Guest Column by Stephen J. Cozza, M.D

Memorial Day is coming and our nation will pause to honor the service and sacrifice of our fallen military service members. Deaths in the decade after September 11, 2001 largely resulted from sudden and violent causes, including combat, accidents, and suicide. Even during peacetime, deaths in the military can often come unexpectedly and suddenly, taking young people in the prime of their lives. Those who grieve such losses shoulder a heavy burden. While most people can and do integrate loss into their lives and find joy again, some continue to suffer for years after a death.

That’s why we are now working on a new study testing two evidence-based online/app programs created by scientists and clinicians at Uniformed Services University and Columbia University to address grief-related challenges.

The Stepping Forward in Grief Study is testing two online/app programs that were developed in response to findings from the National Military Family Bereavement Study, which suggested that grief-related challenges among bereaved military survivors can continue, even many years following a loss, and that many survivors desire additional support.

You can participate in the study if you are a close friend, unit member, battle buddy, or a family member of someone who died at any time while serving in the military or as a result of their military service. For instance, this would include:

●       Any immediate family member – such as a parent, spouse, sibling or adult child

●       Any non-immediate family member – such as a cousin, grandparent, uncle, or aunt

●       Any close friend or battle buddy of a military service member who died while serving or after discharge due to a duty-related cause.

If you sign up, you will be randomly assigned to one of two programs, GriefSteps or WellnessSteps, in order to test its ability to support grief adaptation. Enrollment is open through June 30, 2019.

Our study team is particularly interested in reaching  and enrolling those who continue to struggle with their grief. It is our hope that the results of the study will lead to better, evidence-based resources for those who are  bereaved in years to come.

Interested potential participants can sign up by going to: and clicking “Enroll Now,” where they will be asked to answer some screening questions, fill out an online consent form, and complete a 20-minute survey. Following enrollment, participants will be contacted by study personnel to complete a telephonic screening and enrollment.

Once enrolled, study participants will have access to the assigned program for 6 months, and will be asked to provide feedback about their experience. For more information, please contact or check out the website

Stephen J. Cozza, M.D. is a Professor of Psychiatry at Uniformed Services University (USU) and a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2006 after 25 years of military service. He currently serves as the Associate Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, USU.

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