Hope College Nursing is among hundreds of nursing programs to join a national initiative to place increased emphasis on preparing nurses to meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans and their families.

The nursing initiative has been established in conjunction with the broader Joining Forces campaign, which aims to educate, challenge and spark action from all sectors of society, focusing on employment, education and wellness while engaging in a comprehensive effort to raise awareness about the service, sacrifice and needs of military families.

The involvement of nursing programs across the country is being coordinated through the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).  To date, more than 500 schools of nursing in all 50 states have committed to the effort, signing a pledge to shape their programs by 2014 to raise “the quality of care available to our nation’s military and veterans in our work to prepare future generations of nurses.”

“Hope and the other participating programs have all pledged to work to help transform nursing care for our military veterans,” said Dr. Susan Dunn, who is an associate professor of nursing and chairperson of the department.  “In our program, we will bring an increased emphasis to classroom discussions and clinicals regarding the unique and growing needs of our military veterans and their families.”

In its April 11 announcement of the nursing initiative, for example, AACN noted that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) have impacted approximately one in six of U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 300,000 veterans.  Also, AACN said, since 2000 more than 44,000 of those troops have suffered at least a moderate-grade traumatic brain injury.

In conjunction with the nursing initiative, AACN has established a website identifying the participating institutions and providing related resources at www.aacn.nche.edu/joining-forces.  More about the overall Joining Forces effort, which was established in 2011 and is spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, is available online at www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces.