First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have announced an initiative from nurses across the country who have committed to educating current and future nurses on recognizing and caring for veterans impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, depression and other combat-related issues.
In a broad, coordinated effort, more than 150 state and national nursing organizations and more than 500 nursing schools, including Berea College’s, have committed to further educate our nation’s three million nurses so they are prepared to meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans and their families. This initiative is 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 Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense.
“Berea College’s baccalaureate nursing program recognizes the tremendous need to educate our nursing students on the effects and treatment options for soldiers suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other combat related conditions,” said Carol Kirby, chief nurse program administrator at Berea College. “Berea College’s nursing program is committed to doing our part by preparing the next generation of nurses to meet the growing healthcare needs of this population.”
The invisible wounds of war, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury (TBI), have impacted approximately one in six troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq – more than 300,000 veterans. And since 2000, more than 44,000 of those troops have suffered at least a moderate-grade traumatic brain injury.
“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 First Lady Michelle Obama. “That’s why Jill and I knew we could turn to America’s nurses and nursing students to help our veterans and military families get the world-class care that they’ve earned. It’s clear from our announcement that the nursing community is well on its way to serving our men and women in uniform and their families.”
“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 Dr. Jill Biden. “This commitment is essential to ensuring our returning service men and women receive the care they deserve.”
Nursing at Berea College was first recorded in 1867 as “The Ladies Board of Care” was formed and again in 1889 when the first graduate nurse was hired for instructional purposes. The Berea Nursing Program officially began in 1898 and was initially a two-year vocational nursing program. By 1918 the program had evolved into a 18-month practical nursing program and by 1920 had created a three-year nursing program that lead to a Registered Nurse legal title. Interestingly, in 1943 the Berea School of Nursing was approved for a Cadet Training Program by the Division of Nurses of the U.S. Public Health Service. Cadet Corps Nurses proudly served their country as Berea Army Nurses in the Army Nurse Corps and in other military assignments. In the late 1940’s, senior nurses at Berea College further served their country by providing “Psychiatric Nursing Services” for the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.
Today, Berea College’s AACN-accredited and Kentucky Board of Nursing approved baccalaureate nursing program still holds true to its commitment to serve our nation’s veterans, service members and their families.
Nursing School Commitment
More than 500 nursing schools across the United States including Berea College’s nursing program commit to:
· Educating America’s future nurses to care for our nation's veterans, service members, and their families facing post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, and other clinical issues;
· Enriching nursing education to ensure that current and future nurses are trained in the unique clinical challenges and best practices associated with caring for military service members, veterans, and their families;
· Integrating content that addresses the unique health and wellness challenges of our nation’s service members, veterans, and their families into nursing curricula;
· Sharing teaching resources and applying best practices in the care of service members, veterans, and their families;
· Growing the body of knowledge leading to improvements in health care and wellness for our service members, veterans, and their families; and
· Joining with others to further strengthen the supportive community of nurses, institutions, and health-care providers dedicated to improving the health of service members, veterans, and their families.