Saturday, July 11, 2020

First post - July 9, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2020
Waiting For An Army To Die Won't Work When A Significant Number of Vietnam Veterans Are Reporting Children and/or Grandchildren With Birth Defects Related to Exposure to Agent Orange:
by Mokie Porter
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at the Cosmos Club in Washington D.C.the Ford Foundation, announced that it is funding and launching of a full-scale, public-relations campaign to win the sympathy of the American people for the plight of Agent Orange victims in Vietnam
The Ford Foundation and the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin are hoping to mobilize resources and raise awareness for the continuing environmental health consequences of dioxin contamination in Vietnam resulting from the use of A/O, with the end goal of gaining the support of Congress, American business, and the American people to direct U.S. dollars to Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. When representatives of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) asked at the June 2nd meeting whether the condition of American veterans, their children, and grandchildren would also be a subject of the public relations campaign, the answer from the chair of the Working Group, came back "We have given you the report."
The June 1, 2009, report, "U.S. Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange: Understanding the Impact 40 Years Later," which was done by the National Organization on Disability with funding from the Ford Foundation, concludes that it is not "too late to correct the lapses in the nation's treatment of veterans who were exposed to dioxin during the Vietnam War." It goes on to state that "One lesson of the Agent Orange experience has been that the consequences of such chemicals are rarely easy to predict, and that the burdens they impose may well be borne for generations." for report and VVA reactions.
The report includes five detailed recommendations for greater clarity and justice: (1) Outreach to All Affected Veterans and their Families; (2) Outreach to Health Practitioners and Disability-Related Service Agencies; (3) Medical Care for Affected Children and Grandchildren; (4) A Fresh Approach to Research; and (5) Direct Service to Veterans and their Families, in Their Communities.
If the Ford Foundation's publicity campaign will focus on the plight of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, but not American victims of Agent Orange, then veterans need to launch our own grassroots publicity campaign to gain the support of Congress, American business, and the American people for the unfinished Agent Orange agenda for American veterans and their families.
The Task Ahead: Don't Mourn, Organize and Publicize in Your Own Communities
This is not just a VVA issue.VVA members, chapters, and state councils need to reach out and work with other veterans organizations in their communities and to be a force multiplier. Many of our members, of course, are members of other veterans organizations, so this will help.
The brunt of the fallout of this one-sided, public-awareness campaign will rest on our members at the grassroots, in chapters and state councils, where the network exists for our veteran families. We cannot allow those veterans outside the VA/VSO network to find out about their A/O exposure from the perspective of the Vietnamese victims, as they watch the Ford Foundation media campaign unfold in print and on television.
While, at this point, we know very little about the when and where of the Ford Foundation media campaign, we expect that it will begin this summer and continue through the year. We anticipate a multi-media barrage, with Ford's efforts directed toward the documentary film industry, the print media, radio, television, celebrities, etc. We have not located the budget for this endeavor yet, but expect that, minimally, it will be in the range of six figures.
This is not about animosity toward Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, but it is a response to the telling of only one side of the story by the Ford Foundation media campaign. That's not the right approach to take and may well create a great deal of pain in those veterans, whose "welcome home" nearly forty years ago, was a slap in the face, or disdain and distance, and who will now, once more, be reminded of the esteem in which their government holds them, as they watch while the Ford Foundation media campaign focuses on the suffering of their former enemy.
What do we need to create awareness? We need real stories about real people to convince the American people and Congress that our A/O problems are real.
We already have two excellent stories, though still in the rough draft stage. More will be needed. If each state would identify at least one family with a child or grandchild affected by A/O, willing to share their story, we will begin to have ammunition to use locally and nationally with the media and with legislators.
One idea that has been suggested is holding veterans health forums at the chapter and state council levels. That's a good way to get local media attention, and a forum to discuss the issue of A/O, as well as all the host of illnesses and maladies associated with military service. It would likely be useful to have a nuts-and-bolts, how-to plan for this type of health forum.
What we need is something that could be shared with other states and chapters, like a "checklist for organizers of local health forums," or a document that has tips for putting on a "high-interest, high attendance, high media coverage veterans health forum in your community.
Ideas other than a veterans health forum will likely emerge, and a forum for the sharing of these ideas, info, intel, and good stories will be needed, if we are to sustain a vital campaign. What works in one area may not work in another area. Local initiative, local creativity, and local enthusiasm and energy will be essential.
This is not just about Vietnam/Agent Orange alone; it is about all toxic exposures in all theaters of our recent wars whether in Thailand, on Eglin Air Force Base, Guam, Puerto Rico, Texas, the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.--the larger lesson continues to be this: The cost of war doesn't end when the guns are silent, in fact it takes a generational toll so we, as a nation, must be willing to pay the price.
The report is available at

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Da Nang enjoys effective cooperation with US

Da Nang (VNA) – Over the past 25 years, the central city of Da Nang has worked hard to contribute to the Vietnam-US cooperation through various joint projects, one of which was the dioxin detoxification in Da Nang airport.
According to Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Ho Ky Minh, the Prime Minister in 2012 approved a national plan of action to address the consequences of toxic chemicals used by the US during the war in Vietnam to 2015 and orientations to 2020. One of the tasks set by the national plan was to detoxify dioxin-polluted soil and sludge in Da Nang airport.
The project on dioxin detoxification in Da Nang airport was conducted by the People’s Air Defence-Air Force with the sponsorship of the US Agency of International Development (USAID, with the goal of treating and isolating dioxin-contaminated sludge to eliminate dioxin exposure risk in the surrounding community, while enhancing Vietnam’s capacity in implementing environmental pollution assessment and treatment activities.
It covered an area of 18.3 hectares with 72,900 cu.m of sludge needing treating. In 2016, the total volume of sludge and soil subjected for detoxification increased to 150,000 cu.m.
Capital for the project came from non-refundable ODA of the US Government through the USAID.
During its implementation from 2012 to 2018, the People’s Committee of Da Nang directed sectors and localities to coordinate with and create favourable conditions for the project, said Minh.
He said that in 2014, the city proposed the project side and relevant agencies to organise training courses on work safety for workers and management officials to avoid risk of exposure to dioxin. Da Nang also sent officials to join the courses.
According to a report from the Air Defence - Air Force, 162,567 cu.m of dioxin contaminated sludge and soil were cleaned, returning about 29 hectares of area for social-economic activities. Dioxin exposure risk for human and environment was minimised. The success of the project helped erase Da Nang airport, which is a former US air base, out of the dioxin hot spot list. Work safety was ensured throughout the implementation of the project and no incident was recorded.

Expand list of Agent Orange illnesses covered for Vietnam vets

Sen. Chuck Schumer announced a plan Tuesday to expand the list of covered diseases linked to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange for Vietnam War veterans, saying it had "broad bipartisan support," and could become law in a few weeks as part of a military spending bill.
"We're about to win this fight," Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a news conference at the Veterans Memorial at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.
Accompanied by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and representatives of Vietnam Veterans of America, Schumer said, "I'm here to reveal a national plan to deliver health care and compensation" to veterans.
"The plan … will expand the list of diseases, will provide relief for tens of thousands of veterans on Long Island and many more in New York State and in the country," Schumer said.
The senator said the amendment is scheduled for a vote in two weeks as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Schumer said the amendment had "broad bipartisan support. It will pass." He added, "So we're here to say relief is about to come."
Schumer said there are about 80,000 Vietnam veterans on Long Island and in New York City. New York State has about 240,000 veterans of the war.
Under the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA automatically accepts that any Vietnam veteran who served in-country between January 1962 and May 1975 probably was exposed to the herbicide.
Agent Orange was not used "maliciously" in Vietnam, Schumer said, but as a way to remove jungle foliage and expose the enemy. But later, "we learned that things like diabetes and leukemia and other things were caused by Agent Orange," he said.

Please ask your Senator to support Tester Amendment 1972 to S.4049

Senator John Tester (D-MT), Ranking Minority Member, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has submitted Senate Amendment 1972 into the Senate version of the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), S.4049. This amendment would add bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism as service-connected conditions.
Our Vietnam veterans are still suffering from the consequences of Agent Orange. Each of these diseases has met the scientific threshold of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, to be credibly linked to Agent Orange. What remains is the addition of these conditions to the list of Agent Orange-presumptive diseases.
Please use the prepared letter on the site and contact your senator NOW to request their support for the passage of Senate Amendment 1972 to end the wait for many of our nation’s Vietnam veterans, so they can receive their disability benefits for their service and sacrifice to our great nation.
Click the link below to log in and send your message:

Ask Your Senator to please support HR. 3224 The Deborah Sampson Act

The number of women Veterans enrolling in VA health care is increasing, placing new demands on a VA’s health care system. To address the growing number of women Veterans who are eligible for health care, Congresswoman Julia Brownley-D-CA-26 has introduced H.R. 3224 the DeborahSampson Act, which passed the House on November 13, by a 399-11 vote and received by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee for consideration.
This  bi-partisan legislation when enacted into law would provide additional funding for primary care and emergency care clinicians in VA’s Women Veterans Health Care residency programs, a requirement for gender-specific services at every VA medical facility, a mandate for a new policy to end harassment and sexual assault at all VA locations,  a new assessment on the availability of prosthetics specifically for women veterans, establish a new Office of Women’s Health in the agency, extend coverage of healthcare for newborn children of veterans from seven to 14 days and would require more oversight of women’s health care within the Department of Veterans Affair.
Today, women veterans have earned and are entitled to full healthcare services, including care for gender-specific illnesses, injuries, and diseases as a result of their military service. 
Contact your Senator NOW and use the letter on the site and  urge them to request their colleague Senator Moran, Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee pass H.R.3224,The Deborah Sampson Act out of committee and on to the Senate floor for votes and passage.

Report recommends further probe into Agent Orange use on Guam

Unlike samples in 2018, taken as part of ongoing investigations into Agent Orange usage on Guam, soil samples taken in October 2019 did not lead to trace detection of chlorinated herbicides, but did detect dioxins. A report detailing the results is recommending that continued investigation take place to clarify any uncertainty about herbicide types, amounts and locations sprayed.
The report was released Monday by the Guam Environmental Protection Agency in response to inquiries from Sen. Therese Terlaje, but is dated March 30. The report was developed by Weston Solutions Inc. under a task order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 federal on-scene coordinator.
Results from the 2018 sampling indicated the presence of 2,4,5-TP and 2,4,5-T chlorinated herbicides at Tiyan Junction. The 2019 sampling from the area did not detect traces of these compounds, but it did result in toxic equivalency quotient concentrations 1.4 times higher than any other TEQ result.
Moreover, one or more individual dioxin and furan congeners, or substances that are related to each other, were detected in all 10 composite samples, and eight out of the 10 samples had detections of TCDD congener, according to the 2019 sampling report.
The manufacturing process for 2,4,5-T can create 2,3,7,8-TCDD, a type of toxic dioxin. For this reason, herbicide 2,4,5-T was banned in the 1980s.
A Government Accountability Office report noted that draft environmental assessments written in 1999 and 2009 indicated herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T were used for weed control on Guam through 1980. These herbicides were components of Agent Orange. The report, however, did not find definitive evidence that Agent Orange was offloaded on Guam. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

One year later, Veterans Affairs has approved 17,400 Blue Water Navy claims

One year after Congress and the president passed into law a measure to grant Veterans Affairs benefits to sailors who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam, VA has granted about 17,400 claims.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act required the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide disability benefits to veterans who served in the waters off of Vietnam. The measure was just one more provision in a decades-long fight to guarantee the same benefits to nearly 90,000 Navy veterans who served in the waters offshore of Vietnam that their land and brown-water comrades were already entitled to after potentially being exposed to Agent Orange.
Since then, the department has received 58,336 Blue Water Navy disability claims, VA Press Secretary Christina Noel told Connecting Vets.
As of May 31, 23,735 of those claims have been processed. And of those that have been processed so far, the Veterans Benefits Administration tracks 17,401 claims granted or about 73 percent of the claims processed so far.
Both the House and Senate passed the bill granting Blue Water Navy vets benefits unanimously and the president signed it into law last June.
About a week after the president's signature codified those benefits, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie delayed all claims processing until Jan. 1, 2020, as first reported by Connecting Vets. That stay effectively stalled the benefits many aging and ill veterans thought they had finally gained with the passage of the bill in Congress.
Pleas from veterans, their families and advocates over the following months rendered no change or response from VA, and those who reached out to the president told Connecting Vets they received no response.
At the time, Wilkie said the department was "working to ensure that we have the proper resources in place to meet the needs of our Blue Water veteran community and minimize the impact on all veterans filing for disability compensation."
Veterans were allowed to file their claims, but they were not processed until Wilkie's stay lifted on Jan. 1, 2020.

Adding names to Vietnam Wall is challenging

The design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. sparked debate and introspection, awe and outrage, when it was proposed.
In the decades since, the black granite memorial has become a national shrine, a healing and holy place.
But not everyone who died during the Vietnam War era is on the Wall. And adding names is a cumbersome, bureaucratic process.
Almost immediately after the Wall was dedicated in 1982, requests started coming in from family members of individuals who had been left off, said Tim Tetz, director of outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. That group created the Wall in 1979 and assembled the original list of names inscribed there from military records.
The requests have never stopped. “We didn’t figure almost 40 years later, we’d still be adding names,” he said.
VVMF transferred the memorial to the National Park Service in 1983 but continues to work with that agency to maintain the memorial site.
Over the years, Tetz said, the Department of Defense put in place criteria for inclusion on the Wall: death in the defined war zone; on a combat mission in or out of that zone; or within 120 days of returning home from wounds or sickness suffered in Vietnam. There is some leeway, Tetz said, for soldiers who died from their wounds later, in some cases many years later. DOD relies on the military branches to research the records of those submitted for inclusion.
But those criteria exclude many of those who served, including the 74 sailors who died when their ship, the USS Frank E. Evans, was struck during an international training exercise in 1969 in waters outside the Vietnam combat zone. And they don’t include the 93 Americans soldiers who died when Flying Tigers Flight 739 plunged into the Pacific Ocean en route to Vietnam in 1962.

VA Secretary addresses discrimination complaints at Kansas City VA Medical Center

For the first time, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie is publicly addressing the mounting complaints by current and former black workers at the Kansas City VA Medical Center.
The site is facing at least two lawsuits and a growing number racial complaints and allegations.
Some of those complaints include staff members reportedly making lynching jokes, black workers called racial slurs, and illegal personnel practices against black staff.
During his visit, Wilkie promising their voices will be heard, complaints of this kind will not be tolerated and cultural change throughout the agency.
“One charge of discrimination is too many, and I do think that we are on the proper road to correcting that and making sure that everyone feels welcome,”  Wilkie said.
But this trip did not come without raising some questions about the true motives.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver who represents the 5th Congressional District says he was not alerted about the unexpected trip at all.
’It’s a little disrespectful for the secretary to come into the 5th congressional district, and not even notify me. That’s generally the protocol, when you consider the issue.. which is issues regarding race, it would have been even more reason for him to notify me,” Cleaver said.
Cleaver says he has also received a number of complaints and is speaking with different organizations about the matter.
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) spoke with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie following the Secretary’s in-person visit to the Kansas City VA Medical Center (KC VAMC). The purpose of the visit was to discuss discrimination allegations with staff members at KC VAMC.

The Latest Catastrophe at the VA

The VA’s federal watchdog has uncovered filthy conditions at facilities across the country. Yet some 40 percent of all VA hospitals recently suffered from severe shortages of housekeeping staff.
On a warm November day in 2017, Representative Mark Takano, a California Democrat, met with a whistleblower who had serious concerns about the 270-bed Veterans Affairs facility in Loma Linda. Later that day, Takano took a tour of the hospital, and was shocked by what he saw. Grime encrusted the water fountains; the floors of the operating room were noticeably dirty. Takano called for the VA’s inspector general to launch an investigation, which found “inconsistent levels of cleanliness” in the main hospital building, and unwashed floors, dusty cabinets, and a sterile instrument resting on a dirty rack in the inpatient dental unit. The rate of infection among Loma Linda’s patients was higher than the agency average, and the housekeeping department was largely incapacitated by high turnover, poor pay, and shaky management. A separate investigation found the bacteria Legionella pneumophila, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, in the water supply—a discovery that the facility had failed to communicate to clinicians.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Tell USDA to Reject Bayer-Monsanto's Multi-Herbicide Tolerant Corn

Bayer's Monsanto is requesting non-regulated status for corn that will increase the use of drift-prone and toxic herbicides. This means that the planting of a new genetically engineered (GE) variety of corn, which requires substantial weed killer use, will not be restricted in any way. The syndrome of 'more-corn, more-pesticides, more-poisoning, more-contamination' must stop—as we effect an urgent systemic transformation to productive and profitable organic production practices. Because USDA is proposing to allow a new herbicide-dependent crop under the Plant Protection Act, the agency must, but does not, consider the adverse impacts associated with the production practices on other plants and the effects on the soil in which they are grown. Business as usual is not an option for a livable future.
Bayer-Monsanto has developed multi-herbicide tolerant MON 87429 maize, which is tolerant to the herbicides 2,4-D, dicamba, glyphosate, glufosinate, and aryloxyphenoxypropionate (AOPP) acetyl coenzyme A carboxylase (ACCase) inhibitors (so-called “FOP” herbicides, such as quizalofop). Now the company wants this corn to be deregulated—allowing it to be planted and the herbicides use without any restrictions. The petition below, and our formal comments explain the dangers in greater detail.
2,4-D is a phenoxy herbicide that is as well known for its propensity to drift as it is for its damaging health and environmental effects. Approval of Bayer-Monsanto's application would result in adverse impacts and contamination, along with the demonstrated plant-damaging effects. Over the decades of its use, 2,4-D has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects, reduced sperm counts, increased risk of non Hodgkin lymphoma, Parkinson's disease, and hormone disruption, as well as other health problems. 
2,4-D drift has long been a known problem to off-site locations, endangered species, and non-target crops. Many forms of 2,4-D volatilize above 85oF and 2,4-D drift has been known to damage tomatoes, grapes, and other plants. Herbicide concentrations 100 times below the recommended label rate have been reported to cause injury to grapes.

Bayer reaches over $10 billion settlement in Roundup cancer lawsuits

Bayer will pay more than $10 billion to resolve thousands of lawsuits regarding claims that its herbicide Roundup causes cancer, the company announced Wednesday.
Monsanto, which Bayer bought in 2018, lost a lawsuit that same year brought by a school groundskeeper who claimed its weedkiller had caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Since then, thousands of U.S. lawsuits have been filed against the company.
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann called the decision to settle the lawsuits the right one in order to end a long period of uncertainty.
“The decision to resolve the Roundup litigation enables us to focus fully on the critical supply of health care and food,” he said in statement. “It will also return the conversation about the safety and utility of glyphosate-based herbicides to the scientific and regulatory arena and to the full body of science.”
The settlement, however, does not contain any admission of wrongdoing or liability.
Bayer will pay $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to settle existing lawsuits and then another $1.25 billion that will cover any potential litigation in the future, the company said in a press release Wednesday.
Kenneth Feinberg, a court-appointed mediator for the settlement, called the deal a "constructive and reasonable" resolution.