There are different ways to show support for active military and veterans, ranging from throwing parades with marching bands to shaking the hands of soldiers in uniform. Now the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) is thanking those who safeguard our country by participating in Joining Forces, a national program intent on improving health care for active duty military, veterans and their families.
JABSOM joins First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden (wife of Vice President Biden), the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine as they encourage a new generation of doctors, medical schools and research facilities to make sure military heroes receive exemplary medical care. Coordinating JABSOM’s response is retired U.S. Army Colonel Larry Burgess, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director of the Telehealth Research Institute.
“Our medical school has a long history of collaboration with the military and their dependents in understanding the unique challenges faced by deploying soldiers and their families during and after deployment,” explains Dr. Burgess. He notes that many of JABSOM’s physicians in training and medical students complete rotations at Tripler Army Medical Center and Veterans Affairs medical clinics. “This gives trainees a first-hand experience in understanding the problems experienced by the military and veterans.”
Dr. Burgess explains that with the advent of Joining Forces, JABSOM is modifying its medical school curriculum, particularly those involving Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). For example, in the past, medical students would study the symptoms of a hypothetical 35-year-old male patient suffering from TBI after being involved in a terrible car accident. Now the scenario would involve a military patient injured in a Humvee when a roadside bomb exploded. This emphasis will provide students with a better understanding of the post-injury sequelae faced by soldiers as they return home and transition to the community.
It’s a natural outgrowth for JABSOM to become more involved in the treatment of military veterans, because its Ho‘oikaika (“to strive”) program already assists both military and civilians in managing PTSD and TBI. As described by Ho‘oikaika Project Director Robin Brandt, PhD, “Our mission is to help individuals with TBI to access social services and achieve greater independence through peer mentoring.”
Joining Forces is the largest coordinated commitment from America’s medical colleges to support veterans and military families. Since 2000, the U.S. Defense Department estimates nearly 213,000 military personnel have suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, after more than 10 years of war.
For more information on Joining Forces, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces and http://jabsom.hawaii.edu. For more information on Ho‘oikaika at JABSOM, see http://manoa.hawaii.edu/pbrrtc/hooikaika/?page_id=52.