Several years in the making, the Veterans Monument located at 101 Hieronymus Park Drive is under construction. Vietnam Veterans of America Bitterroot Chapter 938 has been hard at work collecting names and donations. Construction started 14 October 2010 and continues. Fund raising continues to complete the Monument.
The Veterans Monument, to honor all honorable discharged veterans’s service to our country, engraved are their names along with service, dates, rate and statement.
BLUE WATER NAVY BILL
Blue Water Navy Bill Continues to be Stalled in the Senate: In July, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018, to end the injustice of denying Vietnam, Korean DMZ, and Thailand veterans who suffer from life-threatening health conditions related to exposure to Agent Orange the care and benefits they deserve. This important bill continues to be stalled in the Senate and the VFW needs your help to make sure this bill is passed before the end of the year. Contact your senators to demand that the Senate passes H.R. 299. Contact your senators by email or call (202) 224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your senators’ offices.
News from National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Nov. 15, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hypertension Upgraded in Latest Biennial Review of Research on Health Problems in Veterans That May Be Linked to Agent Orange Exposure During Vietnam War
WASHINGTON — The latest in a series of congressionally mandated biennial reviews of the evidence of health problems that may be linked to exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War found sufficient evidence of an association for hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). The committee that carried out the study and wrote the report, Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 11 (2018), focused on the scientific literature published between Sept. 30, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2017.
From 1962 to 1971, the U.S. military sprayed herbicides over Vietnam to strip the thick jungle canopy that could conceal opposition forces, destroy crops that those forces might depend on, and clear tall grass and bushes from the perimeters of U.S. bases and outlying encampments. The most commonly used chemical mixture sprayed was Agent Orange, which was contaminated with the most toxic form of dioxin. These and the other herbicides sprayed during the war constituted the chemicals of interest for the committee. The exact number of U.S. military personnel who served in Vietnam is unknown because deployment to the theater was not specifically recorded in military records, but estimates range from 2.6 million to 4.3 million.
Hypertension was moved to the category of “sufficient” evidence of an association from its previous classification in the “limited or suggestive” category. The sufficient category indicates that there is enough epidemiologic evidence to conclude that there is a positive association. A finding of limited or suggestive evidence means that epidemiologic research results suggest an association between exposure to herbicides and a particular outcome, but a firm conclusion is limited because chance, bias, and confounding factors could not be ruled out with confidence. The committee came to this conclusion in part based on a recent study of U.S. Vietnam veterans by researchers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which found that self-reported hypertension rates were highest among former military personnel who had the greatest opportunity for exposure to these chemicals.
The committee concluded that there was sufficient evidence of an association between exposure to at least one of the chemicals of interest and MGUS, a newly considered condition. This finding is based on a recent study in which investigators found a statistically significant higher prevalence of MGUS in Vietnam veterans involved in herbicide spray operations than in comparison veterans. MGUS is a clinically silent condition that is a precursor to the cancer multiple myeloma, but only an estimated 1 percent of MGUS cases progress to multiple myeloma each year.
While some new studies suggest an association might exist between exposure to the chemicals of interest and Type 2 diabetes, the committee could not come to a consensus on whether this and the other available evidence continued to be limited or suggestive, or merited elevation to sufficient. Both newly and previously reviewed studies consistently show a relationship between well-characterized exposures to dioxin and dioxin-like chemicals and measures of diabetes health outcomes in diverse cohorts, including Vietnam veteran populations. The risk factors for diabetes, such as age, obesity, and family history of the disease, were controlled for in the analyses of most studies reviewed. However, some members of the committee believed that the lack of exposure specificity and the potential for residual uncontrolled confounding influences complicated attribution of the outcome to the chemicals of interest.
In addition, VA asked the committee to focus on three health outcomes: possible generational health effects that may be the result of herbicide exposure among male Vietnam veterans, myeloproliferative neoplasms, and glioblastoma multiforme. The evidence of association for exposure to the chemicals of interest and glioblastoma (and other brain cancers) remains inadequate or insufficient, the committee concluded. While it is appropriate for VA be mindful of the concerns raised about the possible association between Vietnam service and glioblastoma, the outcome is so rare and the information concerning herbicide exposures so imprecise, that it is doubtful that any logistically and economically feasible epidemiologic study of veterans would produce meaningful results regarding the association between exposures and the disease. For this reason, the committee recommended that VA should focus on fostering advancements to inform improved glioblastoma treatment options.
There are relatively few studies on the health effects of paternal chemical exposures on their descendants, and none address Vietnam veterans specifically. Therefore, the committee recommended further specific study of the health of descendants of male Vietnam veterans.
Myeloproliferative neoplasms and myelodysplastic syndromes are diseases of the blood cells and bone marrow. The committee’s search of epidemiologic literature yielded only one relevant paper on these diseases — a study of these cancers in Vietnam veterans that was reviewed in a previous update. Given this paucity of research, the committee recommended that investigators should examine existing databases on myeloid diseases to determine whether there are data available that would allow for an evaluation of myeloproliferative neoplasms in Vietnam veterans and others who have been exposed to dioxin and the other chemicals of interest.
Although progress has been made in understanding the health effects of military herbicide exposure and the mechanisms underlying these effects, significant gaps in knowledge remain. The committee restated recommendations for research activities outlined in previous updates in this series, including toxicologic, mechanistic, and epidemiologic research. Such work should include efforts to gain more complete knowledge through the integration of information in existing U.S. Department of Defense and VA databases.
The committee noted that the difficulty in conducting research on Vietnam veteran health issues should not act as a barrier to carrying out such work. There are many questions regarding veterans’ health that can only be adequately answered by examining veterans themselves, thereby properly accounting for the totality of the military service experience.
The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit nationalacademies.org.
CHRISTMAS EVENTS IN THE BOZEMAN AREA
Christmas Holiday Activities
Red Kettle Salvation Army bell ringing every Friday from 11/16 – 12/21 from 1000-1800
Festival of Trees for Liberty Place. We decorate a tree and then it goes to auction with the money raised going to Liberty Place. A home for people who have suffered from a brain injury,
Hope and the Holidays toy and Christmas meal giveaway to needing families
Christmas party for the veterans at the Bozeman Lodge. Giving each veteran resident an appropriate military branch blanket
VETERANS DAY ACTIVITIES BOZEMAN AREA
Veterans Day Activities
11/8 Presenting colors at Gallatin Gateway School
11/8 Handing out 5000 poppies throughout community
11/8 Presenting colors for Gallatin County Republican Women
11/9 Taking part in Veterans Day celebration at Meadowlark School and Sacagawea School
11/11 Presenting Colors at Sunset Hills Cemetery at Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall
11/12 Participating in Veterans Day celebration at the Belgrade Events Center for 1200 students
11/12 Presenting colors at the Bozeman Lodge for the veteran residents Veterans Day celebration.
MONTANA VETERANS AFFAIRS
It’s official. Joe Foster has retired. The new Division Administrator is Kelly Ackerman. Kelly has been working for Joe for many years in the claims area with veterans across the state.
Another change in the Department is the Billings Service Office will be relocating from their current address on Enterprise where they have been sharing a building with the VA Vet Center. Their new office will be on the Montana State University Billings Campus with goals to better serve veterans and those actively furthering their education.