Tuesday, April 7, 2020

April 7, 2001

In early April of 2001, an advance team for a 95-member group of military service members visited the post-war Vietnam, coordinating the logistics to begin work at six MIA recovery sites the following month – the unit's 65th expedition, called a Joint Field Activity. For this, a Russian-made M-17 helicopter was chartered from the Vietnamese military to aid in expediting equipment and personnel – as JTF-FA had been doing since 1992, according to Alan Liotta, acting director of the POW-MIA office.
Late on the afternoon of Saturday, April 7th, 2001, one of the chartered helicopters was ferrying personnel from Vinh to Hue.
A Vietnamese official said the helicopter had been on a flight to the central city of Hue, leaving Vinh at 4:15 in the afternoon, and had been scheduled to stop at Dong Hoi, the Quang Binh provincial capital, before heading south to Hue. But earlier that day, a member of the JTF-FA team called their headquarters in Hawaii to report that they were canceling a stop in Dong Hoi because of bad weather.
Aboard the helicopter, piloted by Vietnamese, were seven Americans – all active duty military servicemen – and nine Vietnamese military men. The Americans: Army Lieutenant Colonel Rennie M. Cory Jr., the outgoing commanding officer of Det 2.  
The other Americans aboard were Army Lieutenant Colonel George D. Martin III, the incoming commanding officer of Det 2, from Hopkins, South Carolina, and who previously commanded the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry at Fort Drum, New York; Air Force Major Charles E. Lewis, the unit’s deputy commander, from of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and, prior to his JTF-FA service, was responsible for the design and construction of the F-15 Eagle mounted on a pedestal at the entrance to the 333rd Fighter Interceptor Wing at Eglin AFB in Florida, and was a a military-history buff trained as an engineer; Army Sergeant 1st Class Tommy J. Murphy, a Mortuary Affairs specialist with the part of Central Identification Laboratory Hawai'i (CILHI) and the team's Sergeant who was from Georgia, but lived in Honolulu; Air Force Master Sergeant Steven L. Moser, an Vietnamese Intelligence Analyst & Linguist who was from San Diego, but also lived in Honolulu; Navy Chief Petty Officer Pedro J. Gonzales, a Hospital Corpsman from Buckeye, Arizona, who was a crack diver and served as the team's medic; and Air Force Technical Sergeant Robert M. Flynn, a Vietnamese Linguist from Huntsville, Alabama, who served as Cory's translator.

The Vietnamese aboard the helicopter were: Deputy Director Nguyen Than Ha of the Vietnamese Liaison Office; Senior Colonel Tran Van Bien, Deputy Director of the Vietnamese Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) and former General in the People's Army of Vietnam; Vietnamese Air Force Lieutenant Colonels Nguyen Van Ha & Nguyen Thanh Son, Majors Nguyen Huu Nham & Vu Pham The Kien; and Lieutenants Giap Thanh Ngan, Pham Duy Dung, and Dang Ngoc.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Stop the Spread of Rumors - Know the facts about coronavirus disease 2019


Taxpayers Paid Millions to Design a Low-Cost Ventilator for a Pandemic. Instead, the Company Is Selling Versions of It Overseas.

As coronavirus sweeps the globe, there is not a single Trilogy Evo Universal ventilator — developed with government funds — in the U.S. stockpile. Meanwhile, Royal Philips N.V. has sold higher-priced versions to clients around the world.
Five years ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tried to plug a crucial hole in its preparations for a global pandemic, signing a $13.8 million contract with a Pennsylvania manufacturer to create a low-cost, portable, easy-to-use ventilator that could be stockpiled for emergencies.
This past September, with the design of the new Trilogy Evo Universal finally cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, HHS ordered 10,000 of the ventilators for the
Strategic National Stockpile at a cost of $3,280 each.
But as the pandemic continues to spread across the globe, there is still not a single Trilogy Evo Universal in the stockpile.
Instead last summer, soon after the FDA’s approval, the Pennsylvania company that designed the device — a subsidiary of the Dutch appliance and technology giant Royal Philips N.V. — began selling two higher-priced commercial versions of the same ventilator around the world.
 “We sell to whoever calls,” said a saleswoman at a small medical-supply company on Staten Island that bought 50 Trilogy Evo ventilators from Philips in early March and last week hiked its online price from $12,495 to $17,154. “We have hundreds of orders to fill. I think America didn’t take this seriously at first, and now everyone’s frantic.”
Last Friday, President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to begin mass-producing another company’s ventilator under a federal contract. But neither Trump nor other senior officials made any mention of the Trilogy Evo Universal. Nor did HHS officials explain why they did not force Philips to accelerate delivery of these ventilators earlier this year, when it became clear that the virus was overwhelming medical facilities around the world.
An HHS spokeswoman told ProPublica that Philips had agreed to make the Trilogy Evo Universal ventilator “as soon as possible.” However, a Philips spokesman said the company has no plan to even begin production anytime this year.
Instead, Philips is negotiating with a White House team led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to build 43,000 more complex and expensive hospital ventilators for Americans stricken by the virus.

Work starts back up at Central Chemical Superfund site in Hagerstown

Drilling work began in March to install more wells for the Central Chemical Superfund site in Hagerstown's North End, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The entire cleanup operation at the former pesticide blending site is running behind schedule after a new groundwater contaminant, dioxin, was discovered in 2018, EPA officials said. Construction of a pump and treatment system for contaminated groundwater, previously scheduled for 2018, began this year.
"The reality is dioxin delayed us a couple years. The good news is we're back on track," said Mitch Cron, one of the EPA officials overseeing the cleanup.
Central Chemical Corp. blended agricultural pesticides and fertilizers at the 19-acre site from the 1930s to the 1980s. Raw pesticides manufactured elsewhere were mixed at the site with inert materials to produce commercial-grade products.
Among the contaminants found in the soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment, as well as in the tissue of fish caught downstream from the site, include arsenic, lead, benzene, aldrin, chlordane, DDD, DDE, DDT, dieldrin, and methoxychlor, the EPA has said in the past.
In 1997, the site was placed on a list for the federal Superfund program, designed to address abandoned hazardous materials sites.

Trump Justice Dept. Fights a Navy Vet's $35K Fee Request

The Trump administration’s Justice Department is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a Vietnam veteran’s attempt to collect $35,000 in legal fees for his landmark court victory opening potentially billions of dollars in Agent Orange benefits to thousands of so-called “blue water” Navy service members.
Alfred Procopio, represented by retired Navy Cmdr. John Wells of Slidell, Louisiana, is asking the justices to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that said he is not entitled to fees and costs under the federal Equal Access to Justice Act. The en banc court in September sided with the Justice Department in a one-line summary decision rejecting Procopio’s fee request.
Procopio’s fee request involves provisions of the Equal Access to Justice Act, a law that allows “prevailing party” plaintiffs in certain instances to recoup litigation fees in cases involving federal agencies.
Procopio sought legal fees after his victory in January 2019 in the case Procopio v. Wilkie. The Federal Circuit, ruling 9-2, said for the first time that the Agent Orange Act of 1991 and its presumption of exposure to the chemical herbicide applies to Navy veterans who served on ships within the 12-mile territorial sea of the Republic of Vietnam. The Justice Department had argued those benefits applied only to soldiers on land or inland waterways.
The benefits potentially owed to roughly 90,000 vets have been estimated to cost the government more than $1 billion over 10 years.
The Equal Access to Justice Act permits an award of fees when the government’s litigation position was not “substantially justified.” In his Supreme Court petition, Wells heavily relied on a concurring opinion written by Judge Kathleen O’Malley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The judge said that although she was bound by Supreme Court and circuit precedents to rule against Procopio, the disabled Vietnam vet was “the very type of prevailing party, moreover, for whom Congress enacted the EAJA.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

S. 3444 - "Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act 2020"

from our good friend Paul Sutton
The VA has delayed - for now almost three years - the addition of the four diseases as recommended by the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). If your Senator is not a co-sponsor of S.3444, get on 'em! Encourage your Representative to introduce a companion bill in the House. Once they pass the stimulus bill today, they'll have plenty of time on their hands to help sick and dying Vietnam veterans.
Paul Sutton

Summary: S.3444 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.3444. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Introduced in Senate (03/11/2020)

Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act of 2020
This bill provides a presumption of service-connection for Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, hypertension, and hypothyroidism for veterans exposed to certain herbicide agents while serving in Vietnam. Under a presumption of service-connection, specific conditions diagnosed in certain veterans are presumed to have been caused by the circumstances of their military service. Health care benefits and disability compensation may then be awarded. 

VA says Blue Water Navy Veterans received $140M in retroactive benefits in January, February

Blue Water Navy Veterans and survivors who filed compensation claims in January and February 2020 have so far received over $140 million in retroactive benefits. This information can be found in a new monthly report published on the 10th business day of each month to inform Veterans and other stakeholders about BWN claims decisions.
These figures show the latest results from VA directly acting upon the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veteran Act of 2019 that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
The BWN Act extends the presumption of herbicide exposure, such as Agent Orange, to Veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, as well as Veterans who served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone between Sept. 1, 1967, and Aug. 31, 1971. Prior to this law, only Veterans who served on the ground in Vietnam or within Vietnam’s inland waterways were eligible to receive disability compensation based on a presumption of herbicide exposure.
How to file
Filing a claim for BWN benefits is a straightforward process. Veterans who wish to file an initial claim for an herbicide-related disability that have not been previously decided by VA can use VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits, online at https://www.va.gov/disability/how-to-file-claim.
However, BWN Veterans who were previously denied will be able to reapply using VA Form 20-0995, Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim. As of Jan. 1, VA began processing BWN claims that were stayed in the VA review process or under appeal.
Survivors and dependents who have never filed a claim but want to file a claim now can use VA Form 21P-534EZ. Survivors and dependents who have been previously denied a Dependency and Indemnity claim and want to file another claim now can use VA Form 20-0995. For additional Dependency and Indemnity claims information, visit https://www.va.gov/disability/dependency-indemnity-compensation.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Veterans and Parkinson’s disease

Evidence suggests that one cause of Parkinson’s disease may be exposure to pesticides or herbicides. During the Vietnam War, many veterans were exposed to Agent Orange, a mix of herbicides that was used by the US military to defoliate trees and remove concealment for the enemy. There are other causes of Parkinson’s disease as well, and most people who develop Parkinson’s disease were never exposed to high levels of pesticides or herbicides.

Agent Orange

Veterans exposed to Agent Orange during military service may be eligible for a free Agent Orange Health Registry Exam. Registry health examination, healthcare benefits, and disability compensation. Vietnam veterans with Parkinson’s disease or other diseases possibly associated with Agent Orange may claim benefits without having to prove that their conditions are due to Agent Orange exposure.

NOW AVAILABLE from National Academies Press: Assessment of Long-Term Health Effects of Antimalarial Drugs When Used for Prophylaxis

Among the many who serve in the United States Armed Forces and who are deployed to distant locations around the world, myriad health threats are encountered. In addition to those associated with the disruption of their home life and potential for combat, they may face distinctive disease threats that are specific to the locations to which they are deployed. U.S. forces have been deployed many times over the years to areas in which malaria is endemic, including in parts of Afghanistan and Iraq. Department of Defense (DoD) policy requires that antimalarial drugs be issued and regimens adhered to for deployments to malaria-endemic areas. Policies directing which should be used as first and as second-line agents have evolved over time based on new data regarding adverse events or precautions for specific underlying health conditions, areas of deployment, and other operational factors.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

March 26, 1982

Groundbreaking for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

AO Town Hall Meetings - COVID19 virus UPDATE

SOME MEETINGS HAVE BEEN CANCELLED - VERIFY SCHEDULE CHANGES with local chapter and state council officials 


We update our meetings regularly on the Town Hall Meeting Calendar:

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Help make Vietnam War Veterans Day an online commemoration

Sunday, March 29th is National Vietnam War Veterans Day.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, public events at The Wall in Washington, D.C. and in many communities around the country cannot take place as planned. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is moving this year’s commemoration online with a live webcast and messages of thanks. 
We need your video or written message to make National Vietnam War Veterans Day an online event! 
We’re asking you to record a very short video and upload it by Friday, March 27th, and then watch the event online on March 29th at 1:00 pm EST.  You can also leave a written message. 
Who should record videos or leave a written message? 
  • Anyone who appreciates the service and sacrifices of our military! 
  • Family members 
  • Local community representatives 
  • Veterans Service Organizations 
  • Vietnam veterans 
  • Currently serving military members 
Here’s How You Can Help 
  1. Record a 10-second video on your phone. Please hold your phone horizontally and limit the length to 10 seconds. 
  2. On your phone, go to https://www.vvmf.org/WelcomeHome  Follow the link to submit your video. 
  3. Watch the online event on March 29th at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT on our event page at https://www.vvmf.org/WelcomeHome  
Other Things You Can Do at www.vvmf.org/welcomehome
  • Submit your written message 
  • Change your profile picture on Facebook using VVMF's Facebook frame
  • Make a gift to VVMF in honor of someone who served
Together we can create something truly special for all our Vietnam veterans.  
Jim Knotts
President and CEO
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund