As the Obama Administration comes to an end, it is only fitting to reflect on the five years of work and the milestones made by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces Initiative (JFI). With the recent Veterans Day holiday, we recognize the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans, active duty service members, and their families.
What they have given to and given up for our country deserves to be saluted with resounding appreciation. As a proud partner of JFI since 2012, AACOM and its member colleges remain committed to honoring their sacrifices and hard work by ensuring that future doctors are being adequately trained to address the unique needs of this population.
A Salute to Success
On November 14, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden celebrated the individuals and organizations, including AACOM, that have played a role in supporting our military community throughout the Obama Administration in a special Joining Forces Capstone Reception at the White House. Among the attendees, AACOM was represented by Mary-Lynn Bender, Director of Congressional Affairs.
Dr. Jill Biden spoke during the reception about the inception of JFI and the time she spent traveling to military bases across the country and speaking to veterans, military members, and their families to learn about the most serious challenges they faced.
Dr. Biden then introduced the First Lady, who highlighted the impact and outcomes of JFI. These include providing new training and tools for health care providers across the country to help serve our veterans and military communities, reducing veteran homelessness by 47 percent—with a 17 percent reduction during 2015 alone—and achieving a 56 percent reduction in veterans experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
In President Obama’s remarks at this year’s Veterans Day Ceremony, he declared, “On Veterans Day, we acknowledge, humbly, that we can never serve our veterans in quite the same that they served us. But we can try … It's up to us to make sure they always get the care that they need,” and it is with great honor and pride that AACOM and our member schools are a part of the initiative that promises to give back to the people who have given so much.
AACOM is happy to highlight many of the U.S. colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) that participated in this important holiday by hosting military medicine curricular activities as a part of Joining Forces Wellness Week (JFWW) and AACOM's Veterans Day Curricular Initiative.
Through AACOM’s 2016 Veterans Day Curricular Initiative, the Association called on its member COMs to provide students with the clinical and cultural competencies they need to effectively deliver health care to our nation’s military and veterans communities. Read about the impact of the military activities and affiliations of the nation's COMs.
AACOM will continue to work with its partners to ensure that veteran and military health remain a priority. First Lady Michele Obama encouraged the continuation of these efforts in her closing remarks of Joining Forces reception:
So you all need to work with the next administration to continue these efforts. And I want you all to know that while today might be our last time together here … we are not saying goodbye. This is not the end. Jill and I intend to keep working on this issue for the rest of our lives. We will figure out a way to use whatever platforms we have next. And with your help, we know that the spirit of this movement will live on. We will continue to find ways to be supportive long after we leave the White House. This movement will live on.
Check out AACOM’s updated Joining Forces web section for more information, resources, and to learn how you can get involved.