Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA’s Home-Based Care Program Reduces Hospitalization for Diabetes, Other Conditions

By Brenda L. Mooney BOSTON – When it comes to providing care to older patients with co-existing diabetes and other chronic illnesses, everything old is new again at the VA. A program offering old-fashioned house calls is showing promise in reducing… Read More

Discharge to Deployment: Military Diabetes Management Changes Over 50 Years

Discharge to Deployment: Military Diabetes Management Changes Over 50 Years

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON – In 1964, a diagnosis of diabetes led to immediate discharge from the Army. Today, soldiers with well-managed diabetes can continue to have long and successful military careers. “With the increased understanding of diabetes and… Read More

Military Brings Treatment Closer to Troops to Combat Growing Depression Issues

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – Recent military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have put the spotlight not only on PTSD and TBI, but also on depression, which often co-exists with both conditions. “The previously rising suicide rate [in the Army]… Read More

Complexity, Lack of Approved Therapies Challenges PTSD, TBI Treatment

Complexity, Lack of Approved Therapies Challenges PTSD, TBI Treatment

WASHINGTON – When the American Psychiatric Association first added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980, it was quite controversial.

VA’s COPD Knowledge, Treatment Improving, But Still ‘Tip of the Iceberg’

VA’s COPD Knowledge, Treatment Improving, But Still ‘Tip of the Iceberg’

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is sometimes referred to as the “quiet” or “silent” killer by clinicians trying to treat it. It presents few symptoms in its earliest stages and so is often not diagnosed… Read More

VA, DoD Remain on Front Lines in Ongoing War Against Cancer

VA, DoD Remain on Front Lines in Ongoing War Against Cancer

FORT LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA – The DoD’s leadership in cancer research started accidentally, but funding from Congress has ensured that both the Army and VA have remained on the front lines in the war on cancer during the past 50 years.

VA Proposes Physician Pay Increases, Begins Major Recruiting Campaign

VA Proposes Physician Pay Increases, Begins Major Recruiting Campaign

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – The maximum rates of annual pay for incoming VHA physicians and dentists would be increased as much as $35,000, under a VA proposal announced last month. The updated pay tables would allow physicians and dentists… Read More

VA IG: Wait-Time Manipulation Went Far Beyond VAMCs  in Headlines

VA IG: Wait-Time Manipulation Went Far Beyond VAMCs in Headlines

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – The problem of wait-time manipulation for patient appointments went far beyond facilities such as the Phoenix VAMC, which became the center of a nationwide controversy,  the VA acting general inspector told lawmakers last month. Acting… Read More

Veterans Appeals Delayed Months; Whistleblower Suggests Leadership Issues

Veterans Appeals Delayed Months; Whistleblower Suggests Leadership Issues

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — A VA whistleblower told lawmakers last month that veterans’ cases waited hundreds of days for a final decision at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, even though some of them required nothing but a signature to… Read More

Better Recruit Screening Probably Won’t Solve Military Suicide Crisis

Better Recruit Screening Probably Won’t Solve Military Suicide Crisis

SALT LAKE CITY – The roots of the rising suicide rates in servicemembers and veterans reach back into childhood home environments and pre-military experiences, according to a quartet of recent reports.

Male Breast Cancer at the VA Much Rarer Than the Female Disease, but More Deadly

Male Breast Cancer at the VA Much Rarer Than the Female Disease, but More Deadly

Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON – Men are diagnosed with less than 0.1% of all breast cancers, but for those unfortunate few, the disease extracts a high toll — and a 65% increase in mortality risk compared to women. The interpretation… Read More

Increasing Cancer Treatment Delays Have Plagued VAMCs for Nearly a Decade

Increasing Cancer Treatment Delays Have Plagued VAMCs for Nearly a Decade

Some Long Wait Times Attributable to Treatment Modalities by Annette M. Boyle CHICAGO – The news media frenzy of the last six months might suggest otherwise, but concerns about delays in treatment for veterans are nothing new at the VA,… Read More

Who Has PTSD Now? New Definition Creates Challenges for Clinicians

Who Has PTSD Now? New Definition Creates Challenges for Clinicians

By Brenda L. Mooney SILVER SPRING, MD – A new study raises critical questions about the change in the definition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and… Read More

New White House Initiatives Seek to Reduce Military Suicide Rates, Improve Care

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – A revision in the VA drug formulary and an expansion of suicide prevention training were among 19 new executive actions announced recently by President Barack Obama to improve mental healthcare for troops and veterans. “So… Read More

New VA Secretary Moves Quickly to Remedy Access to Care Issues

New VA Secretary Moves Quickly to Remedy Access to Care Issues

WASHINGTON – VA Secretary Robert McDonald hit the ground running last month, reaffirming the message that VA could turn its challenges into an opportunity to do “what we could never have done otherwise.”

PTSD Still Plagues More than 1 in 10 Vietnam Veterans 40 Years Later

PTSD Still Plagues More than 1 in 10 Vietnam Veterans 40 Years Later

WASHINGTON – Thousands of Vietnam-era veterans continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 41 years after the war ended, a recent congressionally mandated study shows.

Statins Reduce Barrett’s Esophagus; Cancer Precursor Affects About 10% of Veterans

Statins Reduce Barrett’s Esophagus; Cancer Precursor Affects About 10% of Veterans

By Annette M. Boyle BETHESDA, MD – Veterans on statins have another good reason to continue to take their medication, according to new research. Statins not only reduce cholesterol, combat cardiovascular disease and potentially reduce the risk of prostate cancer,… Read More

Telecare Program Effectively Manages Pain, Reduces Opioid Use in VA Patients

Telecare Program Effectively Manages Pain, Reduces Opioid Use in VA Patients

By Brenda L. Mooney INDIANAPOLIS  –  A yearlong VA telecare program to manage chronic pain due to arthritis or other musculoskeletal disorders not only doubled the likelihood of improvement for veterans in the intervention program but also demonstrated that patients… Read More

Institute of Medicine: DOD, VA Fail at Tracking Outcomes of PTSD Treatments

Institute of Medicine: DOD, VA Fail at Tracking Outcomes of PTSD Treatments

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON – One of the signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), affected 13.5% of soldiers and caused 502,000 veterans to seek treatment in 2012. Despite the ubiquity of the… Read More

DoD’s Slow Transfer of Service Records Contributes to VA Claims Backlog

DoD’s Slow Transfer of Service Records Contributes to VA Claims Backlog

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – While VA is under heavy pressure from lawmakers to reduce the claims backlog and process claims faster, the agency is not the only one to blame for these delays, according to the DoD Office of… Read More