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RI Veterans: Did you know? (Lung cancer, resources, events), 1-12-22 – John A. Cianci

by John A. Cianci, contributing writer, veterans issues

Photo: Wreaths Across America (see event below)

VA Lung Cancer Screening Program Saves Lives

Did you know lung cancer is the deadliest cancer among Veterans in the United States, and is predicted to claim 5,000 Veterans’ lives this year?

Did you know the VA offers and recommends lung cancer screening for some veterans between the ages of 50-80?

Did you know the British government did generic testing of every soldier deployed to Afghanistan and the Middle East? Moreover, according to a VA doctor who served in Afghanistan, the genetic testing determined a percentage of soldiers would have the same and/or equal results if treated with Tylenol instead of morphine if he or she suffered a catastrophic event while serving?

VETTIP – Spend a few minutes and click on this video:

Veteran Testimonial,  Pat McGuire, talks about his experience with genetic testing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PazYEynFVAM. Paul is a VA treated cancer survivor of stage 4 brain and lung cancer, including 5 brain tumors.

Check out the VA’s site for more information:

https://cancer.va.gov/?fbclid=IwAR2aAziaz8gL1uSGUTMSgVJN_ajZaL3vT8wUWghui6O_9BOQv4VDCVFArGo

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. One reason is that patients with early stage lung cancer don’t typically experience significant signs of disease. 

Early lung cancer screening can be a game changer

With lung cancer screening programs, physicians are catching more cancer earlier, when it is still treatable. Sadly, the veterans I know, to include my mom, SSG Evelyn Chaput, who lost her battle with cancer in 2009, with lung cancer at stage 4, when treatment options were limited. 

The recommended screening for lung cancer is a low dose computed tomography scan, or LDCT, for high-risk population of patients. During this short, painless procedure, a CT-Scan machine uses low amounts of radiation to make a detailed image of your lungs. While effective in diagnosing cancer, this screening is not recommended for everyone because it can lead to false-positive results.

If you served in Vietnam or Thailand, you should talk to your VA provider and request cancer screening since most veterans of this era were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Additionally, if you were or are a smoker you are considered at high risk and should also request a cancer screening. 

In addition, if you are a Veteran who served in the Middle East since 1990, you are considered high risk due to the plume of smoke from the burning oil wells and exposure to multiple environmental containments, to include the burn pits. There are strong recommendations you request a lung cancer screening (which I have requested for myself).

According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force criteria for lung cancer screening with LDCT include:

  • Those between 50-80 years old, AND
  • Have a history of smoking 20 or more pack-year, AND
  • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years

The VA’s goal is to increase access to lung cancer screening to diagnosis cases earlier, when treatment is less invasive and more effective. However, lung cancer can go undiagnosed until symptoms present.

For Veterans diagnosed with lung cancer at a VA Medical Center, a multi-disciplinary team comprising ofpulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiologists, and nurses work to create treatment plans tailored to each Veteran’s unique needs. According to doctors of the VA, a team effort alleviates the added stress patients feel with a cancer diagnosis, and speeds up delivery of treatment, resulting in an increased chance of survival.

If a veteran chooses the VA Medical system for cancer treatment, he or she can request a genetic screening prior to the start of cancer treatment. The genetic testing will be sent to the VA National Oncology Program Office. The National Oncology Program (NOP) is the home for cancer care at VA. Diagnosing and treating more than 43,000 Veterans annually, NOP is one of the nation’s largest integrated providers of oncology services.

According to the VA website, the VA is leading the fight against cancer through precision oncology by developing and applying new technologies, tools, research knowledge, and best-practice therapies. Our scientific and medical breakthroughs are shared both inside and outside our healthcare system to benefit not just Veterans, but all Americans.

How does the program benefit Veterans?
It ensures that all Veterans have access to cutting edge molecular tests to help their doctors decide the best treatments for cancer.

Am I eligible to get tested?
If you are a Veteran receiving oncology care at a VA facility, and have an advanced stage tumor or blood cancer, and can tolerate the therapies your doctor recommends; then your doctor may order the tests. Currently, Veterans who are being treated at a non-VA facility are not currently eligible for this program as we are unable to track patient care at a non-VA facility. 

How do I get these tested?
Your doctor will collect either a tissue or blood sample and submit it along with the lab request order for testing. 

Who pays for testing?
Testing will be paid for by the National Precision Oncology Program. The tests are ordered by your doctor, sent to a lab for testing, and the lab will submit the invoices directly to the VA
National Oncology Program Office.  As with all VA Programs, this will be re-evaluated annually.

How long does it take to get back the test results?
Test results can take one to two weeks to complete (depending on the test  that was ordered) and
will be returned to your doctor.

What happens to the test results?
Test results will be entered into your patient chart, and you can see them if you have access to your electronic health records and other benefits here or click on the MyHealtheVet badge on this website.

Cancer screenings help save lives. Schedule your VA preventive screening today.
Screenings improve the chance treatment will be successful.

Schedule your screening
Delays in screenings mean delays in timely diagnoses. This is why it’s so important to get your screening scheduled with VA. When scheduling, remember the following:

Be persistent. Take charge of your health. Schedule your routine screening or primary care appointments by calling your VA clinic or sending a secure message
through your My HealtheVet

Answer your phone. VA will make several attempts to contact you to schedule your appointments. If you miss a VA call, please call back as soon as possible to prevent
delays in your care.

Ask about all your options. Don’t want to wait for colonoscopy? Stool tests or fecal immunochemical tests are available for colorectal cancer screening and can be
performed in the comfort of your home. Talk to your primary care provider to see if this test is right for you.

In conclusion, after researching and learning more of VA cancer treatment and technology being used, to include genetic testing before starting treatment, I know my options with the VA for cancer treatment if a diagnosis ever comes. Moreover, as a Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran, I have requested lung cancer screening despite having no symptoms.

Why would any veteran NOT seek FREE lung cancer screening from the VA if indicated?

To learn more about cancer care at VA:

Visit cancer.va.gov or https://cancer.va.gov/?fbclid=IwAR2aAziaz8gL1uSGUTMSgVJN_ajZaL3vT8wUWghui6O_9BOQv4VDCVFArGo

Email cancer@va.gov

Events

December 5, 2022, Federal Hill Veteran Coffee House, 9:00am to 11:00am, Roma Deli, Atwells Ave, Providence RI(Roma has free parking across the street) sponsored by the Italian American War Veterans of US (ITAM). All veterans and their guest are invited, as the gathering starts with brick oven Italian toast. More information, contact (401) 677-9838 or email, itamri4vets@gmail.com.

December 14, 2022, Wednesday, Golf Middle School, 974 Newport Ave, Pawtucket, RI, Goff Middle School Wreaths Across America program. The school is looking to share that day with local RI Veterans and hope they can join us! Please have them RSVP to clarksonk@psdri.net . The school invites ALL veterans and active duty reservists to attend. Our pre-program (student) showcase, and veteran continental breakfast will begin at 8:45am. If individuals would like to sponsor wreaths to be placed at the RI Veterans cemetery, they may do so here: Goff Middle School Supports RI Veterans Cemetery. Sponsor Wreaths Here.

RESOURCES & ongoing groups

Below are the groups the Providence Vet Center is currently offering. As this list changes, I will provide updates. Please send me any questions that you may have, thank you for your time!

Be aware of the holiday time and schedules may change:

***All Vet Center Groups require that the Veteran be enrolled with the Vet Center prior to attending. To check eligibility or for questions, please contact the Vet Center at (401) 739-0167 or reach out to our Veteran Outreach Program Specialist (VOPS) via email at Justyn.Charon@va.gov***

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Group (PTSD) – 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (Group is only active September through May)

Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and Vietnam Veterans PTSD Group – 2nd and 4th  Wednesday of the month from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Vietnam Veteran PTSD Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Art Expression Group – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) Group – Every Wednesday from 11:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Stress Management – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Low Impact Walking Group – Every Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Guitar 4 Veterans – Every Wednesday from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Monday Mindfulness Group – Every Monday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Yoga Group – Every Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Moral Injury Group – Every Friday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Modern Warrior Support Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 2:30 – 4:00 pm.

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Discounts for Veterans

Services

No Problem Plumbing and Heating LLC 15% military discount , ask for Ron Gaynor, (401) 568-6666. Veterans must provide proof of eligibility with a VA Card, VA ID Card, or RI State license with veteran identification.

Restaurants

Applebee’s – Military Discount. With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2022.

Denny’s – Hartford Ave, Johnston offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty. Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain. Last verified 07/31/2022.

Outback Steakhouse – 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021

99 Restaurant & Pub – The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID

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Retailers

Advance Auto Parts – 10% for Active Duty, Veterans, and families. Last verified 07/28/2021

Bass Pro Shops –  Offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source).

BJs Wholesale – Reduced membership fee. BJ’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021

Lowes – Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to activate your 10% discount – “Our way of saying Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items. Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner, ID.me.

ID.me is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe.

GameStop – is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through ID.me

Home Depot – Offers a 10% off military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer.

Kohls – 15% discount offers for active military, veterans, retirees, and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type.

Jiffy Lube – HONORING VETERANS ALL DAY EVERY DAY! – We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 15% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at 3 select locations listed below:

Tioque Ave, Coventry RI – Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI – Park Ave, Cranston RI

Michaels – offers a 15% off military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans, and family members. How to get –

1.    Create an Account. Log in or create a Michaels Rewards account.

2.    Get Verified. Provide your military information to get verified instantly.

3.    Go Shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout.

O’Reilly Auto Parts – 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21.

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If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward to:itamri4vets@gmail.com:  the business’s name, location, and military and veteran discount offered.

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, itamri4vets@gmail.com, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)

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To read all columns in this series go to: https://rinewstoday.com/john-a-cianci/

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John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.

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