Fraser Cobbe, Orange County Medical Society, Seminole County Medical Society
This Veterans Day while we pay tribute to all of the veterans in our region we call upon the community to dig deeper to find the support that our heroes desperately need.
The bond between the military and medicine is long-standing. Physicians remain a vital part of a well-functioning military. There are thousands of physicians on active duty in the military today. Thousands more physician-veterans provide life saving care for our general population across our nation.
We must continue to encourage our best and brightest to consider a career in military medicine. The need is unrelenting as we engage in conflicts across the globe. There is a captivating website that showcases the daily lives of some of our active duty physicians. Medicine and the Military This site shadows five physicians from diverse backgrounds as they care for the medical needs of their fellow warriors. The site is both inspirational and motivating, especially for those that have a calling and are considering a career of service to our nation.
Another unfortunate common bond that medicine and the military share is the growing impact of mental health. The suicide rates for the military and doctors far out pace all other professions and the general public.
In 2012 the suicide rate for the general population was estimated to be 12.5 per 100,000. According to the USA Today, the suicide rate for active-duty Army that year was 30 per 100,000. Over recent years the suicide rate for physicians has ranged between 28 and 40 per 100,000.
According to the New York Times and USA Today, approximately 400 doctors and 250 to 275 active-duty military commit suicide every year.
As a community we must continue to find ways to increase access and shine a light on the mental health issues that impact so many of our neighbors. Especially those that may not be accustomed or wired to reach out for help.
The OCMS and SCMS have decided to take action on behalf of our members. We know that burnout can lead to suicide and the percentage of physicians reporting burnout has escalated significantly in recent years. We are working on plans to launch a physician wellness program that will ensure that our doctors can reach out and ask for the help they may need. Our program will be modeled after similar programs that are reporting success in communities across the country.
Our message to our veterans and their families on this Veterans Day is that you are not alone in this struggle. Please reach out for help if needed. Our community must continue to find ways to do more to help those that have given so much.
We salute your service.