Cerner Veterans Program to be Featured on Discovery Channel Special | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Cerner-sponsored program to help veterans and first responders with brain injuries will be the focus of an upcoming Discovery Channel special on Aug. 30.

Cerner made one of the largest charitable donations in its history to help found the Life Aid Research Institute in March as the coronavirus pandemic was just beginning.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs said it has seen a 200% increase in mental health calls since the pandemic began.

Javier Romo was a Navy reservist activated shortly after 9/11.

“When the blast hit me, I felt the glass hit my face and I was thrown back,” Romo said.

He does not remember the next day or two, but since he had no obvious serious physical injuries, he continued with the invasion of Iraq.

“Little by little over the years the symptoms started to get a little more chronic,” Romo said of his attempt to reacclimate to normal life.

He recently enrolled in the new Life Aid Research Institute. Cerner, the program’s founding sponsor, said its sole purpose was to research new ways to combat suicide, with 20 veterans a day dying this way – more than in combat.

“The research is looking at brain health, because the underlying root of mental health and thoughts of depression and suicide is your brain health,” said Eileen Rivera, director of government services at Cerner.

Romo had an EEG scan of his brain as part of the program.

“You see the anxiety; you see depression; you see all the mental health issues lit up,” Romo said. “And then you see the brain damage. It blew me away.

Scans are done at retreats where 9/11 victims, first responders and veterans try not just to mask symptoms, but to improve brain health through activities like bicycling and yoga.

“The connection is huge, actually being around other people who not only understand what you’re going through. But you don’t feel isolated and you don’t feel like you’re the only one,” Romo said.

Although it has been difficult with COVID-19, the next retreat is scheduled for this month in Bend, Oregon on August 23.

You can find more information about the Life Aid Research Institute here.

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