Army Chemical Corps Vietnam-Era Veterans Health
The Army Chemical Corps Vietnam-Era Veterans Health Study (2012-2013) was designed to learn if high blood pressure (hypertension) and some chronic respiratory diseases, namely chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are related to herbicide exposure during the Vietnam War.
The 2012-2013 study followed a request in 2009 by former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki for VA to conduct research on the association between herbicide exposure and high blood pressure (hypertension), as a basis for understanding if hypertension is related to military service in Vietnam. VA was also interested in learning more about the relationship between herbicide exposure and COPD.
The 2012-2013 study was a follow-up to an earlier health study of the same cohorts of Army Chemical Corps Veterans that was conducted in 1999-2000. The 1999-2000 study was administered using a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) during which information about Veterans’ military and civilian exposures, chronic health conditions, and functional impairment was collected. In addition, military personnel records and medical records were collected to validate self-reported information. Blood specimens were also collected on a smaller number of Veterans to gain information about dioxin exposure.
Researchers had two questions:
- Is the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) related to herbicide exposure during service in Vietnam?
- Is the risk of COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, related to herbicide exposure during service in Vietnam?
In 2012-2013, researchers asked approximately 4,000 Veterans who served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps during the Vietnam era (1965-1973) to participate in this three phase study. Army Chemical Corps personnel were responsible for the maintenance and distribution or application of chemicals for military operations. Army Chemical Corps personnel who served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War constitute one of the largest groups of Vietnam Veterans who were thought to have had the greatest potential exposure to herbicides.
The 2012-2013 study had three phases. In phase I, researchers surveyed participating Veterans nationwide by mail or telephone to collect information on their health and heatlh-related behaviors. In phase II, medical records were collected and abstracted. In phase III, medical technicians measured Veterans' blood pressure and lung function during in-home physical examinations. Lung function was tested using spirometry, which is which is a simple and commonly used test to measure the amount and speed of air that a person can breathe in and out.
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