, masters and doctoral levels in fields such as social work, nurse anaesthesia, nurse midwifery, athletic training, biomedical research science, medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, speech and language pathology, audiology, occupational therapy, substance abuse counseling, rehabilitation counseling, medical family therapy, health psychology, recreational therapy, health information technology, etc.  We are well positioned to help train the next generation of military and VA health care workers, focusing especially on:

(A) continuing education and recruiting assistance for military and VA health providers

ECU will assist military and VA institutions in training and recruiting health care workers by:

  • offering adjunct/affiliate ECU faculty appointments for staff of military hospitals and clinic
  • providing fast-track, fully accredited programs to retrain re-train military personnel in critical shortage areas
  • offering service payback scholarships to train health care workers who commit to working in military/VA institutions
  • establishing ECU satellite campuses on or near military bases and expanding military/VA clinical clerkship and residency training agreements 

(B) the retraining of military personnel and veterans for civilian careers;

ECU will assist veterans by providing opportunities for job training and new civilian careers in fields such as health information technology:  

ENC-PHIT:  the Eastern North Carolina Partnership in Health Information Technology  

A large number of workers are needed to lead the national transition from paper to electronic health records.  This program, which works closely with Operation Re-Entry NC, will offer scholarships, support services and job placement to individuals who wish to train at the associates, baccalaureate or masters degree level.  Individuals with a background in computer science or logistics, or those with related health care training are particularly well suited for this program, although anyone looking for a new career opportunity is welcome to apply.  Top priority is given to veterans.  

There is a pending $5M grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund ENC-PHIT.  The status of this funding should be known in early 2010.

3. Clinical Services 

A number of military personnel seek clinical care off base, particularly psychological health services.  The patient caseload often exceeds the clinical service capacity available on base. Likewise, nearly half of the veteran population seeks clinical care in the civilian sector.  Therefore, ORNC seeks to:

  • offer an array of ECU clinical services to address areas of need and overflow on military bases:  e.g., services for spouses and family members of active duty personnel
  • establish ECU satellite clinics on or near base:  e.g., substance abuse, medical family therapy, psychology, biofeedback, speech-hearing-balance, psychiatry, etc.
  • provide specialty services not typically offered on base, e.g., vestibular assessments, motion/gait analysis, interactive metronome, etc.
  • recruit more regional healthcare providers to become Tricare affiliates
  • coordinate with military healthcare providers to ensure continuity of care off base

4. Telemedicine and Advanced Technology

Like ECU, military and VA institutions have advanced telemedicine capabilities for delivering clinical services to remote sites through secure computer connections.  However, there is a lack of connectivity and interoperability that limits the efficient delivery of clinical services and the conduct of clinical research across these civilian and military platforms.  A major focus of ORNC will be to build the infrastructure necessary to provide continuity and clinical services to those in greatest need.  An example might be an active duty marine seeking psychological care off base, but unable to travel to Greenville… or a spouse seeking family therapy that is not available on base because of a backlog… or a doctoral student in Greenville collecting research data on clinical psychology subjects at the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Lejeune.

ECU will work closely with its military and VA partners, particularly TATRC, to establish and expand collaborative telemedicine capabilities.  Through ORNC, we will

  • Expand the use of telemedicine and advanced technology to address issues of psychological health and traumatic brain injury
  • utilize ECU's extensive telemedicine network to expand services and explore new capabilities
  • build upon ECU's telemedicine experience in psychiatry, mental health care, dermatology and other areas
  • apply the latest technologies to address military rehabilitation from injury and illness: virtual reality, serious gaming, human simulations, etc.
  • train military clinicians in the latest approaches in telemedicine and advanced technology

5. Statewide Leadership, Planning and Coordination To mobilize civilian efforts and promote communication and coordination at the state level, ORNC participates in the following statewide planning efforts:

The North Carolina Institute of Medicine Task Force on Behavioral Health Services for the Military and their Families, 2009-2010

The Governor's Focus on Returning Combat Veterans and Their Families, 2009-present

Through these forums, we conduct strategic planning and coordination with other academic and civilian organizations.  Also, we can negotiate and execute larger-scale partnerships with veteran and military institutions to effectively address current challenges in health care and rehabilitation, including rural heath issues.

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Carmen Russoniello – CHHP, Recreational Therapy
Biofeedback and behavioral medicine for PTSD and TBI in Wounded Warriors  

Hunt McKinnon – CHE, Interior Design
Design of Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Lejeune  

Angela Lamson – CHE, Medical Family Therapy
Innovative fast-track accredited training programs for military and VA personnel
Clinical research and counseling services for military, vets, reservists, Nat. Guard  

Paul Toriello – CAHS, Rehabilitation Studies
Project Working Recovery:
Substance abuse counseling coupled with employment support  

Vivian Mott – College of Education
Partnership with U.S. Army in training of Army educational interns  

D. Moore, E. Manalo – Brody School of Medicine
Rehabilitation medicine and research in TBI and PTSD  

G. Jones, P. Kragel – Brody School of Medicine
Innovation in the delivery of telemedicine services  

L. Allison, N. Murray – CAHS, CHHP
Vestibular Balance & Gait Project with the Naval Hospital, Camp Lejeune  

Eric Everhart – Arts & Sciences, Psychology
Sleep disorders resulting from TBI and PTSD  

Leonard Trujillo – CAHS, OT
Interactive Metronome therapy for TBI and PTSD  

Sy Saeed – Brody School of Medicine, Psychiatry
Telemedicine Support for Military and their Dependents  

Anne Dickerson, CAHS, OT
Driving evaluations in Marines with TBI and PTSD

Elizabeth Carroll, CHE, Child Development and Family Relations
Military Readiness and Life Skills for a Healthy Marriage

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Brigadier General Patricia J. Anderson, RN, MSN, (US Army, retired)

Nicholas Benson, MD, MBA, Vice Dean and Medical Director of ECU Physicians, Brody School of Medicine, ECU

Colonel Mike DeYoung (US Army, Retired), MS, Vice President, SMI Inc., Washington, DC

C. Steve Duncan, Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor for Military Affairs and Administration & Finance, ECU

Marti Engelke, RN, MPH., Ph.D, Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, ECU

Erik Everhart, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Psychology, Harriott College of Arts and Sciences, ECU, and Director of Research, PCMH Sleep Center

Patrice M. Frede, Director of Development, College of Allied Health Sciences and Military Programs

Marti Gallagher, Ph.D, Associate Dean for Research, College of Human Ecology, ECU

Glen Gilbert, Ph.D, Dean, College of Health and Human Performance, ECU

Captain Thomas Johnson, MD, Staff Neurologist, Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune

Dan Moore, MD, Chair, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Brody School of Medicine, ECU

Ted Morris, Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor for Economic Development, Division of Research and Graduate Studies, ECU

Sy Saeed, MD, Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Brody School of Medicine, ECU

Colonel W.T. (Tim) Wiseman (US Army, Retired), CDFM-A, MBA, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enterprise Risk Management, ECU  

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David P. Cistola, M.D., Ph.D., ORNC Project Director; Professor and Associate Dean for Research, College of Allied Health Sciences; Professor, Brody School of Medicine, ECU

Al Schreier, Ph.D., Director of Program Development, Division of Research & Graduate Studies, ECU 





David P. Cistola, MD, PhD
Project Director, Operation Re-Entry North Carolina
Mail Stop 668, CAHS Dean's Office
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC  27834


Patrice M. Frede
Director of Development
College of Allied Health Sciences
& Military Programs
Mail Stop 659
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27834
Phone: 252.744.3523