Thursday, March 29, 2007

Day Promotes Plan for Boosting Military Health Care Standards

From the Lincoln County News

Story date: 03/28/2007

By Judi Finn

Barbara Damon Day of Newcastle left last week’s private meeting with Gov. John Baldacci jubilant. She approached Baldacci to ask if he would sponsor the bill she was promoting that, among other things, would link the Maine Center for Disease Control with the Maine National Guard to better track and communicate health concerns. The bill would create a state model for linkage that Damon hopes ultimately could lead to national legislation to have higher standards regarding all health issues in the military.

“He said he would sponsor it enthusiastically,” said Day.

Day’s son, 41-year-old Maine Army National Guard Capt. Patrick Damon of Falmouth, died June 15, 2006, in Afghanistan. Damon’s cause of death was listed as an apparent heart attack. The military categorizes his death as a sudden, unexpected death. Day contends it was a prolonged, preventable death. “Pat fell through the cracks,” she said, and Day wants to fill those cracks, so other soldiers don’t die because of an unknown reaction to a drug or vaccine, for example.

Her goal is to keep Maine soldiers safe from preventable, non-combat deaths. Day believes her son’s death was due to reactions to immunizations and medications, poor response time by emergency personnel and to the lack of medical equipment.

According to Day, the rough draft of the bill is still in the revision stage and will be turned over to a legislative committee, probably Legal and Veterans Affairs. If enacted, the new law would call for setting up an advisory commission that would hold at least one public hearing a year. This would be for the loved ones of dead service people or veterans with undiagnosed health problems, for example, who have questions. Day doesn’t want people “to have to jump through the hoops” she did to try to get answers about her son.

Damon continues to tenaciously research non-combat deaths in the military and drug and immunization reactions as a way to give credence to her belief that the status quo health care protocols in the military are substandard and deadly.

Her immediate focus is on the proposed bill. She said, “I want to line up people to testify before the Legal and Veterans Affairs.”

Day has become a familiar face at the State House, and many there knew her son well. He began working in state government in 1994 as a legislative aide in the House and worked for four Speakers as their aide. A Democrat, Day has met with both parties’ leadership and received bipartisan support for her efforts, she said. At the time of Damon’s death, he was on leave from his job as administrative director of the Public Utilities Commission.

Any veteran with a disability or a veteran who has not received help or family members of deceased service people willing to testify should contact Day at 586-5003.

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