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Old 02-08-2012, 10:26 AM   #241
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:44 AM   #242
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This reminded me of your situation, Sarge.



7 February 2012
Army Times
Families link burn pits to health woes, debt
Patricia Kime

Army Reserve wife Rosie Torres, 38, stood in line Jan. 19 at a Texas Health and Human Services office to apply for assistance with her mortgage, bills and groceries.

Mounting debt related to her husband’s medical bills has pushed the couple into arrears; between insurance deductibles, house payments and overages, they owe more than $55,000.

LeRoy Torres, 39, a Reserve captain and former Texas state trooper, was assigned to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in 2008 and believes exposure to the camp’s open-air burn pits left him with debilitating respiratory problems. He can’t walk long distances, perform daily tasks or even roughhouse with his kids.

But although he can’t work full time, between his drill pay and Rosie’s part-time pay, they make too much to qualify for a grant.

“My husband actually said that with our insurance, we’d be better off if he’s not around,” Rosie Torres said. “I don’t want to hear that. That’s not what our family needs.”

The Torreses are among the many National Guard, reserve and active-duty families awaiting military medical evaluations and possible retirement or separation.

They also are part of a smaller cadre that has incurred massive medical bills resulting from illnesses they say are tied to pollutants — namely burn pits or fine particulate matter in desert dust — they inhaled while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As non-activated reservists, they often cobble together health care, relying on the Veterans Affairs Department, their work insurance and savings accounts to pay for care.

Quite often, that means going into debt.

“I never thought we’d be in this situation,” said Maria Baca, whose husband, New Mexico Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jessey Baca, still has a civilian job but has outstanding bills totaling $57,000.

About 26,000 troops are in the military disability evaluation process at any given time, according to an Army report released in January. The waiting time for a decision on the 18,000 soldiers in the process is between 373 to 400 days, the report states.

The wait for medical discharges is especially difficult for families like the Torreses and the Bacas, whose husbands were primary breadwinners and aren’t earning full-time military or civilian pay.

Baca, 52, served two tours at Balad. He’s been diagnosed with emphysema, sleep apnea, chronic cough and mesothelioma.

When he went to VA for treatment, he felt he wasn’t getting solutions, so he turned to a doctor at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee who has diagnosed more than 40 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with a rare condition known as constrictive bronchiolitis. The consultation with pulmonologist Dr. Robert Miller put them further in debt.

“The gap between VA and [the Defense Department] for the reserve component of the military’s wounded must be bridged,” Rosie Torres said. “Too many people are losing their homes, their life savings and their hope.”

VA says it treats veterans for their known symptoms and is working to understand the unexplained health problems of some Iraq and Afghanistan vets.

But the process takes research and time, said Dr. Terry Walters, deputy chief consultant of VA’s environmental health strategic health care group.

An Institute of Medicine report released in November said the existing data cannot prove whether long-term health effects are likely to result from exposure to emissions.

Miller’s diagnosis of constrictive bronchiolitis is controversial. It gives patients a name for their disease but no relief — it’s incurable — and requires an invasive lung biopsy to detect.

“If a veteran comes in and they have demonstrated shortness of breath and it has an impact on their functioning, they don’t need a lung biopsy to prove they have a disease. Our concern is biopsies are being done on the outside for financial reasons,” Walters said.

In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, physicians at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio challenged Miller’s findings, reported in the journal in July 2011.

“Constrictive bronchiolitis is characterized by relentlessly progressive disease, lack of response to treatment and severe disability and it is often fatal … although clinicians should remain diligent and aware of the possibility of constrictive bronchiolitis, the data do not establish a convincing link,” wrote physicians Dr. Michael Morris and Col. Lisa Zacher.

Miller, who has diagnosed 45 cases of constrictive bronchiolitis in troops, defends his work, saying he initially was reluctant to biopsy seemingly healthy service members.

But their symptoms indicated a “hidden impairment,” Miller said. Their tissue slides show “lacy black pigment” on the sample surfaces — evidence of constrictive bronchiolitis, he said.

“These are often elite athletes — soldiers who are now limited, disabled,” Miller said. “And they aren’t getting the compensation they deserve.”

Veterans say they aren’t seeing Miller or other civilian physicians to get higher disability ratings. Instead, they say, they seek peace of mind, regardless of cost.

In February, clinicians, researchers, troops, veterans and family members will meet at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York for a first-ever symposium on lung health among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Sponsored in part by the advocacy group Burn Pits 360, for which Rosie Torres is executive director, the meeting aims to call attention to this cohort’s health and welfare issues.
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Old 02-08-2012, 05:19 PM   #243
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I'm trying to pay private doctors for tests & consultations. I keep getting so many different theories/explanations. For over 3 years, the Army treated me for discoid lupus and turns out I never had it. sigh.
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Old 02-08-2012, 05:34 PM   #244
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Old 02-08-2012, 06:09 PM   #245
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:50 AM   #246
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I'm morphing and have been for several months. Last year until the late fall, I couldn't kill anything. My deer camp experiences were mainly setting cameras and managing food plots. I was bitten twice by dogs that I should have shot becaused I tried to capture them to take the dogs to the shelter. Then I began to change. I've found I can kill again and it doesn't phase me. I can skin & process hides without a thought. I guess in some ways I am returning to normal?

I wonder if it is because I've been out of a combat zone for almost 2 years and I admit the last tour was fairly easy. Or, are the raised doses of benzodiazepines removing my inhibitions? In some ways it scares me because I am finding I can kill (not just hunt) without it affecting my emotions. Scary to wonder if I am going back to where i can kill "anything" and not have it phase me.
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:32 AM   #247
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I have a Vietnam Vet uncle who became an on again off again hunter after being pretty passionate about it in his youth. I'm not in his head but you can see he's conflicted about it. He was an MP but stayed out of law enforcement in civilian life. It seems like you have a tougher row to hoe having to face it directly every day.
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:02 PM   #248
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Sarge, you have a reason to kill the animals that you do, and a history of doing so.
Would a "verminator" worry about killing wasps, mice, rats?
Would someone working in an abbatoir worry about killing sheep or cattle?

You admit you actually made a mistake in judgement by not killing two dogs. Misplaced compassion. You are not in any kind of regression if you admit that you would do it now.

Killing animals for food doesn't affect you one way or the other. That's fine. You are not excited by hunting (even though it is acceptible to be) but you are also not disgusted by it. It's a long reach to not be fazed by killing for food to not be affected by any killing.

The fact it concerns you shows that is a long way from being the truth.

Anyway, just sending my love and hopes for your health.
If I knit I would send you a marvellous blanket to keep you warm in your hideaway. Or crocheted, or sewed. But I'm just all about words, so I hope you can take them home in your heart.
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:42 AM   #249
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Sundae that's so sweet.
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:24 AM   #250
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Things are getting worse. I had my PHA with the National Guard and they have flagged me with 3 issues to go to the medical review board. Plus, I'm going to the Memphis VA again today (2 days in a row) for optometry, endo, and neuro. While I was gone some idiot sent an anonymous email to the local TV station that became the major news story. The bad thing is it is so full of bullshit and they didn't even take the time to consult with me.

So my military career, health, and job are all fucked in a matter of 48 hours. What's the use of trying........
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:54 AM   #251
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Buddy, when we are in the Army and we do our jobs right the body goes. Ankles go, knees go, brain goes...we get wore out more then most I think. So, keep after the health stuff, it's just a consequence of the combination of growing older and doing a tough job. If the news story isn't true, then this too shall pass. The use of trying is because that's what we have to do....we ain't quitters.
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:50 PM   #252
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Great news today! They are taking me off the valuim and xanax (gradually) and switching me to Depakote. Plus the doctor will sign off on my PTSD for retention at my Med Board. Now, I have to pass my sciatic nerve damage and brain lesions. At least I beat the PTSD part. Keeep your fingers crossed. I need these final 5 years & one more deployment for retirement.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:07 PM   #253
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Fingers crossed for you, Sarge.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:45 PM   #254
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here too. that's why I type so badly.
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Old 04-02-2012, 11:17 PM   #255
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Good luck Big S.
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