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HEALTHY LIVING Fitness. Food. Well-being. ON CALL: Rear Adm. Joyce Johnson, D.O. HEALTH NEWS


VA Delays Adding Agent Orange


Don’t Drive Drowsy I


will never forget the tragedy: While I was on active duty, a young enlisted man drove all


night to his parents’ home for a family event. He never made it there. He died in a car accident because of exhaustion. Trage- dies like these are preventable. It is estimated drowsy driving contributes to up to 25 percent of all fatal motor crashes, or 7,500 deaths each year. Crashes from drowsy driving


are most common after mid- night, especially from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. However, for elderly drivers, drowsy driving-related accidents are more common in mid-afternoon. Drowsy driving has many


of the same characteristics as drunk driving, such as slowed reaction time and impaired judgment. Further, drowsiness can magnify the effects of even small amounts of alcohol. Several additional risk factors


are related to drowsy driving: some medications, shift work or irregular work hours that inter- fere with regular sleep, sleeping


24 | MILITARY OFFICER | January 2018


PREVENT DROWSY


six or fewer hours nightly, un- treated sleep disorders (includ- ing snoring, which can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea), and being a young male. If you’re yawning or having


a hard time keeping your eyes open or your head from nodding, you’re probably too fatigued to drive. Certain driving patterns are also serious clues to drowsy driving, including missing road signs or turns, drifting through lanes or onto the rumble strips on the shoulder, tailgating, not being sure exactly where you are, or forgetting the last few miles. If you recognize you are


drowsy, take action. The most ef- fective approaches are stopping to nap or changing drivers. Open- ing the window, adjusting heat or air conditioning, and turning up the radio are ineffective.


Rear Adm. Joyce Johnson, USPHS (Ret), D.O., M.A., is a health care consultant in Chevy Chase, Md.


DRIVING QGet a full seven to eight hours of sleep


before driving. QDrive with someone else


to take shifts. QTry to avoid driving at times that would be during your


sleep schedule. QPlan regular stops during a long trip. Tight schedules might pressure the driver to contin- ue if tired.


to List of Illnesses VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin announced plans in November to “further explore” adding ail- ments to the list of compensable conditions the VA presumes were caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War. The decision will disappoint thousands of veterans with bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson-like tremors, and hyper- tension (high blood pressure) who were hopeful some or all of those conditions would be added to the VA’s presumptive list of ailments. “I am shocked and dismayed,” emailed Carla Dean, president of the Bladder Cancer Foundation of Florida. Her husband, a Vietnam veteran, died of bladder cancer. Rick Weidman, Vietnam Veter- ans of America executive direc- tor for policy and government affairs, says members of Vietnam Veterans of America “are going to be really angry” with more delays because “there is probably enough evidence now for the sec- retary to declare other ailments” as tied to Agent Orange exposure, “glioblastoma first among them.” Sailors and Marines who served aboard ships off Vietnam, also known as Blue Water Veter- ans, should have been deemed eligible, like ground forces, for compensation for presumptive ailments long ago, Weidman says. — By Contributing Editor Tom Philpott


HEADSHOT: BOB LENNOX/STAFF; PHOTO: KYCHERYAVUY/SHUTTERSTOCK; ICON: SHUTTERSTOCK


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