May 2011

Staffer in the Spotlight: Ashley Clinton Offers Passageway to Mental Health Services For Returning Veterans

HOUSTON—For many veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan deployments, psychologist Ashley Clinton, PhD, is the first mental health professional they see and their entry-point to VA mental health care. Clinton joined VA at a momentous time for the agency’s mental… Read More

VA Leaders: Capital Construction Funds Essential for Meeting Veteran Needs

WASHINGTON—VA’s 10-year capital construction plan calls for an investment of $53 billion to $65 billion over that timeframe; however, this year the agency is asking for only $2.8 billion. This has legislators alternately questioning whether the amount for 2012… Read More

Progress Notes

JEREMY M. BERG, PHD, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF GENERAL MEDICAL SCIENCES (NIGMS), is a recipient of the 2011 Public Service Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS). The annual award recognizes outstanding contributions to public service or to… Read More

Current Research in Respiratory Care

Rates of Respiratory Diseases in HIV-Infected Veterans Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary fibrosis, as well as pulmonary infections, are more likely among HIV-infected patients than with uninfected patients, a recent study has suggested. … Read More

Knowledge of Risk Factors Not Necessarily Valuable in Predicting Cardiovascular Disease

BETHESDA, MD—Five years ago, NIH started promoting a paradigm of medicine—one that was predictive, personalized, preemptive and always with the participation of the patient. That paradigm began with the ability to predict who was at risk for certain diseases, including… Read More

NIH Releases Strategic Plan for Obesity Research

WASHINGTON—Recent months have seen a reinvigorated commitment to research targeted at curbing the obesity epidemic in the United States, including a number of completed studies from VA and DoD and the release of a new strategic plan from NIH. Plan… Read More

IHS Works to Resolve Management Problem, Still Underfunded Compared to Other Federal Health Programs, Director Says

WASHINGTON—The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs released an investigative report last year that found that an increasingly high number of Equal Employment Opportunity complaints (EEO) had been filed in the Aberdeen Area, which is made up of IHS and tribally-managed… Read More

In Effort to Reduce Costly Medical Errors, Military Facilities Set Up Anonymous Reporting

WASHINGTON—A study published in the April issue of Health Affairs found that medical errors cost the United States more than $17 billion a year. And, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, medical errors and near miss events,… Read More

Congressional Funding to DoD for Cancer Research Approved Despite Resistance from Sen. John McCain

WASHINGTON—Cancer organizations were pleased that funding was not reduced for the peer-reviewed prostate, breast and ovarian cancer programs in DoD’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) in the FY 2011 Defense budget. “It is great that especially in this really… Read More

VA’s Expedited Process to Diagnosis, Treat Lung Cancer Can Make Bad Experience More Tolerable for Patients

PITTSBURGH—In 2000, if you were a patient at the Pittsburgh VAMC and were found to have a lung nodule, it took an average of six weeks to be evaluated for lung cancer. With the possibility of being diagnosed with a… Read More

VA Improves Follow-up In Colon Cancer Screening But Still Falls Short of Goal

WASHINGTON—In 2005, VA initiated a Colon Cancer Care Collaborative (C4) to help improve the timeliness of follow-up after positive fecal blood occult tests (FOBT). The initiative was in reaction to studies released at the time showing considerable delays between screening… Read More

New IRB for Military Cancer Research Offers One-Stop Shop

WASHINGTON—If there is one fact that Marianne Elliott, chair of the U.S. Military Cancer Institute (USMCI) Institutional Review Board (IRB), wants investigators to know, it is that the USMCI’s new cancer research review board is “open for business.” The USMCI… Read More

Electronic Record Used to Track Colon Cancer Follow-up

WASHINGTON—With a number of conflicting studies over the last five years looking at the effect of delays between positive colon cancer screenings and the subsequent colonoscopy that could confirm a diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC), VA researchers have struggled to… Read More

Population-based Criteria Increase Rate of Colorectal Cancer Screening at VAMC

WASHINGTON—Screening for colorectal cancer traditionally has been done on a per-visit basis at the VA. A patient comes in and, based on the physician’s recommendation, undergoes a test for the disease. Researchers at the Albuquerque, NM, VAMC suggested there was… Read More

New Study: Prostate Cancer Diagnosed Five Years Earlier In Vietnam-Era Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

PORTLAND, OR—Vietnam-era veterans exposed to Agent Orange are almost 50% more likely to develop prostate cancer than unexposed veterans, making exposure to the defoliate a higher risk factor than age and on par with family history for veterans, according to… Read More

Schoomaker: Military Personnel Left Confused by Different Evaluation Systems at VA, DoD

WASHINGTON—Despite significant efforts by DoD and VA to revamp the disability evaluation process, the new system remains “complex and adversarial,” the top Army doctor told a congressional subcommittee. DoD and VA agreed on a new disability and evaluation system to… Read More

Army Leaders Honored for Efforts to Improve Pain Management

WASHINGTON—The Army’s efforts to improve acute and chronic pain management in injured troops have been recently honored by the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM). AAPM presented four leaders from Army medicine with the Academy’s Presidential Commendation for their contributions… Read More

President Proposes Slightly Larger Budget for NIH; Focus on New Research

WASHINGTON—The President’s proposed budget for FY 2012 includes no deep cuts in HHS agencies, and even includes a small increase for NIH research. But that increase is tiny in comparison to the boost in research dollars that was provided through… Read More

Survey: Women Veterans Dissatisfied with VA Care, Especially Sexual Trauma Screening for New Enrollees

WASHINGTON—Women veterans are dissatisfied with many of the services provided through the VA health-care system, including screening processes for military sexual trauma (MST) that new enrollees receive, according to a survey conducted by the American Legion. While VA mandates that… Read More

New House Bill Seeks to Relax Benefit Requirements for Victims of Military Sexual-Assault-Related PTSD

WASHINGTON—In June 2010, legislation was passed making it considerably easier for veterans diagnosed with PTSD to receive service-connected benefits and care from VA. Prior to the law’s passage, veterans were required to show a diagnosis of PTSD, prove that they… Read More