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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center

 

Charleston VA Psychologist Wins Prestigious Olin E. Teague Award

Photo of Dr. Peter Tuerk, Ph.D.

Dr. Peter Tuerk, Ph.D., Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center

By Tonya Lobbestael, Public Affairs Officer, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Friday, October 22, 2010

Charleston VA Psychologist Peter Tuerk, Ph.D. was recently awarded the Department of Veterans Affairs Olin E. Teague Award for his achievements treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in combat Veterans. The national award recognizes VA staff whose achievements have been extraordinarily beneficial to the rehabilitation of war-injured Veterans.

Tuerk, who works with the Charleston VA Posttraumatic Stress Clinical Team and is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Medical University of South Carolina, runs the first VA clinic in the country to offer Prolonged Exposure therapy via telehealth or video teleconferencing technology to rural Veterans. This evidence-based treatment for PTSD has significantly improved outcomes for Veterans suffering from PTSD. Tuerk broke new ground in the VA providing this specialty telehealth treatment to Veterans that might not otherwise have access, while proving its effectiveness in several research studies published in top-tiered national journals including the American Journal of Psychiatry and The Journal of Traumatic Stress. Tuerk's clinic was also the first in the U.S. to provide and publish research on in-home exposure therapy for Veterans with PTSD whose symptom presentation and other circumstances present a special need.

Tuerk serves as a national Prolong Exposure consultant, and is one of 12 national workshop trainers for the VA Office of Mental Health Service Prolonged Exposure rollout. To date he has trained over 120 VA mental health clinicians in this treatment.

"It's quite a thrill when a young Marine who deployed three times tells you he can feel his emotions again or when a Vietnam Veteran has finally learned to enjoy his family after 30 years and knowing you had a part in helping them get there," said Tuerk. "That's recognition enough for me."

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