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VA to take lead on fighting potential military service-linked cancer, Esper says
WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs will take the lead on improving access to medical care for military members exposed to potentially cancer-causing compounds during their service, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Wednesday.
In response to a question from McClatchy on the rising number of cancers in the military that could be connected to compounds service members were exposed to while deployed overseas or during training, Esper acknowledged the role of both the Pentagon and VA may grow.
"That is one of the areas where I want to improve and make sure we are doing everything we can to assist soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines as they transition out of the service into the VA system," Esper said.
"VA has the lead on this," he added.
Earlier this year, the military service organization TAPS said that the top cause driving new survivors to join its organization will soon be military member cancer deaths. TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, is a support organization for spouses and family members who have lost a service member.
The Pentagon will continue to take the lead on addressing the number of military bases and communities with ground and well water contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds, which are cancer-linked chemicals found in the military's firefighting foam.
There's already some momentum within the Pentagon and Congress to address the impact of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), which has been used since the 1970s to fight aircraft fires. The foam has concentrated amounts of PFAS compounds that are linked to cancers and birth defects. The compounds are found in everyday household products, but are concentrated in firefighting foam.
Over the past few decades, PFAS has seeped into groundwater and drinking well sources on military bases and the communities surrounding them. A number of cities are now calling on the Defense Department to clean up the contamination, citing rising numbers of cancers in their communities.
As the health risks have become more widely known, the services said they have backed off using the AFFF in training. For example, the Air Force now uses Phos-Chek 3 in training, which is a substitute foam that has lower levels of the compound.
The Marine Corps guidance now "is to use aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) for emergency firefighting only (i.e., no testing using AFFF) and minimizing releases to the environment where AFFF is required to be used," said Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Joseph Butterfield.
The Navy "has ceased using AFFF for training purposes and has reserved the use of AFFF to rapidly extinguish Class B fires," said spokesman Lt. Tim Pietrack.
©2019 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The U.S. Military Academy identified a cadet who has been missing since Friday evening as 20-year-old Kade Kurita.
A search began for Kurita after he failed to report for a scheduled military skills competition around 5:30pm on Friday. West Point officials said in the Tuesday press release that he is believed to still be nearby.
Vets can relive their childhood dreams of building massive block armies with free tickets to Legoland this November
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have made "momentous" decisions regarding Ankara's military offensive in northeast Syria, with both sides saying they had agreed to conduct joint military patrols in the tense region.
Russian and Turkish officials said a five-day U.S.-brokered truce had been extended for 150 hours, starting on midday on October 23, and that Kurdish militias would be required to clear out of a 30-kilometer buffer zone along the Turkish border.
A Navy lieutenant and his wife were arrested in a joint FBI and NCIS raid Thursday in the San Jose area.
The raid occurred at the home of Navy Lt. Fan Yang and his wife, Yang Yang.
Documents obtained by First Coast News say Fan Yang currently holds a top-secret U.S. security clearance and is actively serving in the Navy in a sensitive anti-submarine warfare unit. He was assigned to the Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Weapons School at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.