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Rocky Mountain MIRECC for VA Suicide Prevention - Suzanne McGarity PhD

Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention

Updated: 16 April 2019


Suzanne McGarity PhDSuzanne McGarity PhD
Clinical/Research Psychologist
Biography: Dr. McGarity is a Clinical Research Psychologist in the Rocky Mountain MIRECC. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from The American University in Washington, DC. in 2009. Dr. McGarity completed a post-doctoral fellowship Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida. She received training in providing evidence-based, cognitive behavioral treatment for Veterans with chronic pain conditions and served on an interdisciplinary rehabilitation team. Additionally, she conducted research on OEF/OIF Veterans with both chronic pain and polytraumatic injuries.
Dr. McGarity later accepted a full time staff position as the study coordinator and data manager for the Traumatic Brian Injury Model System Program at the Tampa VA. In this role she began investigating barriers to community reintegration for Veterans with TBI. Dr. McGarity went on to start her own outpatient psychology clinic at the Tampa VA for veterans with TBI and developed a specialty in treating Veterans with post-deployment multi-symptom disorder, a condition in which a service member or Veteran experiences a cluster of symptoms shared by PTSD, post-concussive syndrome (PCS) and chronic pain conditions. She also served as the local site PI for a clinical drug trial investigating the safety and efficacy of Rivastigmine for Veterans with memory impairment after TBI.
Dr. McGarity joined the MIRECC staff in October of 2016. She serves multiple roles on various research studies. She provides clinical and safety monitoring of ongoing research activities and co-leads the Rocky Mountain MIRECC Standardized Measures Administration in Research Training Team (SMARTT), which provides training on different measures for assessing mental health disorders and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Dr. McGarity is also a member of the postdoctoral fellowship training committee.
Research Interests: Dr. McGarity’s research interests continue to center on community reintegration after traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the Veteran population. She is also interested in the role of resiliency in this process and how evidence-based treatments can assist Veterans in developing pro-active coping skills to improve resiliency during transition from military to civilian life and in adapting to lifestyle changes after illness and injury.

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Recent Publications

Holliday, R., Rozek, D. C., Smith, N. B., McGarity, S., Jankovsky, M., & Monteith, L. L. (2019). Safety planning to prevent suicidal self-directed violence among veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: Clinical considerations. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Advance online publication.
McGarity, S., Barnett, S. D., Lamberty, G., Kretzmer, T., Powell-Cope, G., Patel, N., & Nakase-Richardson, R. (2017). Community Reintegration Problems Among Veterans and Active Duty Service Members With Traumatic Brain Injury. J Head Trauma Rehabil, 32(1), 34-45. doi:10.1097/htr.0000000000000242
Objectives: To examine community reintegration problems among Veterans and military service members with mild or moderate/severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) at 1 year postinjury and to identify unique predictors that may contribute to these difficulties. Setting: VA Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers. Participants: Participants were 154 inpatients enrolled in the VA TBI Model Systems Program with available injury severity data (mild = 28.6%; moderate/severe = 71.4%) and 1-year postinjury outcome data. Design: Prospective, longitudinal cohort. Main measures: Community reintegration outcomes included independent driving, employability, and general community participation. Additional measures assessed depression, posttraumatic stress, and cognitive and motor functioning. Results: In the mild TBI (mTBI) group, posttraumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms were associated with lower levels of various community reintegration outcomes. In the moderate/severe TBI group, cognition and motor skills were significantly associated with lower levels of community participation, independent driving, and employability. Conclusion: Community reintegration is problematic for Veterans and active duty service members with a history of TBI. Unique comorbidities across injury severity groups inhibit full reintegration into the community. These findings highlight the ongoing rehabilitation needs of persons with TBI, specifically evidence-based mental healthcare, in comprehensive rehabilitation programs consistent with a chronic disease management model.

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Published on Jun 30, 2017

There are many misconceptions about Veterans and PTSD. Understanding what we really know can help Veterans connect with the services they need to live a better life. Clinical Research Psychologist, Dr. Suzanne McGarity from the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention describes what research shows about Veterans and PTSD.

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