First and Second Ladies launch PTSD program

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On the first anniversary of the creation of their program Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden, launched a new part of that program in Philadelphia.

They used the University of Pennsylvania Nursing School to announce the commitment of 150 nursing organizations and 450 nursing schools in 50 states to training nurses to recognize and treat PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

It is believed the injuries have affected 1 in 6 of the troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq - more than 300,000 veterans. However, the number may be much higher.

Signs can be subtle, extensive screening of vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is relatively new, there are backlogs for evaluations at many Veterans Affairs center, and some veterans are reluctant to go to the V-A.

The Obama-Biden effort aims at expanding the network of professionals prepared to help. And it uses nurses, who are increasingly the primary providers of health care.

"When my daughters were born,it was nurses that spent the most time with me and my husband," said Mrs. Obama.

"They were the first ones to notice when something wasn't right, or when we needed a little extra time. Quite simply, nurses are the frontline of America's health care."

Action News also spoke exclusively to Dr. Biden about her involvement.

"The Bidens are a military family, and this is important to honor the sacrifice of our military families," said Dr. Biden. Her stepson, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, served a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard.

Prior to the event in Philadelphia, the two led a celebration on the White House lawn to mark the anniversary of Joining Forces, and the beginning of a two-day multi-state tour to mark several milestones in their campaign.

One is the nursing initiative, the other is the hiring of the 50,000th person under the president's pledge last summer to promote the employment or training of 100,000 more veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.

Because military families move around so much, it can be hard for spouses to find and keep good jobs. Companies have pledged to hire 160,000 more veterans and spouses in coming years.

At a chilly ceremony on the White House lawn, Mrs. Obama praised businesses, churches, schools and other organizations for working to hire more veterans and provide other services to military families but added, "we are not here to pat ourselves on the back."

The first lady also will talk up the program Wednesday night on Stephen Colbert's TV show, "The Colbert Report."

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