Wednesday, March 21, 2012
This Week's News
Joining Forces initiative helps doctors treat veterans with special needs
One in three service members who were deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq have a mental health condition or experienced a traumatic brain injury, according to a study by the RAND Corporation. A national initiative aims to equip physicians to provide the best possible care for the more than 2.3 million service members who have served in these wars and their families.
The AMA, dozens of other medical associations and 130 medical schools are partnering in the White House's Joining Forces initiative to help physicians meet the unique health care needs of service members, veterans and their families. Under the initiative, the physician organizations and medical schools are offering educational opportunities to advance the diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and post-combat depression.
Physicians can access a collection of certified continuing medical education activities, clinical journal articles and other resources that address screening, diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. By providing research and clinical resources from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and educational opportunities offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA), this collection also helps physicians in the private sector learn from military and federal physicians' experiences and protocol for these conditions.
Speaking at the AMA National Advocacy Conference in February, Navy Capt. Paul S. Hammer, MD, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, emphasized the importance of collaboration. He noted that more than 40 percent of veterans of these wars are part of the National Guard or the reserves and will receive treatment in the private sector.
"There's a huge advantage in having the DOD, the VA and the private sector join together," Hammer said. "It's vital that we join forces in order to provide the best possible care for these young men and women who have given their lives … and deserve the best possible care we can give them."