The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs scientists at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System in Michigan recently announced that they are working to create a 3-D-printed artificial lung that could potentially revolutionize treatment of veterans affected by lung disease.
You are undoubtedly aware of this new 3-D printing technology that has been in the news lately, particularly with the release of plans for anyone with a 3-D printer to “make” untraceable non-metallic guns. The VA’s more humanitarian use of the technology gives hope to veterans that such an artificial lung could be used as a temporary measure, a bridge of sorts, to help patients awaiting lung transplants or as an aid for veterans with recovering lungs.
VA researchers hope to build what they call the first artificial lung that closely replicates the natural lung, resulting in compatibility with living cells and a very small size for portable or wearable short- and long-term respiratory support. This process is in its initial stage, and, according to researchers, future versions could have longer-term applications.
Exposure to burn pits, blowing sand, diesel exhaust and possibly toxic chemicals are some of the most commonly cited factors that lead to lung problems for active-duty military that follow them after leaving the military. In a related matter, about 20 percent of patients with severe traumatic brain injury also have acute lung injury.
One lung disorder VA researchers hope to tackle someday with the 3-D-printed artificial lung is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), regarded as one of the most prevalent and costliest ailments in the veteran population.
COPD affects 5 percent of American adults and 16 percent of the veteran population, according to Department of Defense statistics. Most people with COPD suffer from emphysema, in which the air sacs of the lung are damaged and enlarged, and chronic bronchitis, a long-lasting cough caused by chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes. The disease is characterized by an airflow limitation that is often linked to an abnormal response of the lungs to noxious particles or gases, such as those in cigarette smoke or in the environment.
For additional information about this study visit online at https://bit.ly/2Q8PHbj.
More support to vets
involved in justice system
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced last Sept. 17 that it was ready to hire an additional 50 Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists following President Trump’s signing on that day of the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018, a new law shoring up support services to veterans impacted by the justice system.
The law requires VA, within one year of enactment, to hire 50 additional VJO specialists and place them at eligible VA medical centers where they will, either exclusively or in addition to other duties, serve as part of a justice team in a Veterans Treatment Court or other veteran-focused court.
“By signing this bill into law, President Trump is demonstrating VA’s commitment to supporting America’s veterans, particularly those who may be navigating difficult chapters in their lives,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Since incarceration is often linked to homelessness, mental health issues and substance abuse, the VJO specialists will help facilitate these veterans’ access to numerous VA programs and resources.”
Created in 2009, VA’s Veterans Justice Outreach Program currently funds 314 VJO specialist positions across the U.S. These specialists serve veterans at earlier stages of the criminal justice process, with a three-pronged focus on outreach to community law enforcement, jails and courts.
VJO specialists at each VA medical center work with veterans in the local criminal justice system, including but not limited to Veterans Treatment Courts, conduct outreach in jails, and engage with law enforcement by delivering VA-focused training sessions and other informational presentations. VJO specialists have served more than 184,000 justice-involved veterans since 2009.
The first Veterans Treatment Court started in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2008. There are now 551 Veterans Treatment Courts, including one in Rhode Island established in 2011, and other veteran-focused courts operating in the U.S. VJO specialists serve as members of the courts’ interdisciplinary treatment teams.
Veterans Treatment Courts are a veteran-specific adaptation of the drug court model. Unlike traditional criminal courts, Veterans Treatment Courts are not adversarial. The judge, prosecutor, defense counsel, and others work as a team to ensure that veteran defendants access the treatment services they need and fulfill any other requirements imposed by the court.
For more information about the national Veterans Justice Outreach Program, visit online at https://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/VJO.asp. The Rhode Island Veterans Treatment Court is located in the Noel Judicial Complex, 222 Quaker Lane, Warwick, and may be reached by phone at (401) 458-5106, or learn more about it online at https://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/districtcourt/Pages/VeteransTreatmentCourt.aspx.
— American Legion East Greenwich Post 15, 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, 1016 Main St.
— Veterans of Foreign Wars North Kingstown Memorial Post 152, 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, North Kingstown Senior Center, 44 Beach St.
— Hispanic Diversity Program, Providence VA Medical Center, 830 Chalkstone Ave., Providence, in classroom 3, 5th floor, main hospital building, to celebrate Hispanic heritage on Wednesday, Oct. 3, from noon to 1 p.m.
— Marine Corps League Kent County Detachment, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, VFW Post 449, 197 Providence St., West Warwick, to discuss the Nov. 10 Marine Corps Ball.
— The United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, 2nd floor conference room, 1 Capitol Hill, Providence.
Send veterans’ meeting and news items to George W. Reilly at VeteransColumn@gmail.com