The Altoona Lung Specialists provide pulmonary medicine services to the Van Zandt Medical Center. We have done so in one form or another for many years. Recently, congress has passed the PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) ACT to expand healthcare and benefits to Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. Many of these toxic exposures can result in the development of so-called interstitial lung disease (ILD) which is a chronic and at times a progressive scarring disease of the lung tissue resulting in irreversible impairment.

The prevalence of lung diseases has been found to be increased in military service men and women with deployment histories. Patients with militarydeployment histories may have encountered exposures consistent with the risk factors for ILD. These risk factors may include long-term exposures to various chemical toxins or environmental elements, such as bioaerosols and dusts, as well as a smoking history.

ILD’s can have a progressive nature or simply be associated with a chronic, stable degree of damage. It is important to know if Veterans have a progressive character to their chronic scarring disease. One in four patients with ILD may have progressive disease and face the need for increased healthcare and are associated with a poorer long term outcome.

Understanding the progressive nature of some ILD’s and their impact on the military service members may help us better address the needs of these patients. Information for Veterans can be obtained from the Veterans Administration and locally from the Van Zandt Medical Center.