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President Biden speaking in Baltimore on Nov. 10. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House on Thursday announced a new strategy to identify and treat health issues in veterans who may have been exposed to chemical, physical and environmental hazards while serving.

Why it matters: The Department of Veterans Affairs has recognized that certain illnesses present in veterans are directly caused by or linked to overlooked health hazards present during specific conflicts, such as Agent Orange, a herbicide used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, along the Korea demilitarized zone in the late 1960s and other locations.

The big picture: The new effort, announced on President Biden's first Veterans Day in office, focuses on increasing the VA's ability to identify connections between health hazards and resulting disabilities in veterans.

  • The Biden administration hopes to achieve this by in part developing and testing models to prove a causal relationship between hazards and conditions, adding new presumptive conditions based on those models and expanding training for VA and non-VA health providers.

What they're saying: "Taken together, these actions will improve our understanding of the health effects of military-related exposures, educate providers and veterans about these exposures, and provide timelier access to health services and benefits for individuals who were exposed," the White House said.

  • "At the same time, the Administration will work with Congress on its encouraging ongoing efforts to ensure we are able to quickly and fairly recognize additional presumptions of service-connected disabilities, in order to live up to our sacred obligation to provide veterans the care they have earned," it added.

Go deeper: Biden announces new strategy to reduce military and veteran suicides

Go deeper

Nov 18, 2021 - Health

Health care is a hemisphere-wide concern for Latinos

Expand chart
Data: Ipsos, Global Health Service Monitor 2021; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Health care performance is significantly worse for U.S. Latinos when compared with non-Hispanic white people, while some Latin Americans are also concerned about equitable access to health care in their countries.

Why it matters: A report compiled by the Commonwealth Fund underlines profound racial and ethnic health care disparities across the United States.

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.