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Metal Fragments

Background

In April 2007, one of the problems that the Report Of The Interagency Task Force On Returning Global War On Terror Heroes identified was the growing number of servicemembers with shrapnel or retained fragment wounds received from blast injuries and the concern that some types of fragments could have long-term health effects. In response, one of the recommendations included the creation of a VA Embedded Fragment Surveillance Center and Registry which “would allow VA to identify and provide clinical surveillance to GWOT veterans with retained fragments and to initiate early intervention for resulting health care problems.” This program is an expansion of the VA’s mission to follow-up veterans with depleted uranium exposure.

On 18 Dec 07, Health Affairs published a new policy (HA Policy 07-029) on analysis of metal fragments removed from Department of Defense personnel. The policy "requires the Services to conduct a laboratory analysis of metal fragments, resulting from enemy or friendly fire, that are removed from surviving Department of Defense (DoD) personnel in DoD military treatment facilities (MTFs)." “This policy recognizes that some munitions may contain certain tungsten alloys and other metals that may pose a long-term toxicological hazard when retained in the body. “ “This policy is a first step in establishing a mechanism for tracking DoD personnel bearing potentially hazardous embedded fragments, since currently there are insufficient data available to assess specific risk.” The Services have developed their own implementing policies.

This Web page was developed to provide policies and directives, training material, and related links to assist healthcare providers and Service members and their families.

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    Policies and Directives

    DoD/Joint Forces

    Army

    Air Force

    Navy/Marines

    VA (Department of Veterans Affairs)

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