Friday, November 26, 2010

A Haunted Landscape
Thirty-five years after the war in Vietnam ended, the chemical Agent Orange still pervades the soil of the southeast Asian nation. In many places, the land remains scarred. None of America's former military bases has yet been cleaned up. Congress first allocated money to cleanup dioxin-contaminated land three years ago for a project at Da Nang airport in Central Vietnam.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Speaking Out After Decades of Silence

Reporter: K. Oanh Ha

California is home to many Vietnamese-Americans who fought alongside the U.S. during the Vietnam war. Over time, these soldiers developed cancers because of their exposure to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. But while American-born vets can get medical care and disability compensation for their Agent Orange-related illnesses, America's former allies get no such benefits.

Luc Nguyen is now a naturalized citizen, but in the 1960s he was a South Vietnamese soldier, working as a translator for the U.S. military. South Vietnamese soldiers frequently got Agent Orange on their skin and clothing when patrolling jungles that had been sprayed. Others were exposed when they sprayed agent orange by hand or helped transport and mix the chemicals.

Luc's former American commander, retired 4-star general Louis Wagner, says there's no question he and Luc were frequently exposed to Agent Orange.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Faithfully submitted, George Claxton

Although the US EPA released two studies claiming that "Little cancer risk from BP oil burn dioxin, new studies conclude" A sort of rebuttal article written by Mark Schleifstein of the Times-Picayune asks a lot of questions about how safe the EPA testing was. I agree with Mr. Schleifstein's conclusions. However, there are more concerns.

EPA claims that they tested for two families of toxic chemicals. These are the polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans. But, how many chlorinated dioxins and furans did they test ? The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has declared that three dioxin like poisons are now "human carcinogens". These are 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-dioxin, 2,3,4,7,8-pentachlorodibenzo-furan, and 3,3,4,4,5 pentachlorobiphenol. The EPA did not break down whether these three poisons were tested from the inadequate oil burn.

Imagine what could happen if these poisons got mixed together? And this doesn't include the other poisons. There are 75 chlorinated dioxins, 134 chlorinated difurans, and 209 polychlorinated biphenols. Please keep in mind that this does not include the brominated dioxins and furans, the polybrominated diphenol ethers, the chlorinated napthalenes, What do a lot of these poisons have in common: Perhaps a lot of them look "dioxin like"! Could they provide a much larger poisoning if combined?

What is EPA doing? Are they trying to stop mass hysteria? Perhaps preventing a social uproar is not practical. BUT, what about testing for alot of factors for acute toxicity. Also an epidemiological study which will encompass many years like the ones on Seves, Italy. However, then who would pick up the tab? I'm quite sure that BP would have nightmares over that suggestion. Maybe we should scrap the idea; after all, the dioxin explosions in Italy (76), England (60's), Germany, France,Austria, Holland, Russia. All of these countries had studies which showed injury from exposure to dioxin like chemicals. And let us not forget the Dow Chemical Company. Oh, that's right, Dow's studies didn't show anything but a skin rash.

Vietnam Veteran Wives


I would like to “Welcome” the newest member of VVW, Eileen Perkins. Mrs. Perkins' husband, a combat Vietnam veteran, recently passed away from a glioblastoma. Like many of us, who have lost their husbands, know the frustration of why the VA has not accepted this ailment as a service connected disability. She has offered her services, as a liaison, to record other’s who have lost their loved one to a glioblastoma.

Sometimes it takes the “numbers” for the VA to recognize a sickness is due to Agent Orange/Dioxin so it can be accepted and awarded as a service connected disability.

VVW is asking all those who wish to join in the fight to get this service connected, and have either lost or presently have a loved one who has this ailment, to please contact Mrs. Perkins.

She can be contacted by clicking here.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Arthur Dekoff

Arthur Dekoff says he is far from the only one in his family who is affected by the Vietnam War.
“My daughter wasn’t in that war,” he said. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that she’s paying the price because I was in it.”
Jessica Dekoff seemed healthy until she started kindergarten and a teacher said Jessica was dozing off in school. That’s when the seizures began.
“We took her to a children’s hospital. The diagnosis was epilepsy, and they treated her for that, but the seizures kept going,” Arthur said. “Then she had a stroke, and she lost the use of her right side, and it also left her mentally handicapped.
“The doctors kept questioning me about if I had ever been out of the country, and I told them I was in Vietnam. That was the end of the questioning. They didn’t need to talk about it any longer,” Arthur said.

The CT scan confirmed that it was Moyamoya disease, a rare condition first identified by the Japanese. It is more common in Asians but can affect anyone. Girls get it more often than boys. The walls of the internal carotid arteries of a person with Moyamoya, which supply blood to important areas of the brain, become thickened. Blood clots can form which may cause strokes and transient ischemic attacks.
Moyamoya can strike at any age, but the average age of diagnosis is around seven years, right about Jessica’s age at the time. About seven percent of the time, the disease runs in families, and those cases are due to a particular genetic defect.
“They told me my daughter had a year to live,” Arthur said.
A trip to another hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, resulted in medication that controlled the seizures. Jessica lived, but at 34, she has the mental capacity of a 9-year-old. She can say words but not complete sentences and does not always understand what is being said to her.

Significant numbers of Vietnam veterans have children and grandchildren with birth defects related to exposure to Agent Orange. To alert legislators and the media to this ongoing legacy of the war, we are seeking real stories about real people. If you wish to share your family’s health struggles that you believe are due to Agent Orange/dioxin, send an email to or call 301-585-4000, Ext. 146.
The Art Dekoff’s Story Continued...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yuschenko ready to take blood test again for investigation into his poisoning
Third Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko (2005-2010) is ready to undergo medical tests as part of the investigation into a criminal case on his poisoning, his lawyer Hanna Vronska has said.

On September 5, 2004, then presidential candidate Yuschenko was taken ill after having dinner with the leadership of the Security Service of Ukraine. He was hospitalized in Vienna on September 10. Doctors said Yuschenko had been poisoned with dioxin. Moreover, they said the poison had been administered five days before his hospitalization. After that, a number of medical tests were conducted. An examination conducted late in May 2006 confirmed the presence of dioxin in Yuschenko's body.

Little cancer risk from BP oil burn dioxin, new studies conclude
The release of two types of cancer-causing compounds during the burning of oil released from the BP Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico poses little long-term risk of cancer to cleanup workers, onshore residents or fish consumers, according to two new peer-reviewed scientific papers released today by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The scientists measured the release of two families of toxic chemicals -- polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans -- by collecting samples with a battery-operated instrument package suspended in the plumes of 27 surface oil fires between July 13 and July 16.

Friday, November 12, 2010

U.S. Sen. Harkin: Ensuring our veterans receive the benefits they deserve

By Senator Tom Harkin

Every year on Veterans Day, Americans take the time to give our millions of brave veterans the honor and thanks they deserve. We thank those who have served out of love of country, and a desire to protect the rights that we prize so dearly. As a veteran myself, I am humbled by the gratitude that is shown on this day, but am even more humbled by the sacrifices that so many other veterans and their families have made and continue to make.

Ensuring that our veterans receive the care, services and recognition they deserve has been a top priority of mine in Congress, and we have had a few important successes in this area in recent years. We fixed a problem that shortchanged 600 Iowa National Guard service members from receiving their earned leave; ensured those serving after 9/11 would qualify for reduced-age eligibility for the receipt of non-regular service retired pay; helped to secure military medals for those whose recognition is long overdue; and recognized Veterans of Iowa’s Meskwaki tribe, who played a historic role in World War II by using their native language as the basis for creating unbreakable codes and communicating messages in combat.

And because of the disproportionately high rates of suicide among those returning from the battlefield, I worked alongside other members to pass into law the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, named after Joshua Omvig, a soldier from Grundy Center who took his own life after returning from Iraq. It is an important step towards improving the mental health of our veterans.


Dioxin review 'missed many defects'

An anti-dioxin campaigner says the latest study of contamination from New Plymouth's Dow chemical factory has missed many birth defects it was supposed to review.

The Health Ministry study compares defects recorded by New Plymouth's head maternity nurse from 1964 to 1971 with results from other hospitals.

It found that when dioxin contamination from the city's chemical plant was at its worst, New Plymouth had significantly more birth defects than the national average.

It also had significantly more deformed babies than all other hospitals studied except the specialist National Women's Hospital.


The ministry says it cannot be certain dioxin is to blame.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Agent Orange Quilt of Tears

As I gaze upon these Quilts today,
the image of death is altered.
I see instead the symbol of life,
for heroes that never faltered.
Fear not my great soldier!
For your story shall be passed through the years
Because the fabric of your life is sewn into the Quilt Of Tears

from George Claxton

George Claxton is one of the leading authorities on Agent Orange/Dioxin in the country. Although he is not a scientist he can go toe-to-toe with anyone on the subject of Dioxin contamination and its effects.

For many years industry has said that 2,4-D, which was half of Agent Orange, was safe. And that 2,4-D did not contain the most deadly dioxin which is called TCDD. A 1991 study from Russia clearly shows differently. The name of the study is "Determing Tetrachlorodibenzo-n-dioxins and Tetrachlorodibenzofurans iin the herbicide 2,4-D". The authors were N.A. Klyuev, et al. and it was published in "Doklady, Biological Sciences, vol. 316, no 1, p. 21-23, 1991".

The following statement is made in the study:

"The concentrations of the most toxic congeners were: 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (1746016) 0.10ng/g and 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzofuran (51207319) plus 1,2,6,9-tetrachlorodibenzofuran (70648189) 1.34ng/g".

The question that is obvious is Can 2,4-D contain TCDD? I think that the answer is yes.

The chemical industry has built 2 task forces with the purpose of keeping 2,4-D on the market. The reason is money and the poison is claimed to be safe. However, a study in 2007 titled "Herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) induced cytogenetic damage in human lymphocytes in vitro in presence of erythrocytes" points in a different direction. 2,4-D was half of Agent Orange and does contain some dioxins.

The study conclusion states the following:

"The results demonstrated that the presence of erythrocytes in the culture system modulated the DNA and cellular damage inflicted by 2,4-D and 2,4-D DMA into human lymphocytes in vitro as well as both 2,4-D and 2,4-D DMA were more potent genotoxic agents in the presence of human red cells"

This study was published in the journal 'Cell Biology International (vol 31, no. 11, p. 1316-1322, 2007). The authors were Sonia Soloneski, et al.
Faithfully submitted, George Claxton

Birth Defect Research for Children

Our work on behalf of veterans’ children is supported mainly by small grants and Combined Federal Campaign funds. To supplement these funds, we have developed an online fundraiser.

Our second annual Great Green Auction is now open for bidding. We have over 130 wonderful items that have been donated by companies like Whole Foods, Novica (sponsored by National Geographic), Sprout Watches, Alex n’ Annie jewelry, Crayon Rocks and two fantastic vacation opportunities. Many of these products have been featured picks in “O” Magazine. This year’s auction is sponsored by the Green Parent Association. The founder of this group donated a week’s stay during the height of the ski season at her fabulous private lodge in Colorado. This ski-in lodge will sleep 12 so two families could share the cost and have a wonderful and very reasonably priced vacation.

We need everyone’s help in spreading the word about the auction to friends, family, veterans’ groups, business colleagues and neighbors and we hope you may find something to bid on for yourself.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the auction. For those who aren’t interested in purchasing products, there is an option to make a cash donation on the auction page.

We are hoping to build our Great Green Auction into a successful annual event that will help to support our services for parents and research through the National Birth Defect Registry.

With best wishes,

Betty Mekdeci
Executive Director
Birth Defect Research for Children
800 Celebration Ave., Suite 225
Celebration FL 34747

407-566-8304 Fax 407-566-8341

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paying new Agent Orange claims a complex drill

By Tom Philpott
Special to Stars and Stripes
Published: November 4, 2010

Many Vietnam veterans with ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease or B-cell leukemia expected VA compensation for their illnesses to begin soon after a 60-day congressional review period ended Oct. 30.

Though the first batch of payments went out this week, the relatively small number — about 1300 claims worth $8 million — reinforced the fact that the process for calculating retroactive payments is lengthy and complex.

VA expects to produce a steady stream of rating decisions and payments each week for these diseases,but there will not be a flood of checks as some veterans had hoped.

Most of 163,000 veterans or survivors with pending claims for these diseases should expect a longer wait, at least several more months. The VA goal is to have all these claims processed and paid by October next year.

After VA published its final regulation Aug. 31 to add these diseases to its list of ailments presumed caused by herbicide exposure in Vietnam, Congress had 60 days to block it. To veterans’ relief, it chose not to do so.

VA used that time to do preliminary work on many claims but had to stop short of assigning disability ratings. That’s because VA computers are programmed to assign a payment date with each rating and, by law, none of these claims could be paid before the 60 days had passed.

Claim specialists don’t have all the information they need yet to rate many of the older claims. Many veterans and survivors in line for retroactive payments, some going back 25 years, are being asked to provide letters from private physicians explaining when the ailments first were diagnosed.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Department of Veterans Affairs begins payment for new Agent Orange Claims


VA Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of Public Affairs
Media Relations
Washington , DC 20420
(202) 461-7600



November 1, 2010

VA Begins Paying Benefits for New Agent Orange Claims - VA Encourages Affected Vietnam Veterans to File Claims

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun distributing disability benefits to Vietnam Veterans who qualify for compensation under recently liberalized rules for Agent Orange exposure.

“The joint efforts of Congress and VA demonstrate a commitment to provide Vietnam Veterans with treatment and compensation for the long-term health effects of herbicide exposure,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

Up to 200,000 Vietnam Veterans are potentially eligible to receive VA disability compensation for medical conditions recently associated with Agent Orange. The expansion of coverage involves B-cell (or hairy-cell) leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease.

Shinseki said VA has launched a variety of initiatives – both technological and involving better business practices – to tackle an anticipated upsurge in Agent Orange-related claims.

“These initiatives show VA’s ongoing resolve to modernize its processes for handling claims through automation and improvements in doing business, providing Veterans with faster and more accurate decisions on their applications for benefits,” Shinseki said.

Providing initial payments – or increases to existing payments – to the 200,000 Veterans who now qualify for disability compensation for these three conditions is expected to take several months, but VA officials encourage all Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and suffer from one of the three diseases to make sure their applications have been submitted.

VA has offered Veterans exposed to Agent Orange special access to health care since 1978, and priority medical care since 1981. VA has been providing disability compensation to Veterans with medical problems related to Agent Orange since 1985.

In practical terms, Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a “presumed” illness do not have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service. This “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits.

The three new illnesses – B-cell (or hairy-cell) leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease – are added to the list of presumed illnesses previously recognized by VA.

Other recognized illnesses under VA’s “presumption” rule for Agent Orange are:

• Acute and Subacute Transient Peripheral Neuropathy
• Chloracne
• Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
• Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2)
• Hodgkin’s Disease
• Multiple Myeloma
• Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
• Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
• Prostate Cancer
• Respiratory Cancers
• Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or Mesothelioma)
• AL Amyloidosis

Veterans interested in applying for disability compensation under one of the three new Agent Orange presumptives should go to or call 1-800-827-1000.