Thursday, September 23, 2021

We Need Your Help: Act Now! 30-day Challenge to collect signatures to show Secretary McDonough that we are serious.








DOWNLOAD THE PETITION HERE!


Our last battle is for the future generations of innocents. We will go to our graves without honor if we abandon the future generations.

If we lose this battle for P.L. 114-315, the child victims die without recognition of their veteran ancestors' service causations.... How many generations must suffer?

Our human dignity is at stake.
The world will benefit from this research.

SIGN THE PETITION ONLINE!


The American citizens and signers of this formal petition for just reconsideration do hereby demand Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Dennis McDonough personally read the entirety of The Toxic Exposure Research Act (TERA), Public Law 114-315, Sections 631 through 634. Upon reading this law, we further demand the VA Secretary read and understand the DVA-contracted report issued by NASEM (IOM) dated 2018, Gulf War and Health, Volume 11: Generational Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War, specifically the sections within the report that stipulate the research mandated by TERA, Public Law 114-315, is both feasible and necessary. Most importantly, we demand the VA Secretary follow the specific, written intent of  TERA, Public Law 114-315, and based upon NASEM’s declaration of feasibility,  certify to both Veterans Affairs committees of Congress his understanding of the research feasibility,  and certify it is his honorable intent to proceed with the specified research and implement the remaining provisions of that noble law, as specified and intended for the wellbeing of and for the American people. 

Please circulate this petition. Ask your fellow Americans (friends, family, neighbors, fellow veterans and non-veterans alike) to sign it. For every 100 signatures submitted, you will receive an Agent Orange face mask. 

Vet Benefits Expansion Prompts Hiring Push at VA

READ THE STORY

The Department of Veterans Affairs is hiring new staff within its Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA) to support the adjudication and disbursement of benefits related to agent orange and other toxic chemical exposure.

Since January, the agency has sought to expand benefits to veterans who suffered damage to their health as a consequence of exposure to napalm and other harmful chemical agents. In addition to the support provided for Vietnam War veterans, these benefits will also extend to veterans who faced similar exposures during the Gulf War.

VA has just begun processing these new claims as of September, noted Secretary McDonough at a recent press conference in Washington, DC.

“We’ve started processing claims for the new presumptive conditions related to toxic exposure for Vietnam War and Gulf War vets," he said.

Ensuring these claims are evaluated and distributed in a timely manner will require additional manpower within the Veterans Benefits Administration, with the agency now undergoing a considerable hiring push to fulfill this demand.

“VA has begun an aggressive effort to hire 2,000 more employees to process these claims,” McDonough said.

KEEP READING

Answering Your Questions About Prostate Cancer in African American Men

READ THE STORY

One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes. But the risk for African American men is higher—75% higher.

“Starting in your early to mid-40s, engage in this discussion with your family doctor,” says, Oncologist Dr. E. Ronald Hale. “Be diligent about having regular prostate screening tests done.”

What are the risk factors?

According to Dr. Hale, the risk for prostate cancer in African American men is 75% higher than in white men who are the same age. And African American men have twice the risk of dying from it.

Typical risk factors include unhealthy eating and lack of exercise, which can increase the likelihood of developing prostate cancer and other potentially dangerous medical conditions.

Veterans of the Vietnam War should be also aware of their elevated risk.

“Men who served in Vietnam, or otherwise had any Agent Orange exposure should absolutely undergo regular testing,” Dr. Hale says. “That should also be reported to their local Veteran’s Affairs Hospital.”

And while prostate cancer has no known early warning signs, you can do a few things to help lower your overall risk.

How can you lower your risk?

KEEP READING

VA Extends disability deadline for Gulf War vets

READ THE STORY

The Department of Veterans Affairs has extended the time limit for Gulf War veterans to claim presumptive disability for certain chronic illnesses related to their military service.

The illnesses, commonly referred to as “Gulf War Syndrome,” are considered “presumptive” by the VA, meaning veterans claiming a disability related to them are not required to prove they were caused by military service.

While there is no time limit for claiming disability benefits from the VA in normal circumstances, some presumptive conditions do come with time restrictions.

According to the Disabled Veterans Of America (DAV) Gulf War Syndrome affects approximately 200,000 veterans of the 650,000 service members who served in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

To qualify as disabling, a covered illness must have caused illness or symptoms in the veteran for at least six months and:

• Occurred during service in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations from Aug. 2, 1990, to the present. This also includes Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2010) and Operation New Dawn (2010-2011), or;.

• Been diagnosed as at least 10% disabling by the VA after service.

Originally the VA was scheduled to stop awarding benefits to new Gulf War veterans with a related disability diagnosis that was given after Dec. 31, 2021. However, the VA has extended that cutoff date to Dec. 31, 2026.

KEEP READING

Slowing Housing, Food Allowance Raises Could Save the Pentagon Billions, Congressional Report Says

READ THE STORY

Slowing increases to housing and food allowances for service members by switching a crucial benchmark could save the Pentagon billions, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday.

The idea proposed in the report involves tying those allowances to the same benchmark used for basic military pay raises.

The Defense Department is required to use the Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment cost index, or ECI, to adjust basic pay, which makes up 70% of the military's regular pay expenses. The only exception is when Congress approves a bigger pay raise.

But housing allowance rates are set annually by the defense secretary, using data on rental housing vacancies in each location. Food allowances are set annually based on the Agriculture Department's index for food prices.

These methods combined have resulted in troops' compensation growing beyond what the DoD envisioned, according to the CBO report released Thursday.

The Pentagon's goal was for troops to be paid at the 70th percentile of earnings for comparable civilians, meaning 30% of civilians in similar jobs would earn more than troops.

KEEP READING

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

ATTENTION! Contact your local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter to SIGN

Samaritan CME Live Webinar September 22: Agent Orange - Health Effects on Veterans

 


“Agent Orange: Health Effects on Veterans”

 

Mitchell Turker, PhD, JD

Professor, Medical Genetics, OHSU

 

September 22, 2021 12:30-1:30pm

MS Teams Meeting 

(Contact Kyle @ veterans@samhealth.org)

       

Activity Objectives:

  • Review what is known about health effects from exposure to Agent Orange and its most toxic ingredient, dioxin
  • Explain why we do not have a complete picture of the health effects from Agent Orange exposure
  • Explain the regulatory approach that was created to deal with Vietnam Veteran concerns that their long-term health was negatively impacted from their exposure to Agent Orange and other defoliants

 

Samaritan Health Services is accredited by the Washington State Medical Association to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

 

Samaritan Health Services designates this live activity for a maximum of one (1) AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

 

Dr. Turker and the planners for this educational activity have no relevant financial relationships to disclose with ineligible companies whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients.

When Rivers Are Contaminated, Floods Are Only the First Problem

READ THE STORY

As floods increase in frequency and intensity, chemicals buried in river sediments become “ticking time bombs” waiting to activate.

Hurricane Harvey flooded or damaged at least 13 Superfund sites in 2017, sending cancer-causing compounds into Texas waterways.

Dioxins—the category of chemicals that includes Agent Orange—have been banned in the United States since 1979. But that doesn’t mean they’re gone. Like in the plot of countless scary movies, dioxins and other banned chemicals are just buried beneath the surface waiting to be unearthed.

A new perspective paper in Journal of Hazardous Materials calls attention to an understudied area: the remobilization of pollutants buried in riverbeds. Chemicals have a knack for binding to sediments, meaning chemical spills in rivers frequently seep into sediments instead of flowing downstream. Future layers of silt bury the pollutants and hide the problem.

But persistent chemicals in riverbeds are “ticking time bombs,” warned Sarah Crawford, an environmental toxicologist at Goethe University Frankfurt and lead author of the paper. The buried chemicals can easily be remobilized. “It just takes one flood event,” she said.

KEEP READING

Blue Water Vietnam veterans are getting benefits payouts, but not always the right amount

READ THE STORY

By Leo Shane III - Blue Water Vietnam veterans are getting their disability benefits paid out by the Department of Veterans Affairs, but it might not be exactly how much they deserve, according to a new watchdog report.

The VA Inspector General’s Office found that while department staff have done a good job at getting benefits flowing to newly eligible veterans covered by the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act two years ago, nearly half of the claims decisions investigators reviewed from 2020 were “inaccurate.”

The mistakes total an estimated $37 million: about $12 million in underpayments based on veterans eligibility and $25 million more in excess payments to individuals.

“Employees did not always know how to correctly process these claims, particularly determining accurate retroactive effective dates for evaluations,” investigators stated in the IG report, released late last week. “[Benefits officials] should increase oversight to help ensure employees processing these claims clearly understand how to correctly evaluate and decide them.”

Benefits for ‘blue water’ veterans finalized after years-long fight

The move ends a years-long fight to get faster disability benefits for up to 90,000 Navy veterans who served in Vietnam.

In a statement, VA officials told the Inspector General that they have improved training in recent months and put in place “special focused quality reviews” to address the problem.

 KEEP READING

Out of context: Many exhibits at National Air Force Museum lack key details

READ THE STORY

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton is stunning.

Where else can you stroll through the actual plane that flew FDR to Yalta in 1945, or the one that flew Harry Truman to meet an insubordinate Douglas MacArthur on Wake Island in 1950, or the one that flew Dwight D. Eisenhower to Switzerland in 1955 for the first peacetime meetings between the Soviets and Western powers?

You can also walk through the plane that ferried JFK to Dallas in November 1963 — and brought back his lifeless body along with new President LBJ after Kennedy was felled by an assassin’s bullet.

So much history made tangible — and that’s just in the Presidential Gallery far at the back of the museum’s four huge hangars.

From cloth-covered planes pioneered by the Wrights at nearby Huffman Prairie to spaceships that descended from them, a breathtaking array of the technology that has dramatically reshaped modern life is on display in those yawning spaces.

Oh, and did I mention that admission is free?

When I first visited as a child, all was awe walking among primitive biplanes and sleek, supersonic fighters.

But returning to Ohio a few years ago, much older and a little better read, I spotted some holes. Many of the captions accompanying the exhibits omitted key details, enough in some cases to be misleading.

I know. This is the Air Force’s museum and it would be silly to expect it to present a completely objective account of itself.

KEEP READING

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Long-Term Environmental Impacts of Pesticide and Herbicide Use in Panama Canal Zone

READ THE STORY

The opening of the Panama Canal in 1913 transformed ocean-shipping and the availability of internationally-traded goods, shortened travel time between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, increased ship tonnage, and sparked the growth of port authorities on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the Panama Canal. Historically, the United States was number one and China was number two in tons of cargo that pass through the canal annually in the high stakes game of import and export markets. Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal, the most efficient way to cross the 82-kilometer isthmus, between the Port of Panama City on the Pacific and the Port of Colon on the Atlantic, was by mule trails through tropical forests and river transportation. Since the construction of the Panama Canal through tropical forests in the 1910s, pesticides have been essential for managing mosquitoes as well as controlling wetland vegetation that blocked lakes, rivers and the canal. The primary objective of this research study is to document the long-term environmental impacts of pesticide and herbicide use in the Panama Canal Zone. Many of these chemicals, including 2, 4,-D, 2, 4, 5-T and DDT, have a long half-life under water and some, like arsenic (As), have no half-life. Pesticides and chemicals flowed into Lake Gatun via surface runoff either in solution or attached to the sediment during the rainy season. The by-product 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is an unanticipated contaminant created during the manufacture of the herbicide 2,4,5-T. TCDD can bio-accumulate in fish and birds and enter into the human food supply. The extent of the current chemical and pesticide contamination on former U.S. military base grounds and in Lake Gatun is unknown. Systematic soil sampling of current and former military bases, chemical disposal sites and Lake Gatun or the Panama Canal sediments is needed to determine if mitigation is necessary.

KEEP READING

Parkinson’s Foundation Consensus Statement on the Use of Medical Cannabis for Parkinson’s Disease

READ THE REPORT

With the growing availability of medical marijuana and other medical cannabis products in the United States, there has been a marked increase in its use for various medical conditions. Currently, medical cannabis is legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the U.S. territories Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of these, 17 states list Parkinson’s disease (PD) as a qualifying condition: CA, CT, FL, GA, IL, IA, MA, MO, NH, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, VT and WV. Cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp products (defined as having less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol - THC) are legally available in all 50 states.

KEEP READING