Why Doctors Need to Know About Military Medicine; More

Marcy Tolkoff, JD


February 17, 2016

In This Article

Why Doctors Need to Know About Military Medicine

Roughly 14 million US veterans are more likely than the general population to have experienced a brain injury and to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to Kaiser Health News (KHN).[1] Yet the majority of this group receive medical care from civilian physician practices, where their service rarely comes up. This increases the likelihood that military-related hazards due to toxic exposure—in addition to PTSD and other ailments—are being overlooked.

Brian Baird, a former Democrat member of Congress from Washington and licensed clinical psychologist, is trying to change that. Baird was inspired by his son's suicide in 2013 after being unable to receive mental health treatment upon returning from Iraq, in addition to the experiences of some of his patients. From now on, according to the KHN article, "the exam every medical student and new physician must take to get a license will include questions about military medicine. That, in turn, will force medical schools to teach it."

Along with increased knowledge and training about this population's increased risks, Baird is working to have intake forms for both adult and children include the question, "Have you or a loved one been deployed overseas?" Despite the successes thus far, hurdles remain. Getting military service training to be a required part of continuing education for doctors, for example, requires the separate buy-in of each and every state medical board.

But Baird is determined to forge ahead. In the KHN article, he said, "I've asked a lot of physicians about it, and many of them said, 'You know, I've had courses in things I will never see in my practice. But there's a pretty darn good chance I'm going to see somebody who's been deployed.'"


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