WRIISC advantage

Material Information

WRIISC advantage
Portion of title:
War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center (Veterans Health Administration)
Place of Publication:
East Orange, NJ
Department of Veterans Affairs, War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center
Publication Date:
Irregular[ FORMER 2009-2013]
Physical Description:
1 online resource : ;


Subjects / Keywords:
Veterans -- Medical care -- Periodicals -- United States ( lcsh )
newspaper ( sobekcm )
newspaper ( marcgt )


Dates or Sequential Designation:
Began with: September 2009
General Note:
"A national newsletter for veterans and the health care providers".

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is a work of the U.S. federal government and not subject to copyright pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §105.
Resource Identifier:
on10484 ( NOTIS )
1048460391 ( OCLC )
2018226789 ( LCCN )

UFDC Membership

Digital Military Collection


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SPRING/SUMMER 2014 A National Newsletter for Veterans and their Health Care ProvidersWRIISC Advantage INSIDE THIS ISSUE: VAs AIRBORNE HAZARDS & OPEN BURN PIT REGISTRY Information for Veterans on AIRBORNE HAZARDS CLINICAL CARE and the LATEST RESEARCH


2 | Spring/Summer 2014 WRIISC Advantage | 3Veterans may be concerned about exposure to airborne hazards during their deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. This timely edition of WRIISC Advantage is focused on these concerns, including the launch of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (learn more on page 3), and the important role of the VA provider. We also cover enhanced clinical diagnostic and specialty services available at the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) and discuss our innovative research in the eld.What Are Airborne Hazards and What Do We Know About Them? Veterans may hear the term Airborne Hazards and wonder what types of exposures are included. Airborne hazards are particulate matter (PM) and gaseous air pollutants that come from a number of sources such as: Burning of human and non-human solid wastes Smoke from structural res and explosions Smoke from burning oil wells Dust and sand particles Industrial and ambient air pollution Air craft and automobile engine exhaustA Veteran may have been exposed to airborne hazards during deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan by having ingested (swallowed) or inhaled (breathed in) any of the above substances. The potential for and type of possible health effects from exposure to airborne hazards depends on what substance an individual was exposed to, how much of the substance was ingested or inhaled, and how long a time that individual was exposed.The health effects of air pollution have been studied for many years throughout the world. Shortand long-term exposure to air pollution has been shown to result in harmful health effects on respiratory and cardiovascular systems (heart and lungs). Recent scientic publications about Veterans who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have reported a variety of ndings. To learn more about these studies, visit our website which includes our fact sheet for Veterans on Airborne Hazards entitled Airborne Hazard Concerns: Information for Veterans. A report Long-Term Health Consequences of Exposure to Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan by the Institute of Medicine in 2011 summarized all of the available scientic literature related to the possibility of adverse health effects of airborne hazards exposure by U.S. Servicemembers during deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. Some of the key ndings of that report are: % enU.S. Department of Defense (DoD) air quality monitoring data indicated higher levels of PM air pollution than generally considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other U.S. regulatory agencies; % enStudies show that a link exists between exposure to high PM levels and cardiopulmonary (heart and lungs) complications, particularly in individuals with pre-existing conditions such as asthma and emphysema; % enThere is limited evidence of an association between exposures to combustion products and reduced pulmonary function in deployed military personnel; % enThere is no evidence of an association between exposure to airborne hazards and any specic disease; % enIt is unknown if reduced pulmonary function is a consequence of exposure to PM or exposure to combustion products is a risk factor for the development of clinical disease later in life. Read below to nd out how to become a part of the VAs important effort to better understanding about airborne hazards. INTRODUCING...VAs Airborne Hazards & Open Burn Pit Registry FOR VETERANS: VA takes action in implementing a new online self-assessment survey known as the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (Registry) required by Public Law 112-260. THE REGISTRY was established by VA to help keep Veterans informed about scientic studies including long-term studies on airborne hazards as well as emerging treatments on airborne hazard-related concerns. Additionally, it will also help VA to monitor the health conditions affecting Veterans as a result of airborne hazards exposure. All data collected will be used to improve programs at VA to help Veterans with deployment exposure concerns. To learn more about the registry process, see the article, How the Registry Process Works, on the next page. Eligible Veterans include those who were: enen Deployed to the Southwest Asia theater enen


4 | Spring/Summer 2014 WRIISC Advantage | 5How the Registry Process Works VETERANS CAN participate in the Registry whether or not they are enrolled in VA by completing a web-based self-assessment health questionnaire: AHBurnPitRegistry/#page/home. As part of this questionnaire, Veterans can choose to request an in-person medical evaluation with their VA provider. If the Veteran is already enrolled in VA health care, they can schedule an appointment. If a Veteran is not enrolled in VA health care, they can request a registry evaluation by contacting their local Environmental Health Coordinator (see coordinators.asp for a listing by facility). During the in-person evaluation, Veterans can discuss their concerns and any symptoms and providers will conduct a medical exam. A provider may suggest further testing, including specialty evaluations based on the individual Veterans health. 1PROCESS FOR VETERANS WITH AIRBORNE HAZARD EXPOSURE CONCERNSVeteran registers and completes VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry selfassessment questionnaire 324 Veteran decides if they would like to be evaluated and if so, contacts their local VA (optional) VA provider will: Review registry questionnaire Complete airborne hazards evaluation Recommend any specialty tests (if needed) that can be completed at home VA Develop a plan for next steps as needed and discuss with Veteran Home VA Provider considers referring Veteran for WRIISC Evaluation for further unique testing based on individual need and initial evaluation WRIISC Expertise and Specialty Testing Capability for Airborne Hazard Exposures WITH EXPERTISE in clinical evaluation of Veterans with complex, difcult-to-diagnose or medically unexplained health concerns, the WRIISC looks at underlying mechanisms of airborne hazard exposure and possible treatments for related health concerns. Our multi-disciplinary team, including an environmental exposure specialist and pulmonologist, conducts a comprehensive evaluation which contains thorough questioning about airborne hazards exposure. All of our evaluation components and any previous medical work up help us assess the whole Veteran. Depending on individual needs of a Veteran and previous ndings, the WRIISC clinical evaluation components for airborne hazards concerns may also include state-of-the-art assessments of lung function and exercise capacity. Just two of these methods include complete pulmonary function testing (PFT) and cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET), shown right. PFT includes assessment of spirometry, lung volume, and lung diffusing capacity while CPET helps evaluate how well the lungs, heart, blood vessels, and muscles work together during an exercise challenge. All of this information is utilized to develop recommendations focusing on improving the quality of life and symptom management for Veterans. Any recommendations we make are shared with a Veteran and their provider. To have a WRIISC clinical evaluation, a referral from a VA provider is needed. See for more information. WRIISC Airborne Hazards ResearchSEVERAL RESEARCH PROJECTS at arteries via ultrasound and evaluate the different studies will lead to better PFT CPET


Around the WRIISC NewsDC WRIISCEducational Efforts Address Concerns about Airborne Hazards ExposureDC WRIISC continues to work closely with other VA departments and DoD on programs designed to improve the health of Veterans concerned with airborne hazard exposure. During the past year, DC WRIISC has been involved in several educational efforts that address this important topic. First, Michelle Prisco, MSN, ANP-C, from the DC WRIISC was involved in the planning process for the second annual joint VA/DoD Airborne Hazards Symposium that was held in August 2013. During this symposium, VA/DoD researchers and clinicians, Veterans Service Organizations, and stakeholders in Veterans health met to discuss collaborative DoD and VA efforts on airborne hazards to help improve the care of Veterans. Insight gathered from this symposium is being used to help guide the launch of the VA Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Registry. Several faculty members from the NJ WRIISC participated in the Symposium as presenters as well. Second, in response to feedback from VA primary care clinicians, DC WRIISC has recently created new group environmental exposure health classes designed to educate Veterans, family members, and health care providers about potential deployment exposures and their possible health effects. One of these classes titled OEF/OIF/OND Military Exposure Concerns covers potential airborne hazard exposures as well as other potential exposures for Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraq Freedom/Operation New Dawn. Class content is posted on the WRIISC Website and is available for both Veterans and providers to review. CA WRIISCA Detailed Encounter of Symptoms Related to Airborne Hazard ExposureVeterans with symptoms related to Airborne Hazard exposure evaluated at the CA WRIISC are seen by the VA Palo Alto Pulmonary Clinic under the direction of Dr. Ware Kuschner. Dr. Kuschner is Chief of the Pulmonary Section at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University and an expert in pulmonary symptoms and illnesses. He reports that Veterans want to learn about the potential health effects of airborne hazards and nd out if their current health issues might be attributable to toxic vapors, gases, dusts, and fumes encountered during deployment. During Dr. Kuschners examination, Veterans often report exposures to the combustion products of burn pit res, jet fuel aerosols, and breathable sand particles. Many describe health effects resulting from these exposures that included initial symptoms of irritation of the eyes and nose, cough, and chest tightness, and limits to exertion. Personal respiratory protection was worn inconsistently, if at all. In many cases, symptoms resolved over time, but some Veterans continues to experience episodes of chest tightness, wheezing and coughing, diminished exercise capacity, and episodic breathlessness that was not there before deployment. Dr. Kuschners team carefully listens to the Veterans concerns and reviews additional tests such as chest x-rays, pulmonary function tests, CT scans, and cardiopulmonary exercise testing results to help determine the extent of the problem and establish diagnoses. An overview of our approach to clinical care for Veterans with Airborne Hazard concerns is located in the article WRIISC Expertise and Specialty Testing Capability for Airborne Hazard Exposures. NJ WRIISCNew Study to Examine Cognitive Fatigue in Gulf War Illness Using fMRI At the NJ WRIISC, our translational research continues to focus on the health concerns and well-being of Gulf War Veterans. Following deployment to the Gulf region, many Veterans experience profound mental fatigue (or decreased ability to think) that limits their capacity to perform normal daily activities. While mental fatigue has often been reported, it has proven difcult to determine a cause of this fatigue. An important breakthrough using new neuroimaging techniques is allowing us to better understand the brain and possible links to mental fatigue. Principal Investigator Glenn Wylie, DPhil of the NJ WRIISC and the Kessler Rehabilitation Center, is investigating mental fatigue using functional MRI (also known as fMRI) (Examination of Cognitive Fatigue in Gulf War Illness using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging). The overall objective of the study is to use neuroimaging technology to establish the areas of the brain that underlie mental fatigue in Veterans with Gulf War Illness (GWI). An eligible volunteer will need to make 2 visits; on the rst visit he/she will complete paper and pencil tests that will measure different aspects of thinking, including fatigue. On the second visit, he/she will have an MRI done at Kessler Foundation (KF), in West Orange, NJ. During this MRI visit, participants will perform tasks while in the MRI scanner, which will allow us to nd which brain areas underlie fatigue. If you are a Veteran interested in participating in this study or have questions and would like more information about this study, please feel free to call NJ WRIISC at 1-800-248-8005 and ask about the fMRI Study. WRIISC AdvantageSPRING/SUMMER 2014Produced by the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center Editor:en Susan L. Santos, PhD, MS Assistant Editor:en Christina Rumage, MSPH Graphic Artists:en Florence B. Chua, MS Jose B. Chua, BS Contributors:en Michael J. Falvo, PhD, RCEP Louise A. Mahoney, MS, RYT Michelle Prisco, MSN, ANP-C Christina Rumage, MSPH Glenn R. Wylie, DPhil Susan L. Santos, PhD, MS 1-800-722-8340 War Related Illness and Injury Study Center Department of Veterans Affairsen Washington, DC VA Medical Center Room 3B 203, Mail Stop 127 50 Irving St., NW Washington, DC 20422-0002 1-888-482-4376 War Related Illness and Injury Study Center Department of Veterans Affairsen Palo Alto Health Care Systemen 3801 Miranda Ave. Mail Code 151Y Palo Alto, CA 94304-1290 1-800-248-8005 War Related Illness and Injury Study Centeren Department of Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System 385 Tremont Ave. Mail Stop 129, 11th oor East Orange, NJ 07018-1023 For comments or concerns regarding this newsletter, please contact us at: 1-800-248-8005 or 6 | Spring/Summer 2014 WRIISC Advantage | 7


Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) en New Jersey Health Care System 385 Tremont Ave., Mail Stop 129 East Orange, NJ 07018 1-800-248-8005 Do you want to participate in VAs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry? Whether or not you are enrolled in VA, you can complete a health questionnaire on the Internet. To learn more about the Registry,