Metro-East News

Roger That: SIU research aims to protect soldiers’ hearing with dairy product extract

A researcher from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine is drawing lots of good Pentagon buzz through her research into how a common antioxidant found in fermented dairy products can be used to protect the hearing of military personnel exposed to high-level noise events, such as the roar of a jet engines and the crack of automatic weapons, according to Military Times.

Kathleen Campbell, an audiologist and SIU professor at the university’s Carbondale campus, has been studying the protective properties of D-methionine — an antioxidant found in cheeses and yogurt — for well more than a decade, testing its effectiveness in preventing damage caused by excessive noise and other sources. Her research is being tested at a firing range at the Army’s Drill Sergeant Instructor Course at Fort Jackson, S.C.

The U.S. Army hopes Campbell’s research will result in a daily pill that soldiers can take to protect themselves from noise-related hearing loss. That’s a big issue for the military, as the threshold for preventing permanent hearing loss is 85 decibels. A jet engine at takeoff emits 140 decibels. An M16 shot rings out 156 decibels.

For men and women who have fought in the country’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, death behind the wheel is becoming another lethal after-effect of combat, according to the Washington Post.

After they leave military service, veterans of the two wars have a 75 percent higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents than do other civilians. Troops still in uniform have a higher risk of crashing their cars in the months immediately after returning from deployment than in the months immediately before. People who have had multiple tours in combat zones are at highest risk for traffic accidents.

The most common explanation is that troops bring back driving habits that were lifesaving in war zones but are dangerous on America’s roads. They include racing through intersections, straddling lanes, swerving on bridges and, for some, not wearing seat belts because they hinder a rapid escape.

The US Air Force’s top general has called for increased oversight of Boeing’s KC-46 tanker schedule, signaling the Pentagon’s rising frustration with the program’s repeated delays and cost overruns, according to Defense News.

During an exclusive interview with Defense News, Gen. Mark Welsh called on Boeing to provide a “predictable” timetable the Air Force can track from now until August 2017 — the company’s deadline to deliver 18 operational tankers to the fleet.

“We’re at a point now where we really need to see the first flight of this tanker, the actual tanker variant,” Welsh said.

Welsh’s remarks reflect the Air Force’s growing concern that Boeing may not meet the critical deadline. Earlier this summer, Boeing was forced to postpone the first flight, a key milestone, after a mislabeled chemical was mistakenly loaded into the aircraft’s refueling line during testing. Boeing now anticipates the event will occur about a month later than planned, in late August or early September.

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at or 618-239-2533.