Category Archives: Military
A new American Public Health Association (APHA) Press book, “Veteran Suicide: A Public Health Imperative,” addresses the critical and growing issue of suicide among military veterans. The book is a collaboration between the APHA and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Both organizations previously partnered on a supplement to the American Journal of Public Health on suicide risks among veterans.
Topics addressed by the book include
- suicide prevention,
- substance abuse, and
- suicide surveillance.
The new book includes very recent research on suicide among veterans. "The research represented by the collection of manuscripts included in this volume is an important step towards addressing the national problem of suicide and a reminder that even one death by suicide is too many," said Janet Kemp, RN, PhD, Department of Veterans Affairs National Mental Health Program Director for Suicide Prevention.
“Veteran Suicide: A Public Health Imperative” is available for purchase online.
>>Bonus Link: This week the Huffington Post published an article by Kimberly Williams, Director of the Center for Policy, Advocacy, and Education of the Mental Health Association of New York City, pointing out that the connectedness members of the military feel with each other often disappears when they return to their communities, which may be a factor in the rising suicide rates among veterans.
The tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., on May 20 left at least 24 people dead and nearly 400 injured. More than a mile wide in places, the tornado left billions of dollars in damage in its wake. The people of Moore and the surrounding area are now burying the friends and family members lost that day and the slow process of rebuilding has begun.
Among the first to respond to the natural disaster was Team Rubicon, a collection of hundreds of U.S. military veterans who have been provided disaster relief around the world since the organization was founded in 2010. The name for the Moore effort is “Operation: Starting Gun”—both for their quick response to the tornado’s devastation and for the Sooners of the Oklahoma Land Rush. They expect as many as 250 volunteers, of which 90 percent are veterans.
WHO Reports First Patient-to-Nurse Transmission of SARS-like Virus
The World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting that two health care workers in Saudi Arabia have become infected with a potentially fatal new SARS-like virus after catching it from patients, which represents the first case of the virus spreading this way within a hospital. Novel coronavirus, or nCoV, is thought to be spread through close contact, but, "scientists are on the alert for any sign that nCoV is mutating to become easily transmissible to multiple recipients, like SARS -- a scenario that could trigger a pandemic," according to Reuters. Read more on infectious disease.
Repeated Head Injuries Raise Soldiers' Suicide Risk
Soldiers who sustain multiple traumatic brain injuries, even if they are mild, are at greater risk for suicide, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers found that the risk for suicidal thoughts or behaviors increased for soldiers with such injuries over the course of a lifetime -- not just in the short term after the injuries occur. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among U.S. military personnel, and researchers say this study provides further guidance on assessing risks and supporting wounded soldiers. Read more on military health.
HHS Announces $1 Billion to Fuel Health Care Innovation
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a nearly $1 billion initiative -- the Health Care Innovation Awards -- that will fund work to transform the health care system by demonstrating better care and lower costs. This is the second round of the award. In the first round, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services awarded 107 Awards out of nearly 3,000 applications. Round one awardees included a medical home for people with disabilities that showed a 71 percent reduction in hospitalization rates. Read more on access to health care.
AAP Policy Statement Supports Same-sex Marriage
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a new policy statement in the journal Pediatrics in support of same-sex marriage, as well as the right for all to adopt kids and provide foster care. "Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage," said policy statement co-author Benjamin Siegel, MD, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. "The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.” Added Ellen Perrin, MD, another co-author: "If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it's in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so." Read more on LGBT issues.
1 in 50 U.S. Kids Have Autism
Approximately one in 50 youth ages 6 to 17 had autism from 2011 to 2012, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration. The share was about 1.2 percent in 2007. The greatest increase was seen in boys an in those ages 14 to 17. Health officials say the increase doesn’t mean autism is becoming more prevalent, but that it is being diagnosed more frequently, according to CBS News. Under the new statistics approximately 1 million U.S. children have autism. Read more on mental health.
Study Links Gulf War Syndrome to Brain Damage
A link has been found between Gulf War Syndrome and damage to the brain, according to a new study in the journal PLOS ONE. James Baraniuk, senior author and professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, said the study clearly demonstrates that Gulf War Syndrome—a collection of symptoms experienced by approximately 250,000 veterans of the 1991 war—is not psychological. Researchers and Georgetown University used fMRI machines to identify “anomalies in the bundle of nerve fibers that interpret pain signals in the brain in 31 Gulf War veterans,” according to USA Today. This quick form of diagnosis could also end up helping people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Read more on the military.
New Report Widens Information on Veteran Suicide
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has released a comprehensive report on Veterans who die by suicide—include veterans who had not sought VA health care services. Previous reports included information only on those who had sought those services. The VA has recently implemented broader suicide prevention initiatives, including a toll-free Veterans Crisis Line; placement of suicide prevention coordinators at all VA medical centers and large outpatient facilities; and improvements in case management and reporting. Immediate help for veterans is available at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net or by calling the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (push 1) or texting 838255. Read more on military.
FDA Approves Generic Version for Cancer Drug Doxil in Short Supply
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first generic version of widely used cancer drug Doxil (doxorubicin hydrochloride liposome injection). This approval is critical because the drug is currently on the FDA’s drug shortage list. The agency is using a priority review system to expedite the review of generic applications to help stem shortages. Doxil is used for several cancers, including ovarian cancer, multiple myeloma and AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma. Read more on prescription drugs.
Stroke Victims Need Therapy Within 60 Minutes of Hospital Arrival
People having an ischemic stroke should receive clot-dissolving therapy within 60 minutes of arriving at the hospital, according to new American Stroke Association guidelines published in the journal Stroke. Ischemic stroke, which accounts for nine in 10 strokes, is caused by a blood clot in the arteries leading to the brain. According to the American Heart Association, calling 9-1-1 immediately after recognizing any of the warning signs of stroke—and getting to a stroke center as fast as possible—are critical steps for optimal stroke care. That’s because during an acute stroke, physicians must quickly evaluate and diagnose patients to determine whether they are eligible to receive the clot-dissolving drug recombinant tissue plasminogen activator which has to be given within hours of symptom starting.
Other new changes to stroke guidelines include:
- If feasible, transfer patients to the closest available certified primary care stroke center or comprehensive stroke center, which might involve air medical transport, though telemedicine with a stroke center may also be appropriate.
- Create multidisciplinary quality improvement committees within hospitals to review and monitor stroke care.
Read more on heart health.
A recent article in the Washington Post looks at ongoing clinical trials that have researchers studying the potential effects of transcendental meditation as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As many as 10 percent of returning veterans suffer from PTSD and both internal military reports and outside reviews show an insufficient and too-slow response for veterans seeking mental health help. Military spokespeople say they know many returning veteran with mental health concerns who aren’t accessing the help at all. The results of the trials won’t be available for at least a year, but two small pilot studies show a reduction of symptoms by 50 percent in participants just two months after beginning the meditation.
- Read an interview with Jonathan Woodson, MD, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Defense (DOD) on the DOD's emphasis on wellness and suicide prevention.
- Read the full Washington Post article.
- Read a blog post from the Department of Veterans Affairs on maintaining military benefits for veterans displaced by Hurricane Sandy.
News from APHA: Veterans More Likely Than Civilians to Seek Treatment for Heavy Drinking
A new study released today at the 140th meeting of the American Public Health Association meeting in San Francisco found that male military veterans with a history of heavy alcohol use are more likely to seek treatment and, later, report better overall health and less depression than their civilian counterparts. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Read more on military health.
Hurricane Sandy: Experts Urge Safe Food Handling
As the East Coast prepares for Hurricane Sandy, experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer critical tips for keeping food safe during a power outage, such as freezing containers of water to keep food cool and knowing how long refrigerators and freezers will stay cool enough to preserve food, even after the power goes out. Read more on preparedness for Sandy and other emergencies.
Study: Quitting Smoking Before Age 40 Avoids 90% of Excess Mortality
A new study published in The Lancet finds that although the hazards of smoking at any age are high, the benefits of quitting are also enormous. While smokers in the United Kingdom lose at least 10 years of life, quitting before age 40 years avoids more than 90 percent of those excess lost years of life. Stopping before age 30 years avoids more than 97% of the excess mortality. Read more tobacco news.
World Suicide Prevention Day, co-sponsored by the World Health Organization, promotes commitment and action to prevent suicides. Almost 3,000 people commit suicide every day, and for every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives. In the first five months of 2012, at least 155 military service members committed suicide—more than the number of service personnel killed in Afghanistan during the same time period.
As part of our National Prevention Strategy series, NewPublicHealth spoke with Jonathan Woodson, MD, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs in the Department of Defense, about suicide prevention as well as the department’s overall approach to wellness and prevention for military, veterans and their families.
Listen to the podcast and read the full interview with Dr. Woodson below.
September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, a critical observance since over the past 30 years the childhood obesity rate in America has almost tripled, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 qualified as obese. Children and teenagers who are obese are more likely to become obese adults with serious adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, certain types of cancer and osteoarthritis. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years should spend 60 minutes or more being physical active each day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommend balancing calories with physical activity and encourages Americans to consume more healthy foods such as vegetables; fruits; whole grains; fat-free and low-fat dairy products; and seafood. It also recommends they consume less sodium; saturated and trans fats; added sugars; and refined grains. Read more on obesity.
Secondhand Smoke Exposure May Extend Stay for Kids Hospitalized with Flu
A recent Journal of Pediatrics study on about 100 children hospitalized for flu found that those children who had been previously exposed to secondhand smoke were five times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit and required a 70 percent longer stay in the hospital, compared to kids who’d had no exposure to tobacco smoke. Read more on tobacco.
Humvees Account for High Percentage of Military Crashes
A new study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers finds that U.S. soldiers are at greatest for risk for injury in a Humvee crash if they are the driver or gunner. That finding is important say the researchers because, according to the U.S. Department of the Army, motor vehicle crashes account for nearly one-third of all U.S. military deaths each year and are among the top five causes of hospitalization for military personnel. According to the Hopkins study, which was published in the journal Military Medicine, nearly half of vehicle crashes in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq from 2002 through 2006 were in Humvees. The researchers found that the odds of being injured in a Humvee accident are greatest when the crash occurred in combat. “[That finding] indicates that in a high-stress situation, the soldier may be distracted or less likely to take self-protective measures or follow safety regulations,” said study co-author Susan P. Baker, MPH, a professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. Read more on the military and public health.
Dallas Mayor Declares West Nile Emergency, Calls For Aerial Pesticides
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has declared a state of emergency and requested county and state officials begin aerial pesticide spraying to combat the West Nile Virus, according to The Dallas Morning News. Ten country residents have died of the disease, including five in the city. There have so far been 111 total infections reported in Dallas. West Nile is spread by mosquitoes and cause severe neurological effects, and even death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more on infectious disease.
Army Reports 26 Potential Suicides in July; 116 in 2012
The U.S. Army reported 25 potential suicides and one confirmed in July, up from 12 potential suicides in June. There have been 116 potential active-duty suicides in 2012. In a U.S. Department of Defense news release, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, vice chief of staff of the Army, said the military must help soldiers “build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills.” “As we prepare for Suicide Prevention Month in September we also recognize that we must continue to address the stigma associated with behavioral health,” he said. “Ultimately, we want the mindset across our force and society at large to be that behavioral health is a routine part of what we do and who we are as we strive to maintain our own physical and mental wellness.” Soldiers and their families can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website 24 hours a day to speak with trained consultants. Read a Q&A with the head of the National Association of Social Workers on their growing role in suicide prevention among active military and veterans.
U.S. Adults Consume Too Much Sodium, Too Little Potassium
U.S. adults consume far too much sodium and too little potassium, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It found that 99.4 percent of adults had a higher daily sodium intake than recommended by the American Heart Association. Fewer than 2 percent of adults met the recommended potassium levels. The nature of most food in the United States makes it hard to avoid high salt levels. “People are trying to follow the guidelines, but it’s difficult because there’s so much sodium in the processed and restaurant food we eat,” said Dr. Mary Cogswell who led the study at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, told Reuters. Read more on nutrition.
CDC Says Baby Boomers Should Get Hep C Tests
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that all U.S. baby boomers be tested for hepatitis C, according to the latest recommendation in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. One in 30 boomers have hepatitis C—the majority of them unknowingly—which can lead to serious liver disease and death. “A one-time blood test for hepatitis C should be on every baby boomer’s medical checklist,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, in a release. “The new recommendations can protect the health of an entire generation of Americans and save thousands of lives.” Read more on aging.