CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Excitement was in the air at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical center Monday as the new start-of-the-art Mental Health Research Building was unveiled.
For senior research psychologist Ron Acierno, the extra space will be a big upgrade.
"we were actually quite literally working out of closets at times," said Acierno.
He said the new 16,000 square foot building will be hugely beneficial to their work, which often includes a large amount of patients.
"Several hundred folks coming through any given week here through different research studies." said Hugh Myrick, Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health at VAMC.
The building cost $9.9 million. It's got five wet labs, 27 exam rooms and three group rooms, according to Myrick.
"We're both developing new treatments and we're trying to make existing treatments better or more accessible," said Acierno.
The staff of two dozen mental health researchers are tackling a broad range of issues, with over 300 active research projects.
Acierno said they will be developing new ways to treat veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and depression.
"There are other studies using nutritional supplements to try and diminish suicidality," said Acierno.
Acierno said thoughts of suicide are often linked to those other conditions and several studios with a sole focus on that.
For Acierno, this research is a chance for him to give back to those who have sacrificed so much for our liberties.