Lejeune water report had no mention of benzene

By Kevin Maurer – The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Feb 17, 2010 17:22:16 EST

WILMINGTON, N.C. — An environmental contractor dramatically underreported the level of a cancer-causing chemical found in tap water at Camp Lejeune, then omitted it altogether as the Marine base prepared for a federal health review, an Associated Press review has found.  The Marine Corps had been warned nearly a decade earlier about the dangerously high levels of benzene, which was traced to massive leaks from fuel tanks at the base on the North Carolina coast, according to recently disclosed studies.  For years, Marines who served at Camp Lejeune have blamed their families’ cancers and other ailments on tap water tainted by dry cleaning solvents, and many accuse the military of covering it up. The benzene was discovered as part of a broader, ongoing probe into that contamination.   read more

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VA wants to track docs’ reaction to e-alerts

By Mary Mosquera
Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Veterans Affairs Department wants to be able to track when and how its physicians respond to medical alerts sent to them via the agency’s computerized patient record system (CPRS).  CPRS, a part of the Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), currently can only monitor whether providers click to acknowledge receipt of an abnormal diagnostic test result alert.  However the system cannot report whether providers take follow-up actions based on that alert, and what those actions are.  VA now wants a vendor to update its CPRS interface and workflow to enable the tracking and reporting of critical diagnostic test alerts and actions taken by the physicians.  read more

VA prodded to give more aid to female veterans

Kristine Wise remembers driving from San Diego to Victorville, Calif., to visit her brother and seeing haunting messages on the freeway…

By Tony Perry
Los Angeles Times

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Kristine Wise remembers driving from San Diego to Victorville, Calif., to visit her brother and seeing haunting messages on the freeway signs. Instead of the speed limit or the miles to the next town, she envisioned: Beware of Snipers. Watch Out for Bombs. 40 miles to Baghdad. Death Ahead. “It was horrible,” said Wise, who served in Iraq with the Army in 2003 and 2004.  The disturbing images are part of the anxiety and panic attacks she has suffered since serving as a supply clerk just as the insurgency was becoming proficient at killing Americans, with roadside bombs and suicide attacks.  In Iraq, her depression ran so deep that she wrote a suicide poem: “The pressure is too great / I’m going to crack and fall apart / … My casket is now fully covered, it looks nice.”  Sent back to Germany, Wise received psychiatric and medical treatment before she was honorably discharged in 2004, two years early.  Now 40 and a student at California State University, San Marcos, she is part of a growing phenomenon: women who have been traumatized by military service.  The number of female veterans being treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs has doubled in recent years and is expected to double again within a decade. The swift demographic change has prompted some veterans’ advocates to assert that the VA has not responded adequately to women’s mental and physical health-care needs.   read more

Victims of electrosensitivity syndrome say EMFs cause symptoms

Scientists haven’t found a direct link between the symptoms of headaches and general complaints and being near electromagnetic fields. Some speculate that it is a mental instead of a physical disorder
February 15, 2010|By Chris Woolston

The explosive spread of electromagnetic fields across the world has undeniably spawned at least one disorder: electrosensitivity syndrome. Millions of people — most of them in Europe — say they suffer headaches, depression, nausea, rashes and other problems when they’re too close to cellphones or other sources of EMFs. They’ve formed their own support groups, started their own newsletters and taken drastic steps to avoid EMFs, with some even wearing metallic clothing. A band of EMF “refugees” has moved to a valley in southern France to avoid radiation.  The list of victims includes Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former director-general of the World Health Organization. In 2002, when she still held her title, Brundtland told the BBC that she didn’t allow cellphones in her office because the radiation gave her headaches.  In “Full Signal,” a documentary that premiered at the 2009 Santa Fe Film Festival, a self-described sufferer of EMF poisoning says that if someone accidentally forgets to turn off a cellphone before entering her house, she starts to feel ill within a couple of hours. “After four hours I can’t speak anymore,” she says.   read more

Study Suggests More Veterans May Be Helped by Talking About Killing

By JAMES DAO
Published: February 13, 2010

The act of killing is as fundamental to war as oxygen is to fire. Yet it is also the one thing many combat veterans avoid discussing when they return home, whether out of shame, guilt or a deep fear of being misunderstood.  But a new study of Iraq war veterans by researchers in San Francisco suggests that more discussion of killing may help veterans cope with an array of mental health problems stemming from war.  The study, published last week in The Journal of Traumatic Stress, found that soldiers who reported having killed in combat, or who gave orders that led to killing, were more likely to report the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, anger and relationship problems. The study was based on data from health assessments conducted on about 2,800 soldiers who returned from Iraq in 2005 and 2006.  Shira Maguen, a psychologist at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the principal investigator on the study, said the results suggested that mental health professionals need to incorporate killing more explicitly into their assessments and treatment plans for veterans. That would include finding ways to discuss the impact of killing, in public forums and in private treatment, to reduce the stigma and shame, she argued.   read more

Many Veterans Not Getting Enough Treatment for PTSD

ScienceDaily (Feb. 12, 2010) — Although the Department of Veteran Affairs is rolling out treatments nationwide as fast as possible to adequately provide for newly diagnosed PTSD patients, there are still significant barriers to veterans getting a full course of PTSD treatment. The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress.  More than 230,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans sought treatment for the first time at VA healthcare facilities nationwide between 2002 and 2008. More than 20 percent of these veterans, almost 50,000, received a new PTSD diagnosis. Treatments that have been shown to be effective for PTSD typically require 10-12 weekly sessions. VA follows these recommendations, however, fewer than ten percent of those Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with newly diagnosed PTSD complete this recommended “dose” of PTSD treatment. When the timeframe was expanded to a year rather than four months, fewer than thirty percent of the veterans completed the recommended course of treatment.  read more

Report slams flaws in DoD sex assault program

By Karen Jowers – Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Dec 5, 2009 8:22:44 EST

The Pentagon office charged with oversight of military sexual assault prevention and response policy is not doing an effective job — and responsibility should be placed, at least temporarily, directly in the hands of the deputy secretary of defense, a task force has recommended.  The report by the Defense Department’s Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services, based on 15 months of work and interviews with more than 3,500 people at 60 locations around the world, said the department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office is not providing policy or oversight for key responsibilities, or interacting with military officials in the field who are accountable on this issue.  Defense officials should revamp the office and provide the expertise necessary to lead and oversee its primary missions of sexual assault prevention, response, training and accountability, the task force said.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates has 90 days to review, comment on and send the congressionally-mandated report to Capitol Hill. The 176-page report was submitted Dec. 1.  “Our recommendations highlight the need for institutional change to more effectively prevent sexual assault and address related issues,” task force co-chair Louis Iasiello said in a statement. “Doing so is not only ethically and morally correct, but also essential to military readiness — all the more critical at this time.”  read more