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UB Reporter

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‘Joining Forces’ aims to improve lives of veterans, military families

Member of military

The national and local Joining Forces initiatives hope to impact the lives of more than 22 million veterans in the U.S., the 900,000 veterans in New York State and approximately 112,000 veterans in the five Western New York counties.

By CHARLES ANZALONE

Published July 31, 2014

“As Jose Narosky points out, ‘In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.’”
Susan Bruce, clinical associate professor
School of Nursing

A collaboration between the schools of Social Work and Nursing will serve local veterans and families by teaching social workers and nurses how they can better care for and respond to veterans’ needs.

The program — “Joining Forces-UB” — brings to UB the national “Joining Forces” initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden in 2010. The purpose of the national program is to mobilize all sectors of society to give the country’s service members, veterans and their families the opportunities and support they deserve.

UB’s version of this national initiative aims to improve health and mental health outcomes for veterans and military families by training graduate social work and nursing students to work effectively with these individuals. The project includes educational programs in both the Master of Social Work (MSW) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs.

“One critical issue that our Joining Forces-UB educational program is aimed at addressing is to give social workers and nurses the background and skills necessary to work with veterans and military families in our community in a way that is highly sensitive to military culture and experience,” says Lisa Butler, principal investigator for Joining Forces-UB and associate professor in the School of Social Work.

“As Jose Narosky points out, ‘In war, there are no unwounded soldiers,’” adds Susan Bruce, co-principal investigator of Joining Forces-UB and clinical associate professor in the School of Nursing. “With the return of so many veterans to our community, the timing of our advanced health care provider training is ideal.”

The Joining Forces-UB project has just launched a website to showcase the project’s goals and accomplishments, and connect the academic and general communities with the work of the project. The website, which launched July 23, provides details about the educational and research goals and achievements of the project.

The national and local Joining Forces initiatives hope to impact the lives of more than 22 million veterans in the U.S., the 900,000 veterans in New York State and approximately 112,000 veterans in the five Western New York counties.

Originally named “Joining Forces: The UB Partnership for Excellence in Veteran Care,” the project received initial support from the 3E Fund through the UB Office of the Provost (February 2013 through June 2015). The website also provides opportunities for people to get involved and provide financial support to sustain this important effort.

UB already has logged several concrete achievements following its overall vision to advance the knowledge, skills and abilities of UB social work and nursing students and community practitioners to better address the needs of veterans and military families. Details about these achievements are available on the project’s website.

In addition to continuing its training for graduate social work and nursing students, the Joining Forces-UB project plans to extend its training to professionals already working in the field, hire faculty within each school with veteran-specific research interests, publicize the project through professional and community presentations, and develop and implement veteran and military family research.

For more information on the Joining Forces-UB activities, contact project manager Katie McClain-Meeder at mcclainm@buffalo.edu or 716-829-5864, or visit the website.