College of Nursing joins national vets support project

Nursing students helped out and visited with veterans and other residents of Bay Pointe at the Atrium Retirement Center in Racine on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 2011. (Photo by Alan Magayne-Roshak)

UWM’s College of Nursing has joined a national effort to educate nurses so they are better prepared to meet the needs of service members, veterans and their families. The project, Joining Forces, announced in April by First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden, involves more than 500 nursing schools and more than 150 state and national nursing organizations.

“The UWM College of Nursing is proud to be a part of this important initiative,” says Sally Lundeen, dean of the College of Nursing. “We will continue to find even better ways to prepare the next generation of nurses to address the special health issues of veterans and to support them and their families in both hospital and community settings.”

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 U.S. departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, nursing organizations and schools have committed to educating current and future nurses on how to recognize and care for veterans impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression and other combat-related issues, in ways appropriate to each nurse’s practice setting. Some three million nurses are involved 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 front line of America’s health care system,”
said Obama.

“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.”

PTSD and TBI have impacted approximately one in six of the troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq – more than 300,000 veterans, according to the announcement. And, since 2000, more than 44,000 troops have suffered at least a moderate-grade traumatic brain injury.

Nursing leaders have also committed to disseminating effective models for care and to sharing the most up-to-date information on these conditions across academic and practice settings.