SAN ANTONIO (Feb. 19, 2015) -- Military personnel who deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, or OIF, Operation Enduring Freedom, or OEF, or Operation New Dawn, or OND, were commonly exposed to airborne hazards such as dust and smoke, Army Medicine researchers say.

Some may have developed respiratory diseases and still have medical consequences as a result.

Army Medicine researchers are continuing to investigate possible long-term effects of this exposure, and need your help.

Col. (Ret.) Michael J. Morris, M.D., San Antonio Military Medical Center, is the lead investigator for the Study of Active Duty Military for Pulmonary Disease Related to Environmental Deployment Exposures, also known as STAMPEDE.

Dr. Morris and his team need volunteers who deployed to OIF, OEF, or OND, developed respiratory symptoms while deployed, and who still show these symptoms to assist with a research study. The STAMPEDE team aims to enroll 300 patients (from any branch of military service).

The following are study eligibility requirements for individuals who would like to be considered for STAMPEDE:

1. Deployment to OIF/OEF/OND on active-duty status;
2. Developed chronic respiratory symptoms during or soon after deployment;
3. Can exercise on a treadmill;
4. Had no history of pre-existing lung disease before deployment;
5. Are able to spend a week in San Antonio for testing procedures;
6. Can provide civilian or Veterans Affairs, or VA, medical records (if available).

Participants enrolled in the study will undergo a standardized testing protocol to include: surveys, blood work, chest imaging, echocardiography (examination of the heart), several different breathing tests, exercise testing, laryngoscopy (vocal cord examination), and bronchoscopy (airway examination).

While there is no guarantee of benefit from joining the study, it is possible that participants will benefit from identification and evaluation of shortness of breath and learning if any lung disease related to deployment is the cause of this shortness of breath.

The ongoing research of Morris and his team is important because active-duty personnel still deploy to areas where exposure to particulate matter from dust, sand storms, burn pits, explosions, and vehicle exhaust is common. This research may help build the knowledge base needed to treat Service members and veterans more effectively in the future.

A number of medical studies already have looked at the consequences of exposure to airborne dust and smoke from burn pits among Service members, going as far back as the first Gulf War. In the 1990s, the possible consequences of exposure to oil fires in Kuwait were considered. More recent studies conducted since 2000 were unable to clearly link exposure to airborne particulate matter to long-term chronic respiratory disease.

The matter is not closed, however, and Morris and his team of experts on respiratory disease are investigating the causes and effects on individual health and how to provide the best care for those who continue to deploy where airborne particulate matter is common.

Active-duty and Reserve personnel outside of the San Antonio area can contact (see information below) the Pulmonary Clinic at the San Antonio Military Medical Center to discuss possible enrollment in the study. If a patient is accepted to the study, they must obtain permission from their unit, which will be responsible for the travel and lodging costs.

Personnel who deployed during OIE/OEF/OND and are no longer active duty (retirees and veterans) with TRICARE eligibility, will also be considered for the study. The individual will be responsible for any travel and lodging costs.

Individuals who wish to be part of the study can be evaluated at the either of two study sites: San Antonio Military Medical Center or Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

STAMPEDE staff at the San Antonio Military Medical Center can be reached at the following telephone number: 210-916-3976. At the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, the telephone number is 301-295-4191.

An email address is available for both sites as well: usarmy.jbsa.medcom-bamc.list.bamc-stampede@mail.mil