DARPA WORKING ON BRAIN IMPLANT TO RESTORE MEMORY AND ALLEVIATE PTSD IN SOLDIERS — DARPA is now developing a brain implant that will help soldiers boost memory as well as potentially help with any PTSD they could suffer during deployment. DARPA’s Restoring Active Memory project, or RAM, is aimed at restoring memory to returning soldiers who have had major brain injuries. A whopping 300,000 soldiers return from the battlefield with some sort of brain injury and these implants could help them regain a normal life — not to mention the thousands of soldiers suffering from PTSD.
AGENT ORANGE LINKED TO KIDNEY CANCER, THYROID PROBLEMS — There is stronger evidence of a link between the herbicide Agent Orange and bladder cancer and thyroid problems among U.S. military personnel exposed to the chemical during the Vietnam War, a new Institute of Medicine report shows. However, there is little to no evidence of an association between the birth defect spina bifida and a mother’s or father’s exposure to Agent Orange, according to the report. The report committee also concluded that military personnel exposed to Agent Orange who have Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms can file a claim for the condition. Agent Orange is an herbicide sprayed during the Vietnam War to kill off trees and vegetation that the enemy used as cover. The U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the war.
NM VA SYSTEM GETS HEAD START ON CHANGES — As the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General continues doling out 77 “administrative summaries” of wait-time investigations at VA medical facilities across the country, the New Mexico VA Health Care System is already addressing problems it anticipates will be noted in the OIG’s upcoming report about it. “While we have yet to receive a summary from the OIG regarding our specific, on-site inspection at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center, we have taken several steps in order to reduce patient wait times,” Bill Armstrong, public affairs specialist for the NMVAHCS, said last week by email.
CLINIC FAULTS CHOICE PLAN — A Pueblo eye clinic says the Department of Veterans Affairs is months behind in paying for more than 900 veterans treated there — a problem that has caused other clinics to stop treating veterans. David Aldag, administrator at Rocky Mountain Eye Center, said the ophthalmology clinic treats veterans referred to it though the VA’s Choice program. It lets veterans get specialty care — like cataract surgery — that isn’t available to veterans at their regional VA clinics. Complaints about the Choice program have been widespread nationally. It is overseen by a VA contractor, Health Net Federal Services. “That’s been the problem with Choice,” Aldag said last week. “We have to deal solely with Health Net in getting veterans scheduled for procedures and payment and it has bogged everything down. We now wait three to four months for payment.”
MIAMI VA NURSE GETS 5 YEAR CONVICTION FOR FRAUD — One Miami VA nurse was convicted for fraud after a court found he altered a veteran’s medical records to cover up his role in the veteran’s death. The nurse, Enrique Mathews, was recently sentenced to five years in prison for falsifying computer records that resulted in a conviction for fraud in violation of Title 18 USC §§ 1519 and 1030. The veteran was 76 years old and recovering from heart surgery. How is it that more prosecutions have not arisen in light of the wait list manipulations? A VA investigation revealed Mathews falsified medical records. The patient was in the surgical intensive care unit at the Miami VA. According to the Miami Herald: