October 10th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
Good Charity Inc and it’s Terminally Ill Children’s Fund recently visited with Karen, a parent coping with her daughter’s rare disorder that causes bleeding from the eyes for unknown reasons. Karen and other parents like her receive direct financial assistance from local organizations that we support.
October 10th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
In New Jersey, Good Charity, Inc. and the Terminally Ill Children’s Fund met Jen and her profoundly disabled son Evan.
Evan is severely autistic and has Down’s Syndrome. He doesn’t know when he’s hungry or if he’s hurt.
People like Jen and Evan receive direct financial support through organization that we support with your donations.
October 10th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
Good Charity Inc and it’s Terminally Ill Children’s Fund recently visited with Liz, a parent coping with her son’s rare disease, Burkitt’s lymphoma. Liz and other parents like her receive direct financial assistance from local organizations that we support.
September 13th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
Rudy and Maria’s home was flooded and severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy, just 14 months after also being flooded by Hurricane Irene. Good Charity, Inc. and the Disaster Aid and Relief Fund visited them as they were in the midst of their rebuilding process. They graciously shared their story with us. We were honored to support Rudy and Maria directly through our Financial Assistance Program.
August 28th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
Good Charity Inc has a special Financial Assistance Program through which applicants can request funding to help them deal with specific events and costs. Through the Disaster Aid and Relief Fund, Good Charity Inc was able to help a family in Howard Beach, Queens rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012.
The Scafo’s are a family of 7 living in Queens, New York, not a place you typically think of when Hurricanes strike; but in October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, causing roughly 100 deaths and $42 billion in damage in New York alone. Many homes were left uninhabitable, including the Scafo’s, who saw most of their possessions destroyed when flood waters surged into their home, filling it with water to the top of the basement steps.
Through the Financial Assistance Program Good Charity, Inc and the Disaster Aid and Relief Fund were able to provide help to the Scafo’s as they worked through the rebuilding process.
August 18th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
In the United States, cancer is the second most common cause of death among children between the ages of 1 and 14 years, surpassed only by accidents. Leukemia is the most common form of childhood cancer.
Leukemia is cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. Many types of leukemia exist; some forms of leukemia are more common in children, other forms of leukemia occur mostly in adults.
Nearly 500 kids die every year from leukemia in this country. In 2012 there 47,150 new leukemia cases diagnosed and over 23,000 leukemia deaths, according to Federal government statistics compiled by the National Cancer Institute. Nearly 4,000 of these diagnoses will be in children under 15.
Two types of leukemia account for most cases in children:
- ALL-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
- AML –Acute Myeloid Leukemia
- (ALL) Lymphoblastic Leukemia (91% 5 year survival rate for children under 15)
- (AML) Myeloid Leukemia (63% 5 year survival rate for children under 15)
- (ALL) 2012 total deaths in U.S. -1,440 (1/3 occurring in children under 15)
- (AML) 2012 total deaths in U.S. – 10,200 (occurs almost exclusively in adults)
- An estimated 3,811 children and adolescents younger than 15 years old will be diagnosed with leukemia in the United States in 2011.
ALL accounts for 3 out of 4 cases of leukemia in children. AML accounts for most of the remaining cases. Most leukemia in children is considered “acute” meaning the cancer is spreading rapidly, while many adults have “chronic” leukemia where the cancer spreads much more slowly.
The good news is that most children survive leukemia today. But even for those families that see their child survive, the fight against leukemia is long, expensive, and very difficult. So The Children’s Leukemia Fund of America operating in conjunction with Good Charity, Inc works to provide assistance to these children and their families as they cope with hospital visits and procedures.
History of Leukemia
The word leukemia was coined in 1845 by a young doctor in Berlin, Germany. A 50 year old cook came to the Berlin hospital complaining of fatigue, nosebleeds, and swelling in her legs and stomach. Four months later she died and an autopsy was done. When physician Rudolph Virchow analyzed her blood under a microscope he was surprised to find the patient had very few red blood cells and an abundance of white or colorless cells; he christened this new blood disorder “leukemia” from the Greek, meaning “white blood”.
Scientists eventually figured out that white blood cells are an immune system response to infectious disease and foreign objects in the body, but the abnormal white blood cells being generated by people with leukemia no longer effectively perform their role in destroying infectious diseases in the body.
The excess of abnormal white blood cells observed in a leukemia patient crowds out the creation and functioning of their red blood cells, causing the tiredness and paleness that are classic symptoms of anemia. Leukemia also impairs the creation of blood platelets, which clot blood during an injury, meaning any external bleeding by a leukemia patient becomes potentially life-threatening.
Ten years after Virchow’s (and other independent scientists) initial discoveries, pathologist Ernst Nuemann conducted an autopsy on a leukemia patient where he discovered the patient’s bone marrow was a greenish-yellow color, not the normal red color that human bone marrow should be. Further scientific exploration of this leukemia patient led to the basic understanding that bone marrow is the source of blood cell generation, a key insight into the function of the human body.
For the next 80 years leukemia was considered scientifically interesting, but still obscure and considered relatively rare. As late as 1930, researchers were still debating whether leukemia was an infectious disease or a type of cancer, but by 1960 leukemia would become a very high profile sickness. Statistics collected in Great Britain during this era ranked leukemia as the second leading cause of death among British children. Whether the increase in leukemia rates came from better diagnostic techniques or from an actual increase in the real number of leukemia cases caused by changes in the natural environment from industrial and/or other toxins is not clear.
While Leukemia’s importance as a deadly disease became more prominent, there was still not an improved understanding of what caused the disease or how it could be treated. In fact, when leukemia first became more common, researchers were still debating whether it was an infectious disease or a cancer. This lack of understanding of leukemia hampered the development of effective drugs for the disease; a 1936 analysis found that most children lived only a few weeks after being diagnosed with leukemia.
Leukemia Treatments | Early Years
Not until after WW2 did serious progress begin to occur on treatments for childhood leukemia, and leukemia generally.
The years before World War II had seen the cure of pernicious anemia, a disorder caused by vitamin B-12 deficiency characterized by the creation of excess immature red blood cells in the bone marrow, which was similar to effects observed in leukemia. Another B vitamin, Folate, was used to cure other types of anemia seen during pregnancy and infancy. A team of researchers in Boston led by Sydney Farber wondered whether folic acid (man-made Folate) would also cure Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) because ALL also featured immature blood cells and anemia.
The initial trials of folic acid were an immediate disappointment; not only did folic acid not help ALL, it actually seemed to make it worse . It was then reasoned that folic acid may have actually stimulated the growth of leukemia cells as well as normal cells, so Farber and his research team instead tried to block that stimulation with another drug. In a major breakthrough, this two-drug combination worked to create temporary remission with the return of normal blood cells and health. An early victory had been won in the war against childhood leukemia.
The next key breakthrough came from studying the impact of radiation exposure on survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.
It was discovered that the radiation from the bombs damaged the chromosomes (which contain the genes that control our body’s growth and functioning) of people exposed to the nuclear fallout and made them prone to developing leukemia. This suggested that the cause of a cell becoming cancerous lies in the genetic machinery of the cell itself, a new discovery.
In 1950 Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings, who received the Nobel Prize for their efforts, developed a new drug which was designed to interfere with DNA synthesis and kill rapidly growing cells like leukemia. At about the same time, cortisone-based drugs were new and were tried for virtually every disease, including cancer. These cortisone-based drugs were also found to result in the improvement in the duration and quality of survival for children with ALL.
Unfortunately, these advances proved to be transitory; all of the children treated at this time eventually died because resistance to these drugs eventually developed. Nevertheless, this short term success in treating acute leukemia in children propelled the scientific community into further important research.
Between 1949 and 1954, the first clinical trials that tested combinations of chemotherapy drugs for childhood ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) were carried out. Patients did live longer with these new combinations of chemotherapy drugs, but all of them still died, usually within a year.
Building on this post-war era research, more and more treatment regimens were developed and studied, and by the early 1970’s, five year survival rates for children with leukemia were up to 50%, a remarkable increase from just 10 years prior.
The 1970’s saw a further increase in survival rates due to better control of infection and bleeding, better nursing, increased Federal research funding, and help from the public- especially the children and families who participated in numerous clinical trials and studies. Today, 5 year survival rates in children with leukemia are over 90% for ALL and over 60% for AML, a spectacular increase in saved lives!
The precise causes of leukemia is likely different in each patient, and are the result of a complex interaction between genetic factors and different environmental carcinogenic agents, such as ‘in utero’ radiation, child and parent’s exposure to certain industrial chemicals and solvents, or other occupational factors, like paternal exposure to motor vehicle exhaust, hydrocarbons, and paints.
Some people have a genetic predisposition towards developing leukemia. This predisposition is demonstrated by family histories and twin studies. The affected people may have a single gene or multiple genes in common. In some cases, families tend to develop the same kinds of leukemia as other members; in other families, affected people may develop different forms of leukemia or related blood cancers.
Viruses have also been linked to some forms of leukemia. Experiments on mice and other mammals have demonstrated the relevance of viruses in leukemia, and human viruses have also been identified, specifically in adult T-Cell leukemia.
A few rare cases of maternal-fetal transmission (a baby acquiring leukemia because its mother had leukemia during the pregnancy) have been reported.
Children with Down Syndrome have ten times the chance of developing ALL, and 50 times the risk of developing AML. Down Syndrome is also known as trisomy 21, which is a copying error in the 21st chromosome of human DNA. Several genes on chromosome 21 have also been found to be disrupted in people with leukemia.
The importance of in-utero (while the mother is still pregnant) genetic events has been suspected for many years based on concordance studies on twins with leukemia. An identical twin is twice as likely as the general population to develop leukemia if his or her twin developed the illness before the age of 7 years, but twins who reach age 15 years without developing leukemia do not have at higher risk of developing the disease.
Siblings of children with leukemia are at greater risk of developing leukemia than children whose siblings do not have the disease. Also, a positive family history for cancers of the blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes among first- or second-degree relatives has been associated with a small increased risk for childhood ALL. So, there is a definite inherent genetic basis for leukemia.
Some cancers have been shown to have viral origins. A viral origin for leukemia is evinced by two observations: first, the peak incidence of childhood leukemia and that of common childhood infections both occur among children 2–5 years of age, the age group least likely to possess sophisticated immune systems.
Some studies have also shown evidence of seasonal variation in the birth or onset dates of childhood leukemia, which could point to some virus or bacteria whose presence in the natural environment varies with climate. Other studies have shown no evidence of seasonality.
Population Mixing Theory of Childhood Leukemia
Another, somewhat odd, finding: an excess of childhood leukemia has been found in rural populations that have undergone an influx of new residents; this theory is known as population mixing. This theory proposes that an infectious agent coming into a previously unexposed community, like a remote rural area, might cause an epidemic of ALL. Susceptible individuals may be exposed to infectious agents brought into the area by new residents, triggering their genes to start creating cancerous cells.
Delayed Infection Theory of Childhood Leukemia
Another theory is the mechanism of “delayed infection”. This idea grew out of the observation that children with ALL have been seen to be less likely to have had common infections during their first few years, perhaps suggesting immunologic isolation early in life. In other words, children who have not been exposed to the full rigors of the natural environment may not develop the immune system to protect them from the “catching” leukemia.
Both the Population Mixing Theory and the Delayed Infection Theory imply that leukemia is/can be caused by a virus or bacteria. While there is certainly some evidence this is possible, it is far from conclusive and neither of these alternative theories would explain the full range of childhood leukemia.
- Maternal marijuana use before and during pregnancy has been associated with childhood AML and ALL. Findings from a Children’s Cancer Group study showed a 10-fold risk increase of childhood AML associated with maternal use of marijuana just before or during pregnancy. The authors concluded that, because marijuana has been shown to interfere with fetus development in some animals and possibly humans, it may cause leukemia to form in utero.
- In one large study, fathers who had long term exposure to certain plastics during the preconception period had an abnormally frequent amount of children that developed leukemia, though this result was not considered statistically significant.
- In a 2010 study by the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health, researchers found that children with acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) had almost twice the chance of having been exposed to three or more X-rays compared with children who did not have leukemia.
- Mothers of children with leukemia more frequently worked in the metal manufacturing /processing industry, the textile industry, or as a pharmacist.
- A recent study in Great Britain found association between birthplace of children with leukemia and proximity to industrial sites that release volatile organic compounds including dioxins, one of the so-called “dirty dozen” of dangerous chemicals found to be persistent organic pollutants. More than 90% of human exposure is through food, mainly meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish.
- Specific occupations found more frequently among mothers of children with leukemia include metal manufacturing or processing, textiles, and pharmacist.
- Maternal alcohol consumption associated with AML, Paternal alcohol consumption NOT associated with increased risk.
- It is unclear whether maternal or paternal cigarette smoking before or during pregnancy is a risk factor for developing childhood leukemia. Two studies found that the frequency, amount, and duration of paternal smoking before conception were related to significantly elevated risk; a later study adjusted for maternal cigarette smoking found no impact from paternal smoking.
Despite many advances in the treatment of childhood leukemia and a drastic increase in survival rates for leukemia patients, the causative factors of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) remain unclear. Identifying environmental, genetic, and infectious risk factors is the key next step in fighting leukemia. While evidence does exist for a wide range of potential causes for leukemia, much of that evidence is weak or inconsistent. For now, exposure to ionizing radiation is the one environmental exposure strongly factor conclusively shown to increase risk for the development of leukemia in children.
Leukemia: Current research and treatments
Additional drugs and improvements in supportive therapy also helped bring the cure rate of childhood ALL up to its present high rates. But even when radiation and drug therapy cures children of leukemia, the treatment is so toxic that it can cause a number of serious complications, including the development of a new type of leukemia or brain tumors or heart problems. Part of the toxic nature of the therapy resides in the fact that it is not specific—it doesn’t affect just leukemia cells, but healthy cells also.
Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Drugs
Tyrosine kinase’s are enzymes that can turn certain function “on” or “off”. These enzymes have been implicated as playing key roles in the development of various types of human cancers, including leukemia, breast and bladder cancer. Consequently, tyrosine kinases have become hot new targets for anticancer drugs; one of the most effective of these inhibitors is Imatinib; marketed under the brand name Gleevec, Imatinib has been cited as the first of the exceptionally expensive cancer drugs, costing $92,000 a year. Doctors and patients complain that this is excessive, given that its development costs have been recovered many times over, and that the costs of synthesizing the drug is a very small fraction of the sale price.
Leukemia Treatment Difficulties:
While most childhood leukemia patients suffer from ALL or AML, some patients have leukemia sub-types that are resistant to chemotherapy. In these cases the more drastic measure of performing bone marrow transplants is necessary, as this risky procedure is their only hope for a cure. In contrast, a few sub-types of leukemia easily succumb to chemotherapy in children, and require less than the standard 2-3 year chemotherapy regimen.
When to stop standard chemotherapy is actually one of the more thorny decisions doctors have to make when treating leukemia patients. The various chemotherapy drugs are highly toxic to the body and subject their patients to life-threatening side effects, so ending treatment as soon as possible is necessary; but if chemotherapy is stopped too soon, the leukemia could return in an even more aggressive state.
Some evidence for difference in treatment effectiveness between African-American and Caucasian children has been observed, though it is not yet known if this is due to some genetic difference or differences in the access to health care and variance in the adherence to treatment regimens between African-American and Caucasian patients and their families.
The Children’s Leukemia of America Fund is committed to supporting children with leukemia and their parents during the long and arduous process of fighting the disease.
The Future of Leukemia treatment: Precision Medicine
“Precision Medicine” is an umbrella term for the various new medical treatments being implemented or on the verge of being implemented made possible by the exponential increase in computing power occurring every year. The human genome being sequenced and the development of nanotechnology, which allows manipulation of chemicals and human tissues at the molecular level, are opening new vistas of possible treatments for all diseases, including leukemia.
Not just new technology, but the collection of data about patients, treatments, and disease is at the heart of “Precision Medicine”, and the academic and research communities are turning much of their attention to these new technologies. For example, www.MeForYou.org is an outreach effort by the University to recruit patients into the data web that is used to implement and refine Precision Medicine techniques.
MeForYou defines its mission and work in this way:
“Precision medicine cannot work without the contributions of individuals who want their own health information (including genetics, blood test results, responses to medications and reactions to therapies) to someday inform a global knowledge network that can better connect innovative research to patient care.”
Precision Medicine Symposium at University of California-San Francisco.
Brian Maiorana,director of the Children’s Leukemia of America Fund and Good Charity, Inc, recently visited the University of Michigan’s Children’s hospital to make a financial contribution to a cutting-edge “Precision Medicine” research program. Researchers there at C.S. Mott Children’s hospital are actually mapping the full blueprint (this process is known as “sequencing”) the DNA/RNA of a patient’s cancerous cells, comparing it to the genomic profile of their non-cancerous cells, and creating a unique and individual treatment plan specifically for that patient. As the doctors mention in their interview, this has already saved the lives of several children in the study. yhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XE5o2OZhV78
The work being done by the UM Precision Medicine team working specifically on childhood leukemia is predicated on the realization that the treatment of cancer is not a “one size fits all” approach. Discriminating molecular subsets of cancer based on genetic biomarkers is essential to the development and application of precision cancer medicine.
The University of Michigan researchers hypothesize that sequencing the cancerous cells of pediatric cancer patients in real-time will translate to more effective treatment. While there are other centers doing genomic analysis of pediatric tumors, no one except the Michigan team are doing these analyses in a real-time fashion. In the first round of real-time sequencing, the team has found treatment changing biologic information in about one out of three patients sequenced among the first 15 patients enrolled, including one potentially lifesaving breakthrough .
The human genome was first sequenced by (around) 2001 at a cost of roughly 3 billion dollars. Today, the cost to sequence the DNA of a patient in the UM “Precision Medicine” program has come down to about $10,000. and Children’s Leukemia of America Fund director Brian Maiorana was proud to present the UM “Precision Medicine” research team with a check for $10,000, enabling the DNA sequencing and treatment of another child with leukemia.
Precision medicine has the potential to deliver some of the most significant changes on the healthcare horizon: improving diagnosis, treatment and patient prognosis. The arrival of precision medicine is imminent.
In the space of 150 years, leukemia has been identified, studied, and controlled to some extent. But the fight is far from over, hundreds of children and thousands of adults still die every year from leukemia, and the financial, physical, and emotional toll on the survivors and their families is immeasurable. The drive to fully understand and neutralize leukemia must continue until the disease has been totally eradicated; financial support for new treatment regimens as well as for current victims of the disorder must continue to grow and expand. The Children’s Leukemia Fund of America is dedicated to just that cause.
July 11th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
At Good Charity Inc., we understand the importance of the role that veterans and service members play in the protection of our nation. In the past, we have shown our support by donating to the homeless veterans in Philadelphia. We are proud to support new events that allow service members and their families to build camaraderie, re-connect and strengthen ties to our nation’s military.
In honor of this approach, we are delighted to be Brigadier sponsors for the ‘1st Annual All-Army Reunion (AAR) and Birthday Party’ that was held in Philadelphia on June 15, 2013. This event brought together hundreds of veterans, active duty service members and their families in a fun and positive environment. We see this event as a wonderful compliment to our ongoing support of veterans.
The AAR is a celebration of US Army traditions, history and legacy. This family friendly event had something for everyone including:
- Live music, Celebrity Emcees.
- UAV Flying Competitions, Army vs. USAF Hot Dog-Eating Contest, Army vs. Navy Obstacle Course, Sink the Navy Dunking Booth.
- Access to Food and Refreshments, D-Day Veterans as Guests of Honor, Information Tables from Veteran-Related and Community Groups, Children’s Activities, Silent Auctions, Event Merchandise, US Army Historical Presentations, a Legacy Tent along with other event activities.
It is truly wonderful to know that donations provided to Good Charity Inc. enable us to sponsor community-building events for veterans and active duty service members. We pay tribute to all veterans, current service members and their families for all that they have done and continue to do for our nation. We are happy to see that our donation helped contribute to such a wonderful event as the AAR.
Photo Credit: honoringmikey
July 6th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
“Whether you left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned. That’s why I’ve pledged to build nothing less than a 21st-century VA”. –President Barack Obama
Today, US military veterans are one of the largest and most important interest groups in the American polity. Nearly one third of the US population is eligible for some form of veteran’s benefits. Despite this, major issues, such as homelessness and negative health outcomes, plague America’s military veteran population. To understand this complex state of affairs, Good Charity, Inc. has prepared an historical overview and analysis of how U.S. Veterans have been serviced by the government and the current issues impacting them.
A brief history of American Veterans
The first law in the colonies on pensions, enacted in 1636 by Plymouth, provided money to those disabled in the colony’s defense against Indians. By 1789, with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the first Congress assumed the burden of paying veterans benefits.
The Civil War, America’s deadliest conflict, brought Veterans issues to the fore. When the War broke out in 1861, the nation had about 80,000 war veterans. By the end of the war in 1865, another 1.9 million veterans had been added to the rolls.
The first important pension law in the 20th century was the Sherwood Act of 1912, which awarded pensions to all veterans. In 1918 The Vocational Rehabilitation Act was passed, mandating any honorably discharged disabled veteran of World War I was eligible for vocational rehabilitation training; a forerunner of the well-known GI Bill.
From the colonial era into the post WW1 era the support system for Veterans had grown significantly and military veterans became firmly entrenched as an important interest group and pillar of society. But that status would be severely shaken during the Great Depression.
The darkest day for the relationship between the U.S. government and the nation’s veterans came in 1932, at the trough of the economic downturn, when as many as 20,000 veterans descended upon the U.S. capital, demanding the payment of bonds they were issued at the end of WW1 that were not scheduled to mature until 1945.
The horde of angry veterans , whom the press labeled the “Bonus Army” served as a visceral reminder of President Herbert Hoover’s failed handling of the nation’s economic collapse. Faced with thousands of veterans camped in a shanty town just a few miles south from the White House lawn, the President made the fateful decision to send General Douglas MacArthur in to forcibly remove the approximately 3,500 veterans, many with their wives and children, who refused to leave.
When the smoke cleared from the fires that were either deliberately set by Federal troops or started accidentally, Hoover’s slim chances for re-election were reduced to ash; his treatment of U.S. veterans and the so-called “Bonus Army” enervated his remaining political base and Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in a landslide.
World War 2 Veterans and the GI Bill
With such a large portion of the adult male population brought into military service during WW2, it was inevitable that Veterans issues would come to the fore of political debate. As the war drew to a close, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the “GI Bill of Rights” into law on June 22, 1944. This bill provided veterans with education grants, federally guaranteed home, farm and business loans, and special unemployment compensation.
The GI Bill was an integral component to post-war economic growth; since the introduction of the GI Bill in 1944 over 21 million veterans and their family members have received GI Bill benefits for education and training.
The GI Bill contributed more than any other program in history to the welfare of veterans and their families, and to the growth of the nation’s economy.
Vietnam Veteran Issues
Due to medical advances and the ability to airlift severely wounded soldiers directly off the battlefield, the Vietnam conflict created an unprecedented amount of long-term disabled veterans. By 1972 there were 308,000 veterans with disabilities connected to military service.
Vietnam veterans also faced a unique dilemma upon the end of their military service- an unfriendly welcome home. Anti-war sentiment, rising drug abuse, and a changing economic landscape presented Vietnam veterans with a difficult landscape on which to build their civilian lives.
The Veterans Administration responded to this crisis in several ways. Most importantly, education programs for Veterans were reestablished and became highly successful. About 76 percent of those eligible participated, compared with 50.5 percent of World War II veterans and 43.4 percent of Korean Conflict veterans. By 1980, the Veterans’ Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966 had trained 5.5 million veterans.
Growth of the Veterans Administration
The aging veteran population of WW1, WW2, and Korea combined with the large cohort of disabled Vietnam conflict veterans caused the number of disability pension cases to jump from 89,526 in 1960 to 691,045 in 1978.
In 1988 the Veterans Administration was elevated to cabinet level status, and was second among government agencies only to the Defense Department in the number of employees,
On July 21, 2005, the Veterans Administration celebrated its 75th Anniversary. Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a budget of $63.5 billion and serves nearly 25 million veterans.
Most Important Issues Facing American Veterans
Men and women holding “Homeless Veteran” signs are a common sight in many American cities. Unfortunately, the visage of troubled veterans is not a new one; after the Civil War thousands of Union Army veterans with missing limbs could be seen on the streets of New York, Philadelphia, and other Northern cities. Today, many veterans are hard pressed by the economic realities they face upon completion of their military service, along with the lingering effects of Post-traumatic stress syndrome and it’s children –drug and alcohol abuse, so they find themselves homeless.
Only 7% of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly 13% of the homeless adult population are veterans. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 62,619 veterans are homeless on any given night; over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. Veterans under the age of 50 are twice as likely to be homeless as older veterans.
Good Charity, Inc and the Michigan Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund have partnered with local organizations in Detroit, Michigan to help support homeless veterans in a holistic, full service environment that aims to get them off the streets and back on track as working, healthy citizens.
In 2009, President Barack Obama and VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced the goal of ending Veteran homelessness by 2015, and since that time the Federal government claims the number of Veterans who are homeless has dropped by 17.2 percent.
In 2012, the VA served more than 240,000 Veterans who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless—21 percent more than the year before. In fiscal year 2012, 80,558 calls were made to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (877-4AID-VET)
While substantial progress has been made to decrease homelessness amongst veterans, the impending return of over 1 million veterans from active duty during the next five years means that this issue will not be going away anytime soon and must be met with diligent commitment.
Veterans with Disabilities
As of 2013, roughly 3.5 million veterans have at least a partial disability related to their military service, over 800,000 of whom are considered completely disabled.
Good Charity Inc. supports disabled veterans through the Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund and our Financial Assistance Program.
This video tells the story of how a ww2 Veteran in Michigan received financial help to construct the wheelchair ramp he needed.
The range of disabilities that veterans are afflicted with is as varied as their theaters of combat and modes of service. In late 2012 the US Army alone reported that 73,674 soldiers have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, and another 30,480 with traumatic brain injury, often caused by one or more severe blows to the head or exposure to a concussive blast; over 1,600 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans have lost a limb.
Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen; a staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans recently returning from the Middle East have filed disability claims with the Federal government.
Often, the health impacts of wartime service are not as clear cut as a battlefield wound. In the aftermath of the Vietnam conflict a long battle between veterans and the VA began over the impacts of the defoliant Agent Orange which was used extensively during not only in Vietnam but in the Korean DMZ during the late 1960’s.
In 1991, the US Congress enacted the Agent Orange Act, giving the Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to declare certain conditions ‘presumptive’ to exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin, making these veterans who served in Vietnam eligible to receive treatment and compensation for these conditions.
Congress authorized payouts to veterans with certain conditions presumed to have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange, including prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, multiple myeloma, type II diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, peripheral neuropathy, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and spina bifida in children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange, hairy cell leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease, these last three having been added on August 31, 2010.
Gulf War Syndrome
Approximately 250,000 of the 697,000 veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War are afflicted with enduring chronic multi-symptom illness, a condition with serious consequences. A wide range of acute and chronic symptoms have been linked to it, including fatigue, muscle pain, cognitive problems, rashes and diarrhea. From 1995 to 2005, the health of combat veterans worsened in comparison with nondeployed veterans, with the onset of more new chronic diseases, functional impairment, repeated clinic visits and hospitalizations, chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness, posttraumatic stress disorder, and greater persistence of adverse health incidents. According to a report by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, it showed that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may also suffer from the syndrome.
Suggested causes have included depleted uranium, sarin gas, smoke from burning oil wells, vaccinations, combat stress and psychological factors, though only pyridostigmine (an antitoxin for nerve agents) and organophosphate pesticides have been conclusively linked
“It is clear that a significant portion of the soldiers deployed to the Gulf War have experienced troubling constellations of symptoms that are difficult to categorize,” said committee chair Stephen L. Hauser, professor and chair, department of neurology, University of California, San Francisco. “Unfortunately, symptoms that cannot be easily quantified are sometimes incorrectly dismissed as insignificant and receive inadequate attention and funding by the medical and scientific establishment. Veterans who continue to suffer from these symptoms deserve the very best that modern science and medicine can offer to speed the development of effective treatments, cures, and — we hope — prevention.”
Mental Illness Among veterans
Mental illness among military personnel is also a major concern. In another study of returning soldiers, clinicians identified 20 percent of active and 42 percent of reserve component soldiers as requiring mental health treatment. Drug or alcohol use frequently accompanies mental health problems and was involved in 30 percent of the Army’s suicide deaths from 2003 to 2009 and in more than 45 percent of non-fatal suicide attempts from 2005 to 2009.
Veterans- drug and alcohol abuse
Prescription drug abuse doubled among U.S. military personnel from 2002 to 2005 and almost tripled between 2005 and 2008., but a Alcohol abuse is the most prevalent problem and one which poses a significant health risk. A study of Army soldiers screened 3 to 4 months after returning from deployment to Iraq showed that 27 percent met criteria for alcohol abuse and were at increased risk for related harmful behaviors (e.g., drinking and driving, using illicit drugs).
PTSD among Veterans
1 in 5 Iraq conflict veterans has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and PTSD sufferers account for 20% of all suicides among military veterans.
PTSD may have be impacting veterans physical health as well as their mental health. Male twin Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were more than twice as likely as those without PTSD to develop heart disease during a 13-year period, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Traditionally, veterans have often suffered higher than average unemployment rates, but aggressive measures in the last several years have brought veterans’ unemployment rates in line with the national average. This is less true for veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 who, during 2012, posted an unemployment rate of 20.4 percent, according to federal figures. The number of veterans in this age range are about to swell exponentially, particularly as American troops exit Afghanistan by 2014.
“The fact is there are another million service members and their families who are getting ready to leave the armed forces over the next five years,” said. “Many of them are going to be 24 and under, and many of them will have military spouses who also face high rates of unemployment.” -Kevin Schmiegel , executive director of “Hiring Our Heros”
What we can do for Veterans
Military conflict is an unfortunate reality of the world we live in. American Veterans have risked their very lives to protect America’s place in the world and the lifestyle we enjoy. Good Charity Inc created this analysis of Veteran history and the issues facing them to provide a game plan for helping veterans and their families overcome any and all obstacles on their path to life, liberty, and the pursuit happiness.
June 18th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
At Good Charity Inc., we are proud to support initiatives that provide innovative technology and advanced treatment benefits for breast cancer patients and their families. We endorse a holistic healthcare approach where both patients and families are able to benefit from any available support.
In keeping with this philosophy, we recently sponsored Beaumont Hospital Foundation’s ‘18th Annual Drive to Beat Breast Cancer‘ golf event. We see this as a wonderful opportunity to support a very worthy cause.
The ‘Drive to Beat Breast Cancer‘ event helps Beaumont Hospital increase the quality and reach of the programs offered to its patients. The direct benefits of this event are:
- Purchasing of state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment
- Support for breast cancer research
- Continuation of the annual fellowship for surgical residents in our breast care programs
- Underwriting a genetic counseling program for patients and their families at high risk of breast cancer
In addition to the golf event, Beaumont’s Comprehensive Breast Care Center is recognized as a national leader in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and disease. Through its leadership in the area of breast cancer, Beaumont’s achievements include the following:
- Detecting more early stage cancer than any other hospital in Michigan – early detection increases survival rates by 95%.
- Performing more than 100,000 breast screening mammograms annually with five board-certified breast surgeons and eight radiation oncologists on staff.
- Conducting MRI-guided breast biopsies that were pioneered by Beaumont radiologists for more precise diagnosis of tumors. Beaumont is one of only a few hospitals in the Midwest that provide these types of breast biopsies.
The result is that these diagnostic techniques enable Beaumont physicians to detect more than 1,000 new cases of breast cancer annually.
We are delighted to know that our support of Beaumont’s programs will not only help increase early detection but also continue to provide invaluable support for breast cancer patients and their families.
Good Charity Inc director Brian Maiorana visits NJ organization on behalf of the Terminally Ill Children’s Fund
June 6th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
In April of 2013, Good Charity, Inc and the Terminally Ill Children’s Fund director Brian Maiorana went to New Jersey to visit Jason’s Dreams for Kids.
Jason’s Dreams for Kids, Inc. is an organization that was founded in memory of Jason Douglas Creager, who passed away on January 18, 1992 after losing his battle with cancer.
Jason’s Dreams for Kids, Inc. is devoted to granting wishes to children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. Bringing a little happiness and putting a few smiles on these children’s faces – and hopefully their parents faces – is their goal. Jason’s Dreams for Kids is also subsidized by founder Dennis McGinnis’ own company – McGinnis Printing, which covers incidental expenses such as printing, mailing and administrative costs.
We appreciated the opportunity to meet with Dennis and the families that he has touched. It was truly a heart warming experience.
The Terminally Ill Children’s Fund is committed to working with partners like Jason’s Dreams for Kids and will continue to support them and the great work they do!!