First Lady Michelle Obama Tackles Mental Health Issues Affecting the Troops
First Lady Michelle Obama will announce a new partnership today to help veterans prevent and cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other combat-related afflictions.
The partnership is between Joining Forces, a national initiative led by Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden that works to mobilize all Americans to support service members and their families, and the nation’s top medical colleges and universities. The project will also help veterans cope with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
After visiting the VA Polytrauma Center in Richmond, Va., the First Lady will announce these new commitments with medical trade groups, including the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, at Virginia Commonwealth University.
She will emphasize the challenges American troops face when transitioning from the war front to their home lives and the need to tackle these mental health issues, and the importance of doing so with the support of fellow Americans.
Between 10 to 18 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans may have PTSD, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. About half of American veterans seek care for PTSD and TBI in the civilian community, making it vital for both current and future doctors to have the knowledge and skills necessary to treat these mental health issues.
Those suffering from PTSD often experience nightmares, can have trouble sleeping, and sometimes struggle to feel emotions. Some of the typical symptoms include depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other physical and mental health problems.
This new partnership will enable 105 medical colleges and 25 Osteopathy colleges—which accounts for some 75 percent of all medical students—to engage in new research, clinical trials, and collaborative work around sharing best practices when dealing with combat-related mental illness. While some medical school curriculums have PTSD and TBI training embedded into their programs, many do not. Through the initiative, medical students will have access to more training and be more engaged around mental health issues and trauma affecting American veterans.
Joshua Murphy is the special assistant at Campus Progress.