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Thursday, May 10, 2007-- LCA Board Chairman Admiral Phil Coady and Laurie Fenton Ambrose met with Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, Patrick Dunne, and had a thorough discussion about lung cancer’s impact on military and veteran populations.
They updated Secretary Dunne on numerous fronts including the Department of Defense’s (DOD) long-standing history of routinely distributing free cigarettes and including cigarette packages in K-rations. They discussed the findings of the 1997 Harris report to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) which documented the higher prevalence of smoking and exposure to carcinogenic materials among the military and estimated costs to VA and TRICARE, a military retiree health benefits program, in the billions of dollars per year. They discussed how asbestos in submarines, Agent Orange, Gulf War battlefield emissions and other toxins are additional factors that have led to a 25 % higher incidence and mortality rate for lung cancer among veteran populations. And they discussed how leading veteran’s advocacy organizations have now made screening for lung cancer a health care priority and are encouraging the VA to initiate a pilot screening program for veterans at high risk. Assistant Secretary Dunne was engaged and committed to helping Chairman Coady and Laurie continue their discussions with other VA officials on a potential screening initiative