CSULB Professor Supporting Veterans Thanks to New Grant

Jeremy Ramirez

A $14.1 million federal grant award will allow CSULB professor Dr. Jeremy Ramirez to continue his work involving leading efforts to define a national benchmark for the training and matching of service dogs with disabled service members and veterans. 

Dr. Ramirez, a professor in the Department of Health Care Administration, who himself is a veteran, took some time to talk with the College of Health and Human Services to discuss his prestigious appointment that coincides with his recent grant award notice. Dr. Ramirez, sitting alongside his friendly service dog -- a gregarious Labrador retriever named Bear – recalls his journey which led him from the Army, to being a student at CSULB, to working in the health care administration field, to now teaching at his alma mater -- while pursuing an exciting new project that is giving back to countless service members and veterans.

From the moment Ramirez graduated high school, he was lacing up his military boots to join the United States Army.

“My 18th birthday was the first day of boot camp,” he recalls.

From boot camp, Ramirez went into occupational training to be an army medic, and was then selected for airborne training. He was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, and did three weeks’ worth of parachutist training.

“I was terrified of heights growing up,” he recalls. “So between my occupational training, I went to Six Flags, and every weekend I put myself on the highest roller coaster in order to get more comfortable being high up and spun around in the air.”

Ramirez served 8 years in the US Army as an Airborne Combat Medic. He was deployed around the world by parachuting into combat to deliver life-sustaining emergency care directly on the battlefield. Ramirez was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, the United States’ most elite airborne operations. He won a combat medical badge for responding to multiple suicide bombings -- helping to save 30 lives in one incident. He also was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for being hit by a sniper during active duty.

He went on to study at California State University, Long Beach, obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Health Care Administration. Dr. Ramirez has 20 years’ experience working in and leading health care operations. His research interests include veterans’ health disparities, specifically in mental health. He has graduate certificates in finance and informatics. He also completed a Master of Public Health degree at UC Berkeley, and obtained his Doctor of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Ramirez went on to work as a health care administrator for the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Dr. Ramirez relates his teaching duties back to his military career.

“As a staff sergeant in the military, I was in charge of training junior leadership – frontline soldiers and [other] staff sergeants. I relate that to being a junior faculty member in the Department of Health Care Administration. What I love about teaching is the interface with the students – I get to be involved in training the next generation of health care administrators and thought leaders. It’s time for the next generation to step up and take the torch.”

While his students prepare to carry the torch leading them into their future careers in the field of health care administration, Dr. Ramirez is advancing a new professional beacon of his own.

Dr. Ramirez is honored to have been selected as the Director for a new project with the Uniformed Services University (USU), in partnership with the US Department of Defense, that will help to define a national benchmark for the training and matching of service dogs with disabled service members and veterans.

“Currently, there are more than 2 million US veterans who are eligible for service dog assistance. This pioneering project comes at a critical time. It aims to significantly improve the lives of our veterans by ensuring that they are safely matched with service dogs, thus enhancing their overall well-being and quality of life.”

Ramirez’ role as the project director will encompass several areas, starting with leveraging his expertise in quantitative and qualitative data analysis, which will be instrumental in gathering insights to define this national benchmark for training and matching. His proficiency in understanding service dog and veteran teams was critical in being selected for this grant. Dr. Ramirez previously demonstrated relevant research experience to acquire, organize, and analyze data by completing a mixed-methods study with Johns Hopkins University, where he examined the utilization of service dog assistance for military veterans – research that he shared with dozens of members of Congress to garner their support for the “PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act”, which became law in 2021.

At the heart of this new project lies the Delphi method, a structured communication technique used to gather and distill insights from a group of experts or stakeholders on a specific topic. This method will be used to develop and distribute surveys to 25 service dog providers every quarter, tracking and evaluating the effectiveness of the national standard of training and matching.

As an assistant professor at CSULB and a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience, Dr. Ramirez brings a unique perspective to this project.

“My journey has taken me from serving as an Army Medic, Nurse, and Healthcare Administrator at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, to working as a federal Management Consultant at Deloitte and a Research Scientist at the Veterans Health Administration. The skills and insights I've gained along the way are invaluable in this context, helping us take a significant step forward in our mission to serve our veterans, by providing greater physical and mental health outcomes.”