By: Darrell Myers

Elsewhere in this blog, there is an article entitled “Just Getting Started,” about a PTS-TBI Ad Hoc Committee prepared to carry on its work, which was published in The American Legion Dispatch, published on January 26, 2012. And, I write this article in rebuttal to that TBI/PTS Ad Hoc Committee article.

This National American Legion Ad Hoc committee was organized in November 2010. One year plus in existence, and as paraphrased here, the article states, that the members have listened to a lot of presentations from experts in the health-care field; and some members have engaged in on-site visits to talk with doctors using alternative forms of treatment. And, now, they are ready to make several recommendations, of which the foremost recommendation is, that they allow this committee to continue to exist, in one form or another. That’s it? One year plus and that is all that they have determined, let us continue on, and do nothing. Now something stinks here, this is nothing more than a waste of time and money. And, I thought that we were The American Legion, not Congress!

That article in question contains 1410 words and at the end of the story they’ve said nothing about Hyperbaric Chamber Technology and its success, except in a paragraph of 55 words that talks about another DoD test. In fact it really says a whole lot of nothing, except maybe someone blowing a little smoke.

Nor is there any indication on the horizon that we are ready to write a resolution that will tell the VA what they need to be doing to treat our veterans with this Signature Wound of our War on Terror, something that really works, is cost effective and is not dangerous.

I personally thought that we, “The American Legion,” were there to insure that our veterans were receiving the best, most effective treatments known, and we did that by being active and forthright in our decision making and once that decision was reached all 2.4 million Legionnaires working together got the VA and congress to implement those ideas that came out of the resolutions written by a member somewhere in this organization. But, here, in this Ad Hoc Committee, I don’t see that, what I see is a committee waving the flag and hoping that if they wave it long enough and don’t rock any boats, someone in the greater powers to be, namely the VA, DoD or FDA will make a decision that the Ad Hoc Committee can support and then they (Ad Hoc Committee) will thump their chest and yell how great we are, and write in the history books how they brought the VA to their way of thinking, without taking any action, just through the use of thought osmosis.

Every Legionnaire should be up-in-arms over this committee’s decision to contravene irrefutable evidence that proves that HBOT is a success time and again – study after study – but of course, nothing of evidence proving or disproving that by the VA, DoD or FDA – I wonder why????

The Department of Colorado has Legionnaires in the field who have taken the bull by the horn and have done investigations into one form of alternative treatment that we know works and that is Hyperbaric Chamber Oxygen Therapy. We did this long before any Ad Hoc Committees were even thought of. Also, the Department of Colorado wrote a resolution on HBOT that was presented at the 2011 National Convention, but absorbed into another resolution because the VA&R Committee felt it was to narrow in scope.

Yes, a resolution was written by the VA&R committee and published, but no action has been taken to date. Why? Are we afraid to tell congress what our veterans need and what we will support?

There is a bill in congress – House Bill 396 – sponsored by Rep Pete Sessions of Texas, which was introduced on January 24, 2011 and currently has 21 Co-sponsors. HB 396 is sitting in committee and has been since January 2011. And, right now, it looks like it is dead in the water, but simply has not realized it yet! But, that’s okay; it does not matter, because The American Legion was not going to support it anyway. An email from Ian C. DePlanque to Department of Colorado Adjutant Pat Smith on November 28, 2011 pretty much sums it up.

In that email, Ian stated that “HR 396 is on our radar screen, there are some issues with the bill, so currently we’re keeping an eye on it but aren’t particularly in support of it.”

Ian states further states “We’ve been advocating for alternative treatments (there is a lot of support for Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment – HBOT) and have been working with the committee staff to get a hearing on VA exploring more of those therapies, but this does not seem to help us on that front. Damn, someone at national headquarters agrees with me…but I guess Ian is not a member of this Ad Hoc Committee and they probably wouldn’t listen to him either.

Well, here in Colorado we know it works, and we are standing by it and our original resolution to get the VA to begin using HBOT as a viable alternative treatment. Because we have been out there watching TBI/PTS veterans as they go through their 40 treatments and telling what it is that we have seen through articles that have been published in our department newspaper, which received NALPA recognition in 2011. Even our American Legion national magazine has had articles that tell of the HBOT treatment, the favorable results and the fact that it is safe for the patients. All of this has been used to help raise funds to support the Rocky Mountain Hyperbaric Association for Brain Injuries, which is the only 501(c) 3 nonprofit, in the nation that is paying the cost of treating TBI/PST veterans and providing food and housing to those who do not reside in the area.

We know that Dr. Paul Harch briefed the Ad Hoc Committee about his study and the positive results that have been achieved through this method of treatment for TBI and PTS injuries. Yet, there was no reference made about Dr. Harch and his study in the one small 55 word paragraph that was stuck in at the very end of the article, which dealt with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. That paragraph only referred to Katherine Helmick, deputy director for the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and TBI, who stated that this form of treatment was being explored and “the third DoD trail would be release in a year to determine if it can be added as a potential treatment approach.”

The study performed by Dr. Harch has been published, oh right, let’s not talk about that one. It’s too positive in its support for HBOT. Hmm, something is fishy in this fish bowl. I went up on the Internet and in 30 minutes found more documents supporting HBOT than do not support it. We have the study by the Air Force that seems to be lost, one by the Army that I am not sure has ever been published, and now an additional study must be done before DoD can determine what is best for the troops they send into combat and come home with the signature wound of the war on terror. Heck, that is okay, The American Ad Hoc Committee is in capable of making an intelligent decision on this matter too – What’s the deal here?…Is there some large pharmaceutical interest involved here that we don’t know about???? Well this is my story and I am sticking to it.