Health Findings from the Gulf War Longitudinal Study
Gulf War Follow-up Study
The Follow-up Study of a National Cohort of Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans is the third in a series of surveys that examines the health of Veterans who deployed to the Gulf War in 1990-1991 and Veterans who served elsewhere during the same period. The current survey examines trends in health status over time. The results of this study will help VA to better understand the health consequences of military deployment and to guide delivery of health care.
Researchers found that Gulf War Veterans were more likely to report having medical conditions compared to Veterans who served elsewhere during the Gulf War. Gulf War Veterans also reported medical conditions earlier than non-deployed Gulf War Era Veterans. Learn more about these findings: The health of Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans over time: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Gulf War Longitudinal Study
Reference attached document, which shows various VA Resource Websites.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs CWV – News Update
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs sent this bulletin at 04/06/2021 09:00 AM EDT
Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS) News [March 2021]
Get the Recruitment & Retention, Employment & Integration, Well Being & Treatment, Servicwomen in the News, Women Veterans, and Upcoming Events DACOWITS news from March 2021. [From DACOWITS]
You may think of yoga as a practice only done by the young and flexible, but all of us can do it. After a recent knee surgery, I was unable to get around without crutches, but I was still able to do breathing practices, meditate, and even some yoga postures in a chair. [From VAntage Point]
It can be very healing for survivors of any kind of trauma to feel heard, validated and supported as they recover. This can be especially true for survivors of military sexual trauma (MST), many of whom may be suffering alone – feeling ashamed, disconnected or unable to talk with anyone about their experience. That’s why, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April, VA’s message to MST survivors is this: We believe you – and we believe in you. [From VAntage Point]
About six million enrolled Veterans use VA health care, and VA has successfully given at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to more than two million of those Veterans, with more getting vaccinated every day. But there’s still more to do: VA will vaccinate every Veteran and spouse and caregiver. [From VAntage Point]
The National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) hosted an hourlong listening session earlier this month. In attendance were 12 women serving as state directors, commissioners or executives, the highest number in the organization’s history. [From VAntage Point]
Grace Murray Hopper was born in New York City in 1906. In 1928, she graduated from Vassar College with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics. In 1930, Hopper attended Yale University and received a master’s degree in mathematics. She received her doctorate in mathematics and mathematical physics from Yale in 1934. [From VAntage Point]
We honor her service.
I felt great pride when Secretary McDonough swore me in as VA chief of staff during this year’s Women’s History Month. It’s been a little over a century since the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting American women the right to vote. Vice President Kamala Harris took her oath in January making her the first woman – and the first woman of color – to hold the second highest office in our country. And during the inauguration, Amanda Gorman – a remarkable young woman and poet – reminded us that “being American is more than a pride / we inherit, / it’s the past we step into / and how we repair it.” [From VAntage Point]
According to the Department of Labor (DOL), there are almost two million women Veterans living in the United States. Women Veterans continue to make positive strides in education, career and entrepreneurship, with many turning to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields for their career choices. [From VAntage Point]
Breast cancer diagnoses have dropped by more than 50% since the spring of 2020. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Early in the pandemic, hospitals and community screening facilities closed. Many women had their routine mammograms postponed or canceled unless symptoms of cancer were present. [From VAntage Point]
During Women’s History Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Lauran Glover, the first woman to lead the U.S. Army Drill Team. Lauran Glover was born in Westerville, Ohio, and raised in Columbus. She attended the University of Findlay where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology. [From VAntage Point]
We honor your service, Lauran!
VA is listening to your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. This blog series answers questions from Veterans. This entry is the second in a two-part series. [From VAntage Point]
Print out your VA Welcome Kit
Whether you’re just getting out of the service or you’ve been a civilian for years now, the VA Welcome Kit can help guide you to the benefits and services you’ve earned.
Based on where you are in life, your VA benefits and services can support you in different ways. Keep your welcome kit handy so you can turn to it throughout your life—like when it’s time to go to school, get a job, buy a house, get health care, retire, or make plans for your care as you age.
See below MyhealtheVet note:
VA My Healthy Vet how to upgrade (1)
Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page. In Case You Missed It: The Center for Women Veterans is sharing recent news stories that may be of interest to women Veterans, military women, and their supporters on a weekly basis. Share your thoughts about them on social media @VAWomenVets.VA’s Women Veterans Quick Start Guide now available
11/30/2020 09:01 AM EST
The VA Women Veterans Quick Start Guide (QSG) provides clear and concise information on how to apply for benefits and access VA health care. How to schedule regular checkups, fill prescriptions and access specialists, such as cardiologists, gynecologists and mental health providers, are outlined in the latest quick start guide. [From VAntage Point]
11/30/2020 08:01 AM EST
On this episode of Borne the Battle, Army Reserve and National Guard Veteran Ja’net Bishop, Ed.D, shares her story about starting her military career and becoming an educator and career counselor. Being the oldest and only girl in her family, Bishop joined the military to blaze a trail for herself and develop leadership skills. [From VAntage Point]
11/29/2020 02:01 PM EST
Lori Piestewa was born on December 14, 1981, in Tuba City, Arizona, a small town on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Coconino County. She grew up in a family that honored military service: her father served in Vietnam and her grandfather served in World War I. [From VAntage Point]
11/29/2020 11:30 AM EST
During National Native American Heritage Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Mitchelene BigMan, who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mitchelene BigMan was born in 1966 on the Crow Reservation in Montana. [From VAntage Point]
We honor your service, Mitchelene!
What to Do If You’re Sick
Follow CDC guidelines to care for yourself and to protect others
If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 or think you might have it, there are steps you need to follow to care for yourself and protect those at home and in your community.
Stay home and away from others
If you’re diagnosed with COVID-19, and the doctor sends you home, you need to stay home. Don’t visit any public places or use public transportation and follow your provider’s guidance about whether or when to come in for an appointment. Living in close quarters can be challenging, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) offers guidance about how to quarantine at home in shared spaces. While you’re at home, make sure you hydrate and take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
Keep an eye on your symptoms
The CDC lists some of the COVID-19 symptoms that include fever, chills, cough, muscle pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell.
If you, or someone you know, is showing any of these or other symptoms, discuss with your provider. If you have trouble breathing, feel pressure in your chest, are more confused than usual, or have bluish lips or face, call 911 immediately and tell the operator that you or someone you know may have COVID-19.
Remember: Please call your doctor before you go to a medical facility for any symptoms that are concerning to you. You can learn what steps to take to protect yourself and other patients.
If you’re not sure about your symptoms, VA’s Annie text messaging service can help you monitor them and advise you when to contact your VA care team or your facility’s advice nurse. The messages also provide general wellness tips and steps you can take to protect yourself. You can subscribe to Annie coronavirus precautionsmessages yourself, or ask your VA care team to assign it to you.
When to stop home isolation
If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 and are nervous about leaving home, follow your provider’s guidance. Your provider may recommend following CDC’s guidance, which states:
- You haven’t had a fever for 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines, AND
- You have an improvement in your respiratory symptoms, AND
- It has been at least 10 days since the first appearance of any symptoms.
Your provider may also recommend that you stay home until you have two negative COVID-19 tests.
Keeping in touch with your health care team for non-emergencies is easy with Secure Messaging when you sign in to My HealtheVet.
Be Social from a Distance
Get out and about – safely
The safety of Veterans has remained our highest priority. VA is taking precautions to keep you healthy. This includes offering video appointments with your doctor, wearing face coverings at VA facilities, or screening employees and Veterans for COVID-19 symptoms.
You can also protect yourself by practicing ‘physical distancing,’ sometimes called ‘social distancing.’ Physical distancing is when you keep a safe space between you and others when you’re outside of your home. Staying physically distant from others is still one of the best ways to avoid exposure and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Why should I practice physical distancing?
Even if you’re healthy, you should still maintain a safe distance from others. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact or within six feet of each other. The virus spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets travel through the air and to people nearby. The further apart you are from someone, the less likely you are to have contact with the virus.
Physical distancing protects you from people who haven’t been diagnosed yet, or don’t have symptoms. People who are infected, but don’t have symptoms, can still spread the virus.
Socialize while being physically distant
Being physically distant doesn’t mean you can’t be social. While at home, you can still socialize with by phone calls and video chats. If warmer weather is tempting you to interact with people outdoors, there are a few things that can help you stay safe:
- Put a physical distance of six feet between you and friends and family when you spend time together
- If you’re sharing a table, sit at a diagonal angle from each other, so no one is facing each other
- Wear a mask when you’re not actually eating and drinking
- Don’t share any items (cell phones, pens, utensils, condiments, or food)
- Cover your cough, or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow, not your hands
- Wash your hands frequently
- Limit the time of your social interactions
Even though you’re physically distancing, you should still wear your mask or face covering. You should also wash your hands regularly. It may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching your face. While public health experts don’t believe this is the main way the virus spreads, they’re still learning more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the most current recommendations.
What is Social Distancing? (CDC)
How to Use VA Video Connect
A step-by-step guide to using VA virtual care
To maintain the safety of our Veterans and staff, and to preserve the capacity of the clinical workforce during the current Coronavirus outbreak, VA is offering Veterans the option to replace in-person appointments with telephone or video visits.
The step-by-step guide below will help prepare Veterans for video visits if needed.
Step one: Visit the website
- Go to the VA video connect page on the VA App Store.
- Review the helpful resources on this page including the Quick Start Guides and Frequently Asked Questions.
- Contact your VA health care team; sign in and send a Secure Message about the option of a telehealth appointment.
Step two: Get set up
- For Android or Windows mobile devices and personal computers: No app download is needed. VA Video Connect will open automatically when you select your appointment link.
- For Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch): Search for and download the “VA Video Connect” app from the Apple App Store.
Step three: Test your device
- Open an Internet browser and go to VA Video Connect. Once on the page, select “visit the VA Video Connect test site” to make sure your device’s camera and microphone are fully functioning.
- If you would like to practice using the app before your appointment, ask your VA care team for a practice session.
Step four: Join your visit
- A few minutes before your video visit, find the appointment email from “email@example.com” and select your appointment link to join your session. In some cases, you will be directed to a virtual waiting room before your session begins.
- If you’re having technical difficulty, contact the National Telehealth Technology Help Desk.
If you have further questions, please call the National Telehealth Technology Help Desk, which is available to help you get started and troubleshoot technical problems. Call 866-651-3180 or 703-234-4483, Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. ET.
You Don’t Have to Call It Exercise
Get active, get in shape by changing your daily habits
With recent events across the country, your daily habits or schedules may be a little thrown off. Making exercise a new habit is one route for better health. With a few simple steps, you’ll get more energy and sleep better.
Kickstart an Active Lifestyle
No matter your schedule, there are simple changes you can make to be more active. People who exercise regularly tend to have more energy, sleep better, and feel better overall. Find what works for you. Whether it’s taking the stairs or standing at your desk rather than sitting, you can find creative ways to be active.
Physical Activity: Why Fitness Matters
Being active offers many health benefits. It can help you lose weight, reduce stress levels, and lower your risk of health problems, like heart disease, diabetes, and depression. The best way to be and stay active is to find the right activity for you. Whether it’s swimming, riding a bike, or playing a sport; the more you enjoy, the more you’ll want to do it.
Physical Activity: Fitting It into Your Life
You don’t have to fit your life around exercise. Instead, you can fit activity into your daily life. It’s recommended that you exercise for two hours each week. The best way to achieve this is with short activity breaks during the day. Taking the time for an activity you enjoy can add up to improve your health.
A great way to start improving your fitness is by walking. Following a walking program can help you reach your goal by gradually increasing the frequency, speed, and time you walk. And while a relaxing stroll sounds appealing, if you can sing while exercising, speed up. If you can’t talk easily, slow down.
Tracking or keeping a diary of your daily activities will help you stick to your fitness plan, improve time management, and keep you motivated. Veterans registered with My HealtheVet can access the Activity Journal feature, allowing them to record physical activities, and track progress.
Here’s What’s In Your Blue Button Report
This infographic shows what you can download and share
Medical records contain an amazing variety of data. They contain information about blood tests, appointments (past and present), X-rays, flu shots, and other things that can be hard to keep track of. You can better manage and share your health records with VA’s Blue Button feature on My HealtheVet. This online tool helps you remember the names of your prescription medications, lab results, doctor’s notes, and much more. Just select the date and type of information to include, and it’ll create a single report that includes your available health information.
Veterans who are VA patients and have a Premium My HealtheVet account can view, download, or print self-entered information, as well as data from their health care provider, or the Department of Defense (DoD). With over one million Blue Button reports downloaded, Veterans can better track their health care needs, communicate with providers, and feel more in control of their health care.
Discover all that a VA Blue Button report has to offer:
Reducing COVID-19 Stress via Text Messages
During stressful times, ‘Annie’ can help
Physical distancing and self-isolation can be stressful. If you’re experiencing anxiety or loneliness because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Annie’s text messages may be able to help. Annie is VA’s automated text messaging program that sends health information and reminders. Any mobile phone with texting can receive Annie messages.
Coping during COVID-19
Annie’s new “Coping During COVID” sends tips for managing stress. After you subscribe, Annie sends you three messages per week, asking if you’d like a coping tip. When you reply ‘yes,’ Annie sends a second message that includes an activity or suggestion. Annie’s tips offer strategies for:
- Decreasing feelings of anxiety, anger, depression, and isolation.
- Increasing feelings of social connection and empowerment.
Start using ‘Annie.’
Use Annie to cope with COVID-19 by subscribing yourself or asking your VA health care team to subscribe for you. If you’re already registered for Annie, text SUB COPE to Annie (75338) to subscribe. If you’re not yet registered, follow these instructions.
The screenshot above shows an example text exchange between Annie and a Veteran.
Diabetes: When Blood Sugar is Too Low
Key is to track blood sugar, talk to health care team
If you’re a Veteran with diabetes, you probably hear a lot about lowering your blood sugar. But diabetes can be difficult to manage. Sometimes your blood sugar can go too low. This can even be as serious as having high blood sugar.
So what’s the best way to be sure your blood sugar stays at a safe level? It may surprise you to learn that simply talking about it with your health care team is the best first step.
Things have changed since the days when doctors expected patients to listen without asking questions. Your health care team wants you to be a part of decisions to keep you healthy. They’re even learning better ways to ask for your input. But they need your help.
Let your care team know about any worries you have. Talk about the problems that make managing diabetes difficult for you, especially if you sometimes have low blood sugar.
Remember that My HealtheVet helps you keep track of your Blood Sugar information in the Track Health section. You can enter your Blood Sugar levels and generate a table or a graph to share with your health care team.
Key points to remember
- Talk with your health care team – they want to know your preferences and concerns! It will help them suggest ways to treat your diabetes that will work for you.
- Ask them about the signs of low blood sugar and how to treat it quickly.
- Talk about low blood sugar if you sometimes have it.
- Ask about ways to take care of your diabetes that may bring less risk of low blood sugar.
- Medical terms and instructions can be complex and hard to understand. Tell your care team if they have not explained something clearly.
- It can be hard to remember all your concerns when you get into an appointment. So before your next appointment, make a list of questions to ask your provider. Let them know which are the most important to you.
- Only you know what works best for your life. Discuss the parts of your diabetes treatment that are working and what may not be working as well.