Helga Rippen, MD, MPH, FACPM

President Biden on November 2021 announced actions to address the health effects of military exposure.  These actions covered the development of models for establishing service connection related to environmental hazards and for review of evidence of service connection for rare respiratory cancers and constructive bronchiolitis; improving data on individual exposures (Individual Longitudinal Exposure Record (ILER)); raising awareness of VA benefits related to military exposure; and expanding training for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and non-VA providers.  Each of these will build our ability to best support the more than 17 million Veterans in the United States and, in the future, minimize risks of our active-duty service members.
Why is this announcement so important?   

Military environmental exposures often fall outside of the limelight.  There are many reasons for this including challenges in tracking exposure, limited data on the impact of environmental hazards on health, and the lag time between exposure and health effects.  For example, it has taken decades for Vietnam veterans to obtain benefits for Agent Orange exposure.  In fact, new conditions are added over time as we learn more.  The models mentioned earlier is one approach being pursued to ensure coverage.  A core activity that not only supports the provision of care but also learning more about exposures and long-term health sequalae is the Department of Defense (DoD) and VA Individual Longitudinal Exposure Record (ILER).  ILER provides access to the complete record of a service member’s Occupational and Environmental Health (OEH) exposures, supporting diagnosis and treatment.                 
ILER captures a Veteran’s exposure to a range of chemical, physical and environmental hazards.  Equipping providers, both within the VA system and outside of it, with the training and knowledge necessary to provide the highest level of care possible in regards to these exposures is a critical component of Veteran’s health care.
The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) is proud to partner with the VA to provide a five-module certification training program in military environmental medicine. This program provides a basic level of competence for all providers and will equip each participant with the skills and knowledge needed in order to effectively identify, treat and manage the effects of environmental exposures for this significant population.
In addition to the solid foundation in health concerns related to toxic exposures, this certification program is an opportunity to earn 5.75 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits to help providers maintain state licensure and specialty board certification.
To earn for this valuable new certification, participants must:

  1. Create an account with ACPM

  2. Successfully complete all five modules within the VA Talent Management System (TMS) or TRAIN, and upload the certification of completion for each module within the ACPM account

  3. Successfully complete the certification exam, hosted by ACPM’s learning management system

Modules are available on-demand and may be completed according to each participant’s personal schedule. However, participants must complete all modules and the certification exam within a six-month period. Failure to complete all components with the six-month time frame will result in an individual needing to re-take individual models in order to sit for the certification exam.

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