Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH
Fulfilling AACOM’s Promise to Service Members and Veterans
It has now been a little more than a year since AACOM and its member colleges became involved with the national White-House sponsored Joining Forces initiative aimed at ensuring that students, faculty and clinical providers are equipped to provide adequate and appropriate care for military service members and veterans and their families. As the war in Afghanistan winds down, the need for such care becomes even more critical—stories about the physical and psychological challenges returning service members and their families face fill the national news, and physicians are confronting the visible and invisible wounds of war in record numbers.
AACOM kicked off its Joining Forces involvement at last year’s Annual Meeting with a moving keynote address by Col. David W. Sutherland, Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who admonished attendees to do all they could to help returning service members and their families. Heeding Col. Sutherland’s request, AACOM has since made significant progress toward its pledge to help create a new generation of doctors, medical schools, and research facilities that together ensure that veterans and service members and their families receive the medical care they need. AACOM has undertaken a host of activities over the past year, including:
- Appointing an expert advisory group to inform AACOM’s efforts related to Joining Forces, and a working group that has developed a variety of curricular resources that can be used throughout the osteopathic medical education continuum. Among the many resources is a video on traumatic brain injury developed especially for AACOM’s efforts in this area.
- Working with a variety of media outlets and periodicals to gain increased attention to both military medicine and the health care needs of veterans and their families. See the articles on AACOM’s Joining Forces web page and on our Veteran's Day Curricular Resources page.
- Organizing a special Veteran’s Day effort to provide students with the medical and cultural competencies they will need to treat veterans and their families. Each of the five colleges of osteopathic medicine that participated in the 2012 Veteran’s Day initiative provided dedicated programming on military health. AACOM hopes to increase participation in the Veteran’s Day effort this year; for more information, see the Veteran's Day Curricular Resources page on AACOM’s website. The page also includes several useful case studies, and a host of military medicine articles.
- Developing an information-rich Joining Forces web page that both highlights AACOM’s work and provides faculty and providers with a variety of important educational and treatment resources.
In addition, AACOM has developed a full track of Joining Forces-related sessions that will be offered during its upcoming Annual Meeting. Sessions include:
- Partnering with Area Health Education Centers to Address the Needs of Veterans and Service Members
- Promoting Veteran Students’ Success on Campus
- Understanding Military Culture to Provide Better Medical Care
- Trauma at War, Effects Back Home
- Traumatic Brain Injury: A Systematic Review of Treatments
I hope you will browse the Annual Meeting program and join us for these and other critical sessions (see related item below).
I also hope you will join AACOM in every way possible to serve those who have served us all so ably. To learn more about upcoming Joining Forces activities, and to get involved in our work, please contact AACOM Associate Vice President for Medical Education Tyler Cymet, DO, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I believe that through a concerted effort, wecan make a difference in the medical care military service members and veterans and their families receive.