TCFD President & CEO Sits on Prestigious America Salutes You Pre-Concert Panel

The brain health and wellness of America’s veterans and first responders was center stage in San Diego at a recent star-studded concert. Called Guitar Legends 3, hosted by America Salutes You, the show featured the who’s who in rock history. It was broadcast nationally on the CW network just in time for the holidays.

Hall of Famer Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top hosted the rockfest. He was joined on stage by fellow Hall of Famer Nancy Wilson, Grammy winner Warren Haynes, the legendary George Thorogood, Steve Lukather, Charlie Starr, Ellis Hall and world renowned drummer Kenny Aronoff. For the audience, it was an unrivalled gathering of talent. And, the strumming, picking and riffing electrified the crowd.  But, no one forgot the real stars of the evening were active duty, reserved, and retired members of all branches of the military.

All proceeds from the annual concert benefit charities that work for brain and body wellness in the military and among first responders. This year they are: No Greater Sacrifice, the LA Fire Department Foundation, the Entertainment Industries Council and Patriotic Service Dog Foundation. Prior to the concert, America Salutes You gathered together some of the leading experts in the field of mental wellness, including TCFD’s President & CEO, Patrick H. Dollard, to share information on research and ongoing work, spawn new ideas, and initiate future collaboration across disciplines.

Patrick explained how the work we do at The Center can be nearly universally applied to health issues and diseases which affect or are affected by the brain, digestive, and immune systems. It has particular application in the military and first responder communities, he said, “All of our work is connected because all of our work is with people trying to manage stress and anxiety and everything they are dealing with is more complicated because of that. When you think of the military, they are in the middle of it all the time.”  He then described the decade-long ongoing study at The Center in which children and young adults on the autism spectrum put on wearable technology in the classroom so researchers and teachers can monitor their stress response via body temperature, heart rate and other factors.

The critical role of sleep in these groups was also a topic of discussion for the panel. Patrick added, “Sleep and gut issues are connected. If you calm that down all of sudden a lot of stress sort of starts to dissipate.  There’s actual practical things to do that everybody is overlooking.  We’ve got to get people to pay attention. If they are not sleeping, we have a problem.”

Panelists were particularly interested in the development of the new TCFD Children’s Specialty Hospital and its mission to help children, teens, and adults with complex conditions who need immediate special care. Patrick told them he envisions the mission expanding to care for members of the military and first responders who need assistance regaining and re-balancing their brain and body health. “We are ready to hook up with TRICARE and design an opportunity for residential options in our new Specialty Hospital which is really going to be the first in the country that is designed to be sort of analogous to an urgent care center – we get somebody in there – we figure them out and we get them back home,” he said.  TRICARE is health insurance for members of the military. The hospital building, in Rock Hill, New York, has already been purchased and the transformation into a state-of-the-art facility with a research institute, is underway.

The most important factor in brain and body wellness he said, may not be a technology or a new study or even a skill. It comes from the heart. “Don’t underestimate the power of kindness in this work,” Patrick told the panel, “I actually think that’s it – you know – fierce kindness. That’s a martial art – done right. Don’t underestimate it. It’s what you are talking about. When you look at the brilliant staff working. That connection – that kind connection with people is what helps people heal and get better.”

For more information on America Salutes You and The Center’s pioneering work in brain health, please reach out to the Office of Strategic Outreach and Partnerships at