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UTHealth joins forces to serve veterans and families

HOUSTON – (Jan. 19, 2012) – The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School has pledged to leverage its missions in education, research and clinical care to meet the unique health care needs of the military and veterans communities.

This month, the UTHealth Medical School and more than 100 other schools affiliated with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) joined First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative.

“This represents a commitment to make sure our heroes and their families receive the care worthy of their sacrifice,” said Col. John Holcomb, M.D., vice chair, professor and chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgery at the UTHealth Medical School.

The medical schools have pledged to:

  • Enrich medical education along its continuum to ensure that current and future physicians are training in the unique clinical challenges and best practices associated with caring for military service members, veterans and their families;
  • Disseminate the most up-to-date diagnostic and therapeutic information as it relates to traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions;
  • Grow the body of knowledge leading to improvements in health care and wellness for military service members, veterans  and their families; and
  • Join with others to further strengthen the supportive community of physicians, institutions and health care providers dedicated to improving the health of military service members, veterans and their families.

Giuseppe Colasurdo, M.D., president ad interim at UTHealth and dean of the UTHealth Medical School, said the Joining Forces initiative is a natural extension of UTHealth’s integrated missions in education, research and clinical care.

“This pledge reaffirms our commitment to the wellness of our nation’s military,” Colasurdo said. “Our purpose is to provide educational opportunities and real solutions to the most pressing health-related challenges of our time.”

As participants in Joining Forces, medical schools will document how they address military cultural competence, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury in the curriculum. They also pledge to encourage ongoing collaborations with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health and others to ensure the highest quality of clinical care and research.

“The UTHealth Medical School is committed to ensuring that our students are educated regarding the treatment of traumatic brain injury and the attendant psychological issues for the patient and his or her family,” said Patricia Butler, M.D., professor and senior associate dean for educational programs.

Holcomb, director of the Center for Translational Injury Research at UTHealth and a trauma surgeon at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, said UTHealth already is leading numerous initiatives that could have a significant impact on the health and well-being of our nation’s veterans. Those include one of the largest traumatic brain injury programs in the country and a new clinical trial examining PTSD.

“We have a whole generation of people coming back from the war, and we need to make sure we are addressing their health care needs,” said Holcomb, who served as a United States Army Colonel prior to joining the UTHealth faculty.

Paul Schulz, M.D., associate professor of neurology at the UTHealth Medical School, added that research discoveries stand to benefit both military personnel and civilians.

“With PTSD alone, people can be affected for decades, and because it is so ubiquitous, any insights we get into understanding, treating and preventing it will potentially affect the quality of life for millions of people worldwide,” Schulz said.

Other Texas medical schools participating in the Joining Forces Initiative are at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Baylor College of Medicine, The Texas A&M Health Science Center, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

For more information about Joining Forces, visit



Meredith Raine
Media Contact: 713-500-3030