Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ira Breite's Memorial Day Sirius Doctor Radio Show: Monday May 25th, 2008

Although Memorial Day is a holiday where we remember those who have fallen in service to our country, as a physician I thought it was important to speak about those who served, sacrificed and survived. I dedicated my show to honor those who have helped us during our wars.

We started off by talking with Mr. Alex Kershaw, who has written a fascinating book describing the survival of 9 sailors from the United States Submarine Tang, which was downed by her own errant torpedos. This book, Escape from the Deep: A Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew, is a fascinating story of courage under extreme duress.  We talked about the medical issues involved in escaping from a hot, posion gas filled tin can 180 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, about the extreme hardships these men endured under captivity, and about their readjustment to life after surviving the war.  Since the Japanese never informed the Red Cross that the crew members were alive, several of their spouses, assuming they were dead, had remarried.  The book promises to be an amazing read this summer.

You can visit Alex's website or the book's website for his book for more information.  

One of the big health questions of the last Gulf War revolves around ways to more easily make the diagnosis of Gulf War Illness.  I was honored to talk with Dr. Robert Haley, from UT Southwestern, one of the leading experts on this illness.  We talked about the cognitive issues Gulf War Vets are having, and about some of the tests being developed to more accurately diagnose this condition.  He asked me to say, and I say again, that if you are a Gulf War Vet, and are approached by members of his team about a research study, please participate!

After finishing with Dr. Haley, I talked with Mr. Michael Bann, a veteran of the first Gulf War, who talked of his experiences on the battlefield and after the war.  

Medical care has improved markedly in the field during the current Gulf War, and many more soldiers are surviving horrific injuries.  However, they are often left with either amputations or traumatic head injuries.  I spoke with Dr. Alex Moroz of NYU-Langone's prestigious Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation about advances in artificial limb technology.  After talking with him, I hope to get some of the inventor's of this new technology on the air!

Finally, it was time to talk about one of the most important issues for people who have been in war zones: post traumatic stress disorder.  We spoke with Dr. Lynn Delisi, a professor in NYU Langone's Department of psychiatry.  We also spoke with two relatives of Gulf War Veterans about the difficult, and tragic times, that they faced when their loved one's came home from the war.  They were Stacey Hafley and April Somdahl.   The family member's were from Military Families Speak Out, which is an organization of relatives of soldiers and veterans opposed to the War in Iraq.  Regardless of your opinion of the War, it is clear that PTSD is exacting a toll on soldiers, veterans, and their families and hearing their stories was important and moving.  

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