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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 07/12/2016 10:13:15

Good Morning.

We'll dive right in - let's talk about actual veterans today, hmm?

A brief story to start; what is this, the 1980s?

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- An Iraq War veteran claims in a federal lawsuit that she was unlawfully denied aquatic therapy at an orthopedic hospital in Pennsylvania because she has the virus that causes AIDS.

The lawsuit against OSS Health in York Township seeks a declaratory judgment stating that the alleged denial constitutes discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The plaintiff is a 40-year-old York County resident identified only by a pseudonym.

She says that a physical therapist recommended during a June 2015 visit that she receive aquatic therapy. She says when her medical records showed she was HIV-positive, she was turned away.

Attorneys for OSS and two co-defendants, Drayer Physical Therapy Institute and the therapist, deny any wrongdoing.

The lawsuit was filed last week.

Staying with health issues, you may have seen the latest statistics on veteran suicides. The rate stays stubbornly high, recently reported at 20 per day. Where is the outrage over this?

The most comprehensive study yet made of veteran suicide concludes that on average 20 veterans a day are taking their own lives.

The average daily tally is two less than the VA previously estimated, but is based on a more thorough review of Defense Department records, records from each state and data from the Centers for Disease Control, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"One veteran suicide is one too many, and this collaborative effort provides both updated and comprehensive data that allows us to make better informed decisions on how to prevent this national tragedy," said Dr. David J. Shulkin, VA Under Secretary for Health. "We as a nation must focus on bringing the number of veteran suicides to zero."

The VA said in a statement that the report will be released at the end of July.

One finding unchanged from the VA's 2012 report -- which was based on 2010 figures -- is that veterans age 50 and older are more likely than their younger counterparts to commit suicide. But even here the latest findings adjust that number downward, from just over 69 percent inthe VA’s 2012 report to 65 percent.

The study found that veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults in 2014 -- a decrease from 22 percent in 2010.

Veteran suicides increased at a rate higher than adult civilians between 2001 and 2014. The civilian rate grew by 23 percent while veteran suicides increased 32 percent over the same period. "After controlling for age and gender, this makes the risk of suicide 21 percent greater for veterans," the VA said.

The study also found that the suicide rates among veterans -- male and female -- who use VA services increased, though not at the rate among veterans who did not use the services.

Overall, the suicide rate since 2001 among all veterans using VA services grew by 8.8 percent versus 38.6 percent for those who did not. For male veterans, the rate increased 11 percent and 35 percent, respectively. For female vets, the rates increased 4.6 percent and 98 percent, according to the study.

In its last study, the VA noted that its figures probably were underestimated, in part because it relied on state records that were not always complete or accurate. Another shortcoming with the earlier report is that it used information from only 21 states.

Shifting gears just a little bit, remember the sequester? It was supposed to be all gloom and doom and disaster, and for most of the United States, that appears to be true; nobody has noticed. But it hasn't gone away, and many things in the military are getting cut back or running out of money. That was by design; slashing the military budget was supposed to goad congress into some kind of action. I presume that action will start on January 21, 2017. In the meantime, our equipment and readiness continues to erode.

The Air Force's support to Fort Bragg has been on a steady decline in recent months, according to numbers provided by Sen. Thom Tillis.

Citing statistics from February to May, Tillis said the Air Force's support to Fort Bragg has been steadily declining since the 440th Airlift Wing flew its last missions in support of local paratroopers earlier this year.

That decline appears to be further complicating the relationship between airborne forces at Fort Bragg and the Air Force planes needed to support their missions.

Fort Bragg leaders have said the goal for parachute training is 10,000 drops a month for the 18th Airborne Corps and 82nd Airborne Division. The bare minimum for proficiency, they said, is 8,000 drops.

The last time the 10,000 chute goal was met was in February. Since then, the Air Force support has been in a steady decline.

Tillis is one of several members of Congress who have sworn to hold the Air Force accountable for its support on Fort Bragg.

"It really represents a trend that, sadly, we predicted and has been realized," he said.

Tillis said he and others warned that taking the unit away could have dire consequences for the training of the nation's Global Response Force, which is comprised mostly of Fort Bragg units.

"They completely did not get what we were trying to say," he said. "Now we've got a readiness problem."

February was the last month in which the 440th Airlift Wing, slated for inactivation in September, supported paratrooper drops.

Since then, Tillis said Air Force support has fallen from 7,400 paratrooper drops, or 74 percent of the training requirements, to 4,800 drops in May.

Col. Joe Scrocca, a spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, said that since January, the corps and 82nd Airborne Division have averaged about 7,600 paratrooper drops a month.

The May training gap, in which the Air Force supported less than half of the training requirements, was shrunk with help from other aviators, officials said. More than 1,250 paratrooper drops were supported by Army helicopters and a visiting German C-160.

In the past, the 440th Airlift Wing could have helped close the gap, Tillis said. But that unit is nearing inactivation, and its last C-130H left Pope Field last month.

"Who made up the deficit? There are no Air Force planes left at Pope to provide cover. The Army used its helicopter assets at Fort Bragg to try to fill in the gap -- but that's not sustainable," Tillis said. "Who came to the rescue? The German air force. That's right. The 18th Airborne Corps had to call on the good graces of the German air force to drop more than 1,000 chutes."

And finally, with the Zika Rio Olympics on the horizon, file this one under "Awesome Military Jobs". Good luck with that, guys.

Mosquitoes are being trapped and frozen at Fort Benning and other posts as part of the military's effort to combat the Zika virus that has infected at least 11 service members among more than 1,000 Americans.

Army Pvt. 1st Class Mary Pendris at Benning in Georgia near the Alabama line is among those troops on mosquito trapping duty to detect the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes whose bites can spread the virus which can cause birth defects, including microcephaly, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Once the mosquitoes are trapped at Benning, they are frozen and shipped to the Environmental Health Department of Preventative Medicine on the Georgia post, and then sent to the Army's Public Health Command-Atlantic at Fort Meade in Maryland for testing.

"We haven't found any, at least not yet," of the Aedes aeqypti mosquitoes at Benning, although they are known to be present in the southeast, said Maj. Scott Robinson, chief of preventive medicine at Benning's Martin Army Community Hospital.

Dr. Robinson said that Benning and other Army posts have also been screening troops who have recently returned from South America and the Caribbean, where the Zika virus has hit hardest.

He said that no cases of Zika have turned up yet among Benning troops but two cases of related infections also spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito – dengue fever and Chikungunya virus – have been found.

Chikingunya can lead to fever lasting two to seven days and possible long-term joint pain. The symptoms of dengue are high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mild bleeding from the nose and gums, according to the CDC.

Robinson said his only recourse if Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were found at Benning would be to summon post pest control to spray the area where they were trapped and restate already standing Army guidelines on prevention, including using approved repellents, wearing long-sleeved shirts and staying when possible in air conditioned areas.

To date, at least 11 U.S. troops, four dependents of service members and two military retirees have been infected with the Zika virus since January, according to a Pentagon analysis last month first reported by USA Today. The troops infected were four soldiers, three Airmen, a Marine and three members of the Coast Guard.

I'll leave you with some housekeeping issues - it's Scout Camp week next week. So the following blogs are open and available.

Tuesday, July 18
Saturday, July 22

(And more dates available in August!)

23 comments (Latest Comment: 07/12/2016 19:00:09 by Raine)
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