Story on soldiers’ aches and pains wins member a Mid-America Emmy

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

A story inspired by a session at Health Journalism 2009 earned member Meryl Lin McKean the 2010 Emmy for Health/Science News at the Mid-America Emmy Awards this year. McKean is the medical reporter at WDAF-Kansas City. Her story looked beyond casualty rates to the everyday aches and pains that come as a result of active military service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The video is no longer available, but the accompanying text demonstrates the scope and severity of such problems.

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Soldiers return to a border checkpoint in the Khowst province of Afghanistan. Photo by The U.S. Army via Flickr

A V.A. report found that nearly half of the returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan have bone, joint or tissue injuries. At Kansas City’s V.A. Medical Center, 17% of the vets seen in the new post-deployment clinic have those injuries. That’s still far higher than in non-vets.

“This age group between 18 and 30 — you might expect five percent at the most,” says Bob Fletcher, V. A. Physician’s Assistant.

Fletcher says the problems are clearly related to the combat load. And the problems for many vets will continue. Those problems include include arthritis pain and stiffness, the inability to hold certain jobs that require much movement, and possible dependence on pain medication.

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