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Archive for April, 2010

Note: The following news story was written as part of my Medical Journalism module at Westminster University. The story was sourced by myself, and is an exclusive. Feel free to comment.

US soldiers who develop alcohol problems when returning from war are not being given the support they need, a new study reveals.

Image courtesy of stockxchng

Figures from the US-based Walter Reed Army Institute of Research have show that at three-four months post-deployment, 25 per cent of soldiers serving in Iraq have screened positive for alcohol abuse. Some 17 per cent reported being late for work following the misuse of alcohol, while four per cent admitted to driving under the influence.

Dr Joshua E. Wink, who led the study, said that ‘Battlemind training,’ a US army support programme for soldiers returning from war is not enough:

“While Battlemind has been validated for a number of positive mental health outcomes, it has not been validated for reducing rates of alcohol misuse. Results from this study could be used to enhance existing reintegration training, such as Battlemind. Greater awareness can lead to better monitoring by unit leaders or peers.”

US army

Some 1120 US soldiers were surveyed regarding their experiences in combat; those who screened positive for alcohol misuse had more military experience than those who tested negative. Mental health problems – such as symptoms of PTSD and anxiety disorder- were also higher in those who tested positive. Alcohol misuse was measured using a two-item alcohol screen combined with an alcohol-related questionnaire. Alcohol rates among soldiers were higher than a similar survey taken in 2007.

Mr Wink said: “There had been little work done examining the association of specific combat experiences with later alcohol misuse. Many have looked at the anatomy of war zone stress and its role in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but not alcohol use disorders.”

Official figures from the US army state that 9,200 soldiers sought treatment for alcohol abuse in 2009, a 56 percent increase since the war in Iraq started in 2003. Today marks the beginning of Alcohol Awareness Month in the US.

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Copyright of Claire Noble

Candidates from the constituency of Harrow East went head to head in a public debate, criticizing each other on issues surrounding race and health.

Dubbed an “electoral bluewash,” the borough of Harrow East, is 56th on the Tory target list, and it is likely that incumbent MP Mr McNulty, who was involved in expenses claims last year, will lose his seat in the forthcoming General Elections.

UKIPs Abhijit Pandya and the Liberal Democrats Nahid Boethe also put forward their campaign, in what many believe is a two-man race between Labour and the Conservatives. Chaired by former Harrow Times Editor, Charlie Harris, candidates had one minute to give their opening speech, and it was arguably, the mildest part of the evening.

Mr Pandya started by addressing his idea that “multiculturalism is a bad thing and one that leads to segregation”. He told the audience that UKIP was putting forward the concept of “one Britishness”.

“We need to emphasis British culture, by bringing all the different communities of Harrow together. No other party is doing this. We need to say, ‘you’re here now, you’re British,’ come and learn about Shakespeare and Wordsworth,” he said.

Ethnically diverse

Tony Mc Nulty hit back by calling Mr Pandya, “a BNP man in a suit”.  He urged residents to celebrate their roots and their culture and disagreed with the notion that multiculturalism is a “dirty word”.

Addressing Mr Pandya directly, he said: “You haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about, the notion that multiculturalism equals separatism is rubbish. Everyone on the stage has been to each and every community, not celebrating their isolation but their unity.”

Harrow is one of London’s most ethnically diverse boroughs, and has the highest density of Gujarati Hindus in the UK.

On the subject of transport for Harrow, and the numerous amounts of weekend tube closures, Mr Mc Nulty blamed Metro Net and TFL, calling them: “Nothing more than two small kids in a playground”.  Both Mr Blackman and Mr Mc Nulty criticised Boris Johnston for the failure to build disabled access at both Harrow on the Hill, and Stanmore station.

Cuts

Mr Mc Nulty said: “If these services, under the management of the Mayor are failing, then that means the Mayor is failing. He continued to say that Boris Johnston had written to him personally to “forget about repairs, until at least 2016”.

Both Mr Blackburn and Mr Mc Nulty argued over the threat of 50 million pounds worth of cuts aimed at Northwick Park Hospital. Mr Mc Nulty said that “people need to stop lying, there are no cuts for the hospital.”

Mr Blackburn hit back by saying: “It’s not fair to say that. Elective surgery is being transferred to Central Middlesex hospital, there are cuts facing Northwick Park Hospital, that’s the truth.”

Criminal sanctions

Candidates then moved onto the next topic, the expenses scandal. Tony Mc Nulty was last year exposed by The Daily Telegraph for claiming second home allowances on a house that his parents lived in. He has since apologised to his constituents, and in the Houses of Parliament, and paid back the correct amount. A Stanmore resident told the panel: “I’m afraid MPs in Parliament just do not get how annoyed the public are over the expenses scandal.”  Bob Blackburn, continued,  to a round applause by saying: “What I hear on the doorstep is, ‘how does he have the cheek to stand again’.

Mr Pandya said that UKIP would push for criminal sanctions on expenses claims if they were to come into power,  and said that a new building for party members to spend the night in would solve future expenses scandal.

The debate closed with questions on foreign affairs in which all parties agreed on a possible two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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