Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Vietnam Veteran's plea

Navy personnel served in the offshore waters on battle stations providing continuous naval gunfire support, search and rescue, and aircraft carrier support and protection.
In January of 1991, the United States Congress, by unanimous consent of both House and Senate, passed a law acknowledging that components of herbicides (mainly Agent Orange) extensively sprayed over the Vietnamese countryside were the cause of major health problems to all of the men who fought that war.
In 2002, without consulting Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs revoked the eligibility for Vietnam War veterans who did not set foot in Vietnam to receive VA benefits for service-connected disabilities granted by that law.
These offshore veterans are dying in poverty because of medical bills that should have been covered by their VA benefits. They are dying without the dignity and respect they deserve as disabled American veterans.
This is an issue the American public needs to know about, so they can demand their congressional representatives support legislation currently before the House (HR-299) and Senate (S-422) that would restore these lost VA benefits.
Kirk Johnson, Vietnam veteran, Visalia, California

Seize the time!

What are we waiting for?




RAND PTSD Study

Combat veterans and survivors of violence, natural disasters, and terrorism have often experienced disturbing events that may lead to psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). RAND research has evaluated the delivery of post-deployment mental health care to combat veterans, examined the treatment capacity of health care systems in response to PTSD, and estimated the costs of providing quality mental health care to all affected individuals.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Poison Papers

The “Poison Papers” represent a vast trove of rediscovered chemical industry and regulatory agency documents and correspondence stretching back to the 1920s. Taken as a whole, the papers show that both industry and regulators understood the extraordinary toxicity of many chemical products and worked together to conceal this information from the public and the press. These papers will transform our understanding of the hazards posed by certain chemicals on the market and the fraudulence of some of the regulatory processes relied upon to protect human health and the environment. Search instructions for the Poison Papers.
The Poison Papers are a compilation of over 20,000 documents obtained from federal agencies and chemical manufacturers via open records requests and public interest litigation. They include internal scientific studies and summaries of studies, internal memos and reports, meeting minutes, strategic discussions, and sworn testimonies. The majority of these documents have been scanned and digitized by us for the first time and represent nearly three tons of material. The regulatory agency sources of these documents include: the EPA, the USDA Forest Service, the FDA, the Veterans Administration, and the Department of Defense. Chemical manufacturers referenced in the documents include: Dow, Monsanto, DuPont, and Union Carbide, as well as many smaller manufacturers and the commercial testing companies who worked for them.
The Poison Papers are a project of the Bioscience Resource Project and the Center for Media and Democracy. The Poison Papers were largely collected by author and activist Carol Van Strum.
The Poison Papers catalogue both the secret concerns of industry and regulators over the hazards of pesticides and other chemicals and their efforts to conceal those concerns.
Corporate concealment is not a new story. What is novel in the Poison Papers is abundant evidence that EPA and other regulators were, often, knowing participants or even primary instigators of these cover-ups. These regulators failed to inform the public of the hazards of dioxins and other chemicals; of evidence of fraudulent independent testing; even of one instance of widespread human exposure. The papers thus reveal, in the often-incriminating words of the participants themselves, an elaborate universe of deception and deceit surrounding many pesticides and synthetic chemicals.
The chemicals most often discussed in the documents include herbicides and pesticides (such as 2,4-D, Dicamba, Permethrin, Atrazine, and Agent Orange), dioxins, and PCBs. Some of these chemicals are among the most toxic and persistent ever manufactured.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August 9, 2012

The United States began a landmark project to clean up dioxin left from Agent Orange at the site of a former U.S. air base in Danang in central Vietnam, 50 years after the defoliant was first sprayed by American planes on Vietnam’s jungles to destroy enemy cover.

Blue Water Navy Veterans Declare State of Emergency

Aug 7, 2017 — John Rossie, CEO of Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, has declared a "State of Emergency" with regards to HR 299 and S 422. These bills are the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 presently in the House and Senate. Mr. Rossie stated "Its to the point where there will no longer be Blue Water Vietnam Veterans to represent. This is the must do year. We are asking everyone we can reach to please place our poster anywhere that it is legal to do so. At work, on community billboards, at your markets, every place that people congregate." More information is available at the Blue Water Navy website, www.bluewaternavy.org. You can make as many copies as you need and the POST THEM. Posters are available at http://bluewaternavy.org/bwnposter.pdf
In 1977, the first claims of Agent Orange exposure came flooding into the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But it took 14 years for Congress to actually listen, take action and give our Vietnam veterans the benefits they deserved.
The Agent Orange Act of 1991 was implemented to provide much-needed care to veterans who were exposed to the harmful chemical cocktail Agent Orange. Many of us thought the fight to get the medical attention we deserved was over, but that wasn’t the case. In 2002, the VA amended its initial plan and excluded thousands of “Blue Water” Navy vets -- vets who served right off the coast -- from receiving  our rightful benefits. Because we hadn’t served on land, the VA tried to say we were unlikely to suffer the effects of Agent Orange poisoning.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Congressional Representatives are in their districts this month - Remind them of their responsibility

H.R. 299: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017

The text of the bill below is as of Jan 5, 2017 (Introduced). 

 Cosponsors
295 cosponsors  (show)
115th CONGRESS 1st Session

H. R. 299
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
January 5, 2017
(for himself, Mr. Walz, Ms. Stefanik, Mr. Courtney, Mr. Ross, and Mr. LoBiondo) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs
A BILL
To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hanoi: 3,000 people take walk for AO/Dioxin victims

Hanoi (VNA) – About 3,000 people in Hanoi took a walk for Agent Orange/Dioxin victims along streets around My Dinh National Stadium on August 6 to mark the 56th anniversary of the Vietnamese Orange Agent Day. According to NCC Chairman Pham Van Toi, dealing with aftermaths of chemical warfare and providing care and support to the affected people are long-term and pressing issues today. About 70 percent of families of AO/Dioxin victims are poor, 22 percent of them have more than 3 victims and 90 percent of affected people are unemployed, he said.
The walk started at the national stadium, going though Le Duc Tho, Ho Tung Mau, Pham Hung and Nguyen Hoang streets with state employees and students in attendance.
The NCC has organised a series of similar events for AO/Dioxin victims, for example, a cycling event in May and August, 2016 with the participation of nearly 1,000 people, and a Gala Concert in August, 2016 at the National Convention Centre. It also presented the victims with more than 100 gift packages, worth around 2 billion VND, last year.-VNA
The event, co-held by the National Charity Club (NCC), the Vietnam Association of Young Scientists and Engineers (VAYSE), and Incom Media, aimed to increase local and international awareness of AO/Dioxin in Vietnam and raise funds for the victims. It also supports the quest for justice for affected people and the prevention of use of mass destruction weapons.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

On this date in 1964...

the Tonkin Gulf Incident occurred and was soon transformed into an excuse for massive escalation of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. When President Lyndon Johnson took the matter to the Senate to get a resolution authorizing him to take whatever action “necessary” in Southeast Asia, only two senators, Wayne Morse (D-OR) and Ernest Gruening (D-AK) opposed it. Eventual outcome: 58,318 American military personnel killed, Total estimates of all those killed in the 1955-75 war in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, vary widely, from a low of 1.45 million to a high of 3.95 million. This does not include the millions killed in the Khmer Rouge genocide. Other consequences include estimates that up to 1 million Vietnamese are disabled or have health problems due to contact with the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. Americans who handled the chemical also have suffered in large numbers.

Microbial technology proves useful for dioxin detoxification

Hanoi (VNA) – The trial dioxin detoxification using microbial technology at A Sho airfield of A Luoi district, the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, has generated optimistic outcomes.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment held a workshop in Hanoi on August 4 to report on the outcomes of the test detoxification, which was carried out by the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s biology company BJC and the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment.
By using the RoK’s microbial species, the land area considered to be most contaminated with dioxin at A Sho airfield received anaerobic treatment for three months and then aerobic treatment.
The dioxin concentration in the contaminated land declined from 161.65pg-TEQ per gram to 104.93pg-TEQ per gram, according to scientists from the BJC, the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, and the Korea Institute of Toxicology.
Basing on the test’ results, participants at the workshop highly valued the capacity and efforts of Korean experts. They asked authorised agencies of Vietnam and the RoK to complete necessary procedures to publicise official research findings and facilitate social organisations’ international cooperation in environmental protection and socio-economic development.
The US army sprayed some 80 million litres of toxic chemicals from 1961 to 1971, 61 percent of which was Agent Orange containing 366 kilograms of dioxin, over nearly one quarter of the total area of South Vietnam.
Preliminary statistics showed that 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin, and about 3 million people became victims. Tens of thousands of people have died while millions of others have suffered from cancer and other incurable diseases as a result. Many of their offspring have also suffered from birth deformities.

Friday, August 4, 2017

For Veterans Mustard-Gassed In Secret Tests, Help Now Sits On President's Desk

Decades after the U.S. government exposed service members to chemical weapons in secret experiments, lawmakers have advanced a measure intended to make it easier for those World War II veterans to obtain compensation. The bill, known as the Arla Harrell Act, advanced to President Trump's desk after Senate approval Wednesday.
"When a Missouri veteran is mistreated, I take it personally — and I'll take the fight to anyone, anywhere, to make it right," Sen. Claire McCaskill said in a statement, referring to the namesake of the bill she sponsored. The Missouri Democrat named the bill for one of her constituents, a veteran who says he was one of the 60,000 American test subjects exposed to mustard gas and lewisite agents by the U.S. government during the war.
"After all these years," McCaskill added, "it's frankly less about the benefits that Arla deserves, and will now receive — it's about recognizing what he sacrificed for this country, and that he and his family deserve to hear three simple words from their government. We believe you."
The move comes more than two years after an NPR investigation revealed the Department of Veterans Affairs had broken its promise to seek out and compensate those men who had incurred permanent injuries from mustard gas testing. Now declassified, that long-secret program sought to determine the effects of certain chemical weapons, often by separating the test subjects by race.
Of the 4,000 men the department had sought to locate — the men who were exposed to the most extreme experiments — officials said they found and attempted to reach only 610 in the span of more than two decades.
NPR Investigations Research Librarian Barbara Van Woerkom found roughly 1,200 individuals in the span of two months.
And among the veterans who did apply for compensation, the VA also "routinely denied claims from veterans who qualified," Caitlin Dickerson reported for NPR.

Almost Heaven, West Virginia - EPA says toxic sediment in Kanawha River will be capped

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency has announced an agreement to address dioxin contamination in the Kanawha River by constructing a cap over nine acres of sediment containing the toxic substance.
According to the EPA, the Superfund cleanup in West Virginia’s Putnam and Kanawha counties will focus on a 14-mile (22.53-kilometer) stretch beginning at the Kanawha’s confluence with the Coal River.
The capping is intended to keep concentrations of the known carcinogen contained and protect fish.
The agency says the most significant human health risks are from eating fish.
Pharmacia, formerly Monsanto Co., manufactured an herbicide in Nitro from 1948 to 1969 that was a principal component of the defoliant Agent Orange used by the U.S. military in Vietnam.
The dioxin in the river was a waste byproduct.

VA to Decide on New Agent Orange Ailments by Nov. 1

VA Secretary David J. Shulkin will decide “on or before” Nov. 1 whether to add to the list of medical conditions the Department of Veteran Affairs presumes are associated to Agent Orange or other herbicides sprayed during the Vietnam War, a department spokesman said Tuesday in response to our enquiry.
Any ailments Shulkin might add to VA’s current list of 14 “presumptive diseases” linked to herbicide exposure would make many more thousands of Vietnam War veterans eligible for VA disability compensation and health care.
Ailments under review as possible adds to the presumptive diseases list include bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson-like symptoms without diagnosis of that particular disease. But hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke also might be embraced, or ignored, as part of the current review.
The process was sparked by the Institute of Medicine’s 10th and final review of medical literature on health effects of herbicide exposure in Vietnam. The 1100-page report concluded in March 2016 that recent scientific research strengthened the association between herbicide exposure and bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson-like symptoms. Specifically, the institute, or IOM, found “limited or suggestive” evidence of an association to herbicide versus its previous finding of “inadequate or insufficient” evidence of an association.
The IOM report also reaffirmed from earlier reviews “limited or suggestive evidence” of an association between herbicide sprayed in Vietnam and hypertension and also strokes. That same level of evidence was used in 2010 by then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to add ischemic heart disease and Parkinson’s disease to the Agent Orange presumptive list. Shinseki had stronger evidence, an IOM finding of “positive association” to herbicide for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which he also added to the list that year.
Shulkin, the current secretary, has authority to use IOM findings to add all five diseases to the presumptive list, or he can choose to look at other studies and scientific evidence to support adding fewer ailments or none at all.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

H.R. 299: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017

The text of the bill below is as of Jan 5, 2017 (Introduced). 

 Cosponsors
295 cosponsors  (show)
115th CONGRESS 1st Session

H. R. 299
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
January 5, 2017
(for himself, Mr. Walz, Ms. Stefanik, Mr. Courtney, Mr. Ross, and Mr. LoBiondo) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs
A BILL
To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.
1. Short title
This Act may be cited as the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017.
2. Clarification of presumptions of exposure for veterans who served in vicinity of Republic of Vietnam
(a) Compensation
Subsections (a)(1) and (f) of section 1116 of title 38, United States Code, are amended by inserting (including the territorial seas of such Republic) after served in the Republic of Vietnam each place it appears.
(b) Health care
Section 1710(e)(4) of such title is amended by inserting (including the territorial seas of such Republic) after served on active duty in the Republic of Vietnam.
(c) Effective date
The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect as of September 25, 1985.

H.R.299 - Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017
This bill includes as part of the Republic of Vietnam its territorial seas for purposes of the presumption of service connection for diseases associated with exposure by veterans to certain herbicide agents while in Vietnam.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 (HR 299), a bill to restore the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to those veterans who served in the bays, harbors and territorial seas of Vietnam, was introduced on Jan. 5. It was introduced by Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) and co-sponsored by Rep Tim Walz, D-(Minn.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Joseph Courtney (D-Conn.), Joe Lobiondo (R-N.J.) and Dennis Ross, (R-Fla.) It picked up over 100 additional co-sponsors in less than a week.
HR 299 would correct a Veteran’s Affairs (VA) policy decision implemented in 2002, that unilaterally striped these veterans of the presumption of exposure granted by the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
This action was based on a 1997 General Counsel’s opinion (27-97) that interpreted the phrase “service in the Republic of Vietnam” to apply only to the landmass. This opinion ignored international recognition that national sovereignty extended to the territorial seas.
The United States specifically recognized this sovereignty in the 1954 Geneva Accords and the 1973 Paris Peace Treaty that ended the Vietnam War.   
Inexplicably, the VA bureaucracy has refused to reconsider its position despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies showing a higher incidence of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma among Navy veterans who did not serve in-country.
The Australian VA also discovered that the cancer incidence among Royal Australian Navy veterans was 22 to 26 percent above the norm, compared to an 11 to 16 percent increase above the norm in those who fought onshore.

And All the Ships at Sea

Fifty years ago this past weekend, a rocket was accidentally launched from the deck of the aircraft carrier Forrestal, which was stationed with its battle group off the coast of North Vietnam. The rocket hit a fuel tank, scattering flaming fuel and setting off bombs and other explosions. Within minutes, flames had engulfed a large swath of the flight deck. By the time the fire was under control, 134 sailors were dead and 161 injured, including John McCain, who was hit by shrapnel as he leapt from the cockpit of his burning A-4.
The Forrestal fire is a reminder of the significant, but today largely overlooked, role that the Navy played in the Vietnam War. More than 1.8 million sailors served in Southeast Asia during the war; of those, 1,631 were killed and 4,178 were wounded. The Navy was there at the war’s beginning — the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 — and at its very end in 1975, when American ships received helicopters carrying embassy staff and refugees fleeing the fall of Saigon.
The Navy did everything. Enormous aircraft carriers offshore sent out thousands of bombers and fighters on missions over South and North Vietnam, and into Cambodia and Laos. Destroyers pounded the coast; cruisers, with bigger guns, penetrated far inland. Other, faster ships interdicted smugglers. Amphibious assault ships ferried Marines to landing zones. Search and rescue helicopters saved hundreds of downed airmen.
Maybe the Navy’s most important role was its least glamorous — keeping the entire American operation supplied. As one veteran wrote to me, “If the troops on the ground ate, their foods were brought in by the Navy. If they had tanks, trucks, jeeps or other rolling stock, that was brought in by the Navy. If they fired artillery rounds, dropped bombs or fired M16 rounds, you can trust me that their mothers did not send that stuff in by airmail. All medical supplies came in by ship; many troops came in by ship; pencils, papers, office equipment and about anything else those men in the field had came in by ship and generally, those ships were Navy. They had to have fuel for their vehicles. How in the hell did that get there?”