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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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The First 20 Years: Key Milestones


The First 20 Years: Key Milestones

The National Center timeline shows the depth and breadth of
the work accomplished over its first twenty years from 1989 to 2009.


  • Edward Derwinski, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, dedicates National Center for PTSD with five Divisions: Executive, Evaluation, Education, Behavioral Science, and Clinical Neurosciences.
  • First National Center meeting launches development of Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale, or CAPS.
  • Disaster Mental Health program begins with response to earthquake in Loma Prieta, CA.

  • PTSD Research Quarterly and NCP Clinical Newsletter (name later changed to NCP Clinical Quarterly) are published for the first time.
  • Education Division begins on-site Clinical Training Program.
  • National Center staff participate in first VA/DoD training conference to prepare for casualties from Gulf War.

  • PILOTS (Published International Literature on Traumatic Stress) database becomes publicly available, providing a comprehensive cross-discipline index to all published research on trauma.
  • Evaluation Division launches first national survey of VA PTSD inpatient programs.

  • Behavioral Sciences Division completes data collection for first VA Cooperative Study on PTSD.
  • Education Division supports development of VA's first PTSD inpatient program for female veterans.

  • Women's Health Sciences Division is established, and Pacific Islands Division is formed from Pacific Center research program. Number of divisions stands at seven.
  • Scientific Institute on Ethnocultural Aspects of PTSD is co-sponsored with NIMH.

  • National training conference on African-American veterans and PTSD is co-sponsored with Readjustment Counseling Service (RCS).
  • Work continues on three longitudinal projects to study health and well-being of Gulf War veterans.

  • Clinical Neurosciences Division reports that a part of the brain involved in learning and memory is reduced in size in Vietnam veterans with PTSD.
  • Website becomes available to researchers, clinicians, and the general public.
  • National Center co-sponsors, with NIMH, Consensus Conference on PTSD Assessment.

  • Findings on Congressionally-mandated study of PTSD in Native American and Asian-American Vietnam veterans are presented to Secretary Brown.
  • Women's Health Sciences Division completes national survey of women veterans' perceptions of VA health care.

  • VA Cooperative Study #420, the largest PTSD psychotherapy study ever conducted, kicks off.
  • Education Division completes VA Disaster Mental Health Manual.
  • Evaluation Division develops National Mental Health Performance Monitoring System for evaluating VA mental health programs.

  • National Disaster Mental Health Training Series is launched, in collaboration with RCS.
  • National Center contributes to project, in response to Presidential Research Directive, to advance programs promoting health and well-being of active-duty military personnel.
  • National Center plays a major role in two ISTSS projects: one to develop empirically-based Practice Guidelines for PTSD, and another, to create a plan to address global impact of trauma for the UN.

  • National Center participates in White House Conference on Mental Health.
  • Along with VA Headquarters, National Center coordinates VA PTSD/Primary Care Summit.

  • First Practice Guidelines for PTSD treatment are completed, under the auspices of ISTSS.
  • Second VA Primary Care/Mental Health Summit and Town Hall Meeting is held in DC.

  • National Center staff are called in to assist in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
  • Women's issues come to the forefront: Cooperative Study #494 on female veterans, carried out with DOD, and Congressionally-mandated Military Sexual Trauma project are both launched this year.
  • Consensus Conference "Early Intervention Following Mass Casualties" - involving National Center, DoD, HHS, and other agencies - is convened.

  • Website usage rises dramatically, as both professionals and laypersons turn to the National Center's site for information on disaster mental health following 9/11 attacks.

  • National Center develops and distributes Iraq War Clinician Guide to prepare VA and DOD to serve personnel returning from Iraq.
  • National Center launches several "telehealth" initiatives, enabling long-distance access to care for veterans in remote locations.

  • The VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Post-Traumatic Stress is developed with major contributions of National Center staff.
  • Cooperative Study #504, examining the effectiveness of risperidone with other treatments, is launched.
  • Clinical Neurosciences Division forms partnership with Mt. Sinai School of Medicine to establish a Resilience Lab, a center for the study of resilience.

  • Psychological First Aid manual, providing evidence-informed guidance for first responders, is completed and placed on the National Center's website.
  • Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans; National Center staff are called in to assist.
    VA begins development of "MyHealtheVet," an electronic portal for health care patients; National Center is actively involved in its development.

  • "PTSD 101," a comprehensive web-based PTSD training resource, is completed.
  • Website ( receives a major redesign, including sections geared to the needs of specific groups such as researchers, clinicians, veterans and their families.
  • VA begins rollout of Cognitive Processing Therapy, a major evidence-based treatment for PTSD, through the VA network to all VA clinicians.

  • The Brain Bank, housed at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), is established.
  • Rollout of Prolonged Exposure Therapy to VA clinicians, a second evidence-based treatment, begins.
    VA Uniformed Services Handbook states that all veterans with PTSD must have access to evidence-based treatments.
  • Clinician's Trauma Update - Online (CTU-Online) newsletter is launched, providing busy clinicians with summaries of the latest research on clinically relevant topics in the trauma field. Delivered via email every two months.

  • PTSD Mentoring Program is launched. This program is for Program Administrators to support clinicians' work; two mentors are selected for each of the 22 VISNs.
  • National Center and DoD collaborate on STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary Research Consortium, aimed at developing effective interventions to prevent and treat combat-related PTSD in active-duty military personnel.
  • National Center plays key role as collaborator on grant for creation of the National Center for Disaster Mental Health Research funded by NIH.
  • Clinical Neurosciences Division publishes evidence of interaction between genetic and environmental factors in development of PTSD.

Date this content was last updated is at the bottom of the page.

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The National Center for PTSD does not provide direct clinical care, individual referrals or benefits information.