Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Obama’

Michelle Obama “Joining Forces” With Med Schools to Treat Wounded Warriors

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Two medical education groups and 130 medical schools signed on to First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to “train the nation’s physicians to meet the unique healthcare needs of the military and veterans’ communities,” the White House announced recently.  The schools pledged to do in-depth research into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and to teach medical students and physicians to “better diagnose and treat our veterans and military families,” according to the announcement.  “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.

Speaking at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Obama said that the American Association of Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine have pledged to devote research, education and clinical care to address military service members’ crucial healthcare needs.

The initiative is part of the Joining Forces campaign, an effort by the first lady and Dr. Jill Biden that focuses on issues that affect veterans and their families.  Obama cited some examples already are underway at universities, including VCU, which has undertaken a project to provide resources and training to healthcare providers, volunteers and community members across Virginia to help veterans.  Similarly, University of Pittsburgh researchers are developing a new imaging tool that lets physicians see high-definition views of the brain’s wiring. This can help diagnose a TBI. And the University of South Florida is working with the VA and the Department of Defense to create a Center for Veterans Reintegration – a research, treatment and education center for veterans and their families.

“Today the nation’s medical colleges are committing to create a new generation of doctors, medical schools and research facilities to make sure our heroes receive the care worthy of their military service,” Obama said. The idea behind Joining Forces is extremely simple, Obama said. “In a time of war, when our troops and their families are sacrificing so much, we all should be doing everything we can to serve them as well as they are serving this country,” she added. “It’s an obligation that extends to every single American. And, it’s an obligation that does not end when a war ends and troops return home. In many ways, that’s when it begins.”

Mrs. Obama said she became aware of this when she and President Barack Obama welcomed the final troops home from Iraq last month. “I couldn’t shake the feeling that even though we were marking the end of the war, this was not an ending for them.  For our troops, the end of war marks the beginning of a very long period of transition,” she said. Frequently, the transitions from war to home “bring the hardest moments our troops and their families will ever face,” she added.

It is estimated that one in six of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans come home with post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, and at least 4,000 have had at least a moderate-grade brain injury, Mrs. Obama said, noting that many avoid seeking help because of what they perceive as a stigma.  “I want to be very clear today: these mental health challenges are not a sign of weakness,” she said. “They should never again be a source of shame. They are a natural reaction to the challenges of war, and it has been that way throughout the ages.”

Obama thanked the troops and their families for their service, and noted that anyone experiencing mental health difficulties should not be ashamed.  “Seek help, don’t bury it,” she said. “Asking for help is a sign of strength.”  The Pentagon estimates that nearly 213,000 military personnel have suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2000.

A previous report by the Rand Corp. think tank estimated that 300,000 veterans of both conflicts suffered PTSD or major depression.  Less than 50 percent had sought treatment for PTSD over the previous year and approximately 60 percent of those reporting a probable brain injury had not been evaluated by a physician for one.  “This is a long-term issue for the nation,” said Brad Cooper, the executive director of Joining Forces.

“Those of us who have never experienced war will never be able to fully understand the true emotional costs,” Mrs. Obama said. “PTSD, TBI, depression and any other combat-related mental health issue should never again be a source of shame.”

Although the military has strong support systems and personnel trained in combat-related mental health issues, more than half of veterans seek treatment in their hometowns, outside the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Mrs. Obama said. The new initiative aims at assuring that all civilian physicians have access to information on those issues.

“Everyone is stepping up,” Mrs. Obama said while praising the ongoing work of researchers at the colleges involved in the initiative.  She said the will to help veterans is strong and goes beyond Veterans Day parades and rallies on Fort Bragg.  Obama said the “hidden wounds” faced by many veterans are the “most difficult struggle they will face.”  She said it was imperative for the nation’s physicians to understand the mental health challenges involved.  “Mere words and anecdotes don’t do any of this justice,” she said.

HHS Gives 11 Wellness Programs $31 Million

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Wellness gets $31 million to fight obesity and smoking.At present, seven of every 10 deaths among Americans are due to chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.  These diseases also eat up 75 percent of the nation’s annual healthcare spending.

New wellness programs are getting a boost from the Affordable Care Act in the form of $31 million to help communities cut obesity, increase physical activity and improve nutrition.  The funding is contained in the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program, a prevention and wellness program that is overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“As I’ve seen throughout the year in my work with Let’s Move!, prevention works when it comes to improving the health of our families,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.  “These critical investments will help more communities across America tackle serious challenges like childhood obesity, while promoting physical activity and healthy eating.” The funding is being awarded to communities that have resources in place to increase the availability of healthy food and beverages; enhance access to safe places to encourage physical activity; discourage smoking; and promote environments that are smoke free.  Of the 11 awards announced, 10 are dedicated to anti-obesity programs and one to smoking cessation.

“To realize our goals of improving the health of Americans and lowering our nation’s healthcare costs, we must address the underlying factors that influence our families’ health – factors like the foods we eat and the conditions that exist in our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “With Communities Putting Prevention to Work, we’re creating evidence-based models that we can replicate on a large scale to permanently reduce the chronic diseases plaguing so many of our communities.”  Already this year, CPPW has given nearly $492 million to support community and statewide hotlines and media campaigns that promote healthy living.

Michelle Obama Asks Grocery Manufacturers for Healthier Foods

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

First Lady takes the offensive for childhood obesity.First Lady Michelle Obama recently took her initiative against childhood obesity to the source, asking companies at a meeting of the Grocery Manufacturers Association to “step it up” and add less fat, salt and sugar to foods.  “We need you not to just tweak around the edges but entirely rethink the products you are offering, the information that you provide about those products, and how you market those products to our children,” she said.

Although Mrs. Obama has addressed schools and nutrition groups about childhood obesity, this was the first time that she faced the companies that make the snacks and junk food that contribute to the problem.  The Grocery Manufacturers Association – whose members include Kraft Foods, Inc., Coca Cola Co. and General Mills, Inc. – had invited the first lady to speak at its science forum and gave her a standing ovation.

Mrs. Obama called for food labels that are less confusing, smaller portion sizes and increased marketing of healthy foods.  She also urged the food companies to find creative ways to market products as healthy, increase nutrients, and reduce the number of bad ingredients.  “While decreasing fat is certainly a good thing, replacing it with sugar and salt isn’t,” she said.  “This needs to be a serious industry-wide commitment to providing the healthier foods parents are looking for at prices they can afford.”

Scott Faber, a grocery association lobbyist, said his industry is working with the government to find ways to produce healthier foods.  “Consumers are demanding more and more healthy choices.  Our industry will do our part by changing the way we make and market our foods, but government has a big role to play as well.”