MIAMI — Miami Dade College’s School of Nursing has committed to further educate its nursing students so they are prepared to meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans, and their families. The college joined a broad, coordinated effort announced April 12 by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. At the event was Valerie Browne, academic chair in the School of Nursing and one of only 20 nursing school representatives nationwide invited to attend.
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, nursing organizations and schools have committed to educate current and future nurses on how to recognize and care for veterans impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, and other combat-related issues, in ways appropriate to each nurse’s practice setting. More than 150 state and national nursing organizations and 500 nursing schools are joining in the effort.
“Whether we’re in a hospital, a doctor’s office or a community health center, nurses are often the first people we see when we walk through the door. Because of their expertise, they are trusted to be the frontline of America’s health care system,” said Obama. “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 that they’ve earned. It’s clear from today’s announcement that the nursing community is well on its way to serving our men and women in uniform and their families.”
“Nurses are at the center of providing lifesaving care in communities across the country — and their reach is particularly important because our veterans don't always seek care through the VA system,” said Biden. “This commitment is essential to ensuring our returning service men and women receive the care they deserve.”
According to Amy Pettigrew, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF and dean, “Miami Dade College’s School of Nursing is currently revising curricula to ensure that adequate time is spent helping our students to understand the significant and longterm consequences of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Our students are witness to the symptoms every day as they care for veterans as patients at the VA hospital, as residents of the homeless shelter, those in the community who are not currently in treatment, and family members or friends who too are suffering the long-term consequences of combat-related issues. Our goal is to ensure the highest quality care for our returning servicemen and women and their families.”
The invisible wounds of war, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury have impacted approximately one in six of U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq – more than 300,000 veterans. 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 (VA) health system are often treated by health care professionals who have received extensive training in mental health issues. But the majority of veterans in the country seek care outside of the VA system — usually visiting their local hospital staffed by nurses and doctors in their communities.
Photo: Michelle Obama