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Events address war's effects on health care workers, campus and community

As a Vietnam veteran nurse, Elizabeth Allen believes information is critical for a nation inching toward war.
(Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

"People are afraid when they don't have information," says Allen, an associate professor at the School of Nursing. People still may be afraid when they are informed, but at least they will understand the threats they face, she says.

Allen helped orchestrate a nine-session series of evening discussions titled "War, Health and Ethics," which runs through the end of April. While each session involves presentations from experts, the bulk of the time is dedicated to audience questions and comments.

"If nothing else, we hope this is a place for people to enter into a dialogue about war," Allen says. For example, she says, are we going to war to protect the United States from terrorism or to gain control of oil in the Middle East? If we go to war with Iraq, what is our ethical responsibility as Americans to provide health care for Iraqi civilians? Are we prepared for the demands on health care professionals if the war involves attacks on our soil?

"The scope, the rules and the site of this engagement are far different than in other wars, both declared and non-declared," states a flier for the forum series.
"People are afraid when they don't have information"
—Elizabeth Allen

The School of Nursing and Military Officers Education Program are presenting the series, clustered into three groups designed for different audiences. Each of the three clusters follows the same progression: The first meeting is on roles and missions in war, the second is on mobilization and terrorism, and the third is about preparedness, the ethics of war and the psychological effects of war.

The first group, targeting health care students and professionals, began Feb. 5 and concludes with a session Feb. 17. A second group is for the U-M campus, with meetings March 3, 7 and 25. The final three meetings are for the community, including events April 7, 14 and 21.

Registration at each session will be 5-6 p.m., with the forums running 6-8 p.m. The meetings take place at various locations around the U-M campus; check the online schedule for details (http://whae.www.umich.edu/schedule.htm) or call (734) 763-0002 for more information. The forums are free and open to the public.

A Web site associated with the series (http://www.umich.edu/~whae/) allows for online conversation, and plans are in the works for a class in winter semester 2004 using material that comes up in the forums.

Funding for the forums comes from the senior vice provost for academic affairs and from the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

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