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Veteran Intel

Veterans Are Dying From Exposure To Burn Pits

This is very serious and many need our help now.

Chuck Yarling

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All during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military personnel and its contractors used burn pits to dispose of waste. Reports have noted that, depending on location, 147 to 400 tons of waste were burned – per day! Now, it appears now that veterans are now extremely ill or dying from their exposure this garbage disposal process.

As an example, one pit located at Joint Base Balad, Iraqburned

Computer parts, animal carcasses, medical waste (including body parts), lithium ion batteries, furniture, plastic bottles, insecticide canisters, DEET-soaked tents, human excrement, plastic drums, food waste, even whole vehicle.


And some of the contaminants 
emitted during this disposal process included

Dioxins, particulate matter polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, hexachlorobenzene, and ash.

Vets HQ has identified the specific locations of 268 burn pits at a number of different military installations and other locations across the east and middle east: Iraq (139), Afghanistan (93), Kuwait (12), Somalia (4), and other sites (20).

Burn Pit

Burn Pit

But what about the heath effects from burn pit contamination? In a 2011 report, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made claims that

Found inadequate or insufficient evidence of a relation between exposure to combustion products and cancer, respiratory diseases, circulatory diseases, neurological diseases, and adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes.

But results from a 2015 VA survey, veterans reported

Respiratory diseases other than allergies, with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitism, high blood pressure, have higher rates of common respiratory illnesses like asthma and emphysema, as well as rare lung disorders.

And veterans are extremely ill or are dying with a variety of different cancers (here  and here). Over the period of 2002 to early 2015, 16,304 were diagnosed with cancer, roughly a third with non-melanoma skin cancer, 16% with prostate cancer, another 10% with melanoma, 8% with testicular cancer and the remainder with lymphoid, colon, thyroid, breast and undetermined cancer.

In the mean time, Congress has introduced two bills: Senate bill, S. 319, Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits, and its corresponding House bill, H.R. 1279.

All veterans who were exposed to any of the previously mentioned 268 burn pit locatioins should go to the VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry – even if you are not sick. Information suggests it may take as long as 40 minutes to complete the process. At the present time, the VA reports that 110,907 service members have registered as of June 23, 2017.

————————

Note: More information can be found in two VA reports:

Download Report on Data from the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit (AH&OBP) Registry, June 2015

Download Report on Data from the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit (AH&OBP) Registry, April 2015

As well as Joseph Hickman’s shocking book: “The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers”.

 

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Chuck Yarling has had many titles in his career thus far: veteran, engineer, math teacher, consultant, technical writer, book author and publisher, and triathlete. He was a member the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Bugles Across America, which plays Taps at military funerals and special events. Spec. 5 Chuck Yarling served with the 26th Combat Engineering Battalion in Vietnam as an awards clerk. His service with the U.S. Army resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal. You may reach Chuck at [email protected]

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Politics

President Trump Signs An Executive Order To Combat Veteran Suicide

Chuck Yarling

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On January 9, 2018, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) entitled, “Presidential Executive Order on Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life” This EO is designed to combat veterans suicide that is prevalent among servicemembers during the time they are adjusting to a new life outside the military.

Here are five important attributes of this EO.

• #1: It identified that the largest number of suicides of our military personnel occur within the first year during their transition from military to civilian life.

• #2: It is during this time that the rate of veterans suicide is two times higher than the overall rate for service members.

• #3 Care may be provided at VA or by a private facility, depending on wait times where you live. This section re-enforces the Veteran’s Choice Act of 2017 which allows

Any veteran who lives 40 miles or more from the closest VA medical facility, or who faces a 30-day or more wait time, can seek out treatment from a private facility and the VA will handle the payment.

• #4: All service members leaving the military will receive screening for mental health issues for one year.

and

• #5: Implementation of the EO is being made at the highest levels of the administration via the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security.At the meeting, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, remarked,

“Currently, 40 percent of those servicemembers had coverage in the VA to get mental health. Now 100 percent will have that coverage, and it’s the full array of services that the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs will be able to provide in terms of mental health coverage.”

This EO is excellent news for transitioning servicemembers. Indeed, it will help make their future in the civilian workforce a success.

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Veteran Intel

Heads-up: Veterans Own Businesses Too

You may have bought from one & not known it!

Chuck Yarling

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Christmas shopping is now over. But an interesting question is this: did you shop at any businesses owned by veterans? Yes, indeed, veterans do own businesses and it may be surprising that you most likely indeed shopped or used services provided by one or more companies this past Christmas.

Why? The National Veteran-Owned Business Association estimates there are 3 million veteran-owned businesses in the country. For example, here are ten large companies that were founded by veterans:

• Federal Express (FedEx) was founded by Fred Smith, a Marine Corps veteran who served for four years. FedEx acquired Kinko’s in 2004, which is now called FedEx Office.

• Walmart. Yes, the world’s largest company has 11,695 stores in 28 countries. It was founded by Sam and Bud Walton in 1962. Both brothers are veterans: Sam served in the Army and Bud in the Navy.

• Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company began in 1957 and was started by Jack Taylor, a decorated WW II Navy pilot.

• Nike is the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoe and apparel. It was founded in 1964 by co-founder Phil Knight, who served in the Army and Army Reserve.

• RE/MAX, short for Real Estate Maximums, was co-founded by the Linigers, Dave and his wife. Dave served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era.

• Amway North America was co-founded by Richard Devos. Devos was in the Army Air Corps during WW II.

• GoDaddy is an international Internet Domain Registar.and web hosting company. The company was founded by Bob Parson, a Vietnam Veteran who served in the Marine Corps.

• Universal Health Services is one of the largest hospital management companies in the United States. It was founded by Alan B. Miller who graduated from college as an officer after serving four years in the Army ROTC.

• Sperry Shoes was founded by inventor, businessman, and photographer, Paul Sperry. Sperry was a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve.

• Sports Clips Haircuts was founded by Gordon Logan and his wife. Logan was an Aircraft Commander in the Air Force. Sports Clips is most widely known to us veterans because of their free haircuts on Veterans Day. In addition, they donate $1 from every haircut service on Veterans Day. The money is donated to scholarships for veterans.

So there you have it. Did you actually shop for Christmas presents at any of these veteran-owned companies? I did.

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Military

Here Are Three Shocking Reports On Veterans Suicide

Chuck Yarling

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The VA released an extensive report this past September which provided data on veterans suicide by states, age, gender, as well as the most common method of suicide. The data was extremely disturbing.

When faced with these statistics, VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin commented      

These findings are deeply concerning, which is why I made suicide prevention my top clinical priority. I am committed to reducing Veteran suicides through support and education. We know that of the 20 suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 are not under VA care. This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach.

In August 2017, the VA published a separate report entitled Facts About Suicide Among Women VeteransThe data here is disturbing as well:

From 2001 through 2014, the suicide rate among women Veterans increased to a greater degree (62.4 percent) than the suicide rate among male Veterans (29.7%).

From 2001 through 2014, the suicide rate among women Veterans increased to a greater degree (62.4 percent) than the suicide rate among male Veterans (29.7 percent).

The rate of suicide is higher among women who report having experienced military sexual trauma (MST) — that is, sexual assault or sexual harassment during military service — compared to those who have not experienced MST .

And finally, an older report cannot be ignored. In August. 2016, the Office of Suicide Prevention of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a report entitled, Suicide Among Veterans And Other Americans (2001-2014).

This investigation was one the most intensive ever completed and certainly the most comprehensive one on veterans suicides. Here are some of the shocking statistics:

More than 55 million records from 1979 to 2014 from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. were examined.

In 2014, Veterans accounted for 18% of all deaths by suicide among U.S. adults and constituted 8.5% of the U.S. adult population (ages 18 and older) .

In 2010, Veterans accounted for 20.1% of all deaths by suicide and represented 9.6% of the U.S. adult population.

The burden of suicide resulting from firearm injuries remains high. In 2014, about 67% of all Veteran deaths by suicide were the result of firearm injuries.

In 2014, about 65% of all Veterans who died by suicide were ages 50 and older.

After adjusting for differences in age and sex , risk for suicide was 22% higher among Veterans compared with U.S. civilian adults. (2014)

After adjusting for differences in age, risk for suicide was 19% higher among male Veterans compared with U.S. civilian adult men . (2014)

In 2014, rates of suicide were highest among younger Veterans (age s 18 – 29) and lowest among older Veterans (ages 60 and older ) .

And one final statistic: a firearm was the most common method of suicide for both men and women.

Important Notes

If you are aware of any serviceman member or veteran who may be at risk for suicide, here are four resources that you can use to help that person:

1. Any veteran or active duty military personnel having thoughts of suicide should call the VA Helpline: 800.273.8255 or log in to their website, Veterans Crisis Line.

2. You can also find a nearby Suicide Crisis Center by going to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.8355 anytime 24/7.

3. Suicide Prevention for Military, Veterans and Support Group.

and

4. Hidden Wounds, a veterans suicide prevention network built by veterans.

Please don’t delay your actions. You may save a life!

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