Podcast #134 – The Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center
MP3 File (run time 31:45)
Episode #134 is a different topic than usual. Instead of strictly talking Lean, today's discussion is about broader issues of healthcare quality and our United States military.
Joining me are Daniel Sullivan, President and General Manager of the The Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center (SSC), a non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving health outcomes for current and former military personnel, especially those who are suffering from emerging, complicated, or currently unexplained post deployment health concerns. Named in honor of a fallen marine, the Sgt. Sullivan Center promotes the health security of America's troops and the principle that none should be left behind. Also joining us is Gregory Jacobson, MD, a college friend of Daniel's and the co-founder and CEO of KaiNexus, also a board member of the Center.
The Sergeant Sullivan Center is named for Daniel's brother, Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan, a veteran of the Iraq war, who died suddenly in his northern Virginia home at age 30, four years after returning from deployment. With his medical problems originating during his deployment in Iraq and continuing in the years following his return home, Sgt. Sullivan suffered a progression of unexplained health complications that included chronic pain, swelling, cardiovascular disease, and severe inflammation. His autopsy revealed life threatening problems that medical tests had not detected.
Today would have been St. Sullivan's 32nd birthday, so I am sharing his story here.
For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/134.
More About the Sergeant Sullivan Center:
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Sgt. Sullivan Center Press Release (12/22/11)
SGT. SULLIVAN CENTER ANNOUNCES RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT THE HEALTH SECURITY OF RETURNING AMERICAN TROOPS
DECEMBER 22, 2011. WASHINGTON, DC. The Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center (SSC) today announces the launch of a campaign to advance research and education in the field of post deployment health science. The announcement comes as thousands of veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
A significant number of returning veterans are likely to experience serious deployment-related health problems in the days and years ahead. The Veterans Administration (VA) data shows alarming rates of debilitating illness and death among service members returning from deployment. In fact, as of spring of 2011, about 4,200 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans had died since their return from deployment, many within two years of discharge. Post -deployment deaths are approaching the number of combat-related deaths.
“Despite such an alarming health trend, there is no consensus on how to document, explain, prevent, or treat the illnesses that plague returning veterans,” says SSC President Daniel Sullivan. “As a central advocacy position, the SSC calls for government, scientists, the military, and industry to work together to find solutions to a problem that, for some veterans, is truly a matter of life and death.”
To further this end, the SSC has provided financial support which, in part, will assist the organizers of the February 13, 2012, 1st Annual Scientific Symposium on Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan at the School of Medicine, Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook (SUNY). The program is offered as part of SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine's Continuing Medical Education for physicians and will enable more informed lung health diagnoses of veterans by participants, who will include government/military and private clinical physicians and researchers.
“SSC support helped make the Lung Health Symposium possible,” says Program Chair Anthony M. Szema, MD. “In turn, the Symposium will provide specialized training to healthcare professionals and improve the delivery of care to veterans, government and nongovernment workers, children and adult citizens of these nations.”
The SSC is named in memory of Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan, who died suddenly in his northern Virginia home at age 30, four years after returning from service with combat valor in Iraq. Beginning while deployed and continuing in the years following his return home, Sgt. Sullivan suffered a progression of unexplained health complications that included chronic severe pain and swelling, inflammatory illness, and cardiovascular, respiratory and intestinal disease. His autopsy revealed life threatening problems that medical tests had not detected.
After his death, Sergeant Sullivan's family learned that other veterans suffer from similar unexplained health problems, but have inadequate information about healthcare options. The family founded an organization to improve outcomes for veterans who return from deployment with emerging health concerns through research and education. On Veterans Day 11-11-11 at the organization's inaugural event, the SSC announced an action plan for 2012 including developing a guide to post-deployment healthcare management.
“We hope that by educating the public, physicians and veterans about this growing national health crisis that fewer service members will fall through the cracks in the system, and lives will be saved,” says SSC Board Member Peter Sullivan, Sgt. Sullivan's father, who will be speaking at the Stony Brook symposium.
Sgt. Sullivan was born on this day in 1978, and the announcement of this campaign is also a bittersweet but hopeful birthday tribute. “Beginning with the death of one marine, the SSC promotes the health security of America's troops and the principle that none should be left behind,” says Jeanne Sullivan, Sgt. Sullivan's mother and a founding member of the organization. More details about the SSC's 2012 action plan and the Stony Brook Symposium are on the agency website at www.sgtsullivancenter.org.