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  • JOEM Special Issue on Health Hazards of Deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan

    Proactive Approach to Managing Exposure Concerns in Returning Veterans

    Chicago, IL — With the goal of preparing to manage the health concerns of returning U.S. veterans, the June Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), is devoting a special issue to the health effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    "There's a long history of veterans coming back from conflict with concerns about what they were exposed to," comments guest editor Ron Teichman, MD, MPH, of the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, VA Medical Center, East Orange, N.J., and owner of Teichman Occupational Health Associates, Inc. "This is the first major compilation of articles related to health and exposure issues in veterans returning from the most current conflicts."

    The special issue features 16 articles focusing on a wide range of hazards and concerns of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. The health implications are enormous, as an estimated 1.4 million veterans have already returned from deployment, with another 1 million expected.

    Studies suggest that, of these returning veterans, 20 to 35 percent will have concerns about exposure to environmental hazards. "Some of these exposures we know a lot about, including their potential health impacts, and some we don't," says Dr. Teichman.

    Topics addressed by the special issue include specific exposures of high concern to returning veterans; concerns about possible respiratory symptoms and health effects; recommendations for medical screening and testing, including the controversial suggestion that lung function testing should be done on all military members both pre- and post-deployment; and recommended "risk communication" approaches for talking with veterans about risks.

    Dr. Teichman notes that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense have developed programs to proactively evaluate and address the exposure concerns of returning veterans. "Both the VA and Department of Defense are taking these concerns seriously," he adds. "They both have a long way to go to satisfy the needs of the veterans – but they are making efforts to get there."

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    Citation — Teichman R, guest ed. Health Effects of Deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq. J Occup Environ Med. 2012;54(6):655-761.

    About the Author — Dr Teichman may be contacted for interviews at rfteichman@aol.com or at Ronald.Teichman@VA.gov.

    About ACOEM — ACOEM (www.acoem.org), an international society of 5,000 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.

    About Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine — The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.joem.org) is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.