UW News

February 3, 2012

UW Medicine joins forces with First Lady Michelle Obama to serve America's military families

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Learn more about Joining Forces

UW Medicine has joined forces with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) to reinforce a commitment to create a new generation of doctors, medical schools and research facilities that focus on meeting the needs of our military veterans. Recognizing veterans and their families sacrifice and commitment, UW Medicine has pledged to mobilize its uniquely integrated mission to improve the health of the public through education, research and clinical care.

U.S. Marines seen through night-vision as they train dockside in on amphibious unit.

U.S. Marines seen through night-vision as they train dockside in on amphibious unit.Department of Defense

“We are honored to participate in the White House Joining Forces initiative,” said Dr.  Paul G.  Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the UW School of Medicine. “Faculty throughout our system are committed to serve the heroes who have served our country for so long. Our goal is to show these men and women that their country is there for them, no matter what theyre going through.”

Many veterans and their families have pressing healthcare concerns, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and acute and chronic pain.

“Im inspired to see our nations 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, theyre ensuring that those who have served our country receive the first-rate care that they have earned,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.

Scout swimmers training this week for a military mission.

Scout swimmers training this week for a military mission.Department of Defense

UW Medicine faculty, many based at or in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and Madigan Army Medical Center, have been instrumental in the development and testing of best practices and new treatments for veterans.  These include:

  • Development and testing of the generic drug prazosin, the first effective medical treatment for PTSD to treat sleep disruption in combat veterans
  • Testing a telehealth brief intervention to increase treatment engagement and decrease substance use
  • Testing cognitive behavioral interventions for individuals with PTSD and alcohol abuse/dependence;
  • Demonstration of functional and structural brain neuroimaging abnormalities in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans years after blast concussion mild traumatic brain injuries;
  • Development of a model to integrate primary care medical and PTSD treatment services with active duty military patient populations.

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 Americas veterans and military families. More information is available at: www.JoiningForces.gov.

UW Medicine-based programs and projects for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) and other veterans and military families include:

  • PTSD evaluation and specialized inpatient, residential and outpatient care
  • Polytrauma rehabilitation programs for veterans with TBI and PTSD
  • Caregiver support programs for spouses/parents of wounded veterans
  • Primary care mental health clinic specializing in integrated mental health care
  • Telehealth mental health care for PTSD patients in remote areas
  • Tobacco cessation and other health promotion efforts
  • Brief psychological first aid (1 – 4 sessions designed to assist with support and coping skills) for returning veterans.
  • Evidence-based trauma-focused psychological interventions for children and adults, including parenting interventions
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction groups

UW Medicine faculty have also been instrumental in providing national leadership in policy and treatment guidance, including policy expertise for the congressionally mandated Institute of Medicine four-year study on PTSD in Department of Defense and VA populations and working closely with the Department of Defense on support for veterans with amputations, including prosthetic fittings and developing treatment modalities to treat acute and chronic pain in veterans.