Section: Press Releases

Innovative Family Camp Targets Iraq/Afghanistan and Other Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury

Innovative Family Camp Targets Iraq/Afghanistan and Other Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury
Casa Colina unveils unique new project to assist returning
service members and their families as they readjust to each other and society

POMONA, Calif., May 26, 2009 — In one of the more innovative efforts to specifically assist military personnel returning from service with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the families with whom they are reuniting, Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation announced this week that it is launching the Survive & Thrive Veterans and Families Project.

This unique project consists of three different sessions. Each will bring together 12 different families – Iraq/Afghanistan Deployment (IAD) and other veterans with traumatic brain injury and their spouses, family caregivers, and/or parents. The first session will take place at a woodsy but very comfortable site near Big Bear Lake in California’s San Bernardino Mountains, where the soldiers and their families will participate in educational and therapeutic sessions, learn new coping and family support skills, solve problems, and develop new ways to communicate and thrive at home. As they enjoy the outdoors and camaraderie, participants will gain new insight and life skills under the guidance of Casa Colina’s physicians, neuropsychologists and therapists, who will lead exercises and discussions designed to help learning, adapting and looking at the future with a new view. Casa Colina’s nationally renowned Outdoor Adventures recreational therapy team will guide activities and the family strengthening process. Camp staff will provide all meals and amenities.

Session one is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 17 to Sunday, Sept. 20. Additional sessions are planned for spring and fall 2010. To ensure there will only be a nominal charge of $35 per person to participating families, Casa Colina has received local support from the Pomona Rotary in 2008 and 2009, as well as a generous grant from the McCormick Foundation’s “Welcome Back Veterans” Initiative to operate the sessions. Casa Colina is currently accepting applications for the initial session, and interested families should contact the Survive & Thrive office at (909) 596-7733, extension 5577 or toll-free 800/926-5462, ext. 5577 or via e-mail at All applicants must meet Casa Colina’s eligibility requirements.

Of the estimated 75,000 service members of the current Iraq and Afghanistan deployment who have survived with brain injuries, about 5,000 to 6,000 are more seriously affected and are classified as having “moderate” to “severe” brain injury. People with traumatic brain injury have been the special focus of Casa Colina's continuum of care, which has been developed for the general public for more than 30 years. From this work, the staff at Casa Colina understands that, for both the person with the brain injury and the entire family, the process of reconnecting and re-integrating back into the home and community can pose significant challenges.

“As part of our commitment to veterans with brain injury – recognized as the signature wound of the IAD – and their families, we are particularly interested in helping them find the best way to function together and get on with their lives with dignity and purpose,” said Felice L. Loverso, Ph.D., President & CEO of Casa Colina.

Patty Horan, wife of Capt. Patrick Horan, is still learning how to communicate with her husband since his traumatic brain injury in Iraq 2007 and subsequent return. After a year at Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation, Capt. Horan showed tremendous improvement and the family journey back to the routines of everyday life is slowly taking shape.

“The idea of Casa Colina’s family camp is really exciting to us, because we’re still learning,” Patty said. “How do we get him back into the community and how do we help him find a purpose? How do we fit into society now? What does our new life look like? There is still so much we need to know.”

The Horans, of Springfield, VA, are optimistic that opportunities like Casa Colina’s Survive and Thrive project will give families like theirs the chance to learn from physicians and rehabilitation professionals, uncover new resources, communicate and rebuild a sense of “normal” in how they move forward with their lives and family dynamics.

“Our experience at Casa Colina was great—the amount of support they gave us was amazing, and they truly care about veterans,” Patty Horan said. “I know the camp will be equally rewarding.”

The McCormick Foundation grant will cover nearly all camp-related costs, including housing, meals, activities and sports. Travel scholarships also are available.

“We’re proud to sponsor this important project and give veterans and their families a chance to reconnect and learn how to re-establish their lives,” said David Grange, president and CEO of the McCormick Foundation. “Our veterans have given so much to this country. Returning home with a traumatic brain injury is devastating not only to the veteran, but also to spouses, children, parents and friends. With Casa Colina’s expertise, we can help these families cope and return to fulfilling and meaningful lives. We see these camps as an incredible opportunity to rehabilitate the whole family, not just the individual.” ###

About Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation
Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation (meaning “house on the hill”) began in 1936 in Chino under the leadership of its founder, Frances Eleanor “Mother” Smith, and neighboring physicians, to provide rehabilitative care to children with polio. In the late 1950s when polio was at epidemic proportions, a plan to build a new hospital in Pomona to care for these children was underway. In 1960, the new hospital was completed, after the introduction of the polio vaccine, and Casa Colina then refocused its services, concentrating on people of all ages with a wide variety of disabilities. Today, it is privileged to provide medical rehabilitation services to many severely wounded military personnel, the majority of whom have traumatic brain injuries, which many consider “the signature injury” of the current wars. Casa Colina offers a unique continuum of care for individuals with traumatic brain injuries that range from acute rehabilitation, post-acute care, outpatient and long-term residential services. For more information, visit

About the McCormick Foundation
The McCormick Foundation’s mission is to advance the ideals of a free, democratic society by investing in children, communities and country. Welcome Back Veterans is an initiative of Major League Baseball and the McCormick Foundation, designed to enhance public awareness about issues facing today's veterans, as well as to raise funds to help support programs and services addressing the needs of America’s returning veterans and their families. Visit for more information.