he UNMC College of Nursing has received a grant designed to improve the health and well-being of military veterans.

The $1.36 million Health Resources Services Administration grant will focus on recruiting more military veterans into the college's bachelor's degree in nursing program, provide pre-admission, as well as resources to facilitate student success. The grant also will educate both practicing nurses and nursing students on the unique health needs of veterans and military members.

The three-year grant, which began July 1, is focused on primary care nursing for chronic disease prevention and management, including mental health and substance use disorders.

"Military veterans and those who continue to serve have unique health care needs. Some of those needs are due to exposures, experiences, and injuries while serving," said Louise LaFramboise, Ph.D., grant project director and associate professor and former director of the UNMC College of Nursing bachelor's degree in nursing program. "They've done so much for us. This grant is about making their health a priority and addressing their unique needs.

"We know there is a camaraderie between those who've served in the military," Dr. LaFramboise said. "There's a belief that veteran nurses caring for veterans may be able to establish a quicker rapport of trust to address not just physical health issues, but mental health issues as well."

Grant objectives include:

Partnering with University of Nebraska campuses to develop early admission programs; Partnering with the Veterans Administration of Nebraska and Western Iowa Health Care System to provide clinical opportunities that address issues unique to veterans; Creating infrastructure at the college's campuses in Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney, Scottsbluff and Norfolk to provide veteran nursing students with physical, emotional and environmental resources to facilitate successful program completion; Developing a statewide pool of registered nurses and nursing faculty interested in learning more about caring for veterans through a continuing education program; and Exposing undergraduate nursing students to a revised undergraduate curriculum that includes content about the unique health care needs of veterans in primary care settings.

The college's early admission program will give student veterans enrolled in undergraduate colleges or universities who meet and maintain requirements a guaranteed spot in the UNMC College of Nursing. Traditionally, students apply only after completing a majority of the 58 credit hours of required prerequisite course work at an accredited university, college or community college.

Those eligible are military veterans and indviduals currently serving in the military -- active, reserve, or National Guard.

The grant team includes Cathrin Carithers, D.N.P., co-project director, Teresa Hultquist, Ph.D., Heidi Keeler, Ph.D., and Molly Belieu.