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On Tuesday, January 10, 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama, along with members of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, gathered at the White House for an inaugural roundtable discussion to begin planning for a new Joining Forces initiative intended to meet the urgent health care needs of military service members and veterans and their families. AACOM President Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, and the leaders of other participating health professions organizations (including the American Osteopathic Association), attended the roundtable to discuss their respective commitments to the cause.

On January 11, First Lady Michelle Obama publically announced this major initiative at a special event on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Dr.  Shannon, along with six osteopathic medical school deans, joined Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) leadership and member deans at the event, which also welcomed troops from nearby Fort Lee and dozens of VCU faculty and students. The following osteopathic medical college deans were in attendance: Marc B. Hahn, DO, Senior Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine; Don N. Peska, DO, Dean, University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth/Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine; Thomas A. Scandalis, DO, Provost and Dean, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of The New York Institute of Technology; AACOM Board Chair Anthony J. Silvagni, DO, PharmD, MSc, Dean, Nova Southeastern University - College of Osteopathic Medicine; Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, DO, Vice President and Dean, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Kenneth J. Veit, DO, MBA, Provost/Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Coverage of the event from major press organizations such as ABC News and CNN has drawn nationwide attention to the new White House effort.

Since the First Lady’s official announcement, AACOM and all of the nation's 26 colleges of osteopathic medicine and four branch campuses have proudly signed on to a pledge to ensure that current and future physicians are trained in the unique clinical challenges and best practices associated with caring for military service members and veterans and their families. Currently in the preliminary phases of fulfilling this pledge, AACOM has developed an action plan that includes appointing an expert panel of faculty and administrators to inform and coordinate the organization’s Joining Forces efforts.

AACOM has been collecting curricular information from its members and resource information on PTSD and TBI, and has posted materials to AACOM’s Joining Forces web page. In addition, the association is working closely with other organizations to ensure that resources and perspectives are shared broadly through a variety of publishing outlets.

The association also has begun planning curricular modules for the nation’s osteopathic medical colleges that will focus on post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and depression treatment. Looking forward, AACOM anticipates production of a webinar series that would be accessible by medical schools, CME providers and residency directors as another tool to help educate future physicians in this essential area of study.

For more information and updates, visit AACOM’s Joining Forces web page. AACOM will continue to keep readers apprised of Joining Forces activities and progress.

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February 2012
Vol. 6, No. 2