Medical school joins first lady’s military healthcare initiative

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences joined more than 130 medical schools nationwide in an effort championed by first lady Michelle Obama to help treat service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

The schools, in ties with the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, are part of the larger Joining Forces initiative launched Jan. 11 to improve education and expand research on health care issues among service members and veterans.

“I’m inspired to see our nation’s medical schools step up to address this pressing need for our veterans and military families,” Obama said in a speech at Virginia Commonwealth University for the initiative’s launch. “By directing some of our brightest minds, our most cutting-edge research and our finest teaching institutions toward our military families, they’re ensuring that those who have served our country receive the first-rate care that they have earned.”

Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said in a statement that medical schools across the U.S. are in a “unique position” to take a leadership role regarding the broader initiative.

The effort looks to develop research and clinical trials on post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, train medical professionals and work together with other medical schools and government agencies to provide care, education and employment opportunities for military families.

Jeffrey Akman, dean of the medical school and interim vice provost for health affairs, called the initiative “a natural fit” because of the school’s large military community and its ongoing educational programs and partnerships with the military.

“It is a great honor to be a part of this important initiative and we are committed to working with the White House, the Association of American Medical Colleges and other schools of medicine, to provide tailored education, research and services that meet the needs of the men and women who have made significant sacrifices to serve our country,” Akman said in an e-mail.

The medical school has yet to finalize specific goals for its role in the initiative, medical school spokeswoman Anne Banner said. Scott Schroth, the medical school’s associate dean for academic affairs, who could not be reached for comment, will outline plans for veterans assistance, Banner added.

This move with further GW’s longstanding goal to be a premier institution for veteran support. In November, GW was ranked the No. 16 most military-friendly college by Military Times EDGE, a monthly publication about educational opportunities for veterans. The magazine considered the University’s academic programs, support services and campus life for veterans and service members.

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