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Head of the Health and Welfare Division

Mr. Jos Weerts

Netherlands

The WVF Executive Board has appointed Mr. Jos Weerts as Head of the Division.

Jos studied medicine with specialized training in psychiatry, social medicine and epidemiology. He has worked with civilians affected by war, and with veterans in the Netherlands, for 27 years, most recently as head of the Center for Research and Expertise and deputy director of the Veterans Institute. He has extensive experience in training, coaching and educating individuals, groups and senior leadership of humanitarian and development organizations, in the former Soviet Union and Russia, Nigeria, Sudan, Haiti, DR Congo, Mali, Burundi, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Philippines, among others.

In working with individuals and with groups or organizations, he is especially focused at identifying resources on a personal level and within the organization, and at educating people how to use them.  He has extensive experience in counseling individuals as well as in working with groups and senior leadership teams within an organization.

Jos is currently employed as senior researcher and adviser at the Veterans’ Institute in the Netherlands.  He studied medicine with specialized training in psychiatry, social medicine and epidemiology.

The WVF Health and Welfare Division (HWD) has the following objectives:

  1. To provide WVF members with up-to-date (scientific) information including statistics on all matters related to veteran affairs.
  2. To establish a research and development unit in this Division. This unit will be conceived as a network of researchers and specialists around the world. The HWD will promote the exchange of information in this network and it will stimulate cooperation aimed at developing methods and programs to strengthen the health and welfare of veterans. 
  3. This unit could subsequently develop into an International Institute of Veteran Affairs which will provide comprehensive services such as information, training in veteran affairs management, legislation, fundraising techniques and general research facilities. 
  4. In addition, as is formulated in resolution 2, adopted by the 28th General Assembly in Sopot, Poland, 30 August - 4 September 2015, to organize a new WVF International Conference on the psychosocial consequences and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, caused by War. Previously, 26-30 April 1998, a first WVF International Scientific Conference on the psychosocial consequences of war took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Since the early days of the pioneers in research and treatment of persons suffering from social, psychological and psychiatric late effects of war time experiences, a vast body of knowledge has been developed. The number of specialists and publications has increased dramatically, and so have the methods of disseminating scientific information and sharing knowledge. Nevertheless, this knowledge, and more importantly, the services and programs based on this knowledge, are not always available, and where available, are not always accepted or implemented in day to day practice.

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June 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

MILD TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH AN INCREASED SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DEVELOP PARKINSON'S DISEASE

Gardner et al. (2017) published in a paper in Neurology with results suggesting that mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in military veterans is associated with a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD). The authors identified those veterans within the Veterans Care Association (VCA) who had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnosis and from there identified factors that differed from those patients without TBI. Those with TBI, in comparison to those without, were younger, had a higher prevalence of comorbidities such as cerebrovascular disease and depression and were also significantly more likely to develop PD during follow-up. This was also the case for those with mTBI, specifically, indicating a need for methods to prevent post-TBI PD.

The paper can be accessed here.

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June 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

BLAST EXPOSURE AND BIOMARKERS FOR RETINAL INJURY

Modern military conflicts have seen an increase in the number of personnel exposed to blast waves. A new study in The American Journal of Pathology reports that blast exposure can result in long-term ocular damage even when brain changes are not detected. The authors write that indicators of such retinal injuries will enable early detection of individuals that are at risk of visual impairment. Laboratory mice were exposed to a simulated blast wave and their retinal tissues were later analysed. Several pathological changes were identified, although no detectable cognitive changes were observed. The mice retinas saw increases in inflammation and photoreceptor death, along with various other cellular changes. Interestingly, tau, a protein associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, was seen to accumulate in retinal neurons, opening up a new field of investigation for a more in-depth understanding of long-lasting retinal changes following blast exposure.

The paper can be accessed here.

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June 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

GENDER AND DEPLOYMENT STRESS

Experiencing stress during deployment may have detrimental consequences for veterans’ work and family life. Research by Smith et al. (2017), published in Clinical Psychological Science, suggests there may be differences between genders when it comes to deployment stress and self-reported well-being. The study took place at the VA Boston Healthcare System, where 522 male and female veterans were recruited. Following surveying, results showed that there were several indirect pathways linking deployment stressors, such as warfare exposure, sexual harassment and family stressors to work and family outcomes for the veterans. Although there were many similar associations found for both females and males, there were also some gender-specific pathways. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was a significant contributor of poorer outcomes for both male and female veterans, whereas depression played a more detrimental role for females over males. Alcohol misuse was significant in predicting impairment for both males and females, albeit weaker for males. Understanding more about gender specific factors contributing to post-deployment well-being may help better cater to veterans’ needs in the years following their military services.

The publication can be accessed here.

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June 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

LIFE BEYOND SIGHT LOSS

On 24th May, Blind Veterans held a Research and Innovation Seminar at the Victory Services Club to discuss topics from sight loss and traumatic brain injury to advances in military ocular care. The event boasted excellent speakers from different areas of ocular research, including representatives from the British Medical Defence Services, the University of York, and researchers from the United States who collaborate with Blind Veterans UK.

To read our review on this seminar, please click here.

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June 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

LITHIUM MAY BE BENEFICIAL FOR TREATING TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by a trauma to the head.

TBI in military settings is believed to most often follow from a blunt force trauma to the head, in particular, blast injury secondary to improvised explosion devices. Researchers are able to study TBI in a laboratory using rodent models. These models have shown that TBI causes impairment to neurotransmission, a biological process whereby neurons communicate via a release of chemicals. The reduction in neuronal communication is hypothesised to contribute to the behavioural dysfunction seen in TBI. Carlson and colleagues at University of Pittsburgh, United States, recently published a report in Experimental Neurology with findings that demonstrate a potential therapeutic use for Lithium Chloride in the treatment of TBI. Rats that were administered with Lithium Chloride, daily, for two weeks showed significant improvements in cognitive functioning. The researchers discovered that Lithium Chloride facilitated crucial components in the neurotransmission process, thus alleviating the disruption of chemical firing caused by TBI. Since neurotransmission is required for learning and memory, the increase in neuronal firing led to the improved cognitive abilities seen in the rats treated with Lithium Chloride.

The published report can be accessed here.

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HVRC

HEALTH OF VETERANS RESEARCH TEAM (HVRT)

The British Members Council of the WVF have teamed up with the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) and King Edward VII's Hospital to form the Health of Veterans Research Team (HVRT). This unit’s main duties will be:

-       To build impartial evidence and compile research reports regarding veteran health and welfare

-       To draw information from academic journal articles and Ministry of Defence (UK) reports

-       To identify gaps in existing literature

-       To detect potential threats to veteran health

-       To respond to queries

You can find more information on their website: https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/

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IGALO PROJECT

The International Project Organisation "INTPO" and the Government of Montenegro are cooperating with the WVF to establish an International Veteran Centre in an existing facility in the Igalo Spa Complex, Montenegro.

The Project will also include a separate International ''Children in Need Rehabilitation Programme" for children different conflicts and natural disasters around the world. 

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LONG-TERM MENTAL HEALTH STATUS, HEALTH SERVICE USE, AND QUALITY OF LIFE - A STUDY FROM THE AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR POSTTRAUMATIC MENTAL HEALTH

This highly interesting and respected study from the Australian Centre for Post Traumatic Mental Health demonstrates that peace keeping can cause significant mental illness on the same level as combat (and sometimes more). The Australian Centre for Post Traumatic Mental Health (ACPTMH), also known as Phoenix, is  a world centre of excellence.

AUSTRALIA1 AUSTRALIA3 AUSTRALIA2

 

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A UK HOUSEHOLD SURVEY OF THE EX-SERVICE COMMUNITY

The Royal British Legion, one of the WVF's Member Associations in the UK, recently published a survey on the ex-service community on its website. This extremely thorough survey offers an overview of statistics, economics, as well as social and medical issues regarding the British ex-service community.

RBLPTSD

 

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COMBAT STRESS PTSD ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL

WVF member association in the United Kingdom Combat Stress recently published an important article on PTSD in the prestigious British Medical Journal. You can read it on the BMJ website or download the PDF by clicking here.