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Newsletter | Fall 2022 | South Central MIRECC

Highlights from Our Anchor Sites

Our affiliates in Houston, Little Rock, New Orleans, and VISN 17 work hard to promote mental health education, research, and treatment locally and nationally. Here are some highlights of their accomplishments over the past three months.


Dr. Ali Abbas Asghar-Ali
Dr. Ali Abbas Asghar-Ali

Dr. Ali Abbas Asghar-Ali Presented Poster at #AAPC02

Dr. Asghar-Ali displayed his and Dr. Siddharth Khasnavis’s poster “Implementation of a Self-Guided Curriculum for Cognitive Evaluation” at the Association for Academic Psychiatry annual meeting. The team found that psychaitry residents increased their knowledge about cognitive domains and reported greater confidence to perform cognitive assessments after viewing a self-guided video curriculum.

Little Rock

Drs. Marcela (Marci) Weber and Brandon Griffin and Mr. Timothy Usset's promotion for On the Frontlines of the Pandemic presentation
Drs. Marcela “Marci” Weber and Brandon Griffin and Mr. Timothy Usset's promotion for "On the Frontlines of the Pandemic" presentation

Drs. Marcela “Marci” Weber and Brandon Griffin Presented at Transforming Chaplaincy

Dr. Weber, Dr. Griffin, and Timothy Usset, MDiv, MPH presented ,“On the Frontlines of the Pandemic: The Role of Chaplains in Moral Injury Care for Healthcare Workers,” at a Transforming Chaplaincy webinar. The trio discussed their 2020 research study of healthcare workers and their experience of morally injurious events during COVID-19. Over a third of workers experienced these events, which were linked to psychosocial problems in their relationships, doing their jobs, and in their personal care. To view the recording, visit

New Orleans

Dr. Joseph (Jay) Boffa
Dr. Joseph “Jay” Boffa

Dr. Joseph “Jay” Boffa Received a VA CSR&D Career Development Award-2

Congratulations to Dr. Boffa for receiving a VA Clinical Science Research and Development Career Development Award-2 for four years of funding. The title is, “Effects of a Targeted Web-Based Suicide Prevention Intervention on Suicidal Ideation and Self-Directed Violence: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Veterans.” The research focus is testing a brief, web-based mental health intervention designed to teach coping skills that can ease the emotional distress which often comes with thoughts of suicide.

Firearm Retail Partner Map
Firearm Retail Partner Map

Dr. Gala True’s Firearm Retail Partner Map for Short-Term Voluntary Firearm Storage Went Live

Dr. True and VISION (Veteran-Informed Safety Intervention and Outreach Network) colleagues’ map of gun shops willing to provide temporary, voluntary storage of firearms to prevent suicide went live at

Dr. True also presented on this partnership and the other work of VISION at the VISN 16 Mental Health Summit, the New Orleans VA’s Caregiver Support Program Suicide Prevention Summit, and the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Annual Suicide Prevention Summit in September (Suicide Prevention Month).

Last updated: November 10, 2022