Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Park renews call for national unity in face of N.K. security threats

President Park Geun-hye on Monday renewed her call for national unity, urging citizens to join forces to ensure "watertight security" in the face of military threats posed by North Korea.
In a video message to a ceremony marking Agent Orange Day, Park also expressed her appreciation to South Korea's Vietnam War veterans, many of whom have suffered from various illnesses due to their exposure to Agent Orange -- one of the defoliants that the U.S. military used to clear jungles and destroy communist forces during the 1960-75 conflict.
"We can make Pyongyang renounce its nuclear program and induce a chance in the country, only through building watertight security by putting together the strength of our people, and enforcing consistent and strict sanctions in tandem with the international community," the president stressed said.
"What matters more than anything else is the united minds of the people," she added.
Commenting on the victims of Agent Orange, the chief executive stressed their sacrifices and dedication have become the "foundation for the development of today's Republic of Korea."
"I hope that all of you, who have contributed to the development of the nation with strong patriotism, can put yourselves at the forefront of the efforts to forge national unity and establish a robust security," she said. (Yonhap)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Beginning in 1991, as required by public law, VA contracted with the
Health and Medicine Division (HMD) (formally known as the Institute of
Medicine) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to review scientific and medical information related to the health effects of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides.
HMD released the first report of its findings, entitled “Veterans and Agent Orange,” in 1994 and was required to release updated reports every two years through 2016.
For every biennial update, HMD was charged to determine 1) whether
there was a statistical association between specific diseases and exposure to herbicides used during the conflict in Vietnam, 2) whether there was an increased risk of disease among individuals exposed to herbicides during service in Vietnam, and 3) whether there was evidence of a causal relationship between herbicide exposure and a disease.

Deep Brain Stimulation surgery: A life-changing miracle for those suffering with tremors

My husband, Robert “Bob” Dakin was diagnosed with Essential Tremors about 30 years ago. About 10 years ago the VA diagnosed the tremors as being caused by his exposure to Agent Orange while stationed in Vietnam. Agent Orange basically messed up his nervous system.
Mayo Clinic’s definition for essential tremor is a nervous system (neurological) disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. It can affect almost any part of your body, but the trembling occurs most often in your hands — especially when you do simple tasks, such as drinking from a glass or tying shoelaces.
Essential tremor typically worsens over time and can be severe in some people. Sometimes essential tremors are confused with Parkinson’s disease. It can occur at any age but is most common in people age 40 and older.
My husband’s tremors began in his late 20s and had progressively worsened. They severely affected his life and his capabilities. Not only did they cause his hands to shake uncontrollably, both of his legs shook and his head bobbed. They were starting to affect his balance and he was starting to fall a lot. His body was in a constant state of motion and he couldn’t feed himself, shave, or even sign his name. Not to mention not being able to tie his shoes, button buttons, zip zippers, and much more.
Not only did tremors affect Bob’s physical life, they also affected him mentally. He was embarrassed to eat in public and have to be seen getting spoon fed by me. His severe tremors also caused him a lot of depression.
After years of trying various prescription drugs and having no luck, we finally were sent to see Dr. Terry Rowland, a neurologist now working at Columbia V. A. Hospital. On his first visit, Dr. Rowland brought up the possibility of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery. Bob and I both thought it sounded like a good idea and he felt he had nothing to lose since the quality of his life had deteriorated so much. Dr. Rowland got the wheels in motion and in a couple of weeks we went to see Dr. Thorkild Norregaard, a neurosurgeon at University of Missouri Hospital.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

URGENT ACTION NEEDED - Congress will recess on July 15 and we need you to Contact your Senator

courtesy of Maynard Kaderlik, National Chair, Agent Orange & Toxic Exposures Committee, Vietnam Veterans of America

Contact your Senator NOW in support of S.2921 
the Veterans First Act

July 12, 2016
Your grassroots advocacy is working - And we need your Help Again!
The legislative language of S.901, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015, introduced by Senators Jerry Moran (KS) and Richard Blumenthal (CT), has been included in S.2921, the Veterans First Act, under Title II, Subtitle I, “Research and Toxic Exposure.” S.2921 was introduced by Senators Johnny Isakson (GA), Chairman, and Richard Blumenthal (CT), Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.  VVA supports this legislation.
The bill has 44 cosponsors
On May 12, S.2921 was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar, under General Orders Calendar No. 467, for a floor vote. However, if this bill does not move, our chances of getting the Toxic Exposure Research Act and other veterans issues in the bill -- such as expanding Caregivers benefits to Vietnam Veterans and providing leasing authority for the West LA Veterans Affairs Campus to provide housing for homeless veterans -- enacted into law in this, the second session of the 114th Congress, is less than hopeful.
We need your support to move this bill to the Senate floor for a vote and passage.
VVA urges you to Take Action NOW by entering your zip code and send the prepared letter requesting your U.S. Senators contact Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada asking that S.2921, the Veterans First Act, be moved to the floor of the Senate for vote and passage before the scheduled summer recess.
Passage of the Toxic Exposure Research Act into law is one of our most important efforts in ensuring that future military service generations learn from our experience, and that our offspring receive the respect and consideration for the sacrifices and pain that they endure from illnesses associated with a parent's exposure to toxic substances during service in the United States military.
Please, follow up on your letter with a call or visit to their state office.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Harris County Public Health Actually Tests Groundwater Wells Near the San Jacinto River Waste Pits and Finds Dioxin

Harris County Public Heath recently warned people living near the San Jacinto River Waste Pit Superfund site to avoid drinking tap water after dioxin, a known carcinogen, was detected in groundwater wells near the Channelview site. Along the way, the county became the first government agency to actually test the area groundwater wells for dioxins. 
The moment was a small victory for Jackie Young, the head of San Jacinto River Coalition, and a former resident of Highlands, the town where most of the contaminated wells are located.
The San Jacinto River Waste Pits have been nestled on the edge of the San Jacinto River for decades, a forgotten remnant of the toxic sludge pumped out of a Pasadena paper mill that was packed into barges, shipped downriver and stored in pits dug on the lip of the river throughout the 1960s.
In 2005 state officials discovered – or maybe just finally noticed – the pits. Then the federal Environmental Protection Agency followed up and determined that tons of hazardous waste, including dioxin, a highly potent known carcinogen that has also been tied to various health issues and birth defects, had been slowly leaking out of the pits for years. The EPA put caps on the toxic mess and proclaimed the 14-acre area a Superfund site in 2008. EPA officials say there's no safe level of exposure to these chemicals, which include a large amount of dioxins.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Upcoming Agent Orange Town Hall Meetings

We update our meetings regularly on the Town Hall Meeting Calendar:

July 9, 2016
Amarillo, Texas
Luther "Buster" Newberry

July 21, 2016
Tucson, Arizona
VVA National Conference
Contact: Mokie Porter

August 6, 2016
Appleton, Wisconsin
Contact: Michael Demske

August 25, 2016
Long Beach, California
Contact: Max Stewart

August 27, 2016
St. Louis, Missouri
Contact: Bill Kiefer
September 18, 2016
Kenilworth, New Jersey
Michael Eckstein, Chair

September 19-23, 2016
Details Upcoming