Veteranclaims’s Blog

August 4, 2010

Association Between Burn Pits and Constrictive Bronchiolitis

Full Article at: Army want to hide soldiers with constrictive bronchiolitis

August 4, 2010 by Michael Leon

Constrictive bronchiolitis

– “I think this is a way to get control of an issue,” Dr. Miller said. “They can control the discussion by keeping it internal.” Miller said he already had a bad taste in his mouth after a 32-page training letter came out from the Veterans Affairs Department detailing environmental concerns — with his findings of constrictive bronchiolitis removed from the original draft after it was reviewed by military officials“.

By Kelly Kennedy in the Army Times

A civilian doctor who diagnosed more than 50 soldiers with constrictive bronchiolitis after they were exposed to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan has been told that Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio will handle his patients from Fort Campbell, Ky., from now on.

Dr. Robert Miller, associate professor of allergy, pulmonary and critical care medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he worries handing the cases over to the Army means the problem will disappear from public view.

“I think this is a way to get control of an issue,” Miller said. “They can control the discussion by keeping it internal.” But Col. Lisa Zacher, pulmonary consultant to the Army surgeon general, said she greatly admires Miller’s work, and that the change came purely for business reasons.

“I think we’re trying to be open,” she said. “We’re trying to be transparent. It’s no reflection on his work — to me, it’s just a business decision.” In 2003, Fort Campbell soldiers began returning home from Iraq complaining of shortness of breath and saying they could no longer run fast enough to pass their physical fitness tests. But pulmonary-function tests came back normal, as did scans, X-rays and exercise tests.

Doctors at Fort Campbell sent the soldiers to Miller to try to solve the mystery. He decided to perform lung biopsies — an inpatient operation that involves surgery to pull out small pieces of the lungs.

All but a few soldiers came back with diagnoses of constrictive bronchiolitis, a rare disease that causes the lung’s smallest airways to narrow. It can be diagnosed only through biopsy.”

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3 Comments »

  1. To any Army veterans that served in Somalia, Africa in the years 1990-1993 who can verify that their were burn pits used to burn human excrement due to no plumbing or sewage tanks there due to the poverty ridden countries state. Also diesel fuel was used to ignite and burn the human excrement. I understand that medical waste that would be contaminated with various toxins were burned openly daily. If any Army veterans served in this area in the years I mentioned please contact me by e mail asap.Or if any physician has treated veterans suffering with this type of lung problems please contact me by e mail. It is babyvamp118@yahoo.com.Please I ask or beg you to do one favor for me I know my comment is more like a book but if you will for a veteran who fought on the front lines read what I typed up. Pleas excuse my typing and any spell checks missed. My boyfriend of 7 yrs has been fighting for veterans medical benefits. After serving on the front line infantry and finishing his tour in Somalia, which not many civilians even realize any of our troops were even there in what started as a peace mission called Operation Restore Hope only to end up being a combat zone, my boyfriend had terrible shortness of breath and a chronic cough that at first produced alot of secretions, and he was unable to complete his runs now prior to being deployed to Somalia he had never smoked, never had asthma or suffered from any shortness of breath. He has gone for treatment only to be given the same treatment for years over and over with very little relief, however he kept on trying and did work for some years but eventually because of this breathing problem he has not been able to work due to his lung problem and the associated symptoms with that.. He continued to get worse and worse over the years and the V.A. diagnosed him with C.O.P.D. or emphysema without a CT of the chest being done or even being evaluted by a lung doctor. Today he is only 39 yrs old. That is way too young to have C.O.P.D. I worked as a Registered Nurse for over 20yrs in areas like cardiac intensive care, cardiologist office managing 500 patients on the blood thinner Coumadin, Recovery Rm,.and as a State Nurse Surveyor to name some of the areas but my focus was mainly cardiac. With that being the case I worked closely every day with heart and lung disease and when I worked in the recovery room, I recovered thousands of patients who had a bronchoscopy done with biopsies and bronchial washings obtained during the procedure. In addition to being able to obtain biopsies of the lung tissue as well obtain bronchial washings the procedure allows a pulmonologist (lung doctor) to look at and observe the actual lung tissue.the pulmonologist places a tube or scope down the mouth but before they attempt this they spray the back of the throat to numb it and decrease the gag reflex and the nurse assisting or anesthesia if for some reason general anesthesia has to be utilized but that was rarely done usually they were heavily sedated to the point the patient can be told and follow commands but doesnt remember it. I finally talked him in to letting me take him to a local clinic but they don”t have specialty doctors like heart or lung as it is for the less fortunate people none the less we were fortunate to get a great internal medicine doctor who got him started on some more appropriate and proper medical treatment. Unfortunately they cannot perform bronchoscopy. We have been fighting the V.A. politics and dodging or evading or explaining every medical issue away everystep of the way to get appropriate treatment, medications,and testing done to obtain his actual lung diagnosis ven some have gone as far as giving us the incorrect information not once but many times.I hav been waiting on an appointment with the Chief of Staff of this V.A.Hospital. We hav had a very fw employees and other veterans or their family members provide us with to make another step in this seemingly never ending untangling or trying to the red tape and the sometimes it seems policy and procedures written opposite to what I had always read before..After observing him worsen to the point his coughing spasms had been leading to throwing him into bronchospasms but now it was so forceful when he had coughing fits that it brought him to his knees. I remembered the clinic doctor had sent him to Birmingham lung doctor only to have him act very oddly and came in the room and in a loud tone said Im not getting involved in this, this is a claim case isnt it, We were stunned but he had obtained bloodwork that reflects how well your lungs are working. This lung doctor sent us back home for the clinic M.D. to follow his lung problem. He never mentioned anything being abnormal. But on a whim I went to Birmingham to get a copy of his visit and lab work and I about had a stroke. I took him to the clinic doctor and he immediately wrote him an order to have home oxygen at 2liter pr min. So I did what I could and was able to come up with the 220.00 it cost me out of pocket to get the oxygen, I took the lab work to the 2nd and last pulmonologist at the V.A. hospital in our area and it took them about 3 weeks to finally redo the lab work and test him to see if he met the criteria to be on oxygen or not. So since the last of the two pulmonologist says to me he was sending him to Atlanta, Ga. to another pulmonologist for a 2nd opinion. I ask why and he said because I had mentioned performing a bronchoscopy and obtaining biopsies. I said yes I did and I have yet to recieve a plausible medical reason why he cant have one but that was on our very 1st visit. He said honestly I dont know what is going on with his lungs. I said ok. and thanked him for his honesty. So we made the 3and a half hour trip one way that just taxes his body. The pulmonologist there only spent fifteen minutes with him only to tell us without performing any of his own testing that he has Asthma and he doesnt need oxygen he just needed to get treatment for asthma well as a nurse COPD patients recieve just about the same treatment as an asthma patient. You can imagine our shock, but not really I guess our hopes were smashed. I watched my 39 yr old boyfriend spiral down into a week long depression and who wouldnt. We have another claim in and a Lawyer but how long can you deny a infantry soldier with a combat patch who went and fought for our country suffr and go without a proper diagnosis. Until he is dead. I am apalled that they have the nerve to insult my intelligence as a registered nurse with 20 plus years of experience. He could very well have the constrictive bronchiolitis presented just like the non-affiliated doctor explained in the article about Army want to hide soldiers with constictive bronchiolitis and to tell you doctor it greatly concerns me to that the V.A. Facilities want and have been left to handle this incurable lung disease.How can they do that I ask them when the proper testing to diagnose the type of lung disease he has. I had even thought of pulmonary fibrosis because I knew or felt pretty sure just from his type of cough and other symptoms he has are not what I observed in any COPD patients I cared for in any stage of that disease then when they finally did a cat scan of the chest proved it wasnt that.Isnt odd no one wants to do a bronchoscopy when that is the only way to diagnose constrictive bronchiolitis.if anyone a doctor or veteran who can please give me any insight or their experience with something like this I would be forever in your debt. I love him so much and would like to get married which we are talking about doing anyway. I know this is a very long comment but it reflects only a small portion of what one veteran has endured while struggling to get a breath and at age 39yr old, I realize that there are millions more veterans who have or are suffering from wounds of war many alot worse than his but hold your breath as long as you can and think of drowning on your own fluids bcuse he has ben diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension which is almost always secondary to lung disease or meaning the lung disease has caused this other condition to develop.He also suffers from PTSD and has for years but h just got diagnosed with that delayed response PTSD.We would both be ever so grateful to anyone that think anything they have done or somewhere they went to get the medical treatment they deserve and were promised before signing up. However my man says he doesnt regret one bit serving his country!!I want to thank all of our military men and women veterans for their selfless service for the freedom we are so priviledged to have!!! God Bless All of You!!! Angie

    Comment by Angie Young — December 11, 2011 @ 1:45 am

    • I have information.

      Comment by Leonard Lyles — August 25, 2014 @ 1:30 am

  2. I was in the Marines in Somalia from Dec 1992 – Apr 1993. I can confirm that we often burned human waste in metal drums ‘using diesel fuel’ and stirring with steel engineer stakes on a routine basis. I can also confirm we had at least one ‘burn pit’ at the Mogadishu Stadium where all manner of garbage was routinely burned. I personally served on these duties multiple times as I was low rank at the time.
    I may be contacted at nreareunion@hotmail.com
    I myself need a letter confirming this and am willing to provide one myself per my notes above.

    R/

    Corporal K.

    Comment by Rod K. — April 12, 2015 @ 4:48 am


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