VA Cola 2013 update: The Republican hold on a Senate bill that provides a cost-of-living adjustment increase for disabled veterans in 2013 has been dropped. The VA department warned the bill must be approved quickly in November to ensure payments in January.
Since the Senate did not pass the bill when it adjourned last week, lawmakers must approve it on Nov. 13, the day they return, to avoid payment problems, said Josh Taylor, a VA spokesman. If Senators fail to sign off on the legislation quickly, then “VA would have to make complex programming changes to the system that could not be accomplished in time to pay the COLA increase on Jan. 1,” Taylor said. “Consequently, the December COLA increase would have to be paid retroactively.”
The COLA increase covers disability and compensation payments to 3.9 million veterans and their survivors. The House, in its version of the bill passed July 9, would provide a 1.9 percent increase. The Congressional Budget Office on Sept.19 pegged the COLA at 1.3 percent, which would cost $686 million in 2013 and $915 million in subsequent years. [Source: Next.gov | Bob Brewin | 28 Sep 2012]
Tricare breast cancer coverage update: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Tricare beneficiaries should know breast exams are covered. Tricare beneficiaries in specific age and risk categories have no copayment for mammograms. Beneficiaries are entitled to an annual mammogram beginning at age 40 and at a doctor’s discretion for women younger than 40 who have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Beneficiaries can be identified as “high risk” for breast cancer because of family history. [Source: NAUS Washington Report 5 Oct 2012]
Long term care FLTCIP update: Tricare will cover skilled nursing care, home health care and hospice care; it generally does not cover long-term care (also known as custodial care) for patients with degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Exceptions or partial exceptions to the “no coverage” guidance should be discussed with the managed-care contractor for the Tricare region where you live. About 20 million people are eligible to apply for FLTCIP, including all active-duty and National Guard members activated for more than 30 days, retired uniformed service members, and members of the Selected Reserve. FLTCIP eligibility and enrollment requirements are complex, and not everyone who applies for this insurance will be approved for it. Full details are at the program’s website www.opm.gov/insure/ltc/. [Source: Military Times | TRICARE+Help | 10 Oct 2012]
PTSD Update: Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who are also battling drug or alcohol problems face a higher risk of death, according to new research from the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. The new study is the first to examine the association between drug or alcohol use disorders and death in veterans with PTSD, and also includes data from the nation’s youngest veterans who have returned from conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kipling Bohnert, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, says the research sheds new light on the importance of treating both substance-use and PTSD in veterans.
This study is the first to highlight the association between substance-use disorders, PTSD and mortality. The study was published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. While the researchers found a significant link between substance-use disorders and death in veterans with PTSD across all ages, they also found that the association was most pronounced for the youngest group of veterans, including those from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The youngest veterans, those 45 and under, showed a particularly strong link between substance-use disorders and both injury and non-injury related death. Injury-related death included homicides, suicides and accidents, while non-injury related deaths included heart disease, cancer and other health problems.
Bohnert says more research is necessary to figure out why younger veterans exhibit a stronger tie between substance-use disorders and death. Federic C. Blow, Ph.D., the paper’s senior author, the director of National Serious Mental Illness Treatment Research & Evaluation Center at the VA, says the research might be helpful for physicians in deciding the best way to treat their patients. [Source: Science Codex | Justin Harris | 17 Sep 2012]
PTSD Update: The greatest danger to the veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder is loss of sleep.
“There is nothing more fundamental to the successful recovery of a combat veteran after war than the ability to get adequate, good quality sleep,” says Dr. Jonathan Shay, a psychiatrist. He says sleep loss causes irritability and propensity to anger, which are classic symptoms of combat veterans suffering psychological injury. Shay says Prazocin, a 50-year-old medicine for high blood pressure, has been shown to be very effective in tiny doses in alleviating combat nightmares. The VA has begun conducting clinical trials of Prazocin at 13 of its medical centers and expects to complete its study sometime in 2012.
Shay says sleep is fuel for the frontal lobes of the brain, which is where the capacity for emotional and ethical self-restraint lies. He says one of the complications of sleep loss is that veterans will drink alcohol to put themselves to sleep. “It is a very common way that the veteran’s feet get placed on the icy stairway to alcohol abuse and dependency when they try to use alcohol to get to sleep,” he says. Veterans who use it to induce sleep will wake up unrested and more wired than before, he says. “I’ve no religious scruples against alcohol, but I can tell you its pharmacology is satanic,” he says. [Source: Saint Louis Beacon Sharon Wittke | 12 Sep 2012]
PTSD Update: Camp Pendleton Marines returning from overseas assignments with the psychological scars of combat have been helped with treatment by Scripps Health researchers, according to a new study. The researchers treated active-duty Marines who had PTSD with what is called complementary and integrative medicine. Marines treated with the complementary methods, called “guided imagery” and “healing touch,” showed significantly more recovery than a control group who didn’t receive the treatment. Results were published in the journal Military Medicine. Those with PTSD can experience flashbacks to combat situations, nightmares, depression, feelings of hopelessness and emotional numbness.
A total of 123 active-duty Marines were studied, including 68 who received the complementary approaches along with treatment as usual. The other 55 received only the regular treatment. Symptoms of those treated with the complementary methods dropped by more than 13 points on an 85-point scale that measures PTSD. The difference was enough to drop the average score of those treated below the level indicating PTSD. Symptoms of the control group dropped by fewer than 5 points, with the average score remaining above the level indicating PTSD. Study researchers were Mimi Guarneri, M.D., and Rauni King, founders of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. [Source: San Diego North County Times | Bradley J. Fikes | 24 Sep 2012]
PTSD Update: Dr. Eugene Lipov, medical director of Advanced Pain Centers in Chicago, director of pain research at Northwest Community Hospital and medical director of Chicago Medical Innovations thinks he’s landed on what could be the “cure” for PTSD with an injection to stellate ganglion area of the neck.
The stellate ganglion is a collection of nerves in the neck that are connected to various parts of the brain, including the amygdala, which are thought to be associated with PTSD. Dr. Lipov believes a shot into this area with their treatment called Stellate ganglion block (SGB) is the cure. The injection, which takes approximately 15 minutes to administer, has reportedly led to dramatic improvements in some veterans who suffer from PTS disorder.
Some in the study have reported relief from PTS symptoms in as little as 30 minutes after having been administered the treatment. According to an article by Alex Crees, Lipov has received a waiver from the FDA to perform SGB and is currently recruiting participants for a clinical trial. SGB, which has also been used in the past to treat depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, and other mental health disorders, is not backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs for treating PTSD in soldiers. The verdict on program effectiveness is not yet settled. And without funding, which Dr. Lipov says is needed, the true results may never come to the surface. [Source: Seattle PI Military wire | Michael Schindler | 25 Sep 2012]
Flags: The American Legion Post 70 has on hand American flags, all of the military service flags, POW/MIA flags, and SC State flags. Contact a member of Post 70 to purchase flags; the cost is $5.
American Legion Post 70 - Meeting at 1800 on the third Tuesday of the month. For more information please contact Thomas Crisp at 940-2793.
American Legion Post 24, of Newberry, meeting is on the second Tuesday of the month at 1830.
The American Legion Auxiliary – unit 24 meet the same day at 3 p.m. at Post 24.