The College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP), part of Western University of Health Sciences, has pledged a commitment to first lady Michelle Obama’s White House Joining Forces Initiative, joining more than 100 other medical colleges and universities across the country to ensure that veterans and military families have access to wellness programs and that medical students receive training to effectively deliver health care to veterans.

Mrs. Obama was at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, to make the announcement. She was joined by leaders from academic medicine, including the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), who have united to enhance education and share research, information, and best practices with each other in order to better serve veterans and their families.

COMP Dean Dr. Clinton Adams, a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, recently signed AACOM’s pledge supporting the Joining Forces Initiative, and was invited to participate in the announcement.

“Having witnessed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), resulting dysfunctional families, difficulty transitioning to civilian employment and wellness is heartbreaking,” Adams said, “particularly when you know how well-trained and disciplined all of these active-duty military personnel are across the entire spectrum of services.”

Aligned with AACOM’s pledge, COMP will integrate the university’s mission “To produce, in a humanistic tradition, health care professionals and biomedical knowledge that will enhance and extend the quality of life in our communities,” with colleges and universities across America to train medical students in treating psychological health issues such as PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The colleges and universities will share information and strive to improve health care and wellness for service members, veterans, and their families.

“Based on our approach to humanism and education, in particular with our osteopathic teachings, we have always emphasized the importance of connecting with patients.” Adams said.

According to the White House website, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, have met with military families, learned about their successes and challenges, and made it their priority to support them since the program’s launch in April 2011. Joining Forces is a comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give service members and their families opportunities and support.

The stress of war, multiple deployments, and frequent moves can affect the wellness of military families. Children and spouses can experience anxiety, changes in relationships with family and friends, isolation or emotional challenges in dealing with deployments, illness or injury, and high mobility.

AACOM believes that 70 percent of veterans receive their health care outside of the Veterans Administration.

COMP has several veterans in classes each year and constantly looks for applicants with military service.

At WesternU, the colleges of podiatric medicine, dental medicine and optometry also include behavioral sciences coursework.

“We have redoubled our efforts in our neuro-behavioral science course to continue our effort to better understand these types of life disrupting events,” Adams said.