Chicago, Big Ten universities commit to veterans’ mental health

Marshall Cohen

Chicago, Big Ten universities commit to veterans’ mental health

Medical schools at five Chicago universities and almost all Big Ten institutions committed Wednesday to establish a “new generation” of health care for veterans as part of an initiative spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.

Local medical schools participating in the Joining Forces initiative include Midwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, Rush University, The Chicago Medical School and the University of Chicago, according to a White House news release issued Wednesday.

Additionally, medical schools at the University of Iowa, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University, University of Nebraska, University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Indiana University all committed to the program.

The medical school at Southern Illinois University in Springfield will also participate.

“By directing some of our brightest minds, our most cutting-edge research, and our finest teaching institutions toward our military families, they’re ensuring that those who have served our country receive the first-rate care that they have earned,” Obama said Wednesday at Virginia Commonwealth University during a speech that announced the program.

A total of 130 colleges and universities pledged to create a new legion of doctors, medical schools and research facilities to combat mental illness among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine did not participate in the initiative.

“There is already a lot of wonderful work going on, so just imagine how much more will be achieved when 130 of some of the best schools in the country are better connected with one another, when they’re sharing their best practices, when they’re communicating more effectively,” Obama said during the speech. “So this is a big deal.”

As part of the initiative, the medical programs across the country will develop new research and clinical trials related to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

“They will continue to work with the VA (Veterans Affairs) and the Department of Defense to make sure that everyone in this country is providing the best care available,” Obama said during the speech. “So that’s their pledge.”

The institutions will coordinate their efforts by sharing their results on a collaborative web forum, according to the news release.

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