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Veterans... Does the Federal Government Really Care About You?Ed Mattson Veterans Today
Those who served have a list of particular concerns, from Agent Orange to Depleted Uranium and beyond....
(WASHINGTON DC) - My last four articles (Veterans Today) focused in on setting the stage to constructively help Veterans exposed to various toxins while serving our country and announce the posting of my new Internet website to assist Veterans facing healthcare issues from Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium (www.docmattson.com). Obviously, like all of us who live in this country, we are exposed to environmental pollutants, household chemicals, and workplace hazards, but what most of us would never imagine is that our employer would, without our knowledge, deliberately expose us to life threatening toxins.
I wrote a series of articles in 2011 on the fact that our government was well aware of Agent Orange and the potential ill-effects of using it. My research took me back to World War II when the United States Army completed defoliant research at Fort Detrick, Maryland. The research was funded in part by a grant provided by the National Research Council to develop a chemical to destroy rice crops in Japan (the major food source of the Japanese). 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T (Agent Orange) was the result. A discussion between President Roosevelt and White House Chief of Staff, Admiral William D. Leahy determined that this heinous chemical should not be used. Agent Orange was not used during WWII.
The history of Agent Orange is well documented and the US Government has been well aware of the health consequences since early testing, but in 1961, President Kennedy signed two orders allowing Agent Orange to be used in Vietnam. He issued one order to destroy crops depriving the enemy of food and another order to defoliate the jungle to deprive the enemy of cover. These orders were signed prior to major U.S. intervention. Agent Orange and other herbicides were used extensively starting August 10, 1961 in Kontom Province and eventually throughout Southeast Asia until the end of the Vietnam War.
My recent articles on the use of Depleted Uranium (DU) in munitions in the Gulf Wars, shows we are looking at a similar history for the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. DU is used in a variety of weapons, but the concern isn't so much on the potential for exposure to radiation that’s my concern, it is the "cook-off" of the DU after an explosion. The cook-off creates airborne byproducts of uranium and other heavy metals. The byproducts are spread over the battle area by the wind current and end up in the sand, on clothing, in the water supply, and eventually in the food supply.
The problem the government has this time around is deniability. With today's modern testing procedures (Spectral Karyotyping), the Internet, easy access to test results, freedom of information act (FIA), and the sheer number of health related claims about diseases of unexplainable origin with the homecoming troops, hopefully the problem with DU will not be swept under the carpet this time around. Early evidence is in that with all the ways we now have about "getting the word out" that wasn't available to the Vietnam era Veteran, there is no guarantee that the government won't try to fall back on their time proven methods of deniability, with stall tactics, fudged reports from a handful of so-called "experts", stone walling, and refusal to answer questioning as has been exhibited in the Benghazi Affair, the IRS, and the "Fast and Furious" debacle.
Dr. Asaf Durakovic, physician and expert in nuclear medicine, a former U.S. Army Colonel, and Chief of the Nuclear Sciences Division of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute at the VA, was onto showing a direct correlation between the cook-off of DU and what has become know as "Gulf War Syndrome (or Disease)", using Spectral Karyotyping. The VA told him to stand down and eventually terminated his employment. He has since taken up collaborative research with McGill University in Canada, and Wayne State University in Michigan as Medical Research Director of the Toronto-based Uranium Medical Centre.
Spectral Karyotyping (SKY) is a molecular cytogenetic tool which allows scientists to visualize all chromosomes in a cell at once by using different fluorescent colors. It is a useful tool for studying complex karyotypes, which involve multi-chromosomal rearrangements, e.g., in some tumor cell lines. Contrary to black and white traditional karyotypes, visualization of chromosomal rearrangements with spectral karyotyping is straightforward as one or more colors will show within a single chromosome. Durakovic's finding of commonalities among a group of Gulf War Veterans, each showing specific chromosome abnormalities involving deletions, translocations, and inversions, becomes conclusive evidence about the effects of exposure to DU.
With that in mind, many ask why we keep trying to beat a dead donkey when it all seems to fall on deaf ears in the media and with an inattentive public that worships at the altar of Lady Gaga, Sean Penn, and the dolts and slugs of the red carpet crowd of Hollywood. The fact is we have made great strides in helping many Vietnam Veterans get their claims heard and eventually approved, and with the early establishment of provable facts, the Gulf War Veterans may have an easier go at it.
Medical help is available to Veterans through the VA, which has access to the clinical trials listed in the NIH registry. ClinicalTrials.gov currently lists 146,692 studies with locations in all 50 states and in 184 countries. The benefits of participating in a clinical trial include the following:
Unfortunately, not enough patients participate in clinical trials. The lack of participants is one reason the progress with cancer often has been slow, especially for a rare cancer like mesothelioma. According to The National Cancer Institute, less than 5 percent of all cancer patients in the United States are part of a clinical trial. And while two-thirds of all cancer patients are 65 years or older, this group represents less than one-third of all clinical trial participants.
“For studies to produce meaningful results, you need a large number of people involved, which is why it’s so important for patients to participate if given the opportunity,” Cary Gross, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Yale University and co-director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, said during a recent interview. Older patients sometimes have little interest if it requires travel. Too often, patients are not always aware of the availability of a trial, which is partly the fault of the local oncologist they are seeing.
The patient load for all doctors has reached the tipping point with too few doctors to treat the myriad of patients seeking healthcare. It is only going to get worse under Obamacare which will pile on more restrictions and costs to the health insurance industry. The VA and Tri Care Insurance, both facing budget scrutiny, are not impervious to the healthcare problems that are becoming front-of-stage issues.
Having been hospitalized three times over the last couple of years, I've witnessed a complete change in hospital decorum from just a few years ago. No longer is the care "patient focused", but rather subject to the whims of the insurance company, and budget considerations of the hospital. Doctors are becoming pawns in the game and the patient's needs often appear to be less than relevant.
What can Veterans do to take charge of their own health care situation and care? My next series of articles are going to be tailored to helping point to solutions to arm the average Veteran with questions they need to deal with the care providers at the VA and Tri care. I will then go through the most prominent Agent Orange and Deplete Uranium associated diseases, and provide a number of possible treatment solutions listed in the NIH registry and in published medical journals by internationally recognized research entities.
There are a total of 67 NCI-designated Cancer Centers; 60 of the centers provide care to patients. Seven cancer centers conduct laboratory research only and do not provide patient care. There's also 65 members of CDC's National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (NCCCP), a national resource for supporting comprehensive cancer control (CCC) efforts. Since 1998, the number of participating programs has increased from 6 to 65. CDC now supports 50 states, the District of Columbia, 7 tribal groups, and 7 U.S. Associated Pacific Islands/territories in the development and implementation of cancer control plans.
Until my next series of articles starts next weekend, please visit my website at www.docmattson.com and spend a little time finding out about biological response modifiers (BRM's) which are often far better than many of the traditional treatment protocols, but are often only available by signing up for a clinical trial.
Special thanks to Paul Sutton
Paul Sutton "Dominus Fortissima Turris"
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