Recall: Weight-loss and bodybuilding supplements containing a popular new stimulant were pulled off the shelves at Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores due to concerns they could be related to soldier deaths, according to the Defense Logistics Agency. The drug DMAA, which is an extract of the geranium plant with the chemical names 13 dimethylamylamine and methylhexanamine, triggered the recall of 18 athletic supplements sold worldwide in General Nutrition Centers shops by AAFES, the agency said Saturday in a recall alert. “Even though GNC believes DMAA is safe, it has complied fully with the Army’s precautionary request to remove products containing DMAA, as it is contractually obligated to do, from GNC stores on Army and Air Force bases,” GNC spokesman Greg Miller said. Miller said that the Food and Drug Administration has never questioned the safety of DMAA and that GNC officials have requested the opportunity to meet with the Defense Department to discuss the recall. An AAFES investigation of the drug was under way, the logistics agency said, but no additional information was immediately available on soldier deaths and any suspected connections to DMAA. DMAA was developed decades ago as a nasal decongestant but has recently become popular as a recreational drug and an additive in athletic supplements with names such as Hemo Rage Black, Muscle Warfare Napalm and Nitric Blast. Forms of the stimulant were recently banned by Major League Baseball and the World Anti-Doping Agency, the international body that regulates drug use in sports. [Source: Stars & Stripes article 5 Dec 2011 ++]
Denver VAMC: The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a $580.2 million construction contract to build the Denver VA Medical Center (VAMC) replacement facility on the same campus as the University of Colorado Hospital complex in Aurora, site of the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center. “This new medical center will not only help provide Veterans with the care they have earned, it will create good-paying jobs that benefit the local economy,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. The new 182-bed medical center will include inpatient tertiary care and ambulatory care, a 30-bed Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder Center, a 30-bed nursing home community living center, a research building, and parking structures. The medical center will employ approximately 2,000 people and serve approximately 82,700 veterans. The construction component of the contract totaling $580.2 million was awarded to Kiewit-Turner Joint Venture from Englewood, Colo., on 17 NOV. The facility will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certified, making the most of renewable energy initiatives. More than 6,300 jobs will be created during the construction of the medical center. The completion date of the hospital is scheduled for early 2015. [Source: http://www.denver.va.gov/projecteagle/index.asp Dec 2011 ++]
DoD Alternative Medicine: The Department of Defense has designated several billion dollars for research into healing techniques, once labeled, quackery which show promise for Veterans. The Pentagon has also dedicated five million dollars as grant money to research into some of these methods such as acupuncture and meditation in order to treat PTSD in veterans and the U.S. Army who gave four million dollars in grant money for research into alternative methods to treat and heal conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse and depression. These unconventional healing methods have been showing promise among veterans and military personnel. Some examples of Dod’s efforts to use alternative healing methods to date include:
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2010, notes research had been conducted on the effects reiki on Acute Coronary Syndrome. The results of the study had demonstrated it was a benefit to patients however, the long term effects are still unclear.
This year meditation had been advocated by celebrities and a medical researcher to convince the Department of Defense that medication can aid the increasing number of military personnel from post-traumatic stress (PTSD). Dr. Norman Rosenthal, Georgetown Medical School clinical professor states that he has the facts, figures and testimonials showing meditation can be a low-cost, low-risk alternative to strong narcotics which are usually prescribed by government doctors. Dr. Rosenthal quotes one case in which a Marine gunner on a Humvee who witnessed heavy fighting in Iraq. The marine had written that the symptoms of PTSD disturbed his sleep and wrecked his family life upon returning to the United States. However, the marine had said "TM (transcendental meditation) has helped with organizing, prioritizing and just being calmer overall. I just feel better. "The military has and is confronting a number of disputes over the use of powerful prescribed drugs for a variety of stress related illnesses which have increased risks and sometimes fatal results.
Last year the drug Seroquel made the media due to many soldier's and veterans using this medication had died. There was an uncertainty as to how many soldiers died while using this drug or if it was the direct source of death. The Veterans Affairs Department immediately had stated that this drug was only being prescribed as a fourth option for patients suffering insomnia from PTSD.
Since 2008, the pentagon had been seeking new ways to treat troops who suffered from combat stress or brain damage by looking into alternative methods such as meditation, acupuncture and yoga. There are currently some military hospitals and installations in which have already put into practice alternative methods such as acupuncture to relieve stress. Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton, head of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury had stated to USA today back in 2008, “it just makes sense to bring all potential therapies to bear”.
In 2009, 900 soldier's at Fort Bliss' William Beaumont Army Medical Center had been diagnosed with PTSD. Among the 900 soldier's, 700 had received regular treatment and had been doing fine according to Dr. John Fortunato, chief of behavioral health at the center, Vietnam veteran, psychologist and Benedictine monk. However, he stated that out of the 900 there was 200 soldier's who had severe symptoms were to be medically discharge. Half of those had opted for the Restoration and Resilience Program. This program offers psychological therapy along with spiritual guidance and alternative therapies such as meditation and acupuncture. The program lasts six months and two-thirds of the soldier's return to duty. Most of the other third who do not return is usually due to physical reasons such as chronic back pain.
In Texas, Fort Hood offers the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program for those soldier's with combat stress and PTSD. Soldier's participate each day for a period of three weeks in alternative therapies which are aimed at calming the mind, body and spirit. The therapies include group therapy, biofeedback, education in coping skills, acupuncture, massage and yoga. That is then followed by weekly group therapy for eight weeks.
In June 2011, a pilot study published in Volume 176, Number 6, issue of Military Medicine had shown veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan had a fifty percent decrease in their symptoms of PTSD after a period of eight weeks practicing Transcendental Meditation.
This month the US Department of Veteran Affairs has announced the launch of the Congressionally mandated chiropractic services program. The following has been released by the DAV: Veterans can receive chiropractic care at 26 selected Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities beginning this fall, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi announced today. VA will hire or contract with doctors of chiropractic to provide the care. In consultation with VA primary care providers, doctors of chiropractic will offer patient evaluations and chiropractic care for neuromusculoskeletal conditions. "Today, VA makes another significant improvement to the world-class health care we provide for eligible veterans," said Principi. "Veterans who will benefit from chiropractic services will now have the opportunity to receive chiropractic care to restore them to good health." The locations of where chiropractic care will be provided include the following:
Locations where chiropractic care will be provided include Togus, Maine; West Haven/Newington, Conn.; Buffalo and the Bronx, N.Y.; Butler, Pa.; Martinsburg, W.Va.; Salisbury, NC; Augusta, Ga.; Tampa and Miami, Fla.; Mountain Home, Tenn.; Columbus, Ohio; Danville, Ill.; Iron Mountain, Mich.; Kansas City, MO.; Jackson, Miss.; San Antonio, Temple, and Dallas, Texas; Albuquerque and Phoenix, N.M.; Fort Harrison, Mont.; Seattle, Wash.; Martinez and Los Angeles, Calif.; and Sioux Falls, S.D. If you are an eligible veteran in areas distant from the above locations you also will be able to receive chiropractic care through the VA's outpatient fee-basis program after referral from a primary care provider and prior authorization from the department. With the outstanding results alternative medicine has been demonstrating the Veterans Administration continues to sponsor research into Complimentary and Alternative Medicine to treat service personnel who are suffering from these conditions. [Source: AllVoices Debbie Nicholson article 3 Dec 2011 ++]
Air Force Enlisted Village Update 02: The Air Force Enlisted Village (AFEV) was founded in 1967 to provide a safe, secure and dignified place for indigent surviving spouses of retired Air Force personnel. The Village’s primary goal and focus is to “Provide a Home,” and financial assistance to these women. The surviving spouse with the greatest need is cared for first and none are refused assistance due to financial status. Low pay and frequent military moves leave some spouses without careers, home equities, retirement plans or any significant assets. Surviving spouses requiring financial assistance live here among peers sharing memories of Air Force life without the stigma normally associated with subsidized housing facilities. Surviving spouses applying for long-term residence at Bob Hope or Teresa Villages must be at least 55 years of age, have a valid identification card and must be able to live independently. Those who can no longer safely live on their own are now able to be at home in the Hawthorn House. Surviving spouse of enlisted members who served in other branches of the military are admitted on a space-available basis, but aren't eligible for financial assistance.
Officials at AFEV are offering a “New Year, New Beginning” move-in special for Bob Hope Village and Teresa Village. The special features no waiting time and no first-month service fee when a lease is signed for either community between Dec. 15 and Feb. 15. Located within minutes of Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, a Veterans Affairs clinic, shopping, dining, fishing, golfing and the beaches of the Emerald Coast, Bob Hope Village and Teresa Village are eclusive communities for retired enlisted military widows and couples. Residents of Bob Hope Village and Teresa Village say that downsizing is liberating, and they enjoy the affordable, active, worry-free lifestyle that living at either community offers, according to Air Force Enlisted Village officials.
Bob Hope Village and Teresa Village have spacious one- and two-bedroom apartments with carpeting, major kitchen appliances, storage areas and patio. The monthly service fee includes basic cable, water, sewer and trash; maintenance and grounds keeping; free laundry facilities; ample parking; and security.
Bob Hope Village and Teresa Village offer transportation; a café with delivery service; guest quarters; a convenience store; beauty salons; libraries; chapel program; banking; and RV parking. Activities have an emphasis on socializing, and there are swimming pools; fitness rooms and classes; special events, parties and community trips; a children’s play park for visiting grandchildren; gardening plots; and social clubs. bResidents have access to an on-site doctor office and preferred providers; on-site out-patient physical, occupational, and speech therapy; on-site mobile lab; prescription pick-up; medical-alert system (Bob Hope Village only); wellness seminars; blood pressure checks; hospice care; and when needed, assisted living and memory care at nearby Hawthorn House. For more information, call the admissions office at 800-258-1413 to discuss eligibility regarding this special offer. This special is available for a limited time and some restrictions may apply. People can learn more about Air Force Enlisted Village by visiting http://www.afenlistedwidows.org/. [Source: Air Force Retiree Services article 1 Dec 2011 ++]
VA Burial Benefit Update 10: A dispute over a veteran's last wishes has finally been settled -- by a judge. For nearly three weeks, his closest friend and stepdaughter have been fighting for what they believe he wanted after death. But with no family to back them up, a judge made a difficult decision. "You have brothers by blood and brothers by combat," Coyt Mangum said. Mangum says he is the closest thing to family Manual Maurice Walden had. "We all called him CW, and he's been living with me since Katrina," he said. Walden's stepdaughter, Christina Stouten, says the same thing. "He's been my step dad for 34 years," Stouten said. But when Walden died on 10 NOV, Mangum and Stouten found out they don't count as next of kin by state law, and therefore, the Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office couldn't release the body to either of them. Even though both of them say Mangum had told them he wanted to be cremated and buried in northern Michigan, where he was from. They say he didn't want the military funeral he is entitled to as a Vietnam veteran. "I think it's ridiculous that somebody can't take care of someone who has taken care of them," Stouten said. A search for blood kin turned up possible relatives, but not one of them replied. "He's been estranged from them for years. I don't even know who they are," Mangum said. Meantime, Walden's body sat unclaimed in the Galveston County morgue for three weeks, until a Galveston County probate judge made a decision on 30 NOV. Walden will be released to a funeral home, and he will have a VA military funeral, not a cremation. But those closest to him say it's better than where he's been the last three weeks. "My problem is it makes me feel really bad that he's been laying up there in that cold box," Mangum said. The probate judge told us off camera that if Walden had a will spelling out his wishes, this all would have been prevented. His step daughter says he had talked about doing just that, but had never gotten around to it.
If you do not have a will you should if you are concerned at all about your final disposition after you demise. Don’t put yourself or your friends in the situation of Manual Maurice Walden in the above news clip. If you do desire a military burial VA offers the following benefits and services to honor our Nation's deceased Veterans.
Headstones and Markers: VA can furnish a monument to mark the grave of an eligible Veteran.
Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC): VA can provide a PMC for eligible recipients.
Burial Flag: VA can provide an American flag to drape an eligible Veteran's casket.
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses: Generally, VA can pay a burial allowance of $2,000 for Veterans who die of servicer elated causes. For certain other Veterans, VA can pay $300 for burial and funeral expenses and $300 for a burial plot.
Burial in a VA National Cemetery: Most Veterans and some dependents can be buried in a VA national cemetery.
Time Limits: There is no time limit to claim reimbursement of burial expenses for a service related death. In other cases, claims must be filed within two years of the Veteran's burial.
[Source: ABC13 KTRK Houston TX news clip 30 Nov 2011 ++]
Vet Abuse Update 02: A Glendale man faces felony abuse and drug charges after police say he failed to properly care for his 72-year-old father — leading to the veteran’s death — and sold the man's prescribed painkillers for extra cash. The 72-year-old vet had several bedsores, was severely dehydrated and covered in dried feces when he was admitted to the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center on 15 JUL, according to charges filed Thursday in 3rd District Court. He died the following day. The medical examiner determined that Moya Sr. died from dehydration, malnutrition, electrolyte abnormalities and decubitus ulcers — or bed sores — due to the complications of inadequate care, the complaint shows. The medical examiner also found that Moya Sr. had no medication in his system when he died. Alphonso Patrick Moya Jr., the man's 49-year-old son, was his primary caregiver. When police responded to Moya's home on July 16, they detected "a very strong odor of bleach, feces and decomposing tissue," according to charging documents. The bedroom Moya's father had occupied had been thoroughly cleaned. Police found the mattress the man had been using outside by the garbage can "saturated with urine and feces," the charges state. Moya told police his father had not had a bath or shower for about two weeks, the charges state. Police said Moya also had been filling his father's monthly Lortab prescriptions but was selling the pills. The 72-year-old man's bedsores — including one on his lower back approximately the size of a fist — would have required surgery to remove, charges state. When he arrived at the hospital, his legs, ankles and feet were swollen to twice their size. He was unable to talk or stand on his own, the charges state. When the father last visited the hospital, he was able to walk with assistance and speak, according to the charges. Moya is charged with aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult and distribution of a controlled substance, both second-degree felonies. [Source: Desert News article 1 Dec 2011 ++]
Alfonso Patrick Moya Jr. *********************************
VA Women Advisory Committee Update 01: Six new members have been appointed to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, an expert panel that advises VA on issues and programs affecting women Veterans. “The Advisory Committee on Women Veterans’ significantly guides VA’s efforts to identify and address the ever changing needs of women Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “VA welcomes the newest members.” Established in 1983, the advisory committee makes recommendations to the Secretary for administrative and legislative changes. The new committee members, who are appointed to two-year terms, are: Sherri Brown, Alexandria, Va.; Latoya Lucas, Rocky Mount, N.C.; Sara J. McVicker, Washington, D.C.; Delphine Metcalf-Foster, Vallejo, Calif.; Robin Patrick, Virginia Beach, Va.; and Felipe Torres, Helotes, Texas. “Women serving in the military are essential components of our Nation’s success,” Shinseki added. “In honor of their service, VA’s is committed to providing women Veterans with quality care and preparing for their evolving needs.”
Women Veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the Veterans population. There are 23.4 million Veterans; approximately 1.8 million are women Veterans. They comprise nearly 8 percent of the total Veterans population and nearly 5 percent of all Veterans who use VA health care services. VA estimates that by 2020 women Veterans will comprise 10 percent of the Veteran population. VA has women Veterans program managers at VA medical centers and women Veterans coordinators at VA regional offices to assist women Veterans with health and benefits issues. Some background info on the new members follows:
Sherri Brown, Alexandria, Va. A Veteran of the Coast Guard Reserves; currently serves as Senior Vice President for Service to the Armed Forces for the American Red Cross.
Latoya Lucas, Rocky Mount, N.C. A retired Army specialist, with combat service in Iraq; currently works as a motivational speaker.
Sara J. McVicker, Washington, D.C. A former Army Corps nurse, with service in Vietnam; currently serves as a member of Vietnam Veterans of America’s National Women Veterans Committee.
Delphine Metcalf-Foster, Vallejo, Calif. A retired Army first sergeant, with service in Desert Storm/Desert Shield; currently serves as a member of Disabled American Veterans’ Department of California Women’s Committee.
Robin Patrick, Virginia Beach, Va. A Veteran of the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard; currently serves as a Veterans’ advocate for women Veterans, homeless Veterans, disabled adults, and families.
Felipe Torres, Helotes, Texas. A retired Marine Corps colonel, with service in Vietnam; currently serves as a women Veterans advocate.
[Source: VA Press Release 2 Dec 2011 ++]
Arlington National Cemetery Update 32: Arlington National Cemetery began its first major construction project in nearly eight years today with a ground-breaking ceremony for a 20,000-niche columbarium that will extend the life of the cemetery's inurnment space to 2024. A columbarium is a structure that holds urns containing cremated remains. Construction on the cemetery's ninth columbarium begins in January, with completion expected in June 2013, said Army Col. Victoria Bruzese, the cemetery's chief engineer. The new structure will dwarf the previous eight columbariums, she added, the largest of which contains 8,000 niches and the smallest 3,000. "This will be 540 feet long, 116 feet wide, and at its highest elevation about 11 feet tall," Bruzese said following the ground-breaking. "We'll have more than 20,000 niches, which gives us the ability to have three to four inurnments within each niche -- service member, spouse, children -- so we're looking at more than 60,000 inurnments, so that's significant." The new columbarium will be almost the length of two football fields.
Kathryn Condon, executive director of the Army National Cemeteries Program, told the audience of mostly cemetery grounds-keepers and staff workers that construction of the new columbarium would "extend the life of our inurnment space out to 2024." Officials also plan to expand the cemetery's grounds on two sides by another 70 acres. That will further extend the cemetery's ability to handle inurnments, burials and possibly mausoleums out to the 2050s, Bruzese said. She noted the biggest challenge to overcome will be the lack of attention paid to the infrastructure over the years. "There are two expansion opportunities here on the horizon -- our Millennium Project, which is a 30-acre combination of land we acquired from Fort Myer and the National Park Service, and already existing [cemetery] land that will increase our in-ground and niche burial capability," Bruzese said. The second expansion includes a 40-acre plot that's now occupied by the Navy Annex on the cemetery's south side. [Source: Army News Service J.D. Leipold article 30 Nov 2011 ++]