Tuesday, November 17, 2009

US health agency to take 'fresh look' at Vieques

The Associated Press; November 14, 2009
BYLINE: David McFadden
A U.S. agency has overturned its 2003 research that said no health hazards were caused by decades of military exercises on Vieques, a bombing range-turned-tourist destination off Puerto Rico 's east coast.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said Friday it intends to "modify" some of its earlier research on Vieques, where the U.S. and its allies trained for conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq .

The agency, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used its own studies to conclude in 2003 that there was essentially no health risk from the bombing range a conclusion widely criticized by academics and residents on the 18-mile-long island of less than 10,000 people.

"We have identified gaps in environmental data that could be important in determining health effects," director Howard Frumkin said in a statement posted Friday on the agency's Web site. "The gaps we found indicate that we cannot state categorically that no health hazards exist in Vieques. We have found reason to pose further questions."

Frumkin, who did not specifically identify the research gaps, said the agency will take a fresh look at the issue. He also said the agency will work with Puerto Rican health officials to conduct more in-depth health evaluations and will recommend monitoring to determine if Vieques residents were exposed to harmful chemicals.

For decades, warships and planes hammered the Naval Training Range on Vieques with live rounds before it was closed in April 2003 after years of protests over environmental risks and the 1999 death of a Puerto Rican civilian guard killed by an errant bomb.

Robert Rabin, who moved to Vieques from Boston in 1980 and helped lead the protests against the bombing range, said he and other islanders had an "attitude of cautious celebration" about the agency's announcement.

"We hope this will lead to the best possible cleanup and allow people here to receive the best health care," Rabin said Saturday from his Vieques home. "They are using hopeful language, and this island really needs help."

The U.S. agency reevaluated its earlier finding after being asked in April by U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, a New Jersey Democrat who said independent studies and reports had documented a health crisis on Vieques.

The military fired and dropped millions of pounds of bombs, rockets and artillery shells, including napalm, depleted uranium and Agent Orange, on Vieques. A cleanup began in 2005 to clear thousands of unexploded munitions from the former range, which is now a Fish and Wildlife Service refuge, and the island has placed new emphasis on tourism.

Some 7,000 past and current Vieques residents have filed a federal lawsuit seeking billions of dollars in compensation for illnesses they have linked to the bombing range.

Agent Orange & The Ongoing Tragedy


Many have paid the ultimate price
The 2nd Annual Veterans Day Agent Orange Balloon Release
Orange balloons were released today in honor of all the lives that have been drastically altered by the use of Agent Orange

Many have paid the ultimate price, but their loyalty has never waivered.
Many more need moments to regain their strength but they are survivors,
Their courage is unsurpassed.
As they strive to preserve the memories of the past, they are also striving to improve the future.
May we always be inspired by their strength, their commitment, & their undying love.
May we be strong enough to let them cry but not so strong that we cannot cry with them.
Most importantly May our arms always be folded firmly around them & our love always be a part of their bridge.....

Past, Present & Future

Sunday, November 15, 2009



To require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a study on the effects on children of exposure of their parents to herbicides used in support of the United States and allied military operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam era, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


Friday, November 13, 2009

Local Veteran Wins Fight For Medical Benefits

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Cheatham County veteran James Cripps is celebrating Veterans Day after winning an appeal that could pave the way for other veterans to get medical care.

He served his country, but felt betrayed when he sought care for exposure to Agent Orange.

"It says granted, granted, granted and it can never be appealed," exclaimed Cripps as he read the order from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He can not believe his 5-year fight with the VA is finally over.

"That order gives hope to other veterans. They will know there is a possibility," said Cripps.

He fought for himself and he fought for other veterans to prove he was poisoned by Agent Orange in the United States.

Agent Orange is a toxic herbicide used by the military to thin out the jungles of Vietnam. Soldiers sprayed millions of gallons unaware how poisonous it was.

"When I was spraying it, I was told it was a weed killer," said Cripps.

He never set foot in Vietnam, but Cripps sprayed what he now knows was Agent Orange while working as a game warden at Fort Gordon Georgia in 1967.

He said when he left military he had already been exposed. He and his wife point to his body as proof.

Doctors diagnosed Cripps with a skin rash associated with Agent Orange called Chloracne. Despite the diagnosis, the VA denied his disability claim 3 times.

"The VA denying him was the same as telling him he was lying about it," said wife Sandra Cripps.

"I felt that all my friends even down to my son and daughter doubted that dad was telling the truth," said James Cripps.

His medical bills mounted, the VA started garnishing his social security checks. When NewsChannel 5 interviewed him last year, he had hit rock bottom.

"We have discussed as late as even yesterday the thought of suicide," said Cripps last year.

"I was at the low point of my life, and I had considered that maybe I was worth more dead than alive,” said Cripps this year.

Cripps kept fighting. The VA presumes all veterans who set foot in Vietnam were exposed to Agent Orange, but it has rarely given medical benefits for Agent Orange poisoning to soldiers stationed in the U.S.

Cripps found Declassified documents that showed the military sprayed Agent Orange at Fort Gordon at the time he served there.

"This stuff was used here in the United States?" asked Investigative reporter Ben Hall

"Oh yes. I can prove 21 bases,” responded Cripps.

The documents showed the military used Agent Orange in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and other locations in the U.S. Cripps believed the documents will open the door for other vets.

"I was not alone," said Cripps. "There are many others."

His wife Sandra agreed.

"He's knocked a hole in their damn, and it's going to let the flood gates open. Veterans will finally get what they deserve,” said Sandra.

Cripps expects all his medical bills going back years will be paid for. He plans to help other veterans navigate the VA to get the benefits they deserve.

Just this month, the VA added more illnesses to those associated with Agent Orange exposure. They include Parkinson's disease and certain Leukemias.

Any veteran who stepped foot in Vietnam during the war and has one of the conditions is eligible for benefits.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deputy PM ends three-day US visit


12/11/2009 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan paid a three-day visit to the US beginning Saturday to boost bilateral co-operation in education and training and in tackling climate change.

Nhan, who is also Minister of Education and Training, met Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and leaders of the departments of state and the interior, as well as representatives from 30 US companies.

Nhan and the US officials discussed bilateral as well as regional and international issues.

Both sides expressed optimism about attempts by the two nations to tackle climate change and rising sea levels, as well as tertiary education, investment and trade in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

The deputy PM asked the state department to continue supporting the Mekong sub-region co-operation initiative and development of education and training in the country.

Nhan urged the Department of the Interior and other relevant agencies to back research on climate change.

He also requested that the US side do more to deal with the consequences of the war, such as assistance to Agent Orange/dioxin victims and detoxicating the environment in Viet Nam.

Kerry and leaders of the Department of State said the US wished to develop stable and durable relationship with Viet Nam and emphasised their desire to beef-up bilateral collaboration.

The US officials thanked Viet Nam for its support with finding US missing-in-action personnel, and affirmed that the US would provide more humanitarian aid to the country with mine clearance. They also said assistance would be given in dealing with the consequences of AO/dioxin and in providing information about Vietnamese persons who were reported missing during the war.

While meeting business representatives, Nhan called on US firms to consider making long-term investments in Viet Nam, particularly in the areas of IT and education and training.

While in the US, Nhan also met World Bank managing director Juan Jose Daboub. He spoke of Viet Nam's socio-economic development and educational reforms.

He asked the bank to continue giving financial support to Viet Nam and assistance for the establishment of international-standard universities.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

British friendship society stands by AO victims


Nov 05, 2009 (Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX)

The British-Vietnamese Friendship Society (BVFS) will continue to work with Vietnamese Agent Orange /dioxin victims in their lawsuit against US chemical companies, said a BVFS official on November 5.

Speaking at a meeting with the Vietnamese Association of Victims of AO/dioxin (VAVA), the BVFSs President Len Aldis said that the BVFS has recently launched a campaign in the UK to boycott products made by the Monsanto Company, one of the US chemical companies
who produced the Agent Orange herbicide that contained highly toxic dioxins, which the US Army sprayed during the war in Vietnam.

Aldis also called for more efforts to organise more regular activities to appeal to people around the world to support the struggle for justice.

The VAVA should produce new documentary films on the chemical related issues, with updated information on the lawsuit to inform the world community, which will enhance their understanding of the issue, he added.

The VAVAs Deputy Chairman Nguyen Trong Nhan confirmed his organisations determination to pursue the lawsuit until they get justice.

VAVA lawyer Luu Van Dat said that the VAVA will boost the struggle both inside and outside of court. According to recommendations by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the VAVA is considering filing a lawsuit against US chemicals companies at another court in the US or in a western European country and it will continue to encourage people at home and abroad to support the lawsuit.

Aldis first visited Vietnam in 1989. Over the past 20 years, he has collected many documents relating to the AO/dioxin chemicals used in Vietnam and has sought out victims of the toxic chemical as evidence and witnesses during his struggle for justice. Millions of Vietnamese people know his name through his initiative to collect signatures from supporters of AO/dioxin victims on the BVFSs website.

He has sent letters to the UNs General Secretary, several US presidents, the US Congress, US chemicals companies and US courts to call on them to take responsibility for Vietnam s AO/dioxin victims. He also filed an online petition to US President Barack Obama and US senators objecting to the US courts recent decision.

Aldis and his friends have held many humanitarian activities to help the victims of the war in the localities of Quang Tri, Thanh Hoa, Ha Tay, Nam Dinh, Hai Phong, Ha Tinh and other victims of AO/dioxin at Hoa Binh village in Ho Chi Minh city as well as many other provinces.-

World Peace Council supports AO victims



The Executive Committee of the World Peace Council has adopted a declaration in support of the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin and chosen the 10th of August as “the Day for Vietnamese AO Victims”.

At its recent meeting in Syria’s Damascus, the committee also adopted resolutions stating its support for the ongoing struggles for peace, sovereignty and territorial integrity among peoples and within regions across the globe.

The committee members reviewed the results of the Council’s operations and how the international situation has impacted the peace movement since the Council’s General Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, in April 2007.

They also fleshed out the council’s operational programme for late 2009 and 2010

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Birth Defect Research for Children

November 5, 2009

Our organization is in the process of creating a new web site. Although the site is not completely finished, the information on our work on Agent Orange and birth defects is available on our Veterans’ Research page.


The article Agent Orange and Birth Defects that I wrote for the VVA Veteran was republished in the San Francisco Medical Journal, so this information reached the wider scientific and medical community.

The operation of our National Birth Defect Registry and a section on the analysis of our data on birth defects and disabilities in the children of Vietnam veterans is covered in this slide presentation: http://www.birthdefects.org/NIEHS/3510.html

Our National Birth Defect Registry was recenty cited in an article on Environmental Factors in Birth Defects that ran in the October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, the prestigious journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). I am on the public interest committee of the NIEHS and participate in monthly conference calls and an annual meeting with other members and the NIEHS director. The new director, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, was formerly with the EPA and was involved with the draft report on dioxin which found similar reproductive disabilities to those we have found in the children of Vietnam veterans.

http://www.birthdefects.org/new/news/ I will be attending our annual meeting with Dr. Birnbaum in December.

Those of you who may want to know more about our organization and my personal history may want to watch our video “Why My Child?” There is a section on Agent Orange birth defects. Click here to watch: http://www.birthdefects.org/new/story/

With best regards,


Betty Mekdeci
Executive Director
Birth Defect Research for Children
800 Celebration Ave., Suite 225
Celebration FL 34747
407-566-8304 Fax 407-566-8341

The Great Green Auction for Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc.

Contact us at betty@birthdefects.org or 407-566-8304
Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc.
Our auction date is fast approaching!

The Great Green Auction opens for bidding on Monday November 9, 2009 at 9:00 AM EST Time.

Our goal this year is to raise $10,000 to support Birth Defect Research for Children. We need your support! This is an exciting and fun way to help us, and at the same time have a chance to win the bid for cool items!

We'll be adding new items to our catalog for you to preview as the auction date approaches. Check back often to see what's new. Feel free to place a Watch on your favorites, so that you'll know as soon as bidding begins!

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Thanks to Our Green Family Market Companies

Our thanks to over 70 companies that have already participated in our auction by donating green products! If you haven't donated and want to be a part of this opportunity to showcase your company and products, while at the same time supporting a great cause, send a message to betty@birthdefects.org to learn more!

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Your Support Helps Families of Children with Birth Defects

Since 1982, Birth Defect Research for Children (BDRC) has been helping families with birth defect information, referrals to support services & resources and connections to other families who have children with similar problems. BDRC also sponsors the National Birth Defect Registry, a research project that collects information for studies of the causes of birth defects.
National Birth Defect Registry Cited in Government Journal

BDRC's National Birth Defect Registry was just cited in an article on "Environmental Factors in Birth Defects" in Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc.

800 Celebration Ave. Suite 225 Celebration, FL 34747
Ph: 407-566-8304