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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 03/05/2019 10:55:01

Good Morning.

Let's talk cancer this morning. We all know somebody who's had it, or may even be battling it as we speak. When I was diagnosed myself, I was more mystified than anything else, but as time went on I discovered a tenuous link to many of my friends. In the years after my diagnosis, about a half-dozen of us that had worked at LL Bean in Burlington, MA all had similar diagnoses. Our store is located on a former Superfund site, and to this day somebody still opens the manhole in front of the store to "test" for something. What it is, I never found out, but it's enough of a coincidence for me to remain curious at least, to this day.


But now imagine cancer affecting 16 members of your family
. There is a link; everyone affected lived near Peterson AIr Force Base in Colorado Springs.


Former Army reservist Spc. Mark Favors comes from a military family who has lived for generations near Colorado Springs’ Air Force and Army installations.

It’s taken a severe toll, he said.

Favors, 50, can count at least 16 relatives from the area who have been diagnosed with cancer; 10 have died. Six of those relatives have died since 2012, including his father at age 69 and two cousins, ages 38 and 54.

“In my family alone, we have had five kidney cancer deaths,” Favors said. “And those people only lived in the contaminated area.”

Many of Favors’ relatives lived near Peterson Air Force Base, where scores of both on-base and off base water sources have tested significantly above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended exposure of 70 parts per trillion of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFAS) or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The compounds were part of the military’s firefighting foam until just last year. The compounds have been linked to cancers and developmental delays for fetuses and infants.

Peterson’s contamination ranges from 79 to 88,400 parts per trillion in its on-base wells and 79 to 7,910 parts per trillion in public and private drinking wells off base.

Questions of whether groundwater contaminated by the chemical compounds from military firefighting foam caused cancer clusters around installations continue to gain traction in Washington. In March 2018, the Pentagon released its first-ever assessment of the extent of the contamination. The last two defense bills have provided funding to assess the impact of PFAS and PFOA at 10 military communities; that study is now underway.

On Wednesday, before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform subcommittee on the environment, Favors and others will testify in a hearing with Maureen Sullivan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for environment.

“In my family there are at least seven military veterans who themselves, along with their spouses and children’s drinking water had been contaminated without their knowledge, while they were on active duty in the U.S. Army and/or deployed to Iraq,” said Favors, in testimony he provided to Military Times in advance of the hearing.


Of course, the military has a long history of using toxins. Here at AAV, we've ocassionally reported on the curious case of Gulf War Syndrome, fallout from Burn Pits, and ongoing contamination of many areas of the United States and other bases. It seems that Uncle Sam is a slovenly soldier.

Moving on, you might have heard that the occupant of the White House may have accidentally done something good for veterans. Mr. Trump signed an executive order that on the surface seems legit - he made it easier for retiring active-duty naval personnel to transition to jobs in the US Merchant Marine. I'm sure there's a deeper purpose here, but what it is is not exactly clear.


It probably shouldn’t have taken an executive order from the president to let experienced service members get merchant marine credentials, but that’s what finally happened on Monday.

By signing an executive order entitled “Supporting the Transition of Active Duty Service Members and Military Veterans into the Merchant Marine,” President Donald Trump indicated that helping veterans land good blue collar jobs at sea will strengthen national security, too.

Trump’s declaration is designed to allow Navy, Coast Guard and Army Watercraft Systems personnel leaving active duty to apply their training and experience to land future careers in the maritime industry.

“It makes it easier for sea service veterans to get high-paying, high-skilled jobs as mariners by waiving government-issued licensing fees and by crediting military training in the National Maritime Center credentialing system,” said Peter Navarro, the director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

A direct White House adviser to Trump, Navarro said that the executive order makes it easier for enlisted sailors and officers to qualify as “mates and engineers” under the Coast Guard’s civilian mariner licensing rule.

Previously, sailors and other service members had to start over by enrolling in basic maritime classes, often paying $25,000 to meet the requirements.

Trump’s executive order should allow service members on active duty to simultaneous earn qualifications at sea while also netting equivalent civilian licenses along the way, Navarro said.


Finally today, I don't quite know what to make of this one. I will observe though, that if the unfortunate victim was not a West Point Cadet, I'll bet we would have never heard about such a thing.


WEST POINT, N.Y. — The parents of a 21-year-old West Point cadet fatally injured in a skiing accident raced the clock to get a judge’s permission to retrieve his sperm for “the possibility of preserving some piece of our child that might live on.”

U.S. Military Academy Cadet Peter Zhu was declared brain dead Wednesday, four days after the California resident was involved in a skiing accident at West Point that fractured his spine and cut off oxygen to his brain.

"That afternoon, our entire world collapsed around us," Monica and Yongmin Zhu of Concord, California, said in a court petition. But they saw a brief window to fulfill at least part of Peter's oft-stated desire to one day raise five children.

The parents asked a state court judge Friday for permission to retrieve his sperm before his organs were removed for donation later that day at Westchester Medical Center. They argued the procedure needed to be done that day.

"We are desperate to have a small piece of Peter that might live on and continue to spread the joy and happiness that Peter bought to all of our lives," read the parent's filing in state court in Westchester County.

The first documented post-mortem sperm removal was reported in 1980 and the first baby conceived using the procedure was born in 1999, according to medical journals. Usually, the request comes from a surviving spouse.

The parents told the court that Peter is the only male child of the Zhu family and that if they don't obtain the genetic material, "it will be impossible to carry on our family's lineage, and our family name will die."


We've even got a bonus click today - look inside!





 

6 comments (Latest Comment: 03/05/2019 19:03:48 by livingonli)
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