Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Aging vets' costs concern Obama's deficit co-chair
By MIKE BAKER
Associated Press Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The system that automatically awards disability benefits to some veterans because of concerns about Agent Orange seems contrary to efforts to control federal spending, the Republican co-chairman of President Barack Obama's deficit commission said Tuesday.
Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson's comments came a day after The Associated Press reported that diabetes has become the most frequently compensated ailment among Vietnam veterans, even though decades of research has failed to find more than a possible link between the defoliant Agent Orange and diabetes.
"The irony (is) that the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess," said Simpson, an Army veteran who was once chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has also allowed Vietnam veterans to get money for ailments such as lung cancer and prostate cancer, and the agency finalized a proposal Tuesday to grant payments for heart disease - the nation's leading cause of death.
Simpson declined to say whether the issue would become part of his work on Obama's panel examining the nation's debt. He looked to Congress to make a change.
READ MORE: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_VIETNAM_AGENT_ORANGE_CLAIMS?SITE=FLPEJ