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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 Veterans of Foreign Wars has demanded an apology from President Trump over recent comments in which he downplayed the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries suffered by American troops in an Iranian missile attack.
"The Veterans of Foreign Wars cannot stand idle on this matter," William "Doc" Schmitz, VFW National Commander, said in a statement Friday, noting TBI is a serious injury known to cause depression, memory loss, severe headaches and other symptoms in the short and long-term.
President Donald Trump tweeted out the logo for the brand-new U.S. Space Force on Friday, presenting it as a collaboration between "Great Military Leaders, designers and others."
Thing is, fans of Star Trek will find that the logo looks strikingly familiar. In fact, it looks almost exactly like the emblem of Starfleet, the uniformed space force maintained by the United Federation of Planets.
The Navy is investigating dozens of videos of service members changing in a bathroom which were then shared on the website PornHub, according to a NBC News report.
According to the report, an agent from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service found the videos on PornHub earlier this month. The videos, which have since been taken down, show civilians, sailors and Marines, some of whom have visible name tapes.
Two Army Ranger medics saved lives by taking fresh blood from uninjured soldiers in the middle of a firefight
We already knew that Army Rangers were a unique breed of badass, but performing real-time blood transfusions while under enemy fire on the battlefield takes it to an entirely new level.