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Entries in Soldiers (10)

Tuesday
Nov062012

Operation: Love Reunited Helps Military Families Cope Through Pictures

Tonee Lawrence, Operation: Love Reunited(NEW YORK) -- Nothing can take away the pain and anxiety of having a loved one deployed overseas, but for Karen Tebbeharris and her three children, a program called Operation: Love Reunited helped them get through it.

The program, nicknamed OpLove, involves a network of photographers all across the country who offer free sessions to families with loved ones scheduled for deployment.

Families are typically photographed once before deployment, and again as soon as their loved one returns home.  For a service member already overseas, OpLove offers sessions for their family members at home; an album with the finished photos is sent to their stations abroad.

Tonee Lawrence had the idea for OpLove in 2006 after her husband came home from duty in Qatar.

“My husband was deployed and I wasn’t able to get any pictures of our family when he came home because I was hugging him and stuff,” Lawrence said.  “The kids were really little so we really missed out on a precious moment there.”

More than 850 photographers volunteer for OpLove.  While the program does accept donations, most of the costs are covered by the photographers.

“They pay for almost everything out of pocket -- their time, printing, canvases -- all paid for by the photographers.” Lawrence said.  “We’re really proud of it and very dedicated to the clients and the service.”

Nothing shows that dedication more than Lawrence’s relationship with the Tebbeharris family.

“I met Tonee when she first moved to the area for her personal photography business,” Tebbeharris said.  “I called to schedule a session and when she found out my husband was going to be deployed, she told me about OpLove.”

The Tebbeharrises have three kids.  The oldest, Mykala, is 11.  Sebastian is 10 and the youngest, Aurora, is 4.

They had their first session before Karen’s husband, TSgt. Jayson Tebbeharris, left for Kuwait.  Karen said having the photos to look at while he was gone made all the difference.

“It was really helpful for us,” Tebbeharris said.  “The kids were able to sit and look through and say, ‘There’s Daddy!’  The older ones can understand it more so it helps them to have the photos but it makes a big difference, especially for the younger ones.  If there’s not a visual connect it makes it really difficult on their return.”

The OpLove sessions are not only free, Tebbeharris says there’s a level of closeness you don’t get from a traditional photography session.

“They make it very personal, whereas traditional photos can be kind of stiff.  They really catch the emotion,” Tebbeharris said.  “It’s been really helpful for us and I can only imagine how much more helpful it is for families who’s husband or father doesn’t come home.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct102012

Military Wives Stripping Down to Battle PTSD

Ashley Wise(NEW YORK) -- Military wives across the country are stripping down for their soldier husbands to draw attention to what they see as the rampant problem of post traumatic stress disorder.  They say they want to create awareness of the anxiety syndrome and help soldiers and families get support.

Ashley Wise of Fort Campbell, Ky., launched Battling Bare this April to provide a network of support for the soldiers struggling with PTSD after military service.  The project provides an environment for spouses, children and families to share stories and raise awareness of post traumatic battle stress.

"Nobody had an outlet to communicate," said Wise in an interview with ABC News.  "Many, many women are very good at putting on this image of perfection when it was a war zone inside their homes.  We need to make sure they're getting the help that they need."

Wise, 29, said that her husband, Robert Earl Wise, an E-6 Staff Sergeant who did three tours in Iraq, suffered a traumatic brain injury in an IED explosion in Iraq in 2004.  Though he received a purple heart, she says that he never received a brain scan.

Prior to his service in Iraq, Staff Sgt. Wise, 38, had completed eight years with the Marines.  While deployed to Somalia, he had been stabbed in the spine.  Later, while stationed overseas on his second tour, he also saw six people die, and was eventually placed on death notification detail.  His wife says that after years of combat duty, he began to withdraw.

"He has never gotten rid of the Marine Corps hard-a** mentality.  His solution was to drink Crown Royal whisky and pass out," she said.

Last October, as he and Ashley were beset with financial problems and a promotion that hadn't materialized, Robert decided to take all four of his guns and two cases of beer and check into a hotel room.  Thinking quickly, Ashley tracked him down through online transaction records when he didn't show up for a meal, and soon spoke with her despondent husband in the hotel room.

"He said, 'Life is really hard right now.'  He'd never said anything like that," she said.

Ashley decided that she needed to get him the help that he needed, and called his chain of command and got him to sober up.  Soon, he was on the road to recovery.  But in March he took a turn for the worse when Robert Bales, who was in the same company and with whom he did multiple missions during his first tour, allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians.  Ashley recalls her husband having an immediate reaction as the news of Bales' alleged rampage ran on TV.

"He quickly logged onto Facebook, and Bobby's page was down," she said.  "By the time I walked into the office he was white, in shock -- 'It's Bobby.  He's a good dad.  How could this have happened?'"

A few weeks later, when another friend ended his life, Staff Sgt. Wise took another sharp turn for the worse.

"He would sit up in the bedroom and stare at the wall.  He was edgy.  I found little bottles of coke, filled with whiskey in random places," Ashley said.

In April, she and her husband went to Military & Family Life Consultants, and the Army Substance Abuse Program, but the couple felt that they were not addressing the source of the problem -- the post traumatic stress that was causing her husband's withdrawal and drinking.

At one point Staff Sgt. Wise's condition became so bad that while having a flashback he broke Ashley's nose.  She said he tells her that he can still smell the body odor of someone he thought was an Iraqi soldier, but turned out to be his wife.

Ashley's frustration with how the Army dealt with PTSD peaked when he was charged with assault after she went to the Army's Family Advocacy Program for help.

"I was very p***ed off, so I started sharing with other wives," she said.  "'This is ridiculous,' I'd say.  April was the height of suicides at Fort Campbell.  I felt like streaking the general's lawn, or the 101st Airborne Command building, but that would end my butt in jail."

She says she was talking to a fellow military wife on her porch when the idea suddenly hit her.  She went into the garage, grabbed her husband's M4, and quickly wrote up her pledge to support her husband.  She then gave her friend a diagram of how to write it up on her back.  

After snapping a photo, she immediately uploaded it to Facebook.  Within hours she was contacted by Military Minds, which helps soldiers suffering from PTSD, who suggested she increase her social media efforts and offered to promote her efforts.  A week after Battling Bare became public, its Facebook page had 1,000 fans.  Now, the page has over 35,000.

Today, Wise says that over 600 women have sent photos to Battling Bare.  It is even getting submissions from kids writing about their fathers on their arms.  The organization's website also provides a forum for military families to share their personal stories and find support.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct052012

Michigan 'Hero's Welcome' for Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, Who Lost Four Limbs

Hemera/Thinkstock(VASSAR, Mich.) -- Two rival teams will face off Friday night at a Michigan homecoming football game, but this year fans from both sides will be sporting the same T-shirts with the motto, "Two Teams, One Hero."

The "hero" to whom they refer is Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, who's returning to his hometown for the first time since an IED explosion caused him to lose both his arms and legs. Mills, 25, is one of five surviving quadruple amputee servicemen from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He has been at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for the past six months and was waiting until he was ready to visit his small hometown of Vassar, Mich. Everyone had known him in the town as a popular football, basketball and baseball player.

"I decided that I would wait until I was ready to walk and show people the progress I'm making, not that they would ever doubt me or make fun of me," Mills told ABC News. "It was a personal thing."

He has been stunned by his welcome home. Mills and wife Kelsey Mills, 23, and their 1-year-old daughter, Chloe, were grand marshals Thursday night at a homecoming parade. He will address the crowds Friday night at Vassar High School, his alma mater, before the homecoming game.

Mills said his community has welcomed him, "Just arms wide open, big hugs, everybody's cheering, thanking me for my service. It's just wonderful."

Mills' life changed in April while he was serving his third tour in Afghanistan. He went out on foot patrol at around 4:30 p.m. A mine-sweeper surveyed the area, but did not pick up on an IED made of plastic and copper wire that was in the exact spot where Mills set down an ammunition bag.

"As soon as I set it down, five or six seconds later, I woke up on the ground and I looked at my hand and said, 'This isn't good,'" he recalls.

A medic rushed over to him and Mills told him, "Get away from me, doc. You go save my men. Let me go. Save my men."

Mills laughingly recalled the medic saying, "With all due respect, shut up."

The next few weeks were fuzzily spent being transferred from hospital to hospital and town to town under a medically induced coma.

When Mills woke up, he was with his brother-in-law, a fellow soldier who had stayed with him. Mills' first question was about his soldiers and whether they were OK. They were. His next question was whether he was paralyzed. He was not, his brother-in-law said.

Mills told his brother-in-law that he couldn't feel his fingers and toes and not to lie to him.

"Travis, you don't have them anymore but you're alive," Mills recalls his saying. "I said OK."

His limbs could not be saved and Mills lost most of both arms and both legs.

"You have a lot of emotions. At first you're upset. Why did it happen? What did I do wrong? Am I a bad person?" he said. "Then you realize it just happened because it happens. There's no reason to dwell on the past or live in the past. I have a beautiful wife and a beautiful, young 1-year-old daughter and I'm never going to give up on them or my family or the people who support me."

At Walter Reed, Mills' doctor told him that he would probably spend two years recovering in the hospital. Mills told him he could do it in a year.

For the past six months, he has spent every day doing occupational therapy and physical therapy. He works on his therapies from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day. He has received support from his medical team, family friends and the few other surviving quadruple amputees. And he has already begun to pay that support forward.

"He has got such an unbelievable attitude," Mills' father-in-law, Craig Buck, said. "He takes time out of his week each week to go up to the fourth floor of Walter Reed. That's where the most critically wounded guys that are coming back home are, and he'll put on all of his prosthetics and go visit them to encourage them."

Buck, 49, has spent the past six weeks at Walter Reed with Mills and his family and has been amazed by his resilience.

"Just his spirit, he lifts everyone up around him even though he's had such devastating injuries," Buck said. "Of course there's down times, which is to be expected, where he's not feeling so chipper, but 90 percent of the time he's positive, motivated and just works so hard at getting better."

Mills has prosthetics for both legs and both arms. He uses a wheelchair sometimes, but is already walking on his prosthetics. He hopes to be completely out of the wheelchair by November, using it only occasionally.

Mills calls his wife "a real hero" for helping him and staying by his side. He says his wedding band is his most prized possession. His brother-in-law pulled it off of his mangled finger after the explosion and Mills marvels that it does not even have a scratch on it. He wears it around his neck.

He is confident that his military career is far from over. His goal of being in the military for 20 years is unchanged after his accident. He hopes to be an instructor.

"I still have plans to stay in the military, if they'll have me," he said. "If I can give anything to the war effort, to the soldiers, to the guys that are signing up, I'm definitely willing to do it and I would love to."

He'll get a chance to address his thousands of supporters and thank them Friday night for their support. His only concern is he hopes he'll be able to get to everyone.

"I've never stopped wanting to help and I'll never stop training, teaching and pushing guys through what they need to push through," he said. "I'll give inspiration and motivation to anyone because that's my purpose. I don't take life for granted and I'm thankful I get to see my kid grow up and teach her to ride a bike."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul132012

Soldiers and Veterans Should Have Annual PTSD Screenings, Report Says

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Servicemen and women returning from the war zones get screened for post-traumatic stress disorder, but a new report says too little happens after that.

An Institute of Medicine study says that of those who show symptoms, just 40 percent get referred for more treatment. The report also recommends that all service members and veterans should be screened at least once each year.
 
The review, mandated by Congress and funded by the Pentagon and the Veterans Administration, says many soldiers don't get PTSD treatment, worried it could jeopardize their careers.

"[There is] a certain amount of fearfulness around having psychological diagnosis, that it may affect a soldier's potential for promotion and a certain worry around the acceptability of the diagnosis," said report committee chair Dr. Sandro Galea at Columbia University.

The report also notes that there's no real systematic tracking of soldiers to pinpoint the most effective treatments. Galea says there's work to be done but he's optimistic.

"It will need a concerted system-wide effort on behalf of DOD [Department of Defense] and VA to raise awareness among all its ranks of the importance of PTSD, of the potential benefit of treatment and to implement specific programs," he says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun292012

Purple Hearts for Troops with PTSD?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- When Ron Morton returned from Vietnam in 1976, he abused drugs, attempted suicide and failed as a husband, unaware he was suffering a classic case of post-traumatic stress disorder from the near-fatal accidents he witnessed and experienced on the flight deck of the USS Ticonderoga. Today, the former Navy captain advocates making military members with post-traumatic stress and other invisible war wounds eligible for the Purple Heart.

"These are wounded people who deserve to be acknowledged for their efforts via a Purple Heart," Morton, 60, of Knoxville, Tenn., said Thursday from the national convention of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Seattle. "We want parity for mental illness, for combat-induced mental wounds. We want to be treated the same way as someone who has been shot in the arm or in the leg."

In a report, "Parity for Patriots," issued earlier Thursday, NAMI called mental health disorders like PTSD "signature injuries" of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, warning that the United States faces a deluge of new cases from scheduled troop draw-downs. The nation's largest grassroots mental health organization recommended that military commanders at all levels be accountable for suicide prevention and eliminating the stigma keeps some active duty troops and veterans from seeking care.

Bob Corolla, a NAMI spokesman, said the organization had delivered a copy of the report to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and author of the proposed Mental Health Access Act of 2012, which would improve care and access to care for service members and veterans.

Morton, the director of recovery and resiliency for Tennessee's Medicaid program, promotes programs that help people "recover from mental illness so they can have productive lives." He's all too aware that within military ranks, men and women remain reluctant to seek treatment because of a deeply ingrained culture of toughing it out.

"We don't think we deserve treatment for these things. We don't think we deserve acknowledgement of these things," he said.

Military officials have disputed the notion that troops suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder should be eligible for the Purple Heart.

"PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event; it is not a wound intentionally caused by the enemy from an 'outside force or agent,' but is a secondary effect caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event," Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez told Stars and Stripes in 2009.

Many military personnel also fear that acknowledging a problem could damage their professional reputations, he said.

He recalled a conversation a couple of years ago with a helicopter pilot who flew combat missions in Iraq and said, "I know I have symptoms of PTSD. I won't come forward. I won't seek treatment because they'll ground me."

Morton said, "Our desire now is to reduce the stigma around mental illness," and to acknowledge military heroes whose sacrifices are psychological as well as physical.

One way that some psychiatrists have proposed reducing the stigma of a PTSD diagnosis is by dropping the use of the term "disorder" and calling it post-traumatic stress, or a post-traumatic stress injury, said Dr. Amir Afkhami, assistant professor of psychiatry and global health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. "The disorder is associated with a kind of weakness, which goes against the culture of strength and, 'What does not kill you makes you stronger' that pervades the military.

"If I was a policy maker, one way I would approach this issue, rather than focus on the redefinition of the diagnosis, is focusing on education, both in terms of educating troops to what PTSD is; what are the biological causes of PTSD and educating the leadership of the military to recognize the long-term importance of treatment of post-traumatic stress."

He also said the U.S. military needs to come up with "creative ways to encourage folks to stay in treatment" because PTSD, which can produce a range of symptoms of varying degrees, is a chronic condition. He also noted that because it can go into remission, those who get treatment "shouldn't see the diagnosis of PTSD as a scarlet letter" that closes doors to them if they want to stay in the military.

Dr. Afkhami welcomed the idea of honoring invisibly wounded war heroes with the Purple Heart, saying that "any reframing of our view of post-traumatic stress, including recognizing it as a war wound worthy of a Purple Heart, certainly can help the process, but it's not the solution. ...When we do give a Purple Heart for PTSD, we should have another medal for people who go through treatment, because they rendered service not only to the Army, but also to society at large."

In its 17-page report, NAMI said one in five active duty military personnel have had symptoms of PTSD, depression or other mental health conditions. An active-duty soldier dies from suicide every 36 hours and a veteran dies by his or her own hand every 80 minutes.

Suicides are on the rise within the National Guard and Reserves, even among those who haven't been called up, the NAMI report said.

Families on the home front suffer depression and post-traumatic stress at about the same rates as service members, according to estimates cited by NAMI. More than one-third of military husbands and wives have one or more mental health problems, while one-third of children suffer from depression, anxiety or acute stress reaction.

NAMI encourages current and former military members or families in distress to call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, which can transfer them to military and veteran crisis lines.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May292012

Wounded Warriors Helping Dogs Help Vets

Wounded warriors train service dogs to help other injured servicemen and women. (ABC News)(WASHINGTON) -- A group of disabled Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans has taken on an important mission -- training service dogs to aid other wounded vets on their road to recovery and beyond as part of a program just begun by the Pentagon.

Dogs like four-month-old puppy Cadence are part of a three-year training course that will eventually match them up to help wounded troops coming home who've suffered debilitating injuries such as loss of limbs.

Training man's best friends to assist those with physical disabilities has been done in the past -- but what's different about this program is that injured military vets do the training. And that training has had a positive impact on the trainers themselves -- giving them their own kind of canine therapy, as well as giving the dogs more specified training.

Sgt. Brian Bradley, who is training six dogs, lost his right arm in Afghanistan in 2010. He credits the program with helping him readjust to everyday life. And in return, he uses his prosthetic limb to better train the dogs to better understand the disabled soliders they'll be assigned once their training is finished.

"When I first got to the program last year, some of the puppies -- they were like, 'What is that?' They see the hook moving around and stuff," Bradley said. "I got other prosthetics, but they see the hook and we introduce that to them because they know they are going to be seeing it later. Also, we introduced the wheelchairs to them too and the power chairs."

Bradley believes that with disabled vets doing the training, the dogs will better serve wounded soldiers when they are done.

"When a service member gets a service dog from another company, most of those people are able bodied, have no issues, so they aren't really working around anybody who is disabled," Bradley said. "So we train them completely how every disabled service member would be."

The dogs in the program are trained to help out with everyday tasks like picking up wallets, money and credit cards to turning on lights and pushing automatic door buttons.

"I can open the door for myself -- but if I have a lot of stuff, he can push the buttons for me," Bradley said. "He can flip lights as well. I'll say 'light' and he'll jump up on the wall and he'll flip it. Sometimes he uses his paw, sometimes he uses his nose."

But they are also trained to help heal another kind of injury that plagues so many soldiers when they return home from war -- post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Mine kicks in every time I put on a new prosthetic that looks identical to my other arm," Bradley said. "It's like an instant memory of me actually losing my arm that day. So PTSD is there."

Specialist Cory Doane, who lost a leg in Afghanistan in 2011 when his vehicle was hit by an IED, says the program helps him even more than it helps the dogs he's training.

"It helped me a lot more than it's helped the dog for sure," Doane said. "It's nice just to get out and about again. Because, you know, after I was wounded I was kind of stationary for a bit. So it's nice to get out and actually do something productive, instead of just healing. It's nice to contribute back."

Those contributions -- from the trainers and the dogs -- are being recognized by the military community.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised the program and those who make it happen.

"To be able to have someone who can be close to you and be a part of you as you go through some very tough times, as you rehabilitate, as you come back and try to come back into society and have the company of a dog -- that is really a true friend because they don't question what you are doing, they're just your friend through thick and thin," Panetta told ABC News' Jake Tapper. "Having that kind of relationship I think is just great for the veterans who serve this country."

Panetta has his own canine friend, a golden retriever named Bravo, who has shown him the kind of difference a furry friend can make.

"We could not do our job of protecting this country without people like you who are willing to put their lives on the line," Panetta said to the wounded warrior trainers. "And I really appreciate your service and your sacrifice. I appreciate the effort to, you know, be able to have a dog help someone be able to lead a fuller life. In many ways that's what Bravo does for me in some very tough jobs that I've been in -- having the company of Bravo around and having him provide emotional support.

"Thanks for everything you're doing to help our veterans. We owe them an awful lot," he said. "I guess one of the ways we can repay it is to have them have the company of a dog."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Kidney Donation from Deceased Marine Saves a Fellow Marine's Life

Sgt. Jacob Chadwick (left) received a lifesaving kidney from Lt. Patrick Wayland (right), who died after going into cardiac arrest. ABC News(SAN DIEGO) -- A year after Sgt. Jacob Chadwick, 23, was deployed to Iraq with Regimental Combat Team 1, he returned to his home in San Marcos, California only to suffer blinding, week-long headaches: the first sign of his failing kidneys.

Last Sunday, Chadwick underwent a four-and-a-half hour kidney transplant that saved his life.  His kidney donor was a fellow Marine, 24-year-old Lt. Patrick Wayland from Midland, Texas, who went into cardiac arrest on Aug. 1 at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida.

On Friday, while the Waylands were attending their son's funeral services, Chadwick was visiting the UC San Diego Medical Center to check on his measured recovery.

The Chadwick family said that they would like the Waylands eventually to make contact.
 
"What they did was pretty great.  A piece of their son is keeping me alive," Chadwick said.  "Eventually, I think they should [get to know the person] who their son's kidney went to."

Nearly 90,000 Americans are on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.  As of December 2010, 36 U.S. service members had donated 141 organs to gravely ill patients in the previous five years, according to a news article in the military publication Stars and Stripes.

For the last eight months, Chadwick endured dialysis treatments for three and a half hours every day for his condition, rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis, in which his immune system attacked his kidneys, slowly scarring them beyond repair.

The Chadwicks were desperately searching for a kidney donor whose blood type would match Jacob's rare Type O.  They contacted Operation Gratitude, with which Victoria had volunteered, sending packages to soldiers during her husband's deployment.  The organization promptly sent out a newsletter about Chadwick's need, and word quickly spread via Facebook and Twitter.

Some 1,400 miles away, in the heart of Texas, the community of Midland poured onto the streets on Thursday for the return of 2nd Lt. Wayland, who went into cardiac arrest while swimming in flight gear during training.

Chadwick said a doctor working with the Wayland family had searched the internet to find their ideal donor recipient.  They found Jacob, as well as four other recipients for Wayland's organs.

"[Wayland] was a registered donor but [the family] wanted to find people who they thought were deserving," Chadwick said.

Late Aug. 6, after it was decided where Wayland's organs would go, he was removed from life support.  That same morning, the Chadwicks received a phone call from the hospital: They had found a potential match.

Chadwick underwent the kidney transplant the next day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul212011

Toxic Air Causes Long-Term Damage for Deployed Troops

U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury/Released(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- A growing number of soldiers who have served early on in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now being diagnosed with deployment-related lung disease from inhaling toxic waste from sources like dust storms, combat smoke, and burn pits used to incinerate material, human waste, debris, and chemicals.

While the U.S. Department of Defense reports that it has shut down all burn pits in Iraq -- replacing some with closed incinerators -- and plans to do the same in Afghanistan by the end of the year, new evidence suggests the health effects may be irreparable for soldiers who were already exposed.

A new report by researchers at Vanderbilt University found that nearly half of 80 soldiers in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who could not pass a standard 2-mile run because of breathing problems, were diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis.  More than 80 percent of those with constrictive bronchiolitis were exposed to dust storms and more than 60 percent were exposed to burn pits, according to the report, which was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"I don't' think that we can say that our data says these exposures are the cause, at least not of yet," said Dr. Robert Miller of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "But I think it is very concerning."

Standard tests that are used to detect respiratory diseases, such as a pulmonary function test or CT scan, could not pick up the soldiers' condition.  Only a lung biopsy could detect constrictive bronchiolitis in the soldiers, he said.

"A large number of soldiers who have these respiratory disorders are being missed," said Miller, who suggested that more soldiers may have a form of respiratory condition and not know it.

And Miller said many doctors won't test further if standard tests fail to find anything.

"It's unusual for someone to take people normal on the tests and still give them a biopsy, but it's the only way these guys would've gotten the compensation that they needed," he said.

Miller said serious respiratory cases might be easier to detect if soldiers had a record of their breathing capacity before deploying.

"Everybody that is deployed should get a pulmonary function test before deploying," he said.  "If we have baseline breathing test on everybody we were seeing, then that would limit the amount of biopsies."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May222011

New Test Cleared for Diagnosing Q Fever in Soldiers

Jupiterimages/Comstock(WASHINGTON) -- The first nucleic acid amplification test for diagnosing early stages of Q fever infections in military personnel serving abroad has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Q fever (Coxiella burnetii) is an infectious disease that affects U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and other parts of the world. FDA officials say the new test is capable of indentifying and detecting the bacteria that causes the fever within four hours.

“It’s important that the FDA protect our troops from biothreats using innovative diagnostics,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Q fever bacteria is considered a biothreat agent in part due to the fact that fewer than 10 organisms need to be inhaled to cause infection and its ability to withstand open environments.”

The test’s development was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and developed by Idaho Technology Inc.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May022011

Which Soldiers Are at Greatest Risk of Developing PTSD?

Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Military service members who screened positive for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder before deploying overseas are more likely to develop the disorder, according to a new study published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Researchers at San Diego State University found that troops who showed the early symptoms were five times more likely to develop PTSD after returning from their tours abroad than those who didn't show the initial signs.

Futhermore, troops taking psychiatric drugs or under stress before deployment were 2.5 times more likely to develop the disorder than colleagues without these risk factors.  Those who suffered a severe injury during deployment also had an increased chance of developing PTSD later on.

The study's authors concluded that this study may help identify more vulnerable members of the deployed military population, leading to early intervention and prevention of PTSD.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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