UTSW genetic study confirms sarin nerve gas as cause of Gulf War illness

From UTSouthwestern Medical Center: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd- Sarin is an organophosphate, and a lot of insecticides are organophosphates. If the genes that degrade sarin also degrade organophosphates in general, then I don’t see how the conclusion that sarin is responsible clearly is the case. I had a fair level of experience with malathion when I was in Vietnam and developed symptoms just like gulf-war syndrome, though they faded over time when I left country. I retain a sensitivity to it that triggers when I smell it after mosquito spraying…

For three decades, scientists have debated the underlying cause of Gulf War illness (GWI), a collection of unexplained and chronic symptoms affecting veterans of the Persian Gulf War. Now researchers led by Robert Haley, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the Division of Epidemiology at UT Southwestern, have solved the mystery, showing through a detailed genetic study that the nerve gas sarin was largely responsible for the syndrome. The findings were published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, with an accompanying editorial on the paper by leading environmental epidemiologists.

Dr. Haley’s research group not only discovered that veterans with exposure to sarin were more likely to develop GWI, but also found that the risk was modulated by a gene that normally allows some people’s bodies to better break down the nerve gas. Gulf War veterans with a weak variant of the gene who were exposed to sarin were more likely to develop symptoms of GWI than other exposed veterans who had the strong form of the gene.

“Quite simply, our findings prove that Gulf War illness was caused by sarin, which was released when we bombed Iraqi chemical weapons storage and production facilities,” said Dr. Haley, a medical epidemiologist who has been investigating GWI for 28 years. “There are still more than 100,000 Gulf War veterans who are not getting help for this illness and our hope is that these findings will accelerate the search for better treatment.”

Setting Standards for Delivering High-Quality Care to Veterans with Invisible Wounds

by Carrie M. Farmer, Sierra Smucker, Natalie Ernecoff, Hamad Al-Ibrahim: For Complete Post, Click Here…

he Veteran Wellness Alliance, an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute, is a coalition of seven veteran peer network organizations and nine clinical provider organizations that aims to improve access to high- quality care for post-9/11 veterans with invisible wounds. The alliance collaborated with RAND researchers to develop a shared definition of high-quality care and identify corresponding standards of care for treating invisible wounds.

There are four components of the shared definition of high-quality care for veterans with PTSD, depression, substance use disorders, and TBI:

  1. Veteran-centered care: High-quality care accounts for veterans’ unique needs, values, and preferences. Providers are culturally competent and assess veterans’ experiences, engage them in shared decisionmaking, and involve family members and caregivers in their treatment.
  2. Accessible care: High-quality care is both accessible and timely.
  3. Evidence-based care: High-quality care is based on the best available research and adheres to clinical practice guidelines. Providers perform a comprehensive assessment to guide treatment; conduct screenings; and take an interdisciplinary, team-based approach to care.
  4. Outcome monitoring: High-quality care promotes the use of validated measurement tools to assess and monitor clinical outcomes and veterans’ well-being, guide treatment decisions, and facilitate coordination.

Characteristics of Standards of Care for Invisible Wounds

For standards of care to be useful, they must be feasible to apply and must address important aspects of care.


From an initial list of 103 potential high-quality care measures and standards, 33 were feasible to collect—that is, the necessary data were available, and collecting these data resulted in a minimal burden on programs and providers.


Standards of care were considered important if clinicians and administrators rated them as addressing a very important element of high-quality care. Ambiguous standards and those that applied to only a subpopulation of veterans were considered of low importance. Of the 33 standards of care that were considered feasible, 17 were rated as highly important.

Incorporating feedback from clinical providers, administrators, and policymakers, the researchers consolidated and edited standards for clarity, parsimony, and specificity and recommended a set of ten standards of care (shown below) that address each of the pillars of high-quality care and all four conditions.

Veteran-Centered Care

  • Veterans report being told about treatment options.
  • Program/clinic staff who interact with veterans have completed training in military cultural competence.

Accessible Care

  • Care is available at no or minimal cost to veterans: Program accepts insurance, has resources to support veterans without insurance, or is free.
  • Veterans who request a new outpatient appointment are seen within 30 days.

Examples of Evidence-Based Treatments

  • Evidence-based psychotherapies for depression include acceptance and commitment therapy, behavioral therapy/behavioral activation, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and problem-solving therapy.
  • Evidence-based trauma-focused psychotherapies for PTSD include prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, CBT for PTSD, brief eclectic psychotherapy, narrative exposure therapy, and written exposure therapy.
  • Psychosocial interventions for substance use disorder include behavioral couples therapy, CBT, the community reinforcement approach, motivational enhancement therapy, and 12-step facilitation. Psychosocial interventions are recommended for alcohol, cannabis, and stimulant use disorders. The evidence is unclear on the benefit of psychosocial interventions for opioid use disorder.

IVMF Digital Library Launched

From Syracuse University Veterans News: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), Syracuse University Libraries and the School of Information Studies (iSchool) partnered to create and launch the IVMF Digital Library at divmflibrary.syr.edu. It includes IVMF-authored publications and research, as well as curated collections of external research, articles and information from reputable sources. The digital library was developed for veteran entrepreneurs, employers of veterans and policymakers as a single source, open access information resource.

“The IVMF has impacted over 170,000 transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses to date with its nationally facing training programs as a result of Syracuse University’s commitment to advancing opportunities post-service for our nation’s veterans and their families,” says Nick Armstrong, Ph.D., managing director of research and analytics for IVMF. “The IVMF Digital Library is an important resource to ensure these military families, researchers, employers and others involved in supporting veterans have access to the latest insights, tools, research and data to facilitate collaborative and strategic opportunities.”

“This unique collaboration between the Libraries, IVMF and the iSchool is the culmination of thousands of hours of work to develop metadata, curate collections, ensure accessibility and provide an exceptional user experience in a non-traditional library space that can be accessed globally and freely,” says Scott Warren, associate dean of research excellence at Syracuse University Libraries.

Study: economic burden of PTSD ‘staggering’

By Mike Richman: For Complete Post, Click Here…

U.S. civilian, military populations combine for more than $230 billion in annual costs.

A new study finds that the national economic burden of PTSD goes beyond direct health care expenses and exceeds the costs of other common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

The researchers estimated the cost of PTSD at $232.2 billion for 2018, the latest year for which data were available at the time of the study. They called for increased awareness of PTSD, more effective therapies, and the expansion of evidence-based strategies to “reduce the large clinical and economic burden” of that mental health condition.


Study: economic burden of PTSD ‘staggering’

Screening for thoughts of suicide can identify missed chances to save lives, VA study says

Study finds ongoing mental health concerns for Vietnam Veterans

Open mic

The results appeared online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry on April 25, 2022.

“The $232 billion annual economic burden of PTSD in the U.S. demonstrated in this study is staggering and fuels the urgency for public and private stakeholders to work together to discover new and better treatments, reduce stigma, improve access to existing treatments, and expand evidence-based recovery and rehabilitation programs,” the researchers write.

In the study, the investigators brought to light the extent to which PTSD not only impacts Veterans, but civilians, as well. The research team found that civilians accounted for 82% of the total PTSD costs, compared with 18% for the military population. That disparity is predicated on the fact that the number of civilians far exceeds that of active-duty military and Veterans. Although PTSD is more prevalent in the military, the number of civilians with PTSD still tops the number of Veterans with that condition.

Davis and her colleagues noted that more studies on PTSD and its treatments are needed to address the rise in civilians with PTSD, calling that phenomenon a “rapidly accumulating societal burden.” Improved access to effective treatments is also needed, especially for people in economically vulnerable situations,” she noted.

Video tablets are lowering suicides, raising treatment for rural veterans

By Ted Roelofs: For Complete Post, Click Here… Over the past couple years, a gray-and-black computer tablet has become an indispensable ally to U.S. Air Force veteran Andrew Labadie. From his home in rural Branch County just north of the Indiana border, Labadie can tap into a web of mental health specialists: counselors, psychologists, recreational … Continue reading Video tablets are lowering suicides, raising treatment for rural veterans →

Video tablets are lowering suicides, raising treatment for rural veterans

By Ted Roelofs: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Over the past couple years, a gray-and-black computer tablet has become an indispensable ally to U.S. Air Force veteran Andrew Labadie.

From his home in rural Branch County just north of the Indiana border, Labadie can tap into a web of mental health specialists: counselors, psychologists, recreational therapists. Or he just might take his tablet out in a nearby stand of trees.

“I would have been the last person to say I would rather have a tablet instead of personal care,” said Lababie, 39, who said he has dealt with post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anger management issues following his departure from the U.S. Air Force in 2007.

“But this tablet has been crucial to my life,” he told Bridge Michigan.

“I can go take a session for my mental health out in the woods. I feel like I’ve been able to dig deeper into some of the things I deal with.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of in-person mental health services across Michigan in March 2020, U.S. Veterans Affairs officials say that remote care has become a critical alternative to the traditional model of face-to-face therapy. That’s especially true in rural Michigan, where mental health services were scarce even before the pandemic.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from veterans,” said Russell Bell, a VA social worker based at the Battle Creek VA Medical Center.


From JAN: For Complete Post, Click Here… The JAN Accommodation and Compliance Webcast Series is a monthly training series provided by JAN experts, and guest presenters, on a broad range of disability employment, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and job accommodation topics. This training is offered remotely using the Zoom webinar platform. All JAN webcasts … Continue reading JAN WEBCAST SERIES REGISTRATION →

A Rising Tally of Lonely Deaths on the Streets

By Thomas Fuller: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Their bodies were found on public benches, lying next to bike paths, crumpled under freeway overpasses and stranded on the sun-drenched beach. Across Los Angeles County last year, the unsheltered died in record numbers, an average of five homeless deaths a day, most in plain view of the world around them.

Two hundred eighty-seven homeless people took their last breath on the sidewalk, 24 died in alleys and 72 were found on the pavement, according to data from the county coroner. They were a small fraction of the thousands of homeless people across the country who die each year.

“It’s like a wartime death toll in places where there is no war,” said Maria Raven, an emergency room doctor in San Francisco who co-wrote a study about homeless deaths.

An epidemic of deaths on the streets of American cities has accelerated as the homeless population has aged and the cumulative toll of living and sleeping outdoors has shortened lives. The wider availability of fentanyl, a particularly fast-acting and dangerous drug, has been a major cause of the rising death toll, but many homeless people are dying young of treatable chronic illnesses like heart disease.

Raising Awareness of AT for All

by ColesStaff: For Complete Post, Click Here…

This year, the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP) is ringing in the fourth annual National Assistive Technology (AT) Awareness Day with a few exciting firsts.

ATAP worked with the Senate to designate Wednesday, April 6 as this year’s aforementioned celebration of AT. Before we get to ATAP’s awareness efforts, let’s take a refresher course.

Assistive technology is defined in the Assistive Technology Act, Public Law 105-394, stating: “An assistive technology device is defined as ‘any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of an individual with a disability.’”

ATAP serves as the national representative of state and territory AT programs funded under Section 4 of the AT Act, including the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads. There are four state-level activities that all state AT programs conduct: device demonstration, device loan, reutilization and financing to support the purchase of assistive technology.

National AT Awareness Day plays a vital role in helping these programs grow, and ATAP has some tricks up its sleeve this year to make the day stand out and shine bright.

New Efforts in 2022

“Raising awareness is a two-fold effort,” said ATAP Executive Director Audrey Busch-Treussard. “The first part is making sure people understand the important role that AT plays in everyone’s lives. Even people without disabilities use closed captioning when watching a movie, or they enter a building through automatic doors. Every day, we all benefit from some type of assistive technology.”

To show the benefits of this technology, ATAP is collaborating with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities to develop a video called “Why AT Matters,” which will feature people with disabilities using their AT devices and talking about the impact they make on their daily lives. The video will be available to view on ATAP’s YouTube channel, and it will also be distributed to the organization’s members and federal agency partners, who can then share it online using ATAP’s social media toolkit.

Another new awareness effort from ATAP is a series of documents highlighting how AT is an everyday part of educationcommunity livingtransportation and housing. Each of these themed documents will be sent to a corresponding executive department of the U.S. government.

ATAP will also work with the government during its Capitol Hill virtual fly-in visits on the weeks of April 4 and April 11. ATAP will host a number of events and speakers, including Hoosier native Emily Voorde, who now serves as the White House disability liaison. She’ll discuss the Biden administration’s initiatives to support people with disabilities and assistive technology. Staff members from the offices of Senator Kevin Cramer and Senator Bob Casey — sponsors of the bill that reauthorizes the AT Act — will speak about pushing the bill through the Senate. Other speakers include Alison Barkoff, acting administrator for the Administration for Community Living, and Anita Vermeer, education program specialist for the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education.

“Dear Folks”: Highlighting VHP’s New Suite of Correspondence Collection Resources

by Megan Harris: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Spend any time with Veterans History Project (VHP) collections, and it becomes clear that mail frequently played a central role in the military experiences of many veterans, particularly those who served in the days before electronic communications. Often, letters served as the sole, fragile link between servicemen and women and their families and friends. Written correspondence in various forms—airmail, v-mail, telegrams—contained everything from expressions of love and marriage proposals to more tragic news, such as official death notices or the abrupt end of a relationship. Such is the importance of mail that the members of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, a ground-breaking unit in the Women’s Army Corps made up of African-American soldiers, was recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their extraordinary work in organizing and handling a backlog of millions of pieces of mail in England and France during World War II.

This March, the Veterans History Project is releasing a trio of curated resources focusing on correspondence in our archive. While this isn’t the first time that we’ve explored this topic, we hope that these new resources will shed new light on the meaning and importance of mail during military service, and the multitude of letters within VHP archives. In addition, these resources give you a sense of three different research tools that VHP offers that can help you to explore our collections: Story Maps, LibGuides and Experiencing War.

As she discussed in last week’s blog post, rather than examining the contents of letters, Justina Moloney’s Story Map focuses on their container—that is, on illustrated envelopes in VHP collections. As Justina relates, the Story Map application is a wonderful tool to help bring these envelopes and their illustrations—and the stories of their creators—to life. The Art of Correspondence is VHP’s second Story Map, following in the footsteps of D-Day Journeys, which VHP produced in 2019 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. We hope to create more Story Maps in the future.