3rd military medical team sent to Michigan amid COVID surge

In Marine Times: For Complete Post, click here…

A third 22-member medical team from the U.S. military is being deployed to Michigan, where hospitals are grappling with record-high numbers of COVID-19 patients amid the state’s fourth surge of infections.

The nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists will assist Covenant Healthcare in Saginaw starting Dec. 12, the state health department said Thursday. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called it “much-needed relief.” Two other 22-member teams began treating patients in Grand Rapids and Dearborn this week during the spike that also is hitting other states in the Midwest and New England.

More than 4,500 people, most of them unvaccinated, were hospitalized in Michigan with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases as of Wednesday. The 4,269 adults with confirmed infection surpassed the state’s previous pandemic high that was reported two days earlier.

Concussions require more time for recovery than previously thought, DOD-funded study finds

BY NANCY MONTGOMERY: For Complete Post, click here…

Normal recovery time from a concussion is sometimes double what it was previously thought to be, according to a recent University of Michigan study that was heavily funded by the Pentagon.

Researchers studied 1,751 student-athletes, including service academy cadets, and found that full recovery can take up to 28 days. And even that was not long enough for some of the study subjects to fully heal.

The findings should reduce stigma for those previously considered slow in their healing and inform coaches, commanders and others about when concussed people should return to duty or sports, said Steve Broglio, lead study author.

“There can be unintentional pressure to return,” Broglio said. “(They’re told) ‘You’re at day 16; why aren’t you getting better?’ Hopefully, they’ll pump the brakes.”

Half the participants in the study fully recovered from their concussions within two weeks of injury and were cleared for unrestricted sports activity. That finding was in line with previous concussion studies.

But it was a month until 85% of them were fully recovered. The other 15% had not fully recovered even then.

On Veterans Day, There Are Still Thousands of Homeless Vets in L.A. We Followed 26 to Find Out Why

by Sarah B. Hunter: For Complete Post, click here…

When the encampment dubbed Veterans Row was emptied last week, dozens of tents, tarps, and flags disappeared from San Vicente Boulevard. But moving 40 or so people onto the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus is a minimal step forward: An estimated 3,900 veterans live unhoused in Los Angeles.

That number, which has remained essentially unchanged since 2015, makes L.A. the epicenter of unsheltered veterans in the United States. It remains the case after years of promises—such as Mayor Eric Garcetti’s 2014 pledge to end veteran homelessness or the 2016 master plan (PDF) to create 1,200 supportive housing units on the VA grounds, which is 95% incomplete and might not be done until 2031.

Other regions haven’t stalled so badly. Nationwide, the population of veterans experiencing homelessness was cut nearly in half (PDF) between 2009 and 2019. Three states—Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland—and 82 communities report having functionally eliminated the problem, meaning a permanent housing solution is typically available for veterans within 90 days.

Admittedly, none of those places are confronting the acute, widespread homelessness that plagues Los Angeles. Still, the city has the largest VA medical center in the nation. There are federal housing programs exclusively for veterans. So why hasn’t Los Angeles been able to make a dent?

Veterans Experiencing Homelessness and Housing Instability Benefit from Medical-Legal Partnerships

From Housing Matters: For Complete Post, click here…

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) serves millions of veterans and operates the largest integrated health care system in the United States. But historically, it hasn’t focused on civil legal problems, like housing instability and eviction, which are social determinants of health.

However, annual surveys of veterans experiencing housing instability and homelessness report that civil legal assistance is among their top unmet needs. The VA is increasingly exploring medical-legal partnerships, a service model in which lawyers are integrated into health care settings to help patients resolve civil legal issues. In this first study of medical-legal partnerships for veterans, the researchers describe the outcomes of veterans who accessed legal services at four partnership sites in Connecticut and New York from 2014 to 2016.

The researchers used an online data capture system developed by Connecticut Veterans Legal Center and LegalHealth to collect administrative data on legal problems, legal services received, and legal outcomes for 950 veterans who received medical-legal partnership services. Intake and outcome assessments were conducted with a subsample of 148 veterans every three months, using measures of housing, mental health, and well-being.

Key findings
  • Almost half of the issues for which veterans sought medical-legal partnership services were VA benefits or housing issues. Each legal issue took an average of 5.4 hours of partnership time to resolve. This is minimal compared with the amount of time it takes for someone to find another housing arrangement or income source.
  • Veterans who received medical-legal partnership services showed significant improvements in mental health within the first 3 months and continued improvement at 12 months. At 12 months, veterans whose legal issues were resolved showed increases in income and days housed.
  • Veterans who received services relating to housing issues were more likely to achieve their legal goals than veterans facing criminal and military legal issues.
  • Regardless of legal outcome, veterans who received more partnership services showed greater improvements in housing and symptoms of psychosis and posttraumatic stress disorder. In other words, the researchers note that veterans who received a larger “dose” of partnership services showed greater benefits.
  • Medical-legal intervention at an early stage largely prevented litigation, and less than 10 percent of the issues required a court appearance or hearing attendance.

House Panel Unhappy With VA Official’s Answers During Hearing on EHR System

by Joyce Frieden: For Complete Post, click here…

Several House members weren’t very happy with the answers they got Thursday at a hearing on progress with the new electronic health record (EHR) system being implemented at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“I can appreciate that you inherited a mess, and that you are in the middle of sorting through the morass, but unfortunately your responses to our questions about patient safety really aren’t detailed enough,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, said to VA deputy secretary Donald Remy, who was confirmed by the Senate in July. “I realize you’re doing the best you can to answer, but we’re just not really getting enough detail in your answers.”

Supporting the Mental Health Needs of National Guard and Reserve Members

by Justin Hummer and Kimberly A. Hepner: For Complete Post, click here…

September 22, 2021

Over one million U.S. military service members are members of the National Guard or reserves. These troops are being tested like never before, yet they do not receive the same physical and mental health care coverage provided to their active-duty counterparts, a gap that a recently introduced bipartisan bill seeks to address.

The year 2020 has been called “the year of the Guard,” given nearly continuous activations for domestic missions supporting responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, several natural disasters, civil disturbances and unrest, and Department of Homeland Security activities at the southern border. As a result, 2020 required one of the highest mobilization levels of the National Guard since World War II. This may contribute to an increase in the use of health care benefits, particularly those associated with mental health care.

Referred to as the reserve component, members of the National Guard or reserves represent approximately one-third of all military personnel. The reserve component is strategically important within the U.S. armed forces, serving both international and domestic missions. Approximately one-quarter of U.S. military service members who deployed between 2001 and 2015 were in the reserve component. Reserves serve only on federal missions, while National Guard can be mobilized under state or federal orders.

Despite their essential role in the military, reserve component service members do not receive the same medical benefits as active component service members. Eligibility for military health insurance benefits under TRICARE changes over time based on whether a service member is “activated” for a particular mission and the length of the activation orders. When they are not on active-duty orders, reserve component service members might be covered by insurance provided through an employer or spouse. Thus, in a given year, a reserve component service member can receive health insurance from different types of TRICARE coverage, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs coverage, and two or more sources of civilian coverage.

President Biden signs PAWS Act, allowing VA to fund the training of service dogs for veterans

From K9s for Warriors: For Complete Post, click here…

The PAWS ACT, or ‘Puppies Assisting Wounded Service members for Veterans Therapy Act,’ authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program on dog training therapy that will provide dog-training skills and service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses.

“This has been a five-year battle to try and convince the federal government that what we do every day is valuable and helps veterans,” Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s for Warriors said to First Coast News. “They’re finally agreeing and we’re getting a big breakthrough here.”

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the bill earlier this month after it was passed by the House in March.

How Veterans with Disabilities Wind Up Homeless

BY CYNTHIA GRIFFITH: For Complete Post, click here…

The Tie Between Veterans with Disabilities, the Disappearance of Retail Employment, and Homelessness.

Close your eyes for just a moment and imagine. I know it’s early, and you’ve barely finished your morning coffee. Or maybe it’s late, and you feel overloaded from the workday. I promise that by the end of this exercise, whatever you’re doing right now will seem much less burdensome.

Picture yourself back in high school. Remember the way that hard cold desk used to feel when you fell asleep halfway through watching Bill Nye the Science Guy’s experiments? Remember the smell of the pencil sharpener, that funny feeling of walking into the cafeteria on the first day wondering who had the same lunch timeslot from your group of friends?

Now, imagine you’re in twelfth grade. You’re nervous and even a little bit excited. Not just about the prom coming or the turkey squares the cafeteria lady’s getting ready to plop on your tray. No. You’re nervous and a little bit excited about your future.

In the hallway, you come across a decorated military officer who strikes up a conversation right along the lines of what you’re already thinking. Of course, he does. He’s trained to work with adolescents, to meet them, take them out, talk to them about their future, and eventually get them to enlist. There are so many benefits for veterans. Why wouldn’t you enlist? It’s a free education, lots of financial perks, the military opens doors that would otherwise be closed for an individual of your social status, etc.

You have nothing to worry about. You’ll only have to fight if there’s a war. And how often do those happen?

Your young mind is unaware of the bombs going off in far-flung territories. Soon, you will be right in the middle of that action. It happens fast. First the enlistment, next the training, and suddenly there you are, praying for your life in a foxhole. Gunfire takes your right arm in an event so horrific you will replay it in your head over and over again for years to come.

You return from war disabled, unmarried, staring at your former prom date on Facebook. Life is less exciting in the aisles of retail, but you’re still somewhat grateful to have a job.

But then, something unexpected happens yet again. An international health crisis puts employment on freeze. You are sent home from your retail employment position and promised unemployment. You wait a whole year to see that first check. Your rent is in arrears. You are on the brink of homelessness, a different kind of war.

Now open your eyes. Understand that this scenario might not be happening to you, but it is happening to veterans all across the country. If there’s one thing we all learned in elementary education, it’s that numbers never lie.

Here’s what the stats look like for disabled veterans working retail employment occupations in 2021.

Bridge My Return opens to spouses, caregivers

From VAntage Point: For Entire Post, Click Here…

Bridge My Return (BMR) is now open to military and Veteran spouses and caregivers to help them find meaningful employment.

Military spouses often make personal career sacrifices to follow their service member’s military career. These may include moves every 2-3 years, postings to remote duty stations with limited career opportunities, or multiple deployments of their service member, effectively leaving them as single parents.

Sarita Connelly is a Veteran spouse of a retired Marine. She has a stellar bio that includes professional achievements in financial services, non-profit management and education. She’s received leadership awards, graduate certificates and professional licenses, and is currently pursuing a graduate degree.

As her career was skyrocketing, she began a 13-year trek as a military spouse. This created mandatory job changes and limited promotion opportunities.

Now, she is a caregiver for her disabled father, an Illinois National Guardsman from the Korea Era. Her search for a new job has been met with scrutiny over resume gaps and job changes rather than employers being wowed by her achievements and sacrifices.

Connelly is not alone.

Today, the military spouse unemployment rate sits at a staggering 38%, according to a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes study. The national rate stands at 5.9%.

What is BMR doing to improve the situation?

Leveraging Technology

Educating Employers 

Investigation of Patient Death Finds Deficient Care at VA Hospital

by Jennifer Henderson: For Entire Post, Click Here…

Emergency department triage may have resulted in delay in care.

The emergency department triage of a patient who later died at a Florida VA facility was “deficient and mismanaged,” according to a new report issued by the VA Office of Inspector General.

The patient presented to the ED at Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville last summer, 15 days after having laparoscopic colon surgery at the same facility.

The patient — who was in their 60s and had also sought care at two other EDs in the days following their surgery — arrived at Malcom Randall with constant abdominal pain of 8 out of 10, labored breathing, and pale complexion in addition to having had the recent abdominal procedure, according to the OIG report. However, the patient was assigned an emergency severity index (ESI) level 3 (meaning they could wait to be seen) by a nurse, evaluated by a nurse practitioner, and returned to the waiting room.

During the next hour, the patient yelled, “I cannot breathe,” and the nurse provided supplemental oxygen, according to the report. Soon after, the patient fell forward out of a chair, and a code blue was initiated. At that time, the patient was taken to an exam room and was noted to be unresponsive with agonal breathing. The patient was then admitted to the surgical intensive care unit and died later the same day.

The OIG said in its report that, after the incident, it received an anonymous complaint, alleging the patient’s care was mismanaged and resulted in the patient’s death. The complaint further alleged that facility leaders ignored allegations of inadequate staffing levels in the ED.

As a result, the OIG initiated an inspection, and ultimately determined that the nurse’s documentation about the patient supported the need to have triaged the patient as one who could not have waited to be seen.