UT College of Nursing Answers First Lady’s Call to Improve Veterans’ Care

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KNOXVILLE—The invisible wounds of war, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), have impacted approximately one in six of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq—and many of them seek treatment with a health professional who may not be properly trained to address their needs.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Nursing is answering a call from First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to serve the nation’s veterans as well as they have served their country. The college will join more than 150 state and national nursing organizations and more than 500 nursing schools in a coordinated effort to further educate our nation’s three million nurses so they are prepared to meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans, and their families.

“Whether we’re in a hospital, doctor’s office or a community health center, nurses are often the first people we see,” said Obama. “Because of their expertise, they are trusted to be the frontline of America’s healthcare system. That’s why Jill and I knew we could turn to America’s nurses and nursing students to help our veterans and military families get the world-class care they’ve earned.”

More than 300,000 veterans returning from Afghanistan or Iraq have PTSD or TBI. Since 2000, more than 44,000 of those troops have suffered at least a moderate-grade traumatic brain injury. Veterans seeking care within the Veterans Affairs health system are often treated by healthcare professionals who have received extensive training in mental health issues. However, the majority of veterans seek care outside of the VA system in their local hospitals, and this effort will ensure their caregivers are aware of their special needs.

“We are committed to incorporating key concepts in all our programs that will promote optimal health and wellness for military families,” said Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing. “It is an honor and privilege to support this nationwide effort to raise awareness in how to better care for our veterans.”

A concerted effort to share the most up-to-date information across academic and practice settings will improve care for common combat-related issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and depression throughout the healthcare system.

The effort is led by the American Nurses Association, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the National League for Nursing, in coordination with the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense which have outlined specific goals and commitments to the cause. For more information, visit the Joining Forces website.

UT’s College of Nursing is a nationally recognized leader. The college enrolls more than 600 students in undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs.

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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