By Chanel Weaver | Army Public Health Center
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland — A team of scientists and engineers from the U.S. Army Public Health Center and the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center recently traveled to Fort Carson to conduct an occupational health assessment of Joint Service members, also known as JSOHA, of the M777 howitzer – a weapon that is commonly used in military training and combat operations.
The assessment, which was conducted in response to a congressional directive under the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018, collected data on explosion overpressure, impulsive noise and l exposure to chemicals when firing the M777 howitzer.
“With this study, we assessed the impact that multiple firing the weapon can have on a military team in the field throughout their career and make recommendations to reduce or mitigate these factors,” said Dr. Timothy Kluchinsky, director of APHC’s Health Risk Assessment Division.
The JSOHA program provides commanders and other risk managers with a comprehensive assessment of service member exposures to potential occupational hazards inherent in the use of various weapon systems during training and combat.
“When completed, this study will enhance DOD’s understanding of the impact of exposure to weapons system blast pressure on service member brain health and better inform risk mitigation policy, unit readiness and health care decisions,” Kluchinsky said.
With APHC slated to merge with the Defense Health Agency in the fall, many Army team members said they appreciated the opportunity to work in a common environment to complete the assessment.
“We received a warm welcome from the battery, and it was an honor to work in the training environment and watch the sacrifice our soldiers make on a daily basis,” said Dr. Coty Maypole, who coordinated the visit.
Maypole’s husband is a Sergeant Major in the Army, so she knows firsthand the importance of protecting service members from unnecessary harm, especially in training environments.
“I am excited to do my part to ensure the health of the force as part of the Industrial Hygiene Field Services Division mission,” Maypole said.
NMCPHC staff shares this sentiment. They said they also enjoyed working with the Army team.
“JSOHA is a high performing group that is continually growing and represents efficiency and continuity in collaborative services,” said Michael Brown, Certified Industrial Hygienist at NMCPHC. “It continues to be a privilege to be a member of this team and to contribute to the larger goal of protecting the health of our service members.”
Kluchinsky said he also enjoys working with the Bravo Battery team at Fort Carson.
“We were really impressed with the helpfulness of the folks at Fort Carson,” Kluchinsky said. “Sometimes it can be difficult to find a team that is willing to allow us to come in and work, but the Soldiersat Bravo Battery allowed us to observe their formation and collect all the data we needed to complete the ‘Evaluation.”
Members of the Navy team agreed that the Army personnel demonstrated professionalism and assertiveness. “Receiving Bravo Battery to the JSOHA team was a show of outstanding hospitality,” said Brown. “Their willingness to adapt to our presence during operations is a clear indicator of the understanding and esteem of the levels of command. As with our previous missions, this opportunity produced valuable insights while expanding communication between field operations and applied science.
The team plans to share results later this summer and provide an official JSOHA report with risk assessments and potential mitigation recommendations to Bravo Battery Commander.
In addition to evaluating weapon systems, Kluchinsky and his team also evaluate the health effects of other unique military items, including airplanes, boats, tanks, clothing, and other military equipment.
Kluchinsky, who also served as a TOW (tube launched, optically tracked, wireless) missile crewman, Chaparral missile crewman, Stinger missile platoon leader, Bradley-Stinger combat vehicle commander, and later as a Medical Services Corps Environmental Science Officer, said he loved what he did to ensure military forces were kept safe from occupational health hazards . As Head of the HHA Division, he leads a team whose mission is to identify and assess health risks associated with hardware system lifecycle management and provide recommendations to capability developers. , hardware developers, and training developers to eliminate or control health hazards inherent in operating and maintaining hardware systems.
In addition to Kluchinsky and Maypole, other APHC members who served on the team included Shawn Boos, Daniel Buzminsky, Adam McCann, 1st Lt. Celiann Rivera, Benjamin Sheffield, Abby Webster, Olivia Webster, and Robert Williams . ORISE participants who served on the team included Julia Baylosis, Cole Diana, Dr Joseph Hout and Melissa Webster.
The U.S. Army Public Health Center improves Army readiness by identifying and assessing current and emerging health threats, developing and communicating public health solutions, and ensuring quality and effectiveness of the Army’s public health enterprise.