As the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches, it’s clear that the U.S. is still having trouble ensuring that injured veterans get what they need – whether that’s care for a brain injury, mental health services, or sufficient recovery time. Here’s the news from the past week:
- An Army task force report completed in May and released last week highlighted several problems with brain injury screening for returning veterans, according to USA Today. The task force’s chair praised improvements in screening and other areas, but urged further work in gauging neurological deficits and standardizing care and treatment. Victims with no outward signs of injuries can still have problems with short-term memory, problem-solving, and sleep, and can experience nausea, dizziness, and headaches.
- Erin McClam at the Washington Post profiles some of the newest generation of homeless veterans and asks whether homelessness is “an unavoidable byproduct of war.” Rather than showing manifestations of stress disorder 10 years after returning home, as was generally the case with Vietnam veterans, those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are showing the signs much earlier – possibly because they faced different conditions, and possibly because disorders are better understood now. The Veterans Administration’s the director of homeless programs says they’re trying to get services to these veterans today, in the hopes of avoiding problems in the future.
- Some returning soldiers with injuries that limit their capabilities are being re-deployed Iraq on “light duty.” The Denver Post obtained an email from a surgeon at Fort Carson, Colorado, that says Fort Carson’s 3rd Brigade Combat team was deploying “some borderline soldiers who we would otherwise have left behind for continued treatment [because] we have been having issues reaching deployment strength.” (Via The Questionable Authority.)
In other news:
The Daily Breeze (California): University of California researchers estimate that in 2004, more than 200,000 of the state’s workers suffered from chronic diseases linked to occupational exposure to industrial chemicals, and another 4,400 died of these diseases; the cost to state businesses, insurers, and families was estimated at $1.4 billion.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune: A month after a 12th worker from a Minnesota pork-processing plant was diagnosed with a mysterious neurological illness, two workers from an Indiana pork-processing plant appear to have developed the same condition. A process that might have played a role in the illness (a powerful air-compression system used to blow brains out of pig heads during processing, possibly exposing workers to airborne tissue particles) is no longer in use at either facility.
Anchorage Daily News: A federal report on an accident at an Alaska gold mine reveals that workers Tyler Kahle and Craig Bagley were not properly trained on using the manlift that tipped over and killed them. (See Celeste’s posts on the tragedy here and here.)
Government Accountability Office: Improvements are still needed in the availability of health screening and monitoring services for 9/11 responders outside the New York City area.
Washington Post: Half of Wal-Mart employees are now signed up for the company’s health plan, up from 47% the previous year.