VA Nurse Goes the Extra Mile in Veteran Care

A nurse wraps a Veteran's arm with a blood pressure cuff

VA Nurse Chuck Maulden checks a Veteran’s blood pressure.

In early November, a Veteran came into the Salisbury VA Medical Center’s Emergency Department seeking treatment for some large blisters on his feet.

Little did he know that before he would leave the ED he would meet someone like Chuck Maulden, a nurse in the Emergency Department.

“I took him back to be seen and his feet were in really bad shape. He had these huge blisters on his feet that were taking up the entire ball of his foot right behind his toes on both feet,” said Maulden.

“He had on dirty compression stockings that were stuck to his feet from the drainage of the blisters. The doctor examined him and told me to give him some more compression stockings.”

Maulden went to work on treating the patient, taking a little extra care to make sure the Veteran had everything he needed to heal properly.

“I got his stockings off, washed his feet really well with some soap and water, and got some non-stick dressings to put over the blisters between them and the stockings. I got him some new stockings and a couple of extra pairs, in case those got worn out or dirty, and some fresh socks to take with him,” he said. “I just felt like I wished there was more I could do, though.”

What a world it would be if every person had that attitude and generosity of spirit.

“No way his feet were going to heal in those shoes.”

It was then Maulden noticed what he thought might be the cause of the blisters — and he decided to do something about it. “I was looking at his shoes and they were just worn out and looked trashed. There was no way his feet were going to heal up in those shoes, especially if he was homeless and walking through puddles and the cold weather,” Maulden said.

“I just asked him what size shoe he wore and it happened to be my size. I had on some fairly new shoes and had probably only worn them a few times.” “I just couldn’t send him out there like that and I only had an hour left in my shift, so I figured I could get by wearing socks until I got home,” he added.

“I just put my shoes on him and asked him if they fit. He just needed a new pair of shoes and I had some, so I just gave them to him. It just felt like the right thing to do.”

Maulden finished out his shift in medical shoe covers to prevent any unsanitary conditions as a result of giving up his shoes.

Ruth Lee, Emergency Department nurse manager and retired Army officer, said that although what Maulden did that night was a little unorthodox, seeing that level of caring and compassion serves as an inspiration to others in the health care field.

“It just made my heart warm to know that one of the nurses would do that,” she said. “I was so excited when I heard what he had done because I’m a Veteran, and so to hear that someone would go that far to care for Veterans — it’s just really very special.”

“He needed something I could provide.”

Salisbury VA Medical Center Director Kaye Green echoed Lee’s sentiments. “We don’t ask every staff member here to give a Veteran their shoes, and certainly we don’t expect that, but can you imagine what a world it would be if every person had that attitude and generosity of spirit,” she said. “I feel like what Chuck did demonstrates every one of VA’s I CARE values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence.”

Maulden, who is very humble about the encounter (and not too crazy about all the publicity) said while he doesn’t plan on giving away more of his shoes, he was glad to do something a little extra to help out someone in need. “I just felt like he needed something I could provide. He’s obviously got a harder life than I do,” he said. “I just felt I would rest easier at night knowing I did everything I could for him. I just saw something I could do and I did it.”

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/January/VA-Nurse-Goes-The-Extra-Mile-In-Veteran-Care.asp

Is This the Year You Will Volunteer on MLK Day?

Three women smile as they prepare food in a kitchen

Volunteering to prepare meals at the Washington DC Fisher House are (l-r) Onika Coke-Muñoz, Chief, Professional Development, Office of Employee Development & Training (VBA), Tongela Moore, VA Construction and Facilities Management Training Officer, and Sabrina C. Clark, Director, VA Voluntary Service, Veterans Health Administration.


Photo by Kyle Malloy

To celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this year, millions of Americans will make a commitment to serve not just on one day, but throughout the year.

Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service — a “day on, not a day off.”

Every year, federal agencies, nonprofit and community groups, faith-based organizations, schools and businesses nationwide turn the MLK Day into a national day of service to make an impact on their communities.

Thousands of dedicated volunteers in VA facilities across the country will spend the holiday as an extra day of service helping Veterans and their families in hundreds of different ways. VA Secretary Robert McDonald will join other VA employees and volunteers at the Washington DC Fisher House on the MLK Day of Service to prepare meals for Veterans and their families.

 Being a part of this volunteer activity truly demonstrates VA’s culture of service. 

According to Sabrina Clark, Director of VA Voluntary Service for the Veterans Health Administration, “Secretary McDonald has asked us as employees to recommit to VA’s core values known as: I CARE — Integrity, Compassion, Accountability, Respect, and Excellence. The Day of Service is an ideal time for what I’m calling an “I Care Challenge,” an opportunity to think about our mission in a meaningful way, unrelated to our work, and connect even more deeply to our responsibility to Veterans.

“Being a part of this volunteer activity truly demonstrates VA’s culture of service — a culture that goes beyond just getting up and going to work each day. It’s a part of the fabric of who so many VA employees are at their core — devoted, committed to doing our best for Veterans and their families.”

In 2014, over 76,000 active VA Voluntary Service volunteers gave more than 11 million hours in service to America’s Veterans. It is impossible to calculate the amount of caring and sharing that these volunteers provide to Veteran patients. Our volunteers are a priceless asset to the nation’s Veterans and to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

What’s it like to be a VA volunteer? Watch these stories from VA Volunteers and patients.

Want to join? Start here.

A woman serves food to a woman at a table

Sabrina C. Clark, Director, VA Voluntary Service, Veterans Health Administration, serves up lunch at the Washington DC Fisher House as part of MLK Day of Service.


Photo by Kyle Malloy

MLK Day is a time to re-commit ourselves to the nation by serving each other and our communities. Americans across the country will honor Dr. King by helping their neighbors and communities at thousands of projects spread across all 50 states.

Service is a powerful way for citizens, nonprofits, the private sector, and government to work together to meet critical needs and advance King’s dream of opportunity for all.

MLK Day is an opportunity for all Americans to put the core American principles of citizenship and service into action. Find out how you can help in your community from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/January/Is-This-The-Year-You-Will-Volunteer-On-MLK-Day.asp

Dying Veteran Gets Married at Buffalo VA

A man and woman dressed in wedding attire smile and hold hands above their heads, surrounded by people clapping

Mr. and Mrs. Albert Lewis, moments after saying ‘I do.’


Photo by Evangeline Conley, Buffalo VA

You have less than six months to live.

What would you do if your doctor gave you news like this? Visit Egypt and see the pyramids? Blow your life’s savings in Las Vegas? Head for that place where they let you swim with the dolphins?

Albert Lewis, a 56-year-old Army Veteran who’s undergoing cancer treatments at the Buffalo VA, chose none of the above. Instead he chose to marry Dorothy, his girlfriend of 17 years.

“When I found out I was in Stage 4,” Lewis said, “my first reaction was, ‘How am I going to explain this to Dorothy? How can I tell her I’m going to be leaving her?’

“So I sat down with her and talked to her. We decided we weren’t going to let this get the best of us. We decided it doesn’t have to be the end; it can be the beginning of something.”

Ups and Downs

“We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs together,” said Dorothy. “And we’ll go through this together. I’m at his side every step of the way, and I always will be.”

“She’s always been in my corner,” Lewis agreed. He noted that in addition to her courage and steadfastness, Dorothy has other attributes that make her a good catch.

“She has a smiling personality,” he observed. “And her eyes are irresistible. And she can cook! If they can cook, you know you got it made.

“When you find a woman with all the right ingredients,” he added, “you’ve got to grab her before someone else does.”

So Lewis did just that. He and Dorothy tied the knot on Saturday, November 1, in a small chapel located on the Buffalo VA’s third floor.

“It was a long time coming,” Dorothy said. “We had a lot of support from the VA. They helped us. All the doctors and nurses were there at the ceremony. They supplied the food, the flowers, the music. We had a piano player, and a guitar player…

“Some of the staff even made me a corsage,” she added. “I thought that was nice.”

They showed me that I wasn’t just a patient with a tag on my arm. They showed me I was a person.
— Albert Lewis

Teamwork Gets it Done

With only a week or so to work with, staff at the Buffalo VA had to do a bit of scrambling to make the big day a success. Luckily, several community partners stepped in to assist.

A local business called Tops Market supplied the wedding cake.

The Erie County Chapter of the Links (an organization for African-American women) provided the wedding gown along with food, champagne glasses and other ingredients needed for a successful wedding reception.

A non-profit called Veterans OneStop Center of Western New York supplied the bride’s bouquet, her wedding veil, and several other critical items.

The Johnette R. Cole AMVETS Post 24 chipped in with wedding day must-haves, including a military uniform for the groom to wear.

But hold on: what about bridesmaids?

“Without hesitating, I told Dorothy I would be honored to be her bridesmaid,” said Fern Beavers, an advanced practice nurse at the Buffalo VA who helped with the wedding arrangements. “I told her my friend, Gladys Diji, would serve as the other bridesmaid.”

When someone’s in need, you reach out and embrace them.
— Fern Beavers, advanced practice nurse, Buffalo VA

Full House

With a lot of teamwork and a little luck, everything fell neatly into place at 3 o’clock on Saturday, November 1.

“It was a happy, wonderful celebration,” said VA Chaplain Benita Hairston, who married Albert and Dorothy. “We had a full house. The families of both the bride and groom were there, plus our staff. We’ve never had a service with so many people!”

Albert Lewis had high praise for the VA staffers who are not only caring for him and other terminally ill patients, but who made November 1, 2014, a very special day for him and his bride.

“They work very hard for their patients,” he said. “When you’re in a hospital, you feel like this is the place where you’re going to take your last breath. But when people smile and talk to you, it’s like you’re in your own neighborhood. They showed me that I wasn’t just a patient with a tag on my arm. They showed me I was a person; that they were concerned about my well-being.

“I’m going to miss them,” he added.

So what’s next for Albert and Dorothy? What about Las Vegas? What about that place with the dolphins?

“I just want to spend the rest of my life with him, no matter how long that might be,” Dorothy said. “We’re going down this road together.”

But Albert is perhaps looking a little further down the road.

“After I’m gone, maybe she can help another Veteran who’s going through what I’m going through,” he said. “She can help them and support them, the way she’s supported me.”

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/January/Dying-Veteran-Gets-Married-at-Buffalo-VA.asp

Joint Effort Helps Homeless Vets in 25 Cities

A man talks to a homeless man sitting by a brick wall

The most recent point-in-time count of the homeless estimated that there were just under 50,000 homeless Veterans nationwide.

During one of the coldest weeks of this winter, it is difficult to imagine what it must be like to have no heat, no home, and no help. VA is working hard every day to get that help to America’s Veterans who are experiencing homelessness.

In March 2014, VA launched the 25 Cities Initiative to assist communities with high concentrations of homeless Veterans in intensifying and integrating their local efforts to end Veteran homelessness.

As of August 2014, the efforts of the 25 Cities Initiative had helped house 10,096 homeless Veterans and non-Veterans. However, there are still far too many Veterans homeless in these cities who are in need of assistance. Through this initiative and others, communities are rising up to help to meet this challenge.

This initiative is led by VA, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, and local community partners to support the 25 communities with resources, guidance, and lessons learned as they build out and enhance their existing local homeless programs.

Ending Veteran homelessness requires strong coordination between all partners.

Working to Find Permanent Housing Solutions

Through the initiative, VA and its federal partners are identifying by name, all of the remaining known homeless Veterans in their respective communities, and are working to find permanent housing solutions for these Veterans and for other chronically homeless individuals.

The 25 Cities Initiative is not meant to replace existing programs, but instead, aims to help each community integrate existing programs, while also accelerating local initiatives and plans already underway. This initiative recognizes that ending Veteran homelessness requires strong coordination between all partners and stakeholders who are working to end homelessness in a community.

A concerted effort has been made to strengthen identification, prioritization, and matching services for Veterans experiencing homelessness, while improving existing intake data reporting so Veterans who are homeless can be better paired with available services.

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to integrate community and VA resources to address the needs of Veterans who are currently homeless in these areas and connect them with a network of service offerings.

Cities participating in the 25 Cities Initiative include: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Fresno, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Tucson, and Washington, DC.

For more information about the 25 Cities Initiative, visit www.25cities.com. If you are or know of a homeless Veteran, please visit your local VA medical center for the care and services VA offers Veterans.

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/January/Joint-Effort-Helps-Homeless-Vets-in-25-Cities.asp

Helping Beneficiaries Stricken with Spina Bifida

A woman with a crown in a wheelchair smiles

Ms. Wheelchair Washington: “Can’t thank the VA enough.”


Photo by Aditya Ganapathiraju

When Evelyna Castro sees herself in a wheelchair she doesn’t think of herself as disabled. Instead, she has turned her disability into something positive.

Born with spina bifida, a debilitating spinal disorder that happens when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column doesn’t close all the way, Evelyna, 33, has refused to let her condition stand in her way. In fact, she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Washington of 2014; her platform was Acceptance through Diversity. “Don’t let society or circumstances dictate your life,” says the Washington state resident and native of California.

In Colorado, Dick and Cindy Koons care for their daughter, also stricken with spina bifida and wheelchair bound.

What they and others like them share in common is the VA Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program, a federal program that covers health care considered medically necessary and appropriate for people with spina bifida (excluding spina bifida occulta). It is managed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Chief Business Office Purchased Care group in Denver, Colo. The beneficiaries are the birth children of Vietnam Veterans, and the children of certain Veterans who had served in Korea along the Demilitarized Zone, who have been diagnosed with the disorder as a result of the Veteran’s exposure to Agent Orange.

For Evelyna, a make-up artist, the program has been a godsend. “I can’t thank the VA enough, which has never refused me a thing,” she said. “Every five years I get a new wheelchair, among other services, and I can’t tell you how much that helps. Knowing they have my back relieves a lot of stress from my family and allows me to focus on my work.”

 We were committed to loving her and giving her a chance to thrive. 

For Dick and Cindy, the program has given their daughter, Melinda Marie, the opportunity to lead a quality life. “When Melinda was born forty years ago,” Dick said, “we were told that if she lived, she would probably be mentally retarded and we should consider institutionalizing her. Of course, we had no intention of giving up. We were committed to loving her and giving her a chance to thrive.”

The medical support provided by the program, including regular physical therapy and new wheelchairs when Melinda Marie needs one, gave the Koons family a tremendous sense of relief.

“Without their help, it would not have been possible for her to maintain her physical well-being,” Cindy added.

The program was enacted by Congress in 1997 once lawmakers were advised there was a connection between Agent Orange and spina bifida. Today, approximately 1,300 people have enrolled, and the program has evolved into a case management climate where VA is looking at better ways to help people stricken with the disorder get the care they need. Case management is a process that allows a manager to assist in facilitating the beneficiaries’ health care with a local medical provider and the program.

Program Provides Numerous Services for Beneficiaries

Ira King, a case management liaison at the VA Chief Business Office Purchased Care group in Denver, Colo., explains that they provide numerous services for the beneficiaries. “We connect them to local case management agencies,” he notes. “We find a full range of services in their local areas that include medical and mental health providers, pharmacies, medical equipment and supplies. We also work with providers of services to make sure spina bifida patients are not improperly billed.”

Thus far the case management liaison efforts have been successful and there is every indication that individual case management will expand further as more beneficiaries become aware of the service.

Equally important is that VA will continue outreach to those beneficiaries who may not be aware that the Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program exists. “We want them to know that we are here to help and to provide information and education to them, their caregivers, and providers of services,” King added.

For more information, visit www.va.gov/purchasedcare and click on Programs for Dependents on the left and then on Spina Bifida. Or call 1-888-820-1756.

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/January/Helping-Beneficiaries-Stricken-with-Spina-Bifida.asp

Glaucoma: Silent Cause of Vision Loss

A woman examines a Veteran's eyes

The test for glaucoma is painless.

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, a time to remind all Veterans to take action now to prevent this sight-stealing disease.

One-and-a-half million Veterans have a vision threatening eye disease, including 285,000 with glaucoma.

African-American Veterans should especially get their eyes checked regularly as glaucoma is six-to-eight times more common in African-Americans than Caucasians.

Also, among Hispanic populations, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness.

Starts without Symptoms

What is glaucoma? Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve, a bundle of over one million nerves that convey vision from the eye to the brain, slowly becomes damaged over time. In many cases, blood flow to the optic nerve is reduced and may be further reduced by increased fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rising, leading to vision loss or even blindness.

The highest risk group is those Veterans over 60. Other risk factors include hypertension, but also too-low blood pressure, especially during the hours of sleep. Some patients who take blood pressure medicine at bedtime, may be at risk of dropping their blood pressure too low during sleep, reducing blood flow to the optic nerves. In addition, patients with obstructive sleep apnea who are untreated may have further risk for glaucoma-related damage to their optic nerves due to drops in oxygenation when they momentarily stop breathing during sleep.

Glaucoma usually starts without any symptoms. Later, there is some loss of side vision, where objects straight ahead are seen clearly, but objects to the side are missed. As the disease worsens, the ability to see objects on the side is increasingly lost and eventually the center of vision is affected.

The test for glaucoma is painless. Your VA doctor will test the pressure in your eye by placing an instrument on its surface. If there is a suspicion for glaucoma, the appearance and function of the optic nerve are tested with a visual field test and a special retina camera both of which can detect damage to the optic nerves.

Glaucoma is treated with eye drops, but in some cases, eye surgery is necessary to optimally lower the eye pressure. These treatments work to either make less fluid or to improve its drainage out of the eye.

Glaucoma is a life-long problem. Veterans should have regular check-ups by an ophthalmologist or optometrist to watch for changes in pressure and side vision.

 It is so important for Veterans to have regular eye exams. 

Cutting Edge Research

VA is working hard to help prevent Veterans’ eye problems at the VA Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss based at the Iowa City VA.

The Center conducts innovative research in the diagnosis of visual loss and works to understand the underlying mechanisms and causes of visual loss. With this research, the center can study new approaches toward rehabilitation and treatment of visual loss, while improving education and clinical care of our nation’s Veterans.

According to Dr. Randy H. Kardon, director of the center, “Glaucoma is one of the silent causes of vision loss. Patients are unaware that they are slowly losing vision until it is too late, at which time the loss is permanent. That is why it is so important for Veterans to have regular eye exams to check for any sign that glaucoma is developing and to be treated, if glaucoma is detected.”

VA spends a significant portion of its medical care dollars toward detecting and monitoring of treatment of vision loss. Last year there were more than 2.9 million Veteran visits in VA eye care optometry and ophthalmology clinics.

Remote Monitoring of Optic Nerve Structure and Function

The Center of Excellence for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss is working to reduce the cost of monitoring through new methods of detection, understanding the underlying mechanisms of disease, developing new molecular treatments to preserve vision, and telemedicine initiatives.

Center Associate Director Dr. Michael Abramoff and his colleagues, including investigator Mona Garvin, Ph.D., are developing portable digital eye cameras along with cutting-edge software that automatically analyze images of the optic nerve to diagnose glaucoma and determine if it is changing with time. Investigators from the Center are recording blood flow to the retina and optic nerve using a new research eye camera utilizing non-invasive imaging to quantify the blood supply to the optic nerve.

Center investigators are also developing computerized methods of testing optic nerve function using the eye’s pupil contraction to light, termed the “pupillary light reflex.” Remote pupil testing is being developed to monitor optic nerve function and status of glaucoma outside of the eye clinic setting.

www.vision.research.va.gov

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/January/Glaucoma-Silent-Cause-of-Vision-Loss.asp

2015 New Year’s Resolution: End Binge Eating

Seniors lift weights at a gym

MOVE!® and your VA health care team can help you at every step along the way to healthy living and a healthy weight.

A young Veteran has recently returned from a grueling deployment in Afghanistan. But his battles are far from over. When his wife and kids go to sleep at night, he starts downing chips, cookies, beer and pretty much anything else he can find in the refrigerator. It’s well after midnight before he finally hits the sack.

The next morning he feels guilty and depressed. He tells himself it won’t happen again. And to compensate for all the junk he consumed last night, he decides to skip breakfast. Then he skips lunch.

But as evening rolls around, he begins feeling irritable again. Unpleasant, invasive memories from his time in Afghanistan make it hard to sleep. So he’s out of bed, heading for the refrigerator once again.

And so it goes.

A Typical Scenario

“The Veteran in this story is actually not a real person, but a composite of many patients I’ve worked with who have an eating disorder,” said Dr. Robin Masheb, a research scientist with the Connecticut VA Healthcare System and the Yale School of Medicine. “It’s a fairly typical scenario.”

Masheb is currently conducting several studies on Veterans and binge eating.

“Binge eating disorder is officially recognized as the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States,” she said. “It may disproportionately affect our military servicemen and women, exacting a heavy toll on their physical and mental health, and placing a financial burden on our health care system.

“Effective treatments for this disorder already exist,” she added, “but we need to find ways to bring these treatments to Veterans who are suffering with this problem.”

 Binge eating disorder is officially recognized as the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States. 

A National Pastime

Masheb said indulging in food is a staple of American culture, which can sometimes make it difficult for you to realize you might have an eating disorder.

“What is not difficult to grasp, however, is that binge eating leads to being overweight,” the researcher said. “We know being overweight significantly increases the likelihood of a range of health issues, from heart disease to cancer. And those who binge eat are even more at risk for these diseases.”

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“According to one study,” Masheb said, “overweight Veterans who binge eat have an approximately 60 percent greater chance of having type 2 diabetes than overweight Veterans who don’t binge eat.”

She said the same study found that Veterans who were overweight and reported binge eating were also more likely to have coronary artery disease, hypertension and high cholesterol.

“They were also more likely to have substance abuse problems,” she said, “and to suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia…

“Binge eating,” she added, “also makes it more likely that weight loss attempts will be less successful.”

Hidden Epidemic

The researcher said a recent study of over 45,000 Veterans seeking weight loss treatment through the Veterans Health Administration found that over 78 percent of them reported binge eating behavior.

“Because so little research has been done on eating behavior in Veterans, it’s difficult to know why this particular population suffers from such high rates of binge eating,” she said. “It’s also unclear why male Veterans are more likely to binge eat than female Veterans. In the civilian population, it’s the other way around. There’s a lot we need to find out about this.”

Masheb said there’s a range of behavioral, medical and self-help interventions that have proven effective for reducing or eliminating binge eating. (For example, the VA’s weight management program known as ‘MOVE!’ may be one avenue for getting the help you need.)

“We have clinicians, therapists and other professionals here at the VA who can help,” Masheb pointed out, “but Veterans who binge eat are a special subgroup. First we have to identify who they are. Then we have to identify the best way to treat them.

“Given how promising the potential treatments are,” she said, “it is well worth investing in this area of research to improve the health of our Veterans.”

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

To learn more about the MOVE! Weight Management Program for Veterans, visit VA’s National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at www.move.va.gov.

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2014/December/2015-New-Years-Resolution-End-Binge-Eating.asp

2015 New Year’s Resolution: End Binge Eating

Seniors lift weights at a gym

MOVE!® and your VA health care team can help you at every step along the way to healthy living and a healthy weight.

A young Veteran has recently returned from a grueling deployment in Afghanistan. But his battles are far from over. When his wife and kids go to sleep at night, he starts downing chips, cookies, beer and pretty much anything else he can find in the refrigerator. It’s well after midnight before he finally hits the sack.

The next morning he feels guilty and depressed. He tells himself it won’t happen again. And to compensate for all the junk he consumed last night, he decides to skip breakfast. Then he skips lunch.

But as evening rolls around, he begins feeling irritable again. Unpleasant, invasive memories from his time in Afghanistan make it hard to sleep. So he’s out of bed, heading for the refrigerator once again.

And so it goes.

A Typical Scenario

“The Veteran in this story is actually not a real person, but a composite of many patients I’ve worked with who have an eating disorder,” said Dr. Robin Masheb, a research scientist with the Connecticut VA Healthcare System and the Yale School of Medicine. “It’s a fairly typical scenario.”

Masheb is currently conducting several studies on Veterans and binge eating.

“Binge eating disorder is officially recognized as the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States,” she said. “It may disproportionately affect our military servicemen and women, exacting a heavy toll on their physical and mental health, and placing a financial burden on our health care system.

“Effective treatments for this disorder already exist,” she added, “but we need to find ways to bring these treatments to Veterans who are suffering with this problem.”

 Binge eating disorder is officially recognized as the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States. 

A National Pastime

Masheb said indulging in food is a staple of American culture, which can sometimes make it difficult for you to realize you might have an eating disorder.

“What is not difficult to grasp, however, is that binge eating leads to being overweight,” the researcher said. “We know being overweight significantly increases the likelihood of a range of health issues, from heart disease to cancer. And those who binge eat are even more at risk for these diseases.”

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“According to one study,” Masheb said, “overweight Veterans who binge eat have an approximately 60 percent greater chance of having type 2 diabetes than overweight Veterans who don’t binge eat.”

She said the same study found that Veterans who were overweight and reported binge eating were also more likely to have coronary artery disease, hypertension and high cholesterol.

“They were also more likely to have substance abuse problems,” she said, “and to suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia…

“Binge eating,” she added, “also makes it more likely that weight loss attempts will be less successful.”

Hidden Epidemic

The researcher said a recent study of over 45,000 Veterans seeking weight loss treatment through the Veterans Health Administration found that over 78 percent of them reported binge eating behavior.

“Because so little research has been done on eating behavior in Veterans, it’s difficult to know why this particular population suffers from such high rates of binge eating,” she said. “It’s also unclear why male Veterans are more likely to binge eat than female Veterans. In the civilian population, it’s the other way around. There’s a lot we need to find out about this.”

Masheb said there’s a range of behavioral, medical and self-help interventions that have proven effective for reducing or eliminating binge eating. (For example, the VA’s weight management program known as ‘MOVE!’ may be one avenue for getting the help you need.)

“We have clinicians, therapists and other professionals here at the VA who can help,” Masheb pointed out, “but Veterans who binge eat are a special subgroup. First we have to identify who they are. Then we have to identify the best way to treat them.

“Given how promising the potential treatments are,” she said, “it is well worth investing in this area of research to improve the health of our Veterans.”

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

To learn more about the MOVE! Weight Management Program for Veterans, visit VA’s National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at www.move.va.gov.

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2014/December/2015-New-Years-Resolution-End-Binge-Eating.asp

2015 New Year’s Resolution: End Binge Eating

Seniors lift weights at a gym

MOVE!® and your VA health care team can help you at every step along the way to healthy living and a healthy weight.

A young Veteran has recently returned from a grueling deployment in Afghanistan. But his battles are far from over. When his wife and kids go to sleep at night, he starts downing chips, cookies, beer and pretty much anything else he can find in the refrigerator. It’s well after midnight before he finally hits the sack.

The next morning he feels guilty and depressed. He tells himself it won’t happen again. And to compensate for all the junk he consumed last night, he decides to skip breakfast. Then he skips lunch.

But as evening rolls around, he begins feeling irritable again. Unpleasant, invasive memories from his time in Afghanistan make it hard to sleep. So he’s out of bed, heading for the refrigerator once again.

And so it goes.

A Typical Scenario

“The Veteran in this story is actually not a real person, but a composite of many patients I’ve worked with who have an eating disorder,” said Dr. Robin Masheb, a research scientist with the Connecticut VA Healthcare System and the Yale School of Medicine. “It’s a fairly typical scenario.”

Masheb is currently conducting several studies on Veterans and binge eating.

“Binge eating disorder is officially recognized as the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States,” she said. “It may disproportionately affect our military servicemen and women, exacting a heavy toll on their physical and mental health, and placing a financial burden on our health care system.

“Effective treatments for this disorder already exist,” she added, “but we need to find ways to bring these treatments to Veterans who are suffering with this problem.”

 Binge eating disorder is officially recognized as the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States. 

A National Pastime

Masheb said indulging in food is a staple of American culture, which can sometimes make it difficult for you to realize you might have an eating disorder.

“What is not difficult to grasp, however, is that binge eating leads to being overweight,” the researcher said. “We know being overweight significantly increases the likelihood of a range of health issues, from heart disease to cancer. And those who binge eat are even more at risk for these diseases.”

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“According to one study,” Masheb said, “overweight Veterans who binge eat have an approximately 60 percent greater chance of having type 2 diabetes than overweight Veterans who don’t binge eat.”

She said the same study found that Veterans who were overweight and reported binge eating were also more likely to have coronary artery disease, hypertension and high cholesterol.

“They were also more likely to have substance abuse problems,” she said, “and to suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia…

“Binge eating,” she added, “also makes it more likely that weight loss attempts will be less successful.”

Hidden Epidemic

The researcher said a recent study of over 45,000 Veterans seeking weight loss treatment through the Veterans Health Administration found that over 78 percent of them reported binge eating behavior.

“Because so little research has been done on eating behavior in Veterans, it’s difficult to know why this particular population suffers from such high rates of binge eating,” she said. “It’s also unclear why male Veterans are more likely to binge eat than female Veterans. In the civilian population, it’s the other way around. There’s a lot we need to find out about this.”

Masheb said there’s a range of behavioral, medical and self-help interventions that have proven effective for reducing or eliminating binge eating. (For example, the VA’s weight management program known as ‘MOVE!’ may be one avenue for getting the help you need.)

“We have clinicians, therapists and other professionals here at the VA who can help,” Masheb pointed out, “but Veterans who binge eat are a special subgroup. First we have to identify who they are. Then we have to identify the best way to treat them.

“Given how promising the potential treatments are,” she said, “it is well worth investing in this area of research to improve the health of our Veterans.”

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

To learn more about the MOVE! Weight Management Program for Veterans, visit VA’s National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at www.move.va.gov.

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2014/December/2015-New-Years-Resolution-End-Binge-Eating.asp

2015 New Year’s Resolution: End Binge Eating

Seniors lift weights at a gym

MOVE!® and your VA health care team can help you at every step along the way to healthy living and a healthy weight.

A young Veteran has recently returned from a grueling deployment in Afghanistan. But his battles are far from over. When his wife and kids go to sleep at night, he starts downing chips, cookies, beer and pretty much anything else he can find in the refrigerator. It’s well after midnight before he finally hits the sack.

The next morning he feels guilty and depressed. He tells himself it won’t happen again. And to compensate for all the junk he consumed last night, he decides to skip breakfast. Then he skips lunch.

But as evening rolls around, he begins feeling irritable again. Unpleasant, invasive memories from his time in Afghanistan make it hard to sleep. So he’s out of bed, heading for the refrigerator once again.

And so it goes.

A Typical Scenario

“The Veteran in this story is actually not a real person, but a composite of many patients I’ve worked with who have an eating disorder,” said Dr. Robin Masheb, a research scientist with the Connecticut VA Healthcare System and the Yale School of Medicine. “It’s a fairly typical scenario.”

Masheb is currently conducting several studies on Veterans and binge eating.

“Binge eating disorder is officially recognized as the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States,” she said. “It may disproportionately affect our military servicemen and women, exacting a heavy toll on their physical and mental health, and placing a financial burden on our health care system.

“Effective treatments for this disorder already exist,” she added, “but we need to find ways to bring these treatments to Veterans who are suffering with this problem.”

 Binge eating disorder is officially recognized as the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States. 

A National Pastime

Masheb said indulging in food is a staple of American culture, which can sometimes make it difficult for you to realize you might have an eating disorder.

“What is not difficult to grasp, however, is that binge eating leads to being overweight,” the researcher said. “We know being overweight significantly increases the likelihood of a range of health issues, from heart disease to cancer. And those who binge eat are even more at risk for these diseases.”

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“According to one study,” Masheb said, “overweight Veterans who binge eat have an approximately 60 percent greater chance of having type 2 diabetes than overweight Veterans who don’t binge eat.”

She said the same study found that Veterans who were overweight and reported binge eating were also more likely to have coronary artery disease, hypertension and high cholesterol.

“They were also more likely to have substance abuse problems,” she said, “and to suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia…

“Binge eating,” she added, “also makes it more likely that weight loss attempts will be less successful.”

Hidden Epidemic

The researcher said a recent study of over 45,000 Veterans seeking weight loss treatment through the Veterans Health Administration found that over 78 percent of them reported binge eating behavior.

“Because so little research has been done on eating behavior in Veterans, it’s difficult to know why this particular population suffers from such high rates of binge eating,” she said. “It’s also unclear why male Veterans are more likely to binge eat than female Veterans. In the civilian population, it’s the other way around. There’s a lot we need to find out about this.”

Masheb said there’s a range of behavioral, medical and self-help interventions that have proven effective for reducing or eliminating binge eating. (For example, the VA’s weight management program known as ‘MOVE!’ may be one avenue for getting the help you need.)

“We have clinicians, therapists and other professionals here at the VA who can help,” Masheb pointed out, “but Veterans who binge eat are a special subgroup. First we have to identify who they are. Then we have to identify the best way to treat them.

“Given how promising the potential treatments are,” she said, “it is well worth investing in this area of research to improve the health of our Veterans.”

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

To learn more about the MOVE! Weight Management Program for Veterans, visit VA’s National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at www.move.va.gov.

Source Article from http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2014/December/2015-New-Years-Resolution-End-Binge-Eating.asp


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