WSU to Study Iraq Toxins' Effect
by Bert Caldwell
Research to examine how exposure might damage offspring of soldiers
Washington State University scientists will use a $1.7 million grant to study what multi-generation genetic damage might be done by toxins U.S. troops could encounter in Iraq.
The research using laboratory rats, not humans, will be the first for the military to examine the epigenetic effects of pesticides, herbicides and other compounds, said lead scientist Michael Skinner, director of the university's Center for Reproductive Biology.
Previous studies have looked at the health effects of other substances, notably the Agent Orange used to defoliate jungles in Vietnam, on the soldiers directly exposed, he said, not on their children or grandchildren.
"The science really had not caught up with the trans-generational stuff," said Skinner, one of several WSU pioneers in the field of epigenetic, or multi-generational, inheritance.
Besides herbicides and pesticides – which and in what combinations has not been determined – the study also will look at the effects of explosives residues, he said.
The four-year study will allow researchers to see how any changes in genetic chemistry that develop are passed along through two subsequent generations of rats, he said, noting that only the first two years of research have been funded.
Among the problems that might develop are kidney disease, or changes in the male and female reproductive organs, he said.
If any genetic markers are identified in rats, Skinner said, follow-up research could look at whether they might show up among members of the military as well.
That would be of particular interest to Dave Holmes, interim chief operating officer of the Institute for Systems Medicine, which was awarded the U.S. Department of Defense grant passed through to Skinner.
Holmes' son, Tim Hammond, did two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps.
"They sprayed all kinds of stuff on them," Holmes said.
Although the grant money, the first awarded ISM, will fund work in Pullman, he said the organization's supporters hope any subsequent clinical studies will be done in Spokane.
"There's a lot of excitement about making it happen," he said.
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Scams, Scams and Benefits
By Thom Stoddert
Scams against veterans, for veterans, about veterans are everywhere, more than I ever thought possible. Some people have learned to stand on the line between unethical and illegal and still claim to be heroes.
In one incident a “veteran” (who would not meet the federal standards of being a veteran) was dumb enough to walk into a crowd of veterans one evening at an event with three cases of soda pop and some snacks in arm. He then told the people closest to him how he had been out collecting donations for them (mostly Viet Nam vets) from area stores. When Daryl Hunt of Auburn, Washington eyes adjusted to the light he realized he was well known by those present as the poor Navy Seal blown up in Panama, confined to wheel chair for life. Well, wheel chair Daryl bugged out real quick on his own two feet. Unfortunately Daryl also plays games with the VA’s Orthopedic Clinic in Seattle. Daryl is the reason the VA has a hot line to report fraud.
Over a year ago I went to a Wal-Mart store one day. In front of each door was a so called veteran collecting money for homeless veterans. Wal-Mart works very hard with its public relations and supports many veterans’ issues, much to its credit. When I started asking the man in front of the door about his organization, he became vague and agitated and could not produce any documentation except someone’s business card that lived 60 miles away. For some reason that summer Wal-Mart did not sponsor the yearly “Military Family Day.” May be they had been burned, and decided to take a low profile.
If this is true in this state, it most likely true in all states; if you are collecting money for a charity, you must be registered with the state’s Secretary of State or such agency. A simple call to them will tell you if the charity is registered and if there have been problems. The Attorney General’s office can also tell you if there have been complaints. In the instance of lawyers addressing VA issues in nursing homes, there have been lots of complaints made to the many different agencies, state and federal.
Just because a group is a registered charity with a 501 (c) 3 tax-free IRS status does not make them legitimate. A friend of mine keeps getting calls for donations from a particular group; one caller even ID’ed himself as a former Marine Corp chaplain. When my buddy questioned one of them by email; they told how they are so generous with the donations collected for veterans that they even paid the airfare for relatives of their president to visit him in the hospital. The writer’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and he writes this is one their phone numbers 888-296-8044 (it has been verified). Dws2624, did not really provide any real details, their location, or full name of the organization. If they are legit, they will welcome a call.
Always check out the groups operating costs. I found a group, Foundation for American Veterans on Wikipedia which noted that for every dollar taken in they kept 96 cents for their own operating costs. They gave just enough away to stay out of trouble with the IRS. Check out their website for yourself. I would never give them any money.
I found this on-line; http://www.sos.wa.gov/charities/aod. These guys keep popping up, giving veterans a bad name. Obviously Veterans of Western Washington are not smart enough to stay legal while being unethical.
For weeks now I have been looking, talking, and interviewing lawyers, state agencies, long term assisted living facilities, and the VA. I also went to an educational VA benefits seminar that sounded more like a pitch for purchasing vacation land than an informational resource. The information that was not put out was volumes more abundant than what was discussed which made me suspicious, also very nauseated.
I have written about pension and aid/attendance and we have given a presentation on the subject to a military widow’s group. We accepted nothing more than a piece of cake and coffee. For most REAL veteran advocates that was a bit too much to receive just for helping.
Thel awyer I spoke with in the assisted living facility was asked during and after his presentation how is he compensated for what he does in the elder living facilities and he repeatedly explained that he is like a bank selling Certificate of Deposits (CDs). The bank promises a percentage of return on the money invested but the bank also makes money.
The next phase of the presentation he explained to the group of mostly retirees that when a financial relationship is established through the “repositioning” of assets, the veteran or widow will be a hundred percent assured they will receive VA benefits in the form of pension and/or aid and attendance. In other words, a relationship is established through the purchase of financial products, such as annuities, and the VA advocacy begins.
Between phase one and two, there seems to be an illogical disconnect as the listeners were left to make many assumptions to bridge each issue during the presentation. I will attempt to clarify this in next month’s article. However an old and trusted veteran friend with a master’s degree in business has helped me on these articles has said; “Never, ever, purchase financial products from someone who stands to benefit continually from a sale, instead use fee based agents/brokers.” They get paid once and that’s it; there is no prejudice what will get recommended or sold. The buyer is best served.”
The focus of my articles has always been to help and protect veterans, whether it is dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs or things that can be dangerous to a veteran. This is the motivation for this type of article. I wish to thank writer Jim Strickland for his help, knowledge and commitment to veterans and the “Voice” for its service.
See you next month and I only scratched the surface with this article.