American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2012 - The nation's medical colleges are the latest to join forces with First Lady Michelle Obama to ensure the best care for troops, veterans and their families.
The first lady yesterday announced the commitment, which is aimed at improving training for civilian health care providers so they can better care for veterans and their families. It also calls for more research on combat-related injuries.
The Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, with a combined 130 schools between them, have signed on to use their expertise in education, research and clinical care to better serve the military population.
"Today the nation's medical colleges are committing to create a new generation of doctors, medical schools and research facilities to make sure our heroes receive the care worthy of their military service," Obama said in an article written by my AFPS colleague Lisa Daniel.
As part of the initiative, Daniel reported, the associations pledged to:
-- Train their medical students as well as their current physicians, faculty and staff to better diagnose and treat veterans and military families;
-- Develop new research and clinical trials on traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder;
-- Share their information and best practices with each other through a collaborative Web forum; and --
-- Coordinate with the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.
This new commitment is one of many spurred by the Joining Forces campaign. The first lady and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched Joining Forces last year to raise awareness of troops, veterans and their families, and to call on all sectors of society to support them.
"In a time of war, when our troops and their families are sacrificing so much, we all should be doing everything we can to serve them as well as they are serving this country," Obama said yesterday. "It's an obligation that extends to every single American. And, it's an obligation that does not end when a war ends and troops return home. In many ways, that's when it begins."
Obama acknowledged the difficulties troops and their families sometimes face when they return home from war.
An estimated one in six Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans return home with post-traumatic stress or depression, and at least 4,000 have had at least a moderate-grade brain injury, the first lady said. While some seek treatment, the stigma of seeking mental health care stops many troops in their tracks.
"I want to be very clear today: these mental health challenges are not a sign of weakness," Obama said. "They should never again be a source of shame. They are a natural reaction to the challenges of war, and it has been that way throughout the ages."
For more on this commitment, read the AFPS article, "Medical Colleges Pledge to Care for Troops, Families," written by my colleague, Lisa Daniel.
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