Tom Philpott | June 10, 2010
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Shinseki Stopped Hearing on Agent Orange Decision
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki met with Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, last month to ask that he cancel a hearing on the secretary's controversial decision to add three diseases to the list of Vietnam veteran illnesses presumed caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in that war.
Akaka reluctantly agreed, an informed source told Military Update. The VA thus avoided a brighter public spotlight, so far, on a decision that will help tens of thousands of veterans but also will add $13.6 billion to VA compensation claims in a single year.
Akaka and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), a committee member, are pressing Shinseki outside of the hearing process to explain last October's decision to add heart disease, Parkinson's disease and B-cell leukemia to the list of illnesses presumed caused by Agent Orange.