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Monday, February 27, 2012

Minneapolis GWI CDMRP Study Seeking Health & Ill Gulf War Veteran Participants



CDMRP-Funded Medical Research Study Examining Tissue Factor, Chronic Coagulopathy and Inflammation in Ill Gulf War Veterans

At least one fourth of the 696,842 US military personnel who served in the 1991 Gulf War suffer from chronic multi-symptom illnesses.  At the present time there are no objective methods for the diagnosis of these Gulf War veterans’ illnesses (GWVI).  Likewise, there are no evidence-based treatments for GWVI.

Dr. Ronald R. Bach, PhD (Principal Investigator) and Billie C. S. Slater (Study Coordinator) are asking you to participate in a new research study in the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.  It is sponsored by the Department of Defense [Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP)] and is entitled, “Biomarkers of Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses: Tissue Factor, Chronic Coagulopathy and Inflammation.”  Your participation is entirely voluntary.

This study is open to all veterans of the 1991 Gulf War (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm: August 2, 1990-July 31, 1991).  To be successful this study needs both healthy and sick veterans to participate.  Approximately 200 veterans will be in the study.

If you meet the study’s enrollment criteria and you choose to enroll, your involvement will last for about one year, though for most participants, you will only need to make one visit to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center for about one hour. 

The goal of this study is to find abnormalities in the blood of Gulf War veterans with multi-symptom illnesses. Discovering changes in specific blood factors may make it possible to diagnose GWVI with simple blood tests.  Also, the information gained from this work may help to identify and test potential treatments.

If you are an ill or healthy Gulf War veteran as defined above, and think you might want to be in the study, then you should call Ms. Billie Slater, the Gulf War Study Coordinator. In the Twin Cities [Minneapolis-St. Paul] area, call (612) 467-5679. Outside the Twin Cities, call toll-free 1-866-4145-5058, extension 9-5679.  Billie will answer your questions about the study and can schedule your appointment.

If you decide to participate, then you will go to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center for your scheduled appointment. 

First, you will go through the informed consent process with the Gulf War Study Coordinator.  This ensures you understand the study and are voluntarily agreeing to participate.  Once the consent documents are signed, you will be asked questions about:

  • Your medical history
  • Any medical problems you have had since your service in the Gulf War
  • What medications you are currently taking (consider bringing a list with the medication name and dosage)



Next, you will be asked to provide a sample of blood, which will be drawn from a vein in your arm.  The blood sample consists of one 45ml (about 3 tablespoons) blood draw.

This will conclude your visit.  The entire process should require no more than one hour of your time.

For most study subjects, your participation will consist of this one blood draw.  A few subjects may be asked to return for additional blood tests.  The blood tests being performed are for research purposes only.  Neither your answers to any of the study’s questions nor the results of the blood draws will become part of your medical record.

Following the blood draw, you will receive a check for $50 as compensation for your participation in the study.

The Minneapolis VA Medical Center is at the Twin Cities Metro Transit (light rail) VA Medical Center Station. 


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QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE STUDY

Study Title:  “Biomarkers of Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses: Tissue Factor, Chronic Coagulopathy and Inflammation.” 

Study Type:  GWI Biomarkers

Study Location:  Minneapolis VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Inclusion Criteria:  Ill or Healthy veteran of the 1991 Gulf War with service in the Gulf between August 2, 1990 and July 31, 1991.

Participation Involvement:  About one (1) hour on site, including:  informed consent process, short medical history including problems since Gulf War service, current medications list, blood draw. 

Travel Provided:  No

Compensation for Participation:  $50

Contact:  Ms. Billie Slater, Gulf War Study Coordinator, (612) 467-5679, or toll-free 1-866-414-5058 extension 9-5679



Gulf War Veteran who called suicide line offered counseling to avoid charges

This article is from the Washington Post.  Original article:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/veteran-who-called-suicide-line-offered-counseling-to-avoid-charges/2012/02/27/gIQAOOGNeR_story.html



Veteran who called suicide line offered counseling to avoid charges

Eric Brady/AP - Sean Duvall, center, is greeted by a host of veterans offering support as he enters the Poff Federal Building in Roanoke Va. where he was having a hearing at the Federal Court House, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.
ROANOKE — Sean Duvall, the Navy veteran charged with fabricating a homemade gun after calling a suicide hotline last year, would avoid prosecution if he completes court-mandated counseling under an agreement reached in federal court Monday.
Duvall, a 45-year-old Persian Gulf War veteran who lives outside Roanoke, was charged with four counts related to the manufacturing of the weapon after calling a suicide crisis hotline run by the Department of Veterans Affairs last June.
  • (Family photo/ PHOTO COURTESY OF SEAN DUVALL ) - Sean DuVall, on right, at his graduation from Navy training in the early 1990's. Last year, he was a homeless veteran contemplating suicide when he called the VA suicide hotline and got help.
  • (Family photo/ PHOTO COURTESY OF SEAN DUVALL ) - After his release from a hospital, Duvall, 45, was charged with possession of a destructive device and three related felonies. The charges stem from a crude weapon he fashioned from a steel pipe and a shotgun shell to kill himself.
(Family photo/ PHOTO COURTESY OF SEAN DUVALL ) - Sean DuVall, on right, at his graduation from Navy training in the early 1990's. Last year, he was a homeless veteran contemplating suicide when he called the VA suicide hotline and got help.
The case outraged veterans groups, who said that the government should not prosecute those seeking help. They feared that Duvall’s prosecution could have a chilling effect on distressed veterans at a time when they are committing suicide at a rate of 18 per day.
And they were flabbergasted that the man in charge of the office pursuing the charges against Duvall was Timothy Heaphy, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, who is the son-in-law of VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, an advocate for helping troubled veterans rather punishing them.
Prosecutors initially argued they had every right to charge Duvall, who admitted to being armed with a gun when he called the hotline from the campus of Virginia Tech. But during a hearing Monday, the government changed course and recommended that Duvall be admitted to counseling overseen by a new Veterans Treatment Court. If completed, the charges, which carried a prison sentence of up to 40 years, would be dropped.
After the hearing, Duvall, a graduate of Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge, said he was thankful for the chance to continue putting his life back together. But the veteran who enlisted in the Navy in 1991 and deployed to the Persian Gulf and off the coast of Somalia before being honorably discharged in 1995, said he was “confused as to why they came after me.” He assumed that the VA hotline was confidential, as advertised.
He also said that he was concerned about “the veterans that are coming back [from Iraq and Afghanistan]. I know it’s going to be rough for them.”
Duvall, homeless and unemployed, had been wandering the streets for a week before his call to the crisis hotline, according to court documents. He was despondent and reeling, he said, from the death of his father.
In his backpack, he carried a final note to his family, a letter confirming his eligibility to be buried in the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery and a homemade gun fashioned from a pipe. While on the campus of Virginia Tech, where he had worked previously as a part-time cook, he called the VA’s suicide hotline shortly after midnight and told the counselor he was going to kill himself.
A police officer who arrived a short time later took Duvall, a divorced father of two, to a psychiatric facility, where he was treated for depression.
But a week later he was charged by state authorities with carrying a concealed weapon without a license. Eventually, those charges were dismissed so that the U.S. Attorney’s Office could prosecute the case in federal court.

Veteran who called suicide line offered counseling to avoid charges

Eric Brady/AP - Sean Duvall, center, is greeted by a host of veterans offering support as he enters the Poff Federal Building in Roanoke Va. where he was having a hearing at the Federal Court House, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.
During Monday’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Wolthuis said that authorities were concerned that an armed and mentally unstable person was on the campus of Virginia Tech, the site of a massacre in 2007 in which 32 people died and two dozen were wounded before the gunman killed himself.
Wolthuis also said that Duvall’s criminal history — which included public intoxication, driving while intoxicated and destruction of property — also factored in to the decision to charge him.
  • (Family photo/ PHOTO COURTESY OF SEAN DUVALL ) - Sean DuVall, on right, at his graduation from Navy training in the early 1990's. Last year, he was a homeless veteran contemplating suicide when he called the VA suicide hotline and got help.
  • (Family photo/ PHOTO COURTESY OF SEAN DUVALL ) - After his release from a hospital, Duvall, 45, was charged with possession of a destructive device and three related felonies. The charges stem from a crude weapon he fashioned from a steel pipe and a shotgun shell to kill himself.
(Family photo/ PHOTO COURTESY OF SEAN DUVALL ) - Sean DuVall, on right, at his graduation from Navy training in the early 1990's. Last year, he was a homeless veteran contemplating suicide when he called the VA suicide hotline and got help.
Heaphy said the fact that Duvall was a veteran didn’t register with him at first. He said that prosecutors were focused more on the fact that Duvall had taken a weapon onto Virginia Tech’s campus.
“That he was a veteran was never really a focus,” said Heaphy, whose father in-law is a former Army chief of staff.
After Heaphy reviewed the case, which received widespread media attention, he said he thought that “maybe we ought to take a deep breath.” The veterans court, he said, would help Duvall fix “the underlying issue that led to the commission of this crime.”
Asked if he should have referred Duvall’s case to the veterans court at the beginning, he said he wasn’t sure. “I can’t say I would have done it differently,” he said. “I do think there is a value in demonstrating how serious law enforcement is at Virginia Tech.”
He said that Duvall’s case was the first felony referred to the Virginia veterans court, which typically takes misdemeanors. Veterans courts are modeled after drug courts and are a relatively new way to help veterans get substance abuse and mental health treatment. If the programs proscribed by the court are completed, charges are often dropped.
Under the deal approved Monday, Duvall will be required to appear in the veterans court monthly to update the judge on his progress. If after six months he continues to show improvement, the charges would be dropped.
About a dozen veterans came to the hearing Monday to show support for Duvall. Dan Karnes, president of the Roanoke Valley Veterans Council, said he was angry that the charges were ever filed. Sending Duvall for treatment “is what they should have done from the beginning,” he said.
Duvall, though, said he wasn’t angry. The call to the crisis hotline, he said, saved his life. The counselor on the other end of the line, he said, “talked me through a very difficult time.”

Saturday, February 25, 2012

HP: Suicidal Gulf War Veteran Needs Help, Not Jail Time

This article is from the Huffington Post.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-david-jaffee/suicidal-veteran-needs-he_b_1295454.html


Robert David Jaffee

GET UPDATES FROM ROBERT DAVID JAFFEE

Suicidal Veteran Needs Help, Not Jail Time

Posted: 02/24/2012 2:10 pm


When a suicidal person seeks help, we try to steer him or her to a safe place, a psychiatrist, a psychiatric ward, and, if need be, an emergency room. When Sean Duvall, a Persian Gulf War veteran, sought help, he ended up being charged with four counts of manufacturing and possessing a homemade gun. Duvall could face a 40-year sentence in federal prison for bringing that gun onto the Virginia Tech campus, where Seung-hui Cho murdered 32 people in 2007.
According to the Washington Post, Duvall, who served in the Navy, had been treated for depression at a VA hospital in 2010. On June 8, 2011, when he called the suicide hotline number for veterans, he was unemployed, homeless and prepared to take his life. He was carrying a gun he had constructed out of a pipe, a letter to his family and another letter indicating that he wished to be buried in the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery.
In calling for help at his most desperate hour, Duvall showed courage, a different kind of courage from that which he displayed in defeating the Iraqis in the first Gulf War. What he showed was courage in the face of stigma against mental illness, stigma that is particularly acute in the military.
I have written before about the high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression among veterans. According to a 2008 Rand study, there may be as many as 300,000 veterans afflicted with those mental illnesses.
I have also written about the need for President Obama to write condolence letters to the families of all troops who take their lives, whether they do so in a war zone or not.
But here is a case, where Duvall, who was barely hanging on to life, reached out by phoning a confidential hot line. The VA counselor showed great care in talking to him and sent police officers to the scene, where they drove him to a psychiatric facility. He was treated and released before the U.S. Attorney's office charged him.
According to the Post, Duvall is now employed as a machinist, living in an apartment and doing well, factors which will hopefully influence a judge in Roanoke, Virginia, to dismiss the charges.
It baffles me that Timothy Heaphy, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, would seek to prosecute a veteran, who clearly was never a threat to anyone but himself. That is not to say that Duvall is a saint. As the Post reported, "between 2006 and 2010, he was found guilty of several offenses, including public intoxication, driving while intoxicated and destruction of property."
Still, Duvall was honorably discharged from the Navy, comes from a military family and appears to have been a law-abiding citizen until falling on hard times.
It may be that Heaphy wishes to take a harsh stance on all perceived crime, even one with no victims, the so-called broken windows theory. Or perhaps, he is sensitive to the setting of Duvall's suicidal phone call, Virginia Tech, which has been convulsed more than once by a deadly shooter.
Whatever Heaphy's reasoning, it is not only shoddy, it is harmful to veterans and to all those who have been suicidal.
I know something about suicide, having battled feelings of worthlessness and contemplated taking my life in 1997 and 1999. In neither case did I have a gun, but in both cases I sought help, phoning my mother the first time and my psychiatrist the second time. Both of them directed me to a psychiatric ward, where I recuperated and was released.
Studies show that most of those who are suicidal want to be saved. That is why they reach out to others. If the U.S. Attorney's office is allowed to prosecute Sean Duvall, that will deter people from phoning a suicide hot line and jeopardize the lives of many decent citizens clinging to life and seeking a connection with someone on the other end of the line.