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Peter Tuerk, Ph.D. Presented with Olin E. Teague Award

Dr. TuerkPeter Tuerk, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Director of Research Training, MUSC
Associate Director, PTSD Clinical Team, Ralph J. Johnson VAMC

The Olin E. Teague award was established by the Department of Veterans Affairs in honor of the late Olin E. Teague, whose leadership and support as a member of Congress, and both member and Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, were paramount in carrying out the mission of the Department. The award recognizes an employee or team of employees within Veterans Affairs whose achievements have been extraordinarily beneficial to the rehabilitation of war-injured veterans. On October 20, Dr. Tuerk was honored with this award.

Bringing together clinical care, research, and education, Dr. Peter W. Tuerk's work has significantly improved the quality of life for Veterans with combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dr. Tuerk was the first clinician in the country to offer evidence-based exposure therapy for PTSD to Veterans living in rural areas via telehealth technology. This innovative effort won recognition from the System-wide Ongoing Assessment and Review Strategy (SOARS) that identified the procedure as a "Strong Practice," meriting imitation throughout the system. Dr. Tuerk was also the first to identify and publish on PTSD-related compulsive checking behaviors in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) patients. He noted that these behaviors are often resistant to treatments in traditional contexts and documented a blending of therapeutic techniques, conducted in Veteran's homes, to effectively address the symptoms and improve treatment trajectories.

Dr. Tuerk's scientific publications also confirm that Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy, a treatment proven to be efficacious for PTSD in civilian survivors of rape, violence, and traumatic accidents, can also be implemented in regular Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics, under normative circumstances, to effectively treat OEF/OIF-related PTSD. Under his care and the care of those he has trained, Veterans with PTSD often experience amelioration of PTSD-related intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, anger, guilt, and avoidance of social and occupational settings.

Dr. Tuerk is a current recipient of a VA Clinical Sciences Rrsearch and Development Career Development Award to investigate ways to improve treatment efficiency and integrate applied technology into the exposure therapy process. An enthusiastic advocate for training in evidence based practices, Dr. Tuerk is a national consultant for the Office of Mental Health Services PE rollout, having supervised dozens of full-time VA clinicians locally and accross the country, he is also one of the national workship trainers for the rollout.

Dr. Tuerk is the Director of Research Training for the VA and Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) clinical psychology internship and is a VA PTSD mentor, working to introduce evidence-based PTSD treatments throughout the VA system.

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