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Female Military Members Sue for Combat Positions

Four female service members have filed a lawsuit challenging the ban on women serving in combat. The suit, filed Tuesday, contends that the policy unfairly blocks women from promotes and other advancements open to men in combat. The lawsuit alleges the ban violates constitutional female service members’ equal rights. “As a direct result of this policy,” the lawsuit states, “women — as a class and solely because of their gender — are barred from entire career fields. Marine Corps Capt. Zoe Bedell said that one large reason why she left active duty was because of the combat exclusion policy. She was frustrated that her advancement in the Marines was blocked by her inability to serve directly in combat units. In addition, the lawsuit also alleges that women are already serving unofficially in combat units– since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, more than 144 female troops have been killed and more than 860 have been wounded, according to Pentagon statistics. Currently around 20,000 of the 205,000 service members serving in Afghanistan are women. Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Hunt was injured in 2007 when her Humvee ran over an improvised explosive device in Iraq. Air National Guard Major Mary Jennings Hegar sustained shrapnel wounds in 2009 when she exchanged fire on the ground in Afghanistan after her Medevac helicopter was shot down. Both she and Hunt received Purple Heart medals for their injuries. Sources: Military...

The Army Sprayed Cities With Potentially Harmful Chemicals To Simulate Biological Attacks

During the 1950s and ’60s, the U.S. Army dusted chosen American cities from coast to coast with a fine powder of a fluorescent, potentially toxic chemical. And now one scientist says, at least in the case of St. Louis, that powder may have contained radioactive material. The powder scattering was part of Operation Large Area Coverage (LAC), a series of tests the Army says were designed to assess the threat of biological attacks by simulating the airborne dispersion of germs. The experiments exposed large swathes of the United States, and parts of Mexico and Canada, to flurries of a synthesized chemical called zinc cadmium sulfide. New research from sociologist Lisa Martino-Taylor in St. Louis, one of the cities singled out for heavy-duty testing during LAC, suggests the Army may have mixed radioactive particles with the zinc cadmium sulfide it spread throughout a poor, mostly black neighborhood there. Martino-Taylor, a professor at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, admits she has no direct proof radioactive material was released in St. Louis, but her report on the chemical tests compelled both of Missouri’s U.S. senators to send letters to Army Secretary John McHugh demanding information, according to the Associated Press. [The 10 Most Outrageous Military Experiments] Her study examines organizational connections between scientists working on the zinc-cadmium-sulfide tests in St. Louis and researchers who, at around the same time, were engaged in human radiation experiments and releases of radioactive material into the environment that have been proven. (Many established human radiation experiments in the United States are detailed in the 1995 report of Bill Clinton’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments.) It also...

Portable MRI for the Battlefield Underway

On the battlefield, one of the most common injuries are those to the head and brain. In a time of war, getting an injured soldier a proper diagnosis with an MRI, a magnetic imaging resonance machine, can be a great feat. MRIs are huge machines that are very expensive and often very far away from the battlefield. Thanks to engineers and scientists at Los Alamos National, with some funding from the Department of Energy, a lower-tech, portable “battlefield MRI” is being designed that could potentially be deployed to war zones, as well as to poor and developing countries. This machine would be able to diagnose injuries and diseases much more easily and at a lower cost. Engineer Al Urbaitis and scientist Per E. Magnelind are two of about 10 researchers working on the LANL campus as part of what is called the SQUID team. SQUID stands for superconducting quantum interference device. Standard MRI machines, like those found in hospitals, use a highly magnetic field to align the protons in water molecules to create magnetic resonance signals, which the machine scans and turns into high-quality images. The large machines are costly to make, use great amounts of energy, and also require cryogen liquids, such as liquid nitrogen, to cool them down. MRI machines also exert major force on metal items, which could be an issue if shrapnel or metal implants may be present in a patient. The LANL team is working towards producing suitable body issue images using significantly lower magnetic fields, much like the Earth’s. SQUID devices have the most sensitive magnetic field detectors and would used in the...

SOCOM Issues New Blood Sponges for Wounds on the Battlefield

The military special ops are receiving a supply of injectable sponges that are designed to stop blood hemorrhaging on the battlefield. This could eventually result in a widespread use of the device across the services. An Oregon-based company called RevMedx, Inc. announced on April 16th its first delivery of XStat hemorrhage-control devices to the military, only nine days after the FDA approved it for battlefield use. The XStat is composed of a pocket-sized syringe full of 92 small, disc-shaped sponges made of sterile cellulose coated with the clotting agent, chitosan. The tiny sponges can expand to about 10 times their size and provide hemostatic pressure to block blood flow until a wounded patient can get to surgery. According to an Army study in 2012, “hemorrhaging accounted for 90 percent of deaths in potentially survivable battlefield cases.” Jeff Luciano, the assistant program manager of U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical medical programs, claims the device will save lives by cutting down the two to three minute process of packing wounds. “The ability to pack a wound within seconds, to get to a point of a bleed, can allow a medic to focus on the patient. It frees up the medic’s hands instead of trying to maintain pressure on a wound,” Luciano stated. “It’s not a game-changer per se, but it provides a capability that we’ve never had.” Not only does the device assist on the battlefield, it can bring a benefit to the operating table. Rather than pull pieces of combat gauze out all at once – which could release more blood – a doctor can pick out bits of the...

MTFs to Provide Direct Physical Therapy for Airmen

The Air Force Medical Operations Agency has recently instructed all Air Force military treatment facilities (MTF) to create direct access to physical therapy clinics for active-duty members. Previously, active-duty personnel would attend their local family practice, or flight and operational med clinics seeking help, and would then be referred out to a physical therapy clinic. Musculoskeletal injuries, such as knee sprains, have been the number one reason that Airmen have been seeking care at MTFs for three of the past five years. Also, musculoskeletal injuries are the cause of more than 47 percent of limited-duty profiles in 2013. “Air Force physical therapists are trained and credentialed to provide independent practice, to include medication prescription, order appropriate diagnostic imaging, place patients on profiles, and refer to other practitioners as appropriate,” stated Col. Joseph Rogers, a physical therapy consultant to the Air Force surgeon general. Rogers also provided recent military research that showed “patients who received early physical therapy had lower healthcare costs, fewer medical appointments, and fewer invasive procedures than those with delayed physical therapy addressed more than 14 days after injury.” Physical therapists can provide special treatment suited to each patient’s case with early access to care. “Treatment may consist of manipulation, dry needling, exercise or modalities,” says Lt. Col. Brian Young, who is the assistant professor at U.S. Army-Baylor University doctor of physical program and Air Force physical therapy clinical operations chairman. “In today’s fiscally constrained environment and exponential increase in healthcare costs, early access to physical therapy is key for early return to duty and function after musculoskeletal injuries.” Each MTF is scheduled to implement the changes...

Investigation Ordered for Warrior Transition Units

An investigation has been ordered by a key congressional committee to look into allegations of harassment and mistreatment of wounded soldiers at the Army’s Warrior Transition Units (WTUs). The order has been included in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act by the House Armed Services’ subcommittee on military personnel. The subcommittee expressed concern “about allegations of mistreatment over the past year in some Army WTUs.” The General Accounting Office, the congressional watchdog, has been ordered to inquire “whether there are systemic mistreatment issues in the Army WTUs.” The GAO has been instructed to evaluate how well the Army addresses complaints of soldiers at the WTUs as well as the selection and training of the facilities’ leaders. A joint investigation held by The Dallas Morning News and KXAS-TV (NBC5) uncovered hundreds of complaints from soldiers at those units from all over the country. The soldiers reported issues from verbal abuse, to delays and problems with their medical care. The Army has also started a fact-finding investigation at the Fort Hood WTU after initial reports, but the Army claims that the issues are “isolated and rare.” “Our defense bill requires a comprehensive report on the status of WTUs and their prospects in the future,” stated Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, the committee’s chairman. “Continued oversight is crucial for us to see how things are going and look for additional improvements.” A spokesman stated that the Army Medical Command is welcoming of any review “in our ongoing quest to improve the care provided to our soldiers in transition.” The subcommittee is also requesting the GAO to review the long-term needs of...

 

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