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Emory and Atlanta Braves celebrate first anniversary of BraveHeart: Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative

Media Contact

Introducing BraveHeart initiative and giving background on PTSD is Emory University's Dr. Barbara Rothbaum, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and director of the Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program at Emory University School of Medicine.

This Memorial Day, Emory University and the Atlanta Braves will celebrate the first year of BraveHeart: Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative at Turner Field with a visit from retired Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, and current CEO of One Mind for Research. Chiarelli will throw out the ceremonial first pitch after the ball has been delivered to the mound by the Army parachute team, Silver Wings. Wounded warrior Dan Berschinski will present the line-up.

The BraveHeart Initiative was created in 2011 thanks to a $1 million grant from the Welcome Back Veterans Initiative - a partnership between the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Major League Baseball. It is a screening, assessment and service program designed to provide veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan education about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and guidance for access to mental health and counseling services.

Barbara Rothbaum, PhD, director of Emory University School of Medicine’s Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program and PTSD researcher, leads the BraveHeart Initiative, which was created to serve the veterans and their families who reside in the Southeast region of the United States.

"We are grateful for the continued assistance of the Atlanta Braves for our outreach program," says Rothbaum. "A large portion of our effort involves getting information about the website out to the public. The Braves organization has been very valuable in helping us to raise awareness about

"Additionally, we appreciate the support of Gen. Chiarelli, who has been an extraordinary advocate in raising awareness, reducing stigma and working to resolve the psychological issues many veterans face when they return from combat."

A new addition to the website this year is SimCoach William Ford, a virtual human who greets users when they click on his image. William (Bill) provides educational information about PTSD and gently guides the user through a screening process by facilitating an interactive question and answer session. Bill was created by the Institute for Creative Techologies at the University of Southern California.

Also, in order to efficiently serve Georgia veterans who need help, the number of providers available in the region will be expanded this summer. Through the generosity of participants in the Georgia Psychological Association’s pro-bono program, BraveHeart will be able to connect veterans with a number of experts throughout the southeast who are willing to provide care at very low cost, or for free. In addition, a telemedicine program introduced through the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth, is now accessible to veterans who are unable to get to a clinician for treatment because of work, travel or other constraints.

For more information about BraveHeart, go to or to reach the BraveHeart Clinical Care Coordinator call 404-727-8964 or email

View a video about BraveHeart at

Media Opportunities

Interviews with Chiarelli, Rothbaum, wounded warriors and Braves representatives will begin at 11:00 am game day at Turner field. Private one-on-one interviews with Chiarelli and a wounded warrior can be arranged through Emory PR contact, above.

To obtain media credentials for this event (contact by May 25):

Adrienne Midgley, Braves media relations: or 404-614-1556

About (Retired) Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli

 Peter Chiarelli
 Peter W. Chiarelli
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Peter W. Chiarelli is a retired United States Army general who served as the 32nd Vice Chief of Staff, the second highest rank in the Army, from August 4, 2008 to January 31, 2012. He served as commander, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, under Gen. W. Casey, Jr., and was the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense from March 2007 to August 2008. He retired from the Army after 40 years of service.

Chiarelli commanded at every level throughout his military career, and was known for his concern for the troops. It was during his time as the Vice Chief of Staff that his deep compassion and strong moral commitment to helping our nation's wounded suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was most evident. Chiarelli took the unprecedented step of inviting civilian experts in TBI and PTSD to advise on immediate interventions to be implemented in theater. He took time to understand TBI and PTSD (as well as suicide) and explain it. He is responsible for changing the military culture to recognize, assess, and treat these conditions without stigma or harm to a military career.

His unswerving dedication to raise greater awareness about these "invisible wounds of war" is considered exemplary. The Hero of Medicine Award was presented May 4, 2011, to Chiarelli for his efforts to help Soldiers with TBI and PTSD by The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine.

Chiarelli was recently named CEO of One Mind for Research, where he will continue his drive and compassion for research dedicated to TBI and PTSD, as well as other neurological cures.

About Welcome Back Veterans

In 2008 Major League Baseball Charities launched Welcome Back Veterans and are now joined by partners the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. Welcome Back Veterans was created to inspire Americans to reach out and help our returning veterans and their families. Hundreds of thousands of our veterans, home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have returned suffering from PTSD. Far too often they come home and find their spouses and children suffering as well. These heroes were there when we needed them-they served us all and kept us safe-it is our turn to be there for them. Welcome Back Veterans raises funds and distributes grants to university hospitals to support returning veterans and their families through a competitive and open grants process.

About the Atlanta Braves Foundation

The non-profit arm of the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Braves Foundation actively supports community organizations and their programs within the metro Atlanta area. Since its inception in 1992, the Atlanta Braves Foundation has provided support to thousands of metro Atlanta based organizations and has contributed more than $3.3 million in financial assistance to the community. Through the generous support of Braves players, employees, sponsors and fans, the Atlanta Braves Foundation continuously strives to improve the quality of life for our youth. 

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