SoM joins forces with First Lady Michelle Obama to help veterans

First Lady praises academic institutions for dedicating resources to serving veterans and families

Michelle ObamaThe School of Medicine is one of 108 schools in the Association of American Medical Colleges that have signed on to the Joining Forces initiative created by First Lady Michelle Obama and announced Jan. 11, along with the AAMC and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). Recognizing veterans and their families’ sacrifice and commitment, the School of Medicine has pledged to mobilize our missions in education, research and clinical care to train the nation’s physicians to meet veterans and their families’ unique health care needs, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

“We are honored to participate in the White House Joining Forces initiative to address the health care needs of military service members and veterans and their families,” said Jeffrey Kirsch, MD, Associate Dean for Clinical and Veterans Affairs. “Our strong partnership with the Portland VA Medical Center is an excellent starting point; the clinical care and research expertise of our faculty, along with our fundamental environment of learning, will be a significant asset to this important project.”

“I’m inspired to see our nation’s medical schools step up to address this pressing need for our veterans and military families. 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,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.

Together, the School of Medicine, the AAMC and AACOM are committing to enriching medical education along its continuum to ensure that physicians are aware of the unique clinical challenges and best practices associated with caring for this group; develop new research and clinical trials on PTSD and TBI so that we can better understand and treat these conditions; share their information and best practices with each other through a collaborative web forum created by the AAMC; and grow the body of knowledge leading to improvements in health care and wellness for our military service members, veterans and their families.

Dr. Kirsch, Chair of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine, also pointed to novel research being done at OHSU that can benefit veterans. Beth Darnall, PhD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology is an international expert on a therapy for “phantom limb pain” – real pain suffered by people who have had an arm or leg amputated. Dr. Darnall has developed a Do It Yourself Mirror Therapy DVD to assist patients with phantom pain.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden created Joining Forces to bring Americans together to recognize, honor and take action to support veterans and military families as they serve our country and throughout their lives. The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of society to ensure veterans and military families have the support they have earned. The initiative focuses on key priority areas – employment, education, and wellness while raising awareness about the service, sacrifice, and needs of America’s veterans and military families. More information is available at