Monday, September 29, 2014

Support for S2738 and HR 5484

from Sandie Wilson 
I have been looking at the congressional support for S-2738 and HR 5484 on cap.wiz.  Might I say the results are pretty dismal.  I met with the Agent Orange Riders about a month ago.  At that time, I encouraged them to meet with their congress person.  None of them had experience in grass roots lobbying but they understood the only way to get this vital legislation going was to develop the courage to talk to their person.  As a result of this meeting Representative Benishek not only agreed to the need for the legislation but authored a replacement for the legislation and introduced it in the House of Representatives along with Representative Honda.  This is the companion bill to S2738.
Agent Orange Riders are a group of veterans and their families that ride motorcycles and cars in the summer (mostly cars).  In the winter they ride snowmobiles and pickup trucks.  Their whole purpose in organizing has been and will be to support efforts to improve the lives of our offspring effected by toxic exposure during our military service.  The bylaws of the organization requires each chapter to sponsor an Agent Orange Town Hall meeting. The Riders chapters have all done this in Michigan in combination with VVA chapters.  For this we are grateful.
We all know with this Congress it is very difficult to get benefits.  This is NOT a benefit.  It is investigating and correcting the exposure of toxins on our military.  It is the cost of war and should be treated as such.  Congress did talk about Pay Go or any of their buzz words when they authorized funding for war on September 19, 2014.  This was done in their haste to get home for campaign.  But they also have to fund correcting the effects of military service.
The only way we will get this legislation passed is for our veterans and families to speak with their congress persons and candidates to get them to support these bills.  WE have the power.  Congress is home in the district.  We all must get with these decision makers and get their support while they are looking for your VOTE.  S-2738 currently has 4 Senators support the legislation.  We need to mobilize and increase that number to 54 this month.
HR 5484 has been introduced for less than a week.  It has about 6 supporters.  I am confident WE can increase that number to 300 this month.  All we have to do is consider those decision makers real Americans grateful for the efforts of those who wore the uniform and those who continue to wear the uniform and their families.  Just as we protected this country we must now act to protect our children grandchildren and the children of those military fighters who came before us and after us.  We can do it.  
May God bless America and those who step up to defend America.

USDA says yes to genetically engineered seeds: Why are we poisoning our food?

http://www.examiner.com/article/usda-says-yes-to-genetically-engineered-seeds-why-are-we-poisoning-our-food
Despite the outpouring of objections from hundreds of thousands of Americans, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted final approval for the use of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybean seeds, known to be resistant to a “popular” weed killer. According to the Public Opinion News report on September 26, all that is standing in the way of farmers taking full advantage of these new seeds, is a second ruling of approval, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which would allow the use of Enlist, a new version of 2,4-D (a weed killer that has been around since the 1940’s).
Why should this be of interest to you? Because the health of you, your family, and future generations will all be affected.
The herbicide known as 2,4-D is a key substance that was used in Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. For those old enough, you remember. For those who may be too young, this was a “chemical concoction” the U.S. Army used to remove all the foliage in the jungles, and to destroy their food crops.
Evidence of exposure to this herbicide has been called “devastating” to the environment, and cause for major health concerns including: cancer, reproductive problems, and auto-immune disorders.
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Shameful Double Standard

http://www.recorder.com/home/13693094-95/hynesmy-turn-shameful-double-standard
Activist and author Rachel Carson, whose book "Silent Spring" led to a study of pesticides, testifies before a Senate Government Operations Subcommittee in Washington, D.C. on June 4, 1963. Carson urged Congress to curb the sale of chemical pesticides and aerial spraying. (AP Photo)
Published on Sept. 27, 1962, Rachel Carson’s ground-breaking book, “Silent Spring,” ignited modern U.S. environmentalism and resulted in new laws for environmental and public health protection in the United States. Two days earlier, President John F. Kennedy signed his approval for the so-called “rainbow herbicides” (Agents Orange, White, Purple, Green, Pink and Blue, named for the colored bands on the herbicide barrels ) to be sprayed on Vietnamese food crops.
President Kennedy read “Silent Spring” in a serialized version for The New Yorker in the summer of 1962; and, like millions of others, he was compelled by her message and had Carson invited to the White House. And, yet, what Carson exposed and condemned in our environment — the indiscriminate chemical war on nature with insecticides and herbicides as weapons — did not apply to Vietnam. The preoccupation of his administration was “image” — lest the United States be seen by the world as conducting chemical warfare in Southeast Asia. As the war widened in 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson, spraying increased exponentially, creating intensive and widespread environmental abuse that gave rise to the term “ecocide.” Search-and-destroy tactics in rural hamlets during Johnson’s ground war years resulted in millions of refugees flooding Saigon, relegated to slums and extreme poverty — precisely the conditions in U.S. cities that he hoped to overcome with his vaunted Great Society and War on Poverty programs.
By 1966, more than 5,000 American scientists, among them Nobel prize winners, condemned the use of chemical warfare agents in Vietnam. The U.S. herbicide program ended in 1971 when Nixon’s administration was forced to disclose covered-up research data, revealing that one of the herbicides in Agent Orange caused birth deformities in lab animals. 

Under 2012 law, VA to cover health costs of Marines’ ill dependents at Camp Lejeune

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/va-to-cover-health-care-costs-marine-dependents-who-were-at-camp-lejeune/2014/09/24/caee5212-4430-11e4-b47c-f5889e061e5f_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics&wpmm=1
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday that it will soon start to cover out-of-pocket health-care costs for Marine dependents who contracted cancer and other illnesses from toxic water at Camp Lejeune, as promised two years ago by law.
In 2012, Congress passed the landmark Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act.
It provided health care for Marines and family members who had lived on the base near Jacksonville, N.C., from 1957 to 1987 and who had suffered from any of 15 illnesses named in the law. These included cancer related to the lungs, bladder, breasts, kidneys and esophagus, as well as leukemia and problems involving female infertility.
About 750,000 people were exposed to drinking water at the base that was polluted with chemicals that included industrial solvents and benzene from fuels. The chemicals resulted from spills, a dump site on base, leaking underground storage tanks on base and an off-base dry cleaner.
Under the 2012 law, VA immediately offered full care for veterans who had been stationed at ­Lejeune, but it told their dependents who suffered from covered illnesses that they would have to wait to be reimbursed.
The announcement of final rules on Tuesday meant that later this year the agency will start to reimburse family members under the 2012 law for costs since March 26, 2013, that were not covered by insurance. The date is when Congress appropriated funding. The rules first must be published in the Federal Register, to be followed by a 30-day waiting period before people can file claims.
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New Legislation H.R. 5484

113th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 5484 To establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in the Armed Forces, to establish an advisory board on exposure to toxic substances, and for other purposes. 
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/C?c113:./temp/~c113xa6SG6 

VA Updates Disability Claims Application Process for Veterans, Survivors

http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2634
 New Process Will Reduce Processing Times and Improve Quality
 The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it is introducing a uniformed disability claims form to better serve Veterans, families and survivors. Standardizing the process by which Veterans file claims and initiate appeals will make it easier for Veterans and their survivors to clearly state what benefits they are seeking from VA and provide information that is necessary to process their claims and appeals. The new forms eliminate applicant guesswork, which often leads to delays in decisions and ultimately delays in receiving benefits. The new regulations go into effect in late March 2015.
“We must do everything that we can to make it as fast and easy as possible for Veterans and their survivors to file for and receive an accurate decision on their claim,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald. “Our Veterans and survivors will know, at the outset of the claims process, what is needed, which removes subjective interpretation from the process. We want to eliminate any barriers that make it difficult for our Veterans or survivors to receive benefits to which they are entitled.”
In the past, a Veteran or survivor did not have to use a certain form to seek compensation or other benefits from VA.  Claims or appeals (Notice of Disagreement) could be submitted on any piece of paper which caused delays due to missing information.  
By using standard forms for all disability claims, VA can more quickly and accurately identify what the Veteran is claiming or appealing. This will allow VA to immediately move on to next steps in the evidence-gathering and decision-making process, which saves administrative processing time and speeds the delivery of earned benefits.  The existing process is also inconsistent with most, if not all, other government and non-government application processes, such as applying for social security, applying for a driver’s license, applying for a job or filing for an income tax refund. 
“These days, government agencies and private businesses rely on standard forms to deliver faster and more accurate customer service,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey.  “VA’s ability to deliver better customer service requires the use of standard forms as well. That is why we worked extensively with our partners in the Veterans community to streamline the way we process claims while  preserving the effective date rules concerning informal claims through the creation of a new intent to file a claim process.”
The updated process also includes standardizing the traditional informal claims process by employing a new “Intent to File a Claim” process which affords the Veteran or survivor one year to compile the necessary documentation or evidence to support the claim while preserving an effective date of claim.

American Samoa Congressman affected by Agent Orange

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/255381/american-samoa-congressman-affected-by-agent-orange
"Like hundreds of thousands of Vietnam veterans I now suffer from the side effects of Agent Orange, including heart and kidney disease, which almost cost me my life. But with proper diagnosis and dialysis treatment my life has been spared."
Complications from exposure to ‘Agent Orange’ while serving in the Vietnam war, has been cited by Congressman Faleomavaega Eni as the reason for the illness which resulted in his being medivaced to Hawai’i late last year, followed by months of rehabilitation on the mainland.

Faleomavaega arrived in the territory last October to attend an education conference but instead was admitted to LBJ Medical Center for observation. A few days later he was medivaced to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu for further treatment, followed by rehab, at the time, and until now — the Congressman’s office didn’t provide specifics of his illness.

Faleomavaega, a Vietnam war veteran, is seeking re-election and there have been many questions surrounding his illness. His office has maintained the Congressman's right to privacy, although he is a public figure.

In a four-minute ‘thank-you message’ to the people of American Samoa, to be aired soon on local radio stations as an election advertisement, Faleomavaega said, that “because of complications due to Agent Orange exposure during my service in Vietnam, I was airlifted to Hawai’i where I was not expected to live.” - See more at: http://www.samoanews.com/node/85254#sthash.1Nkv2ubX.dpuf
Complications from exposure to ‘Agent Orange’ while serving in the Vietnam war, has been cited by Congressman Faleomavaega Eni as the reason for the illness which resulted in his being medivaced to Hawai’i late last year, followed by months of rehabilitation on the mainland.

Faleomavaega arrived in the territory last October to attend an education conference but instead was admitted to LBJ Medical Center for observation. A few days later he was medivaced to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu for further treatment, followed by rehab, at the time, and until now — the Congressman’s office didn’t provide specifics of his illness.

Faleomavaega, a Vietnam war veteran, is seeking re-election and there have been many questions surrounding his illness. His office has maintained the Congressman's right to privacy, although he is a public figure.

In a four-minute ‘thank-you message’ to the people of American Samoa, to be aired soon on local radio stations as an election advertisement, Faleomavaega said, that “because of complications due to Agent Orange exposure during my service in Vietnam, I was airlifted to Hawai’i where I was not expected to live.” - See more at: http://www.samoanews.com/node/85254#sthash.1Nkv2ubX.dpuf
American Samoa's delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives says his hospitalisation earlier this year was due to exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin was flown to hospital in Honolulu in October last year but the cause of his illness was never disclosed.
He was later transferred to a facility in Washington D.C. for rehabilitation.
Faleomavaega is seeking re-election and there have been questions about his illness.
But he has gone public to reveal he was suffering complications from Agent Orange exposure during his service in Vietnam.
Complications from exposure to ‘Agent Orange’ while serving in the Vietnam war, has been cited by Congressman Faleomavaega Eni as the reason for the illness which resulted in his being medivaced to Hawai’i late last year, followed by months of rehabilitation on the mainland.

Faleomavaega arrived in the territory last October to attend an education conference but instead was admitted to LBJ Medical Center for observation. A few days later he was medivaced to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu for further treatment, followed by rehab, at the time, and until now — the Congressman’s office didn’t provide specifics of his illness.

Faleomavaega, a Vietnam war veteran, is seeking re-election and there have been many questions surrounding his illness. His office has maintained the Congressman's right to privacy, although he is a public figure.

In a four-minute ‘thank-you message’ to the people of American Samoa, to be aired soon on local radio stations as an election advertisement, Faleomavaega said, that “because of complications due to Agent Orange exposure during my service in Vietnam, I was airlifted to Hawai’i where I was not expected to live.” - See more at: http://www.samoanews.com/node/85254#sthash.1Nkv2ubX.dpuf
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Dr. Oz: GMOs Can Be Ushering in a Pesticide Arms Race

http://www.activistpost.com/2014/09/dr-oz-gmos-can-be-ushering-in-pesticide.html
One thing's for sure: when Dr. Oz speaks, people listen. Many a healthfood store and tea shop owner have saluted him when he mentions their goods on air - and their stores fill up. In the past he has drawn cheers and jeers for his fluctuating stances on organic food and genetically modified organisms in the food supply.
Today, he makes a very clear stance, as a concerned doctor, against the EPA's pending approval of a new, toxic pesticide intended for use on genetically engineered crops like corn and soy - this country's biggest crops and food ingredients. He warns about floundering brain health, thyroid problems, chronic disease and more as a result of this stronger pesticide's use. Today's episode of The Dr. Oz Show examines a new GMO pesticide that the EPA is on the very brink of approving because GMO crops now contain superweeds that have become resistant to glyphosate (Roundup). This new concoction called Enlist Duo, by Dow AgroSciences, contains both glyphosate and the choline salt of 2,4-D (2,4-D was one of the ingredients in Agent Orange). His stark warning, that I include in the title of this article, is actually found in the longer version of the video, HERE. In that clip he says, "GMOs can be ushering in a pesticide arms race, and the health of your brain could be the casualty."
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The Blue Water Vets Are Injured, Angry, and Not Taking Anymore!

http://www.prlog.org/12374222-the-blue-water-vets-are-injured-angry-and-not-taking-anymore.html
Sep. 22, 2014 - Members of the Blue Water Navy are caught in a failure of logic. According to the rules of logic, either the concept of “presumptive exposure” needs to be consistently applied or it must be abandoned. But it cannot be contradictory, randomly interpreted or selectively assigned.
         ‘Presumptive Exposure’ is based on the concept that a lack of data precludes any one individual from providing definitive proof of exposure to a substance (in this case, herbicide used in Vietnam). If individual A is a member of a group that was potentially exposed, and that individual later presents with specific disease deemed to be related to herbicide exposure, then individual A is ‘presumed to have been exposed’ by virtue of two elements: proximity to the exposure area and diagnosis of a specific disease.
         The original area of acknowledged exposure, as written into the VA’s 1991 M-21 Manual, was the Theater of Combat, as demonstrated by the award of the Vietnam Service Medal. By definition, the Theater of Combat was the identical area designated for eligibility for award of the Vietnam Service Medal. Attached are: an image of the boundaries of the Theater of Combat AND the identical area of eligibility for the Vietnam Service Medal; and the history of eligibility for presumption of exposure to herbicide as written in the M-21 Manual, showing changes from 1991 through 2002.
         In 2002, the VA changed the definition of a Vietnam veteran to “someone who actually served on land in the Republic of South Vietnam (RVN).” For the purposed of herbicide exposure, that eliminated previously eligible veterans whose feet did not touch the soil of South Vietnam, or a dock or a pier that can be considered an extension of the land.

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Dr. Benishek Authors Legislation To Research Toxic Exposure for Military Families

Dr. Dan Benishek announces the Toxic Exposure Research Act, H.R. 5484
WASHINGTON, DC:  Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) today announced he has introduced the Toxic Exposure Research Act, H.R. 5484, with Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17) to establish within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) a national center for research into the health conditions experienced by the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances.
“Having had the opportunity to treat our veterans as a doctor at a VA hospital for nearly 20 years, I understand that not all the injuries our returning service members suffer from are immediately evident.  Wounds from exposure to toxic chemicals can have lifelong and generational effects, the impacts of which we are still determining today, “ said Dr. Benishek. “This bipartisan bill will help address the need to better understand the toxins that many of our heroes have been exposed to, and ensure we focus on understanding the effect exposure may have on their descendants.” The Toxic Exposure Research Act will allow the VA to research the effect of exposure to toxic substances on the descendants of our veterans.  Veterans seeking care for symptoms of toxic exposure are frequently misdiagnosed due to a lack of scientific understanding, and the research the VA has conducted on suspected birth defects related to toxic exposure is severely limited. The bill would also create a national outreach campaign on potential long-term health effects of exposure to toxic substances by members of the Armed Forces and their descendants. “The Toxic Exposure Research Act is an important piece of bi-partisan legislation that will help us keep our promise to our veterans.  While we know that our servicemen and women have been exposed to toxic substances while fighting for our country, we also know that many of their children have consequently suffered with various forms of birth defects,” said Congressman Honda. “We need to know the full effects of such toxic exposures. Through the bill’s establishment of a national research center, the VA can determine what effect toxins like Agent Orange have had on the children and grandchildren of our veterans who were exposed. The Toxic Exposure Research act is the House companion to S.2738, identical legislation introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Senator Jerry Moran (KS).  The legislation is supported by the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and AMVETS. Dr. Benishek has been a leader in advocating for reform at the VA since coming to Washington in 2011. Dr. Benishek spent 20 years working as a surgeon at the Iron Mountain VA Hospital.  He is the only member from Michigan on the Veterans Committee and is Chairman of the Health Subcommittee. His "Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act" passed the House unanimously in June.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Agent Orange Town Hall Meeting schedule - UPDATED







http://www.vva.org/calendar.html

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Faces-of-Agent-Orange/187669911280144

Mortality study of civilian employees exposed to contaminated drinking water at USMC Base Camp Lejeune: A retrospective cohort study

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/civilianmortalitystudy.html
The purpose of the study was to determine whether potential exposures to the drinking water contaminants at Camp Lejeune are associated with increased risk of death from specific cancers and other chronic diseases among those who were employed at the base. The contaminants included trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethlylene (also known as perchloroethylene or PCE), benzene, and two contaminants that are formed when TCE or PCE degrade in ground water: 1,2-dichloroethylene and vinyl chloride.
The study evaluated specific causes of death in 4,647 full-time workers who were employed at Camp Lejeune during 1973-19851 . We also evaluated a comparison group of 4,690 full-time workers who were employed at Camp Pendleton during 1973-1985 but were not employed at Camp Lejeune during this period. The Camp Pendleton workers were not exposed to contaminated drinking water.
Cause of death data from 1979-2008 were used to study the Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton cohorts. Information on causes of death was obtained from the National Death Index (NDI) of the National Center for Health Statistics. The study included all underlying causes of death that other studies have shown to be associated with one or more of the chemicals found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Causes of death were selected based on literature reviews conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
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