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  • Writer's pictureValerie King

Blood Brothers

The new blood test for PTSD may be the answer a military community often at odds with itself needs when dealing with its own homeless . It may also assuage the larger community of skeptics who wonder why this group of men and women can't simply "get a job" or fit in in a meaningful way.

Two studies published this year, one initiated at Indiana University and published in "Molecular Psychiatry " and the other, a collaborative effort between NYU, Harvard's (SEAS) and the US Army Medical Research & Development Command published in "Psychology & Psychiatry", used AI, statistical techniques and mathematical winnowing to identify with 77% accuracy the blood biomarkers of PTSD in male combat veterans. The Department of Health Affairs in collaboration with the Department of Defense is currently considering the use of the blood test as a potential screening of service members before and after deployment so they can be referred quickly and precisely for specific issues (sleep disruption, anger management, etc.) related to their mental health.

I would love to see this test become portable enough to get it out of the lab and on the street in a diabetes /prick of the finger model that yields immediate results. This would enable community service providers for the homeless and their affiliated mental health associates to quickly evaluate stress levels and other markers and shelter or refer the most vulnerable homeless vets in triage fashion for limited spots in housing and treatment facilities.

While there are still large communities of homeless around the country with about one in ten of that populace being a veteran, their numbers are slowly being reduced. However, even one veteran remaining on the street who risked everything to bravely serve our country is unacceptable. This test could bring a conclusive end to the shameful and tragic chapter of veteran homelessness and the related effects of undiagnosed or uneven treatment of PTSD forever.

I look forward to celebrating that on a Veteran's Day in the near future. In the meantime, to all veterans, please, thank you for your service.

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