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Military Exposures & Your Health - 2024 - Issue 12


In this issue:

The Toxic Exposure Research Clearinghouse

As a part of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, VA is developing an online information center where you can find toxic exposure research publications that were funded or produced by the Federal Government. Librarians from VA's Health Outcomes Military Exposures (HOME) are working with stakeholders within VA and at other federal agencies to build and maintain this online resource.

A multi-agency federal working group has been assembled to build and contribute publications to this online information center. This working group includes members from agencies, such as the Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, and others, who have been involved in research activities on the health effects of toxic exposures experienced during active military, naval, air, or space service.

As a first step, VA launched web pages describing efforts to build this resource. HOME librarians are adding web materials for Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors, researchers, and the general public. The web pages feature user-friendly navigation to locate specific information about environmental exposures, occupational exposures, and other hazards. Explore VA’s toxic exposure research clearinghouse web pages and check back in the future to see how this resource grows.

HOME Starts New Division: Surveillance Military Environmental Exposures

In the fall of 2023, VA’s Health Outcomes Military Exposures (HOME) launched a new division called Surveillance Military Environmental Exposures (SMEE). SMEE’s mission is to collect and analyze military environmental exposure research and Veteran health-related data. SMEE is a unique program with a staff of epidemiologists, statisticians, librarians, and policy analysts.

Currently, SMEE is developing an online information center for federally funded toxic exposure research as resource for Veterans and researchers. This is a 5-year phased effort and will include a fully searchable site when complete. Also, when complete, this information center will enable access to any publication that stems from federally funded research.

One of SMEE’s unique missions is reviewing scientific literature and possible relationships between military environmental exposures and health outcomes. Currently SMEE is reviewing the possible relationship between acute leukemias, chronic leukemias, and multiple myeloma and exposure to fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) from airborne hazards and open burn pits for service members who were deployed in the Southwest Asia theater of operations, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Uzbekistan. SMEE will complete its review by the end of 2024 and provide its findings to the VA Military Environmental Exposures Sub Council (MEESC). This is the first review under the PACT Act and SMEE staff are excited to have this opportunity to perform this intensive review. There are over twenty staff involved in this effort to serve Veterans, including oncologists, occupational medicine physicians, toxicologists, epidemiologists, and medical librarians.

Other SMEE activities include:

  • Responding rapidly to questions about emerging military environmental exposure issues that impact Veterans’ health.
  • Conducting exposure surveillance reports on Veteran exposure cohorts including, K2, Bosnia-Kosovo, Qarmat Ali, Palomares, Enewetak Atoll, Thue Greenland, 1900-1991 Gulf War, Vietnam, Camp LeJeune, and Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn.


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