More than 30 leading organizations representing registered nurses signed on to a call to action sent today to President Obama, leaders of Congress, the National Governors Association and The United States Conference of Mayors that urges swift action to address factors that together will help prevent more senseless acts of violence in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, CT.
The letter reads as follows:
"Like the rest of the nation, America's nurses are heartbroken as we grieve the unthinkable loss and profound tragedy that unfolded last week in Newtown, Connecticut. This horrific event is a tipping point and serves as a call to action. The nation's nurses demand that political and community leaders across this country address longstanding societal needs to help curb this endless cycle of senseless violence.
"Our country has witnessed unspeakable acts of mass shootings. The common thread in each of these tragedies has been the lethal combination of easy access to guns and inadequate access to mental health services.
"As the largest single group of clinical health care professionals, registered nurses witness firsthand the devastation from the injuries sustained from gun violence. We also witness the trauma of individuals, families, and communities impacted by violence.
"The care and nurturing of children in their earliest years provides a strong foundation for healthy growth and development as they mature into adulthood. Children, parents, and society face growing challenges with respect to widespread bullying and mental illness, and nurses understand the value of early intervention. Over the past decade, ill-advised and shortsighted cutbacks within schools and community health care systems have seriously impeded critical and needed access to school nurses and mental health professionals trained to recognize and intervene early with those who are at risk for violent behavior.
"The public mental health system has sustained a period of devastating cuts over time. These cuts have been exacerbated during the Great Recession despite an increase in the demand for services for all populations, including our nation's veterans. States have cut vital services, such as community and hospital-based psychiatric care, housing, and access to medications. Looming budget cuts could lead to further cuts in services.
"It is time to take action. The nation's nurses call on President Obama, Congress, and policymakers at the state and local level to take swift action to address factors that together will help prevent more senseless acts of violence. We call on policymakers to:
Restore access to mental health services for individuals and families
Increase students' access to nurses and mental health professionals from the elementary school level through college
Ban assault weapons and enact other meaningful gun control reforms to protect society
The nation's nurses raise our collective voice to advocate on behalf of all of those who need our care. As a nation, we must commit to ending this cycle of preventable violence, death, and trauma. We must turn our grief into action."
The letter is signed by:
Alabama State Nurses Association
American Academy of Nursing
American Nurses Association
American Psychiatric Nurses Association
Arizona Nurses Association
Arkansas Nurses Association
Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Colorado Nurses Association
Connecticut Nurses' Association
Delaware Nurses Association
Infusion Nurses Society
Louisiana State Nurses Association
Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses
Minnesota Organization of Registered Nurses
Missouri Nurses Association
Montana Nurses Association
National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists
National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses
National Association of School Nurses
National League for Nursing
New Hampshire Nurses' Association
New Jersey State Nurses Association
Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs
Ohio Nurses Association
Oklahoma Nurses Association
Pennsylvania State Nurses Association
Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association
Rhode Island State Nurses Association
Virginia Nurses Association
Washington State Nurses Association
Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society