Cost of Treating Veterans Will Rise Long Past Wars

Cost of Treating Veterans Will Rise Long Past Wars, 27 July 2010, NY Times

By: James Dao

 

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

WASHINGTON — Though the withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan will save the nation billions of dollars a year, another cost of war is projected to continue rising for decades to come: caring for the veterans.

By one measure, the cost of health care and disability compensation for veterans from those conflicts and all previous American wars ranks among the largest for the federal government — less than the military, Social Security and health care programs including Medicare, but nearly the same as paying interest on the national debt, the Treasury Department says.

Ending the current wars will not lower those veterans costs; indeed, they will rise ever more steeply for decades to come as the population of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan expands, ages and becomes more infirm. To date, more than 2.2 million troops have served in those wars.

Studies show that the peak years for government health care and disability compensation costs for veterans from past wars came 30 to 40 years after those wars ended. For Vietnam, that peak has not been reached.

In Washington, the partisan stalemate over cutting federal spending is now raising alarms among veterans groups and some lawmakers that the seemingly inexorable costs of veterans benefits will spur a backlash against those programs.

Even if cuts to veterans programs do not occur, the current mood of budgetary constraint seems likely to force the Department of Veterans Affairs to make do without the large spending increases it has received from Congress in the recent past.

That means efforts by veterans groups to expand existing health care programs, provide additional benefits to Vietnam veterans or institute new research into things liketraumatic brain injury or hearing loss will face difficult uphill battles, lawmakers and veterans advocates say.

“No one is thinking about the lifetime costs this country is responsible for,” said Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat who is chairwoman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I’m really worried.”

FULL ARTICLE AT: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/28/us/28veterans.html?_r=2

All Medical Providers Should Have Training In Issues Related To Military Deployment

All Medical Providers Should Have Training In Issues Related To Military Deployment, 19 May 2011, Seattle Times

By Brian Baird

EVEN as a federal Court of Appeals ruled recently that Veterans Affairs care for veterans is inadequate, a possibly greater gap in care for service members has gone completely unrecognized.

In the past decade, approximately 2 million American military and civilian personnel have deployed to combat areas. Those individuals, plus their family members, face unique physical, emotional and economic challenges that can have lasting, potentially lethal, impacts.

If any other health-care condition affected so many and carried such serious potential risks, one would expect our academic and public-health institutions to pull out all the stops to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. Nothing of the sort has happened.

In fact, the majority of our leading medical schools and other health-training programs provide no mandatory or even elective course work relating specifically to military service or deployment issues. As a colleague in Congress said when I asked about his own medical training, “I took course work on all sorts of diseases I’ll never see in my career, but I never had a single class or even a chapter on military culture or combat deployment.”

Some physicians and other health professionals gain exposure to these issues during residencies or other training at Department of Defense or VA facilities, but this is by no means universal or adequate. With so many people having been deployed and the heavy reliance on National Guard and Reserves, many of those who served will return to homes far from military bases or VA centers. So too, civilian government workers or contractors and their families have no access to such resources.

For many, the first line of health-care practitioners are likely to be family doctors, psychologists, school counselors, etc., most of whom have no training in these issues.

 

FULL ARTICLE AT: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2015089634_guest19baird.html

Study: Help Upfront Reduces Troops’ Mental Ills

Study: Help Upfront Reduces Troops’ Mental Ills, 18 Jan 2011, USA Today

By Gregg Zoroya

 

A battlefield study conducted by the Army on 20,000 soldiers during the troop surge in Iraq shows that more aggressive efforts to question and counsel GIs about their mental health reduce by nearly 80% the number who develop behavioral health illnesses during combat.

The results of the study, to be published today in the American Journal of Psychiatry, also show that 54% fewer soldiers contemplated suicide and that the number who needed to be sent home from Iraq with mental health problems dropped by nearly 70%.

“We’re excited about what this study shows,” says Maj. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Army deputy surgeon general. “It is the first direct evidence that a program (of more aggressive screening and treatment) is effective in preventing adverse behavioral health outcomes.”

The Army will begin using screening and treatment methods from the study within six months, Horoho says.

 

FULL ARTICLE AT: http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20110118/iraqscreening18_st.art.htm

Report Examines Combat Stress Care Of Women Vets

Report Examines Combat Stress Care Of Women Vets, Newport News Daily Press, 10 Jan 2011 

By Veronica Chufo

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General released a report studying the growing number of women who suffer from combat stress.

Among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, a smaller pecentage of women than men were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, while a higher percentage were diagnosed with depression.

That’s according to a report requested by Sen. Mark R. Warner and prepared by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.

Although women aren’t assigned to units primarily engaged in direct ground combat, many female veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from the same combat stress as their male counterparts.

Warner was hearing that the Department of Veterans Affairs was not fully taking care of those women, so he called for a study of the growing number of women who suffer from combat stress. He will tour the Hampton VA Monday to talk about the report.

Genevieve Chase, executive director of the nonprofit American Women Veterans, applauded Warner’s effort to get the study funded.

“Now that we have the facts, we need to analyze it,” she said.

The study looked at 246,976 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and 246,080 who served elsewhere.

Among those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 12 percent of active female veterans and about 16 percent of reserve unit female veterans were diagnosed with PTSD, compared to about 17 percent of active and reserve male veterans.

 

FULL ARTICLE AT: http://articles.dailypress.com/2011-01-09/news/dp-nws-va-women-20110109_1_female-veterans-direct-ground-combat-combat-stress

 

Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Sustaining Member of the Month

Association of the United States Army (AUSA) has selected the firm as the Sustaining Member of the Month

Dear Steptoe Group Supporters,

The Steptoe Group, LLC is please to announce that the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) has selected the firm as the Sustaining Member of the Month (Jan 2010). There are over 550 Sustaining Member companies. AUSA only bestows this honor on twelve companies in a given year.  You may view the AUSA feature at the link below or via the attachment.

http://www.ausa.org/membership/sustaining/members/Pages/TheSteptoeGroup,LLC.aspx

 

Thank you for your continued support and prayers,

 

Ronald J. Steptoe, CMR

Steptoe Group, LLC

President

443-324-1030

ron@thesteptoegroup.com

www.thesteptoegroup.com

Young Vets with PTSD more Prone to Heart Risk Factors

Adolescent Brain Development and Juvenile Justice – Fact Sheet

47 percent of the soldiers in the Army are between the ages of 17-24 years. 67% of the Marines in the Marine Corps are between the ages of 17-24 years. This article states that recent magnetic brain imagery technology has shown the brain does not complete its frontal lobe development until the age of 25. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for executive function and higher lever thinking. The emotional stressors and traumas of war may have a more deleterious impact on the mental and behavioral health conditions of adolescent service members, and veterans.

http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2009/08/04/young-vets-with-ptsd-more-prone-to-heart-risk.html