PTSD Research Recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama at National Summit on Veterans’ Health Care

April 16, 2012 (Tampa, FL) – First Lady Michelle Obama recognized some life-changing research being conducted at the University of South Florida College of Nursing during a speech last week at a national summit meeting addressing health care for veterans. A select group of nursing and other health care leaders gathered at the University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday to discuss how nursing education and research can best prepare the nursing profession to meet the special health needs of our nation’s military, veterans and their families. The summit took place on the one-year anniversary of the Joining Forces campaign begun by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden as a comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.

“At the University of South Florida College of Nursing, they’re even testing a new therapy to treat PTSD. And one of their patients is a veteran named Josh Thomas. And since returning from Afghanistan, Josh had been suffering from insomnia, anxiety, nightmares, high blood pressure, depression. But after just two therapy sessions, he saw dramatic improvements,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “And as he put it — and these are his words — he said, ‘before the therapy, I didn’t feel I had any control over my life, or the sinking feeling of drowning. But after the second session, I feel I have some control, and am actually swimming — getting somewhere. This therapy changed my life.’ Those were his words.”

Thomas was a participant in the original studies conducted by Kip and Elk’s in the College of Nursing on the effectiveness of Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) to reduce veterans’ symptoms of PTSD including depression and anxiety.

The summit meeting emphasized the commitment of 150 state and national nursing organizations and over 500 nursing schools to further educate the nation’s 3 million nurses and future nurses on how to recognize and care for veterans impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, and other combat-related issues, in ways appropriate to each nurse’s practice setting. Veterans seeking care within the Veterans Affairs (VA) health system are often treated by health care professionals who have received extensive training in mental health issues. However, most veterans in the country seek care outside of the VA system, usually visiting their local hospital staffed by nurses and doctors in their communities.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Florida has the third largest population of veterans in the nation with over 1.6 million from World War II to the present.