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Veterans Benefits Information

Five tips to improve men's health

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — June is Men’s Health Month. This month-long observance is an opportunity for men to take command of their health. Taking preventive steps and making changes to your lifestyle can improve your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading causes of death among men in the U.S. include heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, and stroke.

Here are a few tips for men to improve their health in time for Father’s Day:

  • Recognize Preventable Health Problems Early - Be aware of potential health concerns, even if you aren’t sick or injured. Your doctor can help you identify problems, like being overweight, or experiencing depression or anxiety. So it’s important to see a doctor or health care professional for regular checkups and preventive screenings. Also, review your family health history. Your provider can assess your risk of disease based on your family history and other factors.
  • Get Regular Screenings - TRICARE covers clinical preventive services. You can get one Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Examination each year if enrolled in TRICARE PrimeA managed care option available in Prime Service Areas in the United States; you have an assigned primary care manager who provides most of your care.TRICARE Prime or TRICARE SelectA fee-for-service option in the United States that allows you to get care from any TRICARE-authorized provider. Enrollment is required to participate.TRICARE SelectStarting on January 1, 2018, TRICARE Select replaces TRICARE Standard and Extra. TRICARE Select is a self-managed, preferred provider network plan.
    TRICARE Select
    . Your doctor can help you decide what tests you need based on your age and risk factors. Important health screening tests for men include:
    • Blood pressure screening 
    • Cardiovascular screening 
    • Colorectal cancer exams 
    • Prostate cancer exams 
    • Skin cancer exams 
    • Testicular cancer exams
  • Speak Openly with Your Provider - Establish a working relationship with your doctor. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to him or her honestly about your health concerns. Honest doctor-patient communication can prevent misdiagnoses and unnecessary tests. If you don’t have a primary care manager or need help finding a doctor, visit Find a Doctor on the TRICARE website.
  • Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices - Get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, and eat healthy balanced meals to stay in control of your mental and physical health. If you’re depressed, seek help. Depressed men may appear to be angry or aggressive instead of sad, making it more difficult to recognize symptoms. Learn about TRICARE’s mental health coverage.
  • Minimize Risky Behavior - If you smoke or use other tobacco products, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking can cause conditions, such as heart disease and cancer – top two leading causes of death among men. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Drinking too much can contribute to poor health. For resources to help you quit smoking check out TRICARE Tobacco Cessation Services. Also, visit the TRICARE Alcohol Awareness page for information about alcohol and drinking responsibly.

Check out the TRICARE monthly tips on the Healthy Living page for more information and resources about your health.


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Living with aphasia and the long road to regain language capabilities

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Bonnie Poe pulled up to a drive-through window. She ordered her meal and asked for her favorite condiments. The woman behind the counter responded, but Poe had trouble understanding what was said. She asked the woman to repeat herself slowly, but again, the response sounded like gibberish.

“I wish they could just hold on a second,” said Poe, who suffered a stroke in 2014 at age 40. She was diagnosed with aphasia, which impairs a person’s ability to express themselves or understand speech, or sometimes both, as a result of damage to parts of the brain responsible for language, according to the National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders, or NIDCD. Poe often asks people to repeat what they say because she can only understand bits and pieces, which can be aggravating, she said.

“Sometimes people talk so fast you can’t understand, and it’s not them, it’s my reception,” said Poe, who described herself as talkative and a social butterfly before her stroke occurred. “You just sort of feel trapped, like you can’t have a conversation with anyone.”

Cynthia Zmroczek, a speech language pathologist at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital Intrepid Spirit Clinic in northern Virginia, said aphasia impairs the expression and understanding of speech. The disorder can be diagnosed as fluent and non-fluent, and many various types exist within these categories, she said.

“There are different parts of the brain that have different functions, so when the blood flow is cut off to that area, damage can result in those areas,” said Zmroczek, adding that the type of aphasia that occurs depends on the area that’s damaged and the extent of the damage. “The damage can be mild, moderate, or severe, and that determines how the person will be able to progress.”

Poe was diagnosed with mixed, non-fluent aphasia. People with this form of the disorder can have difficulty understanding what’s being said and also have trouble finding the words to express themselves.

“You know when you’re in conversation and you have someone’s name on the tip of your tongue, and you can’t remember what that is? That is how normal words in a sentence are for me,” said Poe. “It’s like reaching for words. It’s like the word is on the tip of my tongue, and it’s a normal word that shouldn’t be on the tip of my tongue.”

Other common forms of aphasia are Broca’s and Wernicke. A person with Broca’s aphasia, also known as non-fluent aphasia, can understand what’s being said, but has trouble finding the words to express thought. Wernicke aphasia, also known as receptive or fluent aphasia, can cause difficulty understanding written and spoken language. According to NIDCD, a person with Wernicke aphasia may speak in long, complete sentences that have no meaning.

The disorder can also be diagnosed as anomic or global aphasia. Anomic aphasia can cause a person to have trouble finding words in speech and writing, while the ability to read and understand remains intact. A person with global aphasia, the most severe form, can have very limited abilities to express or understand speech.

Roughly 1 million Americans currently have aphasia, and nearly 180,000 Americans are diagnosed with it each year. Zmroczek said most cases occur suddenly following a stroke or serious head injury, but others can result from neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“The damaged parts of the brain can heal to some extent over time,” said Zmroczek. A person can get better with the help of speech and occupational therapy, but it takes continuous help in and outside of therapy, she said. Treatment involves various tasks and activities to meet the needs of each specific form of aphasia. NIDCD says individual therapy can be catered to a patient’s specific language needs, while group therapy and activities, such as a club or art class, allow patients to practice communication skills and build confidence. Technology, such as the use of speech-generating applications on devices, can also help patients communicate.

For Poe, treatment includes word-building tasks. She’s been in and out of treatment since 2014, and now enjoys using applications on a tablet to practice expressing words.

“Communication is the most important skill we have,” said Zmroczek. “If we didn’t have communication, we wouldn’t be able to connect with anyone in our lives and develop relationships. Improving communication truly is life-enhancing.”



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Drugmaker discontinuing Type 2 diabetes medication

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Approximately 6,200 Military Health System beneficiaries who are using a pen-injection prescription medication called Tanzeum to aid with managing their Type 2 diabetes will need to switch to an alternative in the wake of GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s announcement that it will stop manufacturing the drug starting in late July.

Tanzeum will continue to be available until the current supply runs out, said U.S. Public Health Service Lt. Cmdr. Teisha Robertson, pharmacist in the Pharmacy Operations Division at the Defense Health Agency. However, beneficiaries who continue filling prescriptions for the drug after July 24 will be charged a higher copay.

“Beneficiaries are advised to speak with their provider about the preferred alternative medications and which is best for them,” Robertson said.

The brand-name preferred alternatives are Bydureon or Bydureon BCise, manufactured by Astra Zeneca; and Trulicity, by Lilly. Trulicity is a pen-injection medication; Bydureon is vial or pen; and Bydureon BCise is an auto-injector. The copay is the same no matter which of these alternatives is chosen, Robertson said.

Tanzeum prescriptions can be transferred to a brand-name alternative without the provider submitting a new prior authorization, Robertson said. Prior authorization is a routine review process to ensure that the requested medication is safe, cost-effective, and medically required. The generic preferred drug, Metformin, is in tablet form and doesn’t require any prior authorization.

GSK said its decision to stop manufacturing Tanzeum was voluntary and not related to any safety concern. MHS beneficiaries with Tanzeum prescriptions began receiving letters about the change in late May from prescription benefit plan provider Express Scripts.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body doesn’t properly use or make enough insulin, a hormone that enables the body to use glucose from food for energy or store it for future use.


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U.S. Air Force airlifts Guatemalan children injured by volcano

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GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft transported six Guatemalan children injured by the recent eruption of the Fuego Volcano to the United States to receive medical treatment. 

At the direction of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the aircraft from the 172 Airlift Wing in Jackson, Mississippi, as well as a team of aeromedical evacuation, pediatric intensive care, and burn victim treatment specialists, flew the children and their guardians to Galveston, Texas, to receive treatment at Shriners Hospital for Children for burns and other injuries sustained during the eruption.

The command has also donated equipment to assist Guatemalan emergency personnel working at the disaster site, consisting of hazardous gas detectors, tools, and personal protective equipment.

The government of Guatemala requested the assistance through the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City and granted approval for the humanitarian-airlift mission.

In foreign disasters like this one, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S. government agency and SOUTHCOM has been in close contact with both USAID and the U.S. State Department while monitoring updates about the eruption.

The U.S. military has a history of supporting USAID-led relief missions and working with international relief organizations and host countries to aid people impacted by disasters, most recently in the Caribbean, where hurricanes Matthew (2016), Irma (2017), and Maria (2017) caused widespread devastation in Haiti, St. Martin, and Guadalupe.

Prior to the volcano’s eruption, SOUTHCOM provided assistance to Guatemala to help it prepare for natural disasters, including the construction and donation of an emergency operations center and a disaster relief warehouse in Guatemala’s Escuintla department, activated and utilized by the country’s National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction following the eruption.

Earlier this year, the command also sponsored a multinational disaster-relief exercise, hosted by Guatemala, with a simulated response to an eruption of the Fuego Volcano. More than a dozen nations participated in the annual exercise, called Fuerzas Aliadas Humanitarias (Humanitarian Allied Forces), including residents of the communities of La Trinidad and La Reina, which are adjacent to the volcano.

SOUTHCOM is one of the nation’s six geographically-focused unified commands with responsibility for security cooperation with partner nations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America, as well as U.S. military operations in the region.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.



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Tell Us About Your Alive Day

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At War is working on a long-term multimedia project about veterans and their Alive Day.

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Did you know?

Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request. This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family.