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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 02/25/2020 10:57:27

Good Morning.

Well, despite blowing off coronavirus as a topic for Saturday, let's check it out today!


Remember that cruise ship in Japan that's been under quarrantine? Well, lots of Americans happened to be on board. It took a while to figure out what to do with them, but eventually they were evacuated to military bases in the United States.

You'd think that would be a step up, right? Well, it appears that they're actually worse off than they were cooped up on a ship.


When Otis and Carol Menasco of Granite Bay got off the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan where they'd been quarantined for almost two weeks because of the coronavirus, they were led to believe they'd be transported to Travis Air Force base in Fairfield, about 90 minutes from their home outside Sacramento.

A few hours into the flight, they overhead paramedics saying they were going not to Travis but to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio. Others on the flight were also surprised, Otis Menasco said.

That wasn't the first, or the last, time they had trouble getting straight answers about their plight, which illustrates what Americans might face if an epidemic like the one plaguing China hit the United States.

At Lackland, they began serving a minimum 14-day quarantine on Monday. They're confined to a room much smaller and more primitive than the luxurious cabin they'd had aboard the cruise ship.

They have one phone number to call if they need something in their room, but don't know who to call for information about their situation. The only human contact they have is with the paramedics who come twice a day to take their temperatures. A spokesman for Lackland referred calls to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which did not return multiple requests for comment.

When the Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama on Feb. 3 at the end of their cruise, the Menascos thought they'd be going home the next day. Instead, they were to be held for 14 days because of an outbreak of coronavirus. At least 621 on the ship have become infected.


It's quite a story - they are essentially imprisoned, and nobody seems to know what is going on. But the military has quite a track record dealing with medical crises. We're still trying to figure out Gulf War Syndrome, almost 30 years on. There's plenty of evidence about carcinogenic "burn pits" in Iraq and Afghanistan that was swept under the rug. So - how about a little Carbon Monoxide for ya?


Around 6,400 troops and their family members were poisoned by carbon monoxide in the past decade, a military health study has found.

Some 24 service members died from breathing the colorless, tasteless, odorless and deadly gas.

Most of the cases were deemed accidental, but around 11% of active duty service members intentionally harmed themselves and one case was ruled an assault, said the study published last month in the Defense Health Agency’s medical journal.

No details were provided for the assault case or the deaths.

Troops working in repair and engineering jobs accounted for more poisonings than those in other career fields.

“This finding warrants further analysis to examine the overall incidence rates of CO intoxication across occupations and highlights the importance of appropriate preventive measures for military personnel who repair or maintain vehicles,” journal editor Cmdr. Shawn S. Clausen said in an email.

While motor vehicle exhaust was the second most common source of carbon monoxide poisoning in confirmed cases among active duty troops, those working in motor transport accounted for just 3.2% of cases, the lowest proportion, the study said.

Military personnel “face unique and deadly sources of significant CO exposure not found in the private sector,” according to the Army textbook “Occupational Health and the Service Member.”

Tanks, howitzer and armed helicopter crews, as well as troops firing missiles or small arms inside indoor firing ranges can be exposed to the gas. Carbon monoxide becomes dangerous when it’s allowed to build up in a closed space.

“Military personnel can also potentially be exposed to CO ... by working with machinery, motor vehicles, and gasoline-powered tools,” Clausen said. Carbon monoxide poisoning was confirmed in nearly 1,270 active-duty troops, 361 reservists and just over 4,700 family members between 2009 and 2019, the study found.

Cases were diagnosed at more than 190 military installations and locations worldwide. Fort Carson in Colorado had the highest number of confirmed cases – 60 – during the 10-year period, followed by Naval Medical Center in San Diego, Calif., with 52 cases. Less than 5% of confirmed cases affected service members assigned outside the U.S., the study said.


We'll finish up today by re-visiting a long running topic here at AAV. It's what the military calls "transition", It's the return to civilian life when a military career is done. There's long been a traditional post-military career path, and it's been rather limited. Police, fire, security, EMT, truckdriver....and for a long time, not much else. There have been years-long efforts to reduce the veteran unemployment rate, but it's still trending behind the national numbers.


Veterans unemployment rose again in November even as the national jobless rate decreased slightly, with about 35,000 more veterans reporting problems finding work than the month before.

On Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the veterans unemployment rate rose from 3.0 percent in October to 3.4 percent in November. The rise among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars era was even larger, jumping from 3.5 percent to 4.7 percent.

The estimates translate into about 310,000 veterans nationwide looking for work, a figure that has fluctuated throughout the year. In the first half of 2019, the BLS estimates on veterans unemployment were below 3.0 percent for four consecutive months, but have risen slowly since then.

The national unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent in November, matching its lowest mark of the year.

Employment experts have cautioned against focusing too closely on monthly changes in unemployment for sub-groups within the Labor Department’s surveys of American workers, because small changes in sample sizes can produce significant moves in the numbers.

And even with the rise in overall veterans unemployment, November marked the 19th month in a row that veterans unemployment has been lower than the national rate. That figure hasn’t been above the national civilian rate since December 2016.


Ah, but I can report that I'm in a position to make a scratch on the surface of that statistic, at least locally. As hiring manager for Old Town Trolley Boston, I've spearheaded the outreach to our veterans' organizations in Eastern Mass (thanks to my Scouting connections), and we've hired more veterans than not in this hiring season. For me at least, it's nearly an automatic hire when I learn of a candidate's veteran status.


 

3 comments (Latest Comment: 02/25/2020 16:27:20 by BobR)
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