Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bill May Extend Agent Orange Presumption for Blue Water Vets

Congress to consider legislation that would increase list to include Blue Water Navy Vietnam vets.
By Craig Roberts - August 28, 2011
Very soon, says Louisiana attorney John Wells, a New York senator will be introducing a short and simple bill into Congress that could have a large and far-reaching effect on tens of thousands of Vietnam War veterans and their families. The proposed law would extend the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange to certain service members who served aboard vessels at sea - the so-called Blue Water Navy - during the Vietnam War. As the law now stands, only troops who served ashore "in country" or aboard river boats in Vietnam are entitled to compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for a number of ailments, including cancer, linked to exposure to the toxic herbicide.

Wells, a retired Navy Commander, is the director of legal and legislative affairs for the Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Association. He spoke of the proposed legislation at a meeting of The American Legion's National Legislative Commission during the organization's 93rd annual National Convention in Minneapolis. Wells explained the bill - "The Agent Orange Equity Act of 2011" - by reciting the "elevator speech" he employs to educate members of Congress during his periodic trips to Washington.

"Our association is trying to extend the exposure presumption for Agent Orange from the current ‘boots on the ground' to at least the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam," he said. "This would encompass the ships that were outside of the riverines but were actually very close to shore providing support to the troops ashore.

"What happened was that we would get a discharge of sediment that contained Agent Orange out into the South China Sea. (Ships there) would then bring the sediment into their distilling systems that changed salt water into potable water and the sailors would drink it. The Australians discovered back in 2002 that the Agent Orange in the salt water was actually co-distilled - not removed. So, these folks were drinking an enhanced Agent Orange cocktail, as it were. This was confirmed in an Institute of Medicine report that came out just this past May. The Institute of Medicine also found that there was a plausible pathway both by wind drift and by river discharges for Agent Orange to get into the South China Sea. As a result, we have a higher cancer incidence (among those ship's crew members theoretically exposed) than those troops who were ashore. The Australians, who have been paying Agent Orange-related benefits to their Blue Water Navy sailors for years, proved that in a study back in 2005."

Wells said he ends his short presentation with an appeal to his target member of Congress to support the bill. One who was impressed by his organization's argument was U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. She is expected to introduce "The Agent Orange Equity Act of 2011" shortly after Congress reconvenes in September. Wells said the bill has drawn bipartisan support from several co-sponsors.

► IMPORTANT ! Agent Orange claim filing deadline Aug. 30 ◄

Dear Chief Service Officers,
We have had a number of questions from Veterans and service officers about the significance of August 30, 2011, the one-year anniversary of the regulation allowing the newest Agent Orange presumptive claims. Please share this explanation with our service officers in your state, if you have not already.

The new regulation that added three conditions (ischemic heart disease, parkinson’s disease, and chronic B cell blood cancers) to those presumed to be caused by Agent Orange was put into effect August 30, 2010. The one year anniversary date does not mean Veterans cannot file for those conditions after August 30, 2011. It does mean that in order to get the earliest possible effective date for payments, they should file by then.

Nehmer Veterans who filed claims before August 30, 2010 will benefit from a whole other set of rules, but for Veterans filing for the first time for service connection for IHD, Parkinson’s Disease, or B Cell Blood cancers and Hairy Cell Leukemia, they can get up to one year of retroactive benefits. The new regulation is a liberalizing law so the effective date for service connection can be a year prior to the claim date under 38 CFR § 3.114, but not earlier than the date of the law, which was effective August 30, 2010. This is assuming that the Veteran met all the criteria for service connection (had the diagnosis) on the date the law was enacted. Therefore, if a Veteran files a claim on August 30, 2011, he could get retroactive pay to August 30, 2010. If he files on September 1, 2011, he could get retroactive pay to September 1, 2010. In all cases, the diagnosis of the Agent Orange related condition would have to have been on or before August 30, 2010. If the Veteran had not filed a claim before (so does not fall under Nehmer) and was not diagnosed on or before August 30, 2010, the effective date would be the date of claim. It would be beneficial to file as soon as possible, but you can still file a claim at any time.


Lauren Kologe
Deputy Director, Veterans Benefits Program
Vietnam Veterans of America

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mark the Date * Agent Orange Town Hall Meeting*

VVA/AVVA Chapter 862, Beaver County to hold Agent Orange Town Hall Meeting

November 5, 2011
3:00 PM
Monaca, PA 15061

National Speakers:

Mokie Pratt Porter
VVA Director of Communications, former editor of The VVA Veteran, and Long-time VVA staff member, Mokie is the coordinator of the Faces of Agent Orange Initiative

George Claxton
Chair Emeritus of the VVA Agent Orange Committee and long-time advocate for veterans, George ’s knowledge of Agent Orange is unparalleled. His life-time work, a massive database of studies on the health impact of Agent Orange, is an exceptional resource which is used by scientists and service officers alike.

Sandie Wilson
A long-standing member of VVA’s National Board of Directors, Sandie served as an OR Nurse in Vietnam . Her pioneering work on Agent Orange began with her return home in 1971, when she served on the pediatric ward at Fort Campbell ’s base hospital. A steadfast advocate, she has never faltered from her quest for truth and justice for her fellow veterans.

Nancy Switzer
AVVA’s current and founding National President, Nancy has been an outstanding advocate for veterans and their families for more than 30 years. Married to Rick, who is service-connected for Agent Orange, she understands well the legacy of war. A long-time advisor to VVA’s legislative and health committees, Nancy has played a critical role in the Faces of Agent Orange, convening the first-ever FAO Town Hall Meeting at the AVVA leadership conference in 2009.

Pete and Sue Petrosky - A Vietnam veteran, Pete served in the USAF from 64-68.
Married for 42 years, Sue and Pete have two daughters, both born with birth defects. The Petroskys are sharing their compelling story, with hopes that they can make a difference.

Philip and Bobbie Morris
Philip served in Thailand with the USAF, 65-69. When he returned home, he married Bobbie, and their daughter, Dara Rae, was born in 1973. By sharing Dara’s amazing journey, they hope to let others know that they are not alone.

Open Forum

We hope to hear from you, our Vietnam Veteran families, to learn more about the health of our veterans, their children, and their grandchildren.

For more information on the Town Hall Meeting, Contact: bobby514@comcast.net

Friday, August 26, 2011

Posting & Distributing

Items of interest are posted to the AgentOrangeZone almost daily. Distribution is typically done twice each week unless a time sensitive item is posted.

Please check AgentorangeZone.blogspot.com regularly to check for new postings.

Agent Orange Korea: 5 Investigates finds pattern of illness in S. Korean village children


"I am concerned for the people of our country," says Kyun-Ho Kwak, chairman of Chilgok County. He tells CBS 5 Investigates he has seen a high number of unexplained illnesses in his county.

"The stream near the base leads to the Nak-Dong River," says Kwak. "So, I believe that if the Agent Orange is buried there, it could have caused illnesses."

He says the county is conducting its own investigation, because he believes the U.S. military has not been forthcoming.

But a father in the village named Sang-Chul Park says he doesn't need test results to tell him what he already knows. Both his sons are sick.

"I wish this tragedy had never happened," says Park.

Park's oldest son, Yun-Bum, has autism. And his 13-year-old son, Yun-Uk, has leukemia.

According to the South Korean government's own statistics, between 2005 and 2009 the cancer death rates in the area around the military base were higher than the national average – as much as 17 percent higher.

And the number of people dying from nervous system diseases was as much as 73 percent higher than the national average.

READ MORE: http://www.kpho.com/story/15309712/story-3-korea

Thursday, August 25, 2011

National Children's Study upgrading data gathering, analysis, August 12, 2011 News Release - National Institutes of Health (NIH)

This new study was just published by researchers at NIEHS.

Bruner-Tran KL and KG Osteen

Developmental exposure to TCDD reduces fertility and negatively affects pregnancy outcomes across multiple generations [Journal Article]

Reprod Toxicol (2011) v. 31 (3): pp. 344-50

Full-Text at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.reprotox.2010.10.003

NIEHS Grant No. 5R01ES14942/ES/NIEHS, R01 ES014942-04/ES/NIEHS

Mark The Date - Agent Orange Town Hall Meeting at Penn State

VVA/AVVA Chapter 862, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania will host an Agent Orange Town Hall meeting on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at the Penn State University Beaver campus, Monaca Pennsylvania.

For more information contact Bobbie - bobby514@comcast.net

Hypertension study prompts new diagnosis guidance

By Kate Kelland
(Reuters) - Taking repeated blood pressure readings over a 24-hour period rather than a one-off measurement in the clinic is the most cost-effective way of deciding who should be prescribed drugs for hypertension, according to a study published Wednesday.

The findings in favor of so-called ambulatory blood pressure monitoring were immediately adopted by Britain's health costs watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), in new guidelines on how to diagnose and when to treat high blood pressure.

Those diagnosed with hypertension are often prescribed one of many blood-pressure lowering drugs such as Novartis's Lotensin or generic benazepril, candesartan, sold as Atacand by AstraZeneca and Takeda, or Novartis' Diovan, known generically as valsartan.

Patients are often prescribed the drugs for many years if not the rest of their lives.

"Ambulatory monitoring allows better targeting of blood pressure treatment to those who will receive most benefit," said Richard McManus of Britain's Birmingham University, who led a study published in The Lancet medical journal which prompted the NICE guideline change.

"It is cost saving in the long term as well as more effective, and so will be good for patients and doctors alike."

Diagnosis of hypertension has traditionally been based on blood-pressure measurements in the clinic, but studies have found that home and ambulatory measurements are better indicators of who will suffer heart problems and strokes.

READ MORE: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/24/us-hypertension-guidelines-idUSTRE77M92J20110824?feedType=nl&feedName=ushealth1100

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Agent Orange – The Casual Connection

There is a myth that was postulated by the chemical industry which suggests that the connection between a poison and human health injury has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is particularly true concerning the issues of Agent Orange and Dioxin exposure concerning Vietnam Veterans’ health.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been mandated for years to resolve doubt in favor of the veteran. In other words, if 50% of the evidence proving that Agent Orange/Dioxin causes cancer and/or birth defects then the decision should be granted in the veteran’s favor. This reasoning is mandated by Federal law.

There is now a movement by a few politicians to change the burden of proof on Agent Orange/Dioxin cases to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The tortfeasor chemical companies have always tried to utilize this defense to escape liability. Perhaps this is the reason that the infamous Judge Jack Weinstein refused to allow opt out Vietnam Veterans to go to trial against Dow/Monsanto. If the chemical companies were to get this anti-veteran law passed, it would rob veterans of benefits due to them from bing poisoned in the service. In fact the proposed law would almost become cruel and unusual punishment for fighting controversial wars. Even worse is the probability that all military poisoning could become subject to the quasi-criminal burden of proof. Imagine veterans being denied benefits from poisoning from radiation, Dioxin from Iraq and Afghanistan, and any other poisoning.

Let us look at the evidence concerning Agent Orange/Dioxin and cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated with emphasis that 2,3,7,8 polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin is a human carcinogen in 1997. This decision was confirmed by the US National Toxicology Program a year later. In 2010 IARC also declared that two more dioxin like poisons were also human carcinogens. These are 2,3,4,7,8 polychlorinated dibenzo-furan and 3,3,4,4,5 polychlorinated biphenyl. Therefore it is no surprise that these three poisons were found in Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. Imagine these poisons combining in humans to cause cancer.

All Veterans cannot afford to allow politicians to pass this inhumane law based on the testimony of chemical company spin doctors. We as Veterans must stand together as a force to defeat the selfish greed of people that only care about utilizing the military industrial complex to further their economic interests.

Respectfully Submitted,

George Claxton, Chairman Emeritus
VVA National Agent Orange Committee

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pentagon denies burying defoliant

Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011
Staff writer

The Pentagon has once again denied allegations that the U.S. military buried the highly toxic defoliant Agent Orange in Okinawa, the Foreign Ministry said.

"The U.S. Department of Defense said that it once again reviewed past records and found no documents confirming that the U.S. military stored or used defoliant in Okinawa before its reversion" to Japan, the ministry said in a statement late Friday.

But the ministry added that it is taking measures to learn "further details of the facts" from the U.S. government. No information could be released, however, on what the Japanese government was still trying to confirm with the U.S., a Foreign Ministry official said.

"We are not saying the issue has been resolved because the U.S. answered our question. We are continuing the exchange," the official said. The U.S. "said there were no (records), but there have been testimonies and . . . there were parts in the U.S. response that needed further confirmation."

Recent media reports, including by The Japan Times, have covered accounts by former U.S. military personnel saying the U.S. military stored and used Agent Orange in Okinawa in the late 1960s.

The media also reported on the allegations in 2007, but the U.S. government gave Japan the same answer: "no documents backed (allegations over) the possession or use of defoliant," the Foreign Ministry said.

Meanwhile, in May, Washington and Seoul decided to conduct a joint investigation following media reports that the U.S. military buried Agent Orange at a base in South Korea.

Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto refused in a recent session of the Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee to clarify if Japan would demand a similar probe.

"This is a matter of strong concern and I would like to make efforts to respond" to the people's concern, Matsumoto told the panel earlier this month.

Agent Orange Claim Filing Deadline Aug. 30

Agent Orange - from the Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. Collection


Submitted by Chuck Palazzo Salem-News

Veterans can file for disability claims online at VA's Agent Orange Fast Track Claims Processing System.
(DA NANG, Vietnam) - Vietnam-era veterans who have medical diagnoses for three presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange exposure need to file their disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs by Aug. 30 in order to qualify for up to one year of retroactive benefits.

The three diseases recently added to VA's list of presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange exposure or other herbicides during the Vietnam War are ischemic heart disease, hairy cell and other B-cell leukemias, and Parkinson's disease.

"Veterans who suffer from these presumptive conditions can apply for disability benefits at any time," said Verna Jones, director of The American Legion's Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division. "But they need to apply by the Aug. 30 deadline in order to possibly get up to a year's worth of benefits retroactively,"

Widows and widowers whose spouses have died from Agent Orange presumptive conditions may also qualify for retroactive benefits and are encouraged to file for dependent indemnity compensation by Aug. 30.

Veterans can file for disability claims online at VA's Agent Orange Fast Track Claims Processing System.

Okinawan mayor urges probe into Agent Orange allegations

Large stacks of 55-gallon drums filled with Agent Orange.
U.S. Army file photo


CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A local mayor is urging the Japanese government to investigate whether the U.S. buried dozens of barrels of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War at a former U.S. base that was returned to the town three decades ago.

Chatan Mayor Masaharu Noguni said he has urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Okinawa governor’s office to conduct a new environmental survey of the former Hamby Airfield after recent media reports claimed the toxic defoliant was buried there.

Earlier this week, the Japan Times ran a front-page story in which an unnamed U.S. veteran said he helped bury the Agent Orange at Hamby in the late 1960s. Other Vietnam veterans also said they handled the defoliant while stationed on Okinawa, according to the paper.

It was the second time this summer that the U.S. military in Asia has been accused of burying Agent Orange on its bases. Three Vietnam veterans clahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifimed they buried it on Camp Carroll in South Korea, but so far joint testing by the U.S. and South Korea has found no trace.

U.S. Forces Japan officials said Friday that Agent Orange was never used or stored on Okinawa.

READ MORE: http://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/okinawa/okinawan-mayor-urges-probe-into-agent-orange-allegations-1.152587

EPA opens online forum to get input on $5.75 million Dow Dioxin river cleanup

by Allison Hillaker

SAGINAW CO. -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is asking for the public’s reaction to a $5.75 million Dow Dioxin cleanup plan in Saginaw County.

Throughout the month of August, the EPA is asking residents near the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay to use their online submission form about the multi million dollar cleanup project.

The river has been the spotlight of much controversy after harmful chemical were found in the water, coming from the Dow Chemical Company.

The EPA has come up with several different cleanup options, but wants the community’s involvement in the decision making process on how they’ll go forward.

EPA project manager Mary Logan tells the Associated Press that the contamination most likely happened long ago, and that Dow currently has a system that prevents further pollution.

To comment on the EPA forum on this matter click here.

In the meantime, we want to hear the community’s reaction to the Dow Dioxin cleanup. What are some suggestions you have?

Friday, August 12, 2011

from George Claxton

There is no question that dioxin causes problems in the thyroid gland. A brand new study has just been released that illuminates this toxicity. The title of the study is "The possible roles of environmental factors and the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in the presence of thyroid diseases in Vietnam era veterans". This study is published in the journal "Current Opinion in Endocrinology and Diabetes", in press, August 5, 2011. The authors are S. W. Spaulding, et al.

The summary of the study is as follows: "The balance between Treg, Th 17 and Th 22 cells disrupted by TCDD, resembling what has been found clinically in Graves disease and Hashimoto thyroiditis, and in animal models of these diseases. By altering the immune balance in susceptible individuals, chronic TCDD exposure may influence the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid diseases".

The evidence speaks for itself.

Faithfully submitted,

George Claxton

Hatfiled Consultants Report

from Dr. Wayne Dwernychuk, Hatfield Consultants.
Hatfield Consultants has now provided, for download, the recently released report on its Agent Orange studies at the Bien Hoa airbase. The document may be accessed at:


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

U.S. Needs to Address Lingering Legacy of Agent Orange

As We Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War

( Washington , D.C. ) – “On August 10, 1961, the U.S. Air Force began spraying chemical defoliants, dessicants, and herbicides over wide swaths of land in South Vietnam . This was done, first and foremost, to protect our troops – to clear vegetation from the perimeter of fire bases and other outposts, to deny those we were fighting cover and concealment, and to deny food to our enemy,” said John Rowan , National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). “By the time we left Vietnam , some 19 million gallons of dioxin-containing Agent Orange had been sprayed.

“Agent Orange did more than its job, however. It is now known to be associated with a variety of health conditions in those who served there as well as those who lived there,” Rowan said.

“This year we commence the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of America ’s involvement in Vietnam . We, at VVA, hope this will be more than a rehash of key events and battles in the war. We hope it will recognize that, as we remember the service and sacrifices of those who gave of themselves during the years of the war, we also need to focus attention and address the lingering legacy of the spraying of Agent Orange and other defoliants,” Rowan said.

“We believe that the saturation of Agent Orange is now affecting the health of the children – and even the grandchildren – of those who were there between 1961 and 1975. We will insist, loudly and clearly, that the Department of Veterans Affairs support research into the potential intergenerational effects of exposure to dioxin. And we will work to enact legislation that will establish centers where the progeny of Vietnam veterans who are afflicted with birth defects and learning disabilities that we believe are associated with the veteran’s exposure to dioxin can go for health assessments and treatment at no cost to the veteran and the family.

“We, as a nation, need to accept our responsibility and address both the ecological destruction and the human agonies that resulted from our spraying of defoliants in southern Vietnam ,” Rowan said. “Maybe then we can finally have some closure to our war.”

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and our families. VVA’s founding principle is, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Agent Orange Day - August 10th - TAKE ACTION ON FACEBOOK

In honor of the millions of people affected by Agent Orange around the world, Make Agent Orange History is running a Facebook badge campaign in which we encourage our followers and friends to change their profile pictures and stand in solidarity with those who have been touched by the toxic chemical.

Please go to http://makeagentorangehistory.org/stand-together-on-agent-orange-day/

No evidence of Agent Orange found at Army base, tests indicate

Steve House, center, looks at a map of the area surrounding Camp Carroll's helipad during a visit to the Daegu-area base on July 27, 2011. House claims he buried Agent Orange in a ditch at the base while stationed there in 1978, and told officials they were not searching the location where he remembered the ditch being located.

Ashley Rowland/Stars and Stripes

WAEGWAN, South Korea – A joint U.S.-South Korean investigation team announced Friday that it has found no evidence of Agent Orange in water or soil around Camp Carroll, though testing of the area will continue.
Testing of the area — a grassy expanse surrounding Camp Carroll’s helipad — began earlier this summer after three U.S. Army veterans told a Phoenix television station that they buried the toxic defoliant there in a ditch a city block long.
However, the investigation team has yet to test a hillside adjacent to the helipad area that was pinpointed last week by one of the former soldiers as the site he claims hundreds of Agent Orange barrels were buried in 1978.
Military records indicate that unspecified chemicals were buried in a large trench in the area in 1978, but the chemicals were removed in the following two years along with about 60 tons of dirt. The military has yet to find records showing where the barrels were taken after they were removed. “As far as where those records are, we really can’t answer that question,” Col. Joseph Birchmeier, a U.S. Forces Korea engineer and head of the U.S. side of the investigation team, told about 100 reporters and residents during a press conference at the Chilgok County Office on Friday. “That’s why the search continues.”
The test results released Friday are part of an ongoing battery of tests being conducted around the helipad. The investigation team said that groundwater collected from 22 locations on Camp Carroll, soil samples collected from 22 off-post locations, and five sediment samples from local rivers did not contain major components or by-products of Agent Orange.

READ MORE: http://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/korea/no-evidence-of-agent-orange-found-at-army-base-tests-indicate-1.151256?localLinksEnabled=false

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

If you were stationed or worked at Camp Lejeune before 1987, you may have been exposed to contaminants in the drinking water supply. Visit the Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water website at: https://clnr.hqi.usmc.mil/clwater/index.aspx for more information and to register for water testing notifications.


Veterans injured from environmental hazards need health care now.

by Robert O’Dowd
(WASHINGTON, DC) – Former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California, is a safer environment today than prior to its closure in July 1999. Since the 1980s, the Navy spent hundreds of millions on remediation work at the base.
When El Toro made the National Priority List (NPL) in 1990, the government knew the extensive contamination on the base was a serious health hazards for those living and working on the base with 25 contaminated sites. The exposure to contaminants in the air, soil, and groundwater exposed the base’s population to the risks of injury and premature death. Veterans of El Toro and other NPL military installations (EPA Superfunds) are left to their own resources to pay for expensive health care or turn to a too often hostile VA for critical health care.
With the exception of Camp Lejeune, the government has not notified any veterans of the NPL military sites of their possible exposure to environmental hazards and their health effects.
The Navy and Marine Corps have steadfastly refused to accept responsibility for injuries from the contaminated water wells at Camp Lejeune. The base’s wells were contaminated with volatile organic compounds and benzene over a 30 year period (1957-1987). Some have even accused the Corps of running a public relations program when they are faced with a public health problem.
The government spent millions in remediation at both bases but no efforts were made to contact Veterans and dependents of their possible exposure to contaminants until Congressional interest in contaminated water wells at Camp Lejeune forced the Marine Corps to take action to contact former Camp Lejeune Veterans and dependents.

READ MORE: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/08/06/128755/

Monday, August 8, 2011

Support group for veterans' widows seeks more members

It’s a paradox: Dot Kennedy, president of the regional chapter of the Gold Star Wives, wants to attract more members.

On the other hand, the Franklinville woman doesn’t, “because the only way to get new members is for someone to die.”

The Gold Star Wives are a support group for widows of veterans. They were first founded in 1945. The Hollybush chapter, encompassing the South Jersey region, was established in 1977.

Kennedy said Hollybush’s numbers used to be high. Their current membership stands at 89, though many are not active.

Part of the problem, said vice president and Malaga resident Julia Thompson, is they get lumped in with the Gold Star Mothers, who were founded only four years earlier.

“That’s the first thing (people) think,” she said.

Beyond providing each other emotional support, the Wives exist as a resource to inform members what kind of benefits they may be eligible for. Many veterans’ wives and widows don’t know what’s available to them, said Kennedy, citing property tax exemptions as one example.

READ MORE: http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2011/08/support_group_for_veterans_wid.html

Agent Orange: American Chemical and Biological Warfare


VOVNews holds online exchange on AO victims

(VOV) - VOVNews, in coordination with the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), held an online exchange about issues related to Agent Orange (AO) victims on August 7.

This was part of activities marking the 50th year after Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin began to be sprayed over areas of Vietnam. It aimed to joining hands to improve the health and living conditions of AO victims.

The event hopes to help people in Vietnam and around the world become aware of the lingering suffering of Vietnamese AO victims, as well as the efforts of the Party, State, VAVA, and other Vietnamese and international individuals and organizations in dealing with the negative consequences of the toxic chemicals.

The exchange was attended by Professor Dr. Tran Xuan Thu and VAVA Deputy Chairman and General Secretary, Dr. Le Hong Thom from the Hanoi Medicine University, as well as AO victim Nguyen Thi Huyen.

READ MORE: http://english.vovnews.vn/Home/VOVNews-holds-online-exchange-on-AO-victims/20118/129057.vov

2011, The Year of Agent Orange Victims

by Chuck Palazzo
On August 10th 1961, the US Air force began spraying chemicals over Vietnam . Several events will take place this year to mark the fiftieth anniversary of that dreadful act. The Vietnam War (1961-1975) is known for the massive bombing of North Vietnam . Less obvious and unknown for too long by the public at large has been the chemical warfare waged in the Southern part of that country from 1961 to 1971, whose consequences have been dramatic and long-lasting. The ecological disaster is huge and the human catastrophe bears on the economic, social, cultural and well-being of the whole Vietnamese population, affecting now the third generation.

The US government, as well as the US chemicals companies, has tried to escape its responsibilities, but things may begin to change. On June 26th 2010, in Hanoi , the US-Vietnam Dialogue Group[i] published a report, its fourth, consisting in two parts: a Statement and an Action plan. By its tone, the Statement is unusually candid, stressing the Vietnam ’s efforts to face the consequences of the chemical sprayings and pointing also at the modest humanitarian aid procured by NGO, the Ford Foundation included.

READ MORE: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/08/04/2011-the-year-of-agent-orange-victims/

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Agent Orange's legacy remains painful for Vietnam War veterans

By Chuck Fager

Agent Orange.

One of the many terms associated with the Vietnam War that evoke strong and often angry reactions.

Why mention it now and risk stirring those responses again?

Partly, it's the calendar: Aug. 10 will mark 50 years since the first load of powerful defoliant was sprayed by U.S. forces on the Vietnam landscape in 1961. It was the beginning of what was initially called Operation Hades, then was soon renamed and expanded into Operation Ranch Hand.

The name came from the color of the label on the barrels; other defoliant "Agents" used were coded Blue, White, Purple, Pink, and Green. But Agent Orange made up 60 per cent of the sprays.

The idea was that by withering the jungle, Agent Orange would deprive Ho Chi Minh's guerillas of cover. And by withering crops, it would help move rural farmers into towns under the control of the South Vietnamese government.

Over the 10 years of Operation Ranch Hand, planes and trucks sprayed some 20 million gallons of such defoliants across parts of Vietnam that added up to an area as large as Massachusetts.

READ MORE: http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2011/08/04/1112998?sac=Opin

Faces of Agent Orange

Why fill out the form? VVA's Veterans Agent Orange Initiative is a humanitarian, veteran-to-veteran effort to document Agent Orange exposure (particularly from hand and truck spraying of bases) and to define likely hot spots of dangerously high dioxin levels on former U.S. and ARVN bases in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.



H.R.2634 - Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011

from Heather Morris Bowser posted in Outside Vietnam Vets Class Action Against Dow and Monsanto. http://www.facebook.com/groups/220439347987813/?view=permalink&id=240533579311723

A bill that was introduced at the end of July during the whole debt ceiling stuff. It asks the government to help the impoverished Vietnamese Agent Orange victims and for health care and vocational training for American child Agent Orange victims. There will be a big push on this bill in the fall...gives me hope.

A bill that was introduced at the end of July during the whole debt ceiling stuff. It asks the government to help the impoverished Vietnamese Agent Orange victims and for health care and vocational training for American child Agent Orange victims. There will be a big push on this bill in the fall...gives me hope.

Text of H.R.2634 as Introduced in House: Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011 - U.S. Congress. www.opencongress.org

Full bill text of H.R.2634 Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011 on OpenCongress.org

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Agent Orange Relief for Vietnam?

Rep. Filner's Bill Offers Hope


If 'justice for all' were more than misty sentiment appended to a perfunctory 'pledge of allegiance,' H.R. 2634 — a bill seeking broad and long delayed remedial action on behalf of all Vietnam Era victims of Agent Orange — would sail through Congress and gain swift approval from the President.

Introduced by California Congressman Bob Filner, the senior Democrat on the House Veteran's Affairs Committee, the proposed 'Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act' challenges our lawmakers and our nation to finally confront and repair the chemically induced public health and environmental wreckage that remains the most shameful and unresolved legacy of the U.S. war against Vietnam.

Why is this bill necessary? Let's review the facts as the proposed bill presents them:

*From 1961 to 1971, approximately 19,000,000 gallons of herbicides, primarily Agent Orange, were sprayed over the southern region of Vietnam, much of it contaminated with deadly dioxin.

*Potentially 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to herbicides in this period, resulting in chronic illnesses, shortened life spans, and high rates of birth deformities. Even today, exposure continues in contaminated areas, designated dioxin 'hot spots,' and through contact with the food chain.

*Public health resources in Vietnam are inadequate for the necessary care and treatment of Agent Orange victims, many of whom reside in remote rural areas far from available medical and custodial services.

READ MORE: http://www.counterpunch.org/uhl08032011.html

Iraq, Afghan war vets win PTSD lawsuit


WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars won a post traumatic stress disorder class-action settlement with the federal government, officials said.

The settlement means lifetime healthcare benefits will be awarded to more than 1,000 veterans discharged because of PTSD but were denied disability retirement benefits, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The National Veterans Legal Service Program and government officials asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims last week to approve lifetime disability retirement benefits to 1,029 PTSD-diagnosed veterans who were denied the benefits when they were discharged after their wartime service.

"It's getting your dignity back," said a plaintiff and Air Force veteran Aimee Sherrod, who served three tours in Iraq and Pakistan and subsequently was diagnosed as suffering from PTSD. "It's a huge relief."

The lawsuit alleged military services violated the law by not assigning a 50 percent disability rating to personnel discharged for PTSD, which entitles such diagnosed veterans to disability retirement benefits, the Post said.

"The veterans covered by this agreement were exposed to highly traumatic events during deployment, only to return home and be shortchanged on benefits after the military found they suffered from PTSD that was so severe that they needed to be discharged," said Bart Stichman, the National Veterans Legal Service Program co-executive director.

The settlement, announced last week, must be approved by a judge before it is final.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/08/03/Iraq-Afghan-war-vets-win-PTSD-lawsuit/UPI-17051312380037/#ixzz1Tz81t9Kj

Vietnam vets, Widows Face Filing Deadline

Deerfield Review, A Chicago Sun-Time Publication
August 2, 2011 12:46PM

Updated: August 2, 2011 9:16PM

In order to avoid losing thousands of dollars, Vietnam veterans who have an existing medical diagnosis in three new “presumptive diseases” to file claims before Aug. 30.

The Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County, IL notes that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs refers to “presumptive diseases” as certain cancers and other health problems related to exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service.

The three new diseases are: Ischemic heart disease, hairy cell and other B-cell leukemias, and Parkinson’s disease.

Qualifying veterans who file before the Aug. 30 deadline are eligible to receive up to one year of retroactive benefits. They should contact the VAC at (847) 377-3344 to make an appointment or e-mail veterans@lakecountyil.gov. The office is located at 20 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Waukegan. VAC reminds veterans to bring their Military Discharge, DD Form 214.

Mike Peck, VAC superintendent, said, “We strongly recommend that veterans and their widows use a VA-certified Veterans Service Officer through our office. Officers will ensure proper tracking of their claim and can provide representation through the process.”

Additionally, if a Vietnam veteran died from a heart attack, the spouse may qualify for benefits because the death may be due to their husband’s exposure to Agent Orange and a disability of Ischemic heart disease. Qualifying widows should file for “Dependent Indemnity Compensation” with the VAC before the Aug. 30 deadline.

The U.S. VA has said it will streamline claims for presumptive diseases through its “Agent Orange Fast Track Claims Processing System.”


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vietnamese expatriates in Germany raise funds for AO victims

(VOV) - The Vietnamese community in Germany, including diplomats, journalists and businesspeople, raised €10,750 at a fundraiser for Agent Orange/dioxin victims held by the Vietnamese embassy in Germany.

The money will be channelled to the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) as soon as possible.

Addressing the fundraiser, Vietnamese ambassador Do Hoa Binh, underlined the significance of raising funds for the victims of Agent Orange (AO) in Vietnam and said he highly appreciated the contributions by Vietnamese associations and companies in Germany.

VAVA made an appeal for money to support AO victims when it prepared to mark the 50th anniversary of the date the US began spraying defoliant in southern Vietnam, destroying the ecology and health of local people.

For ten years, the US military sprayed AO/dioxin onto more than three million hectares of mountains and fields, and nearly 26,000 villages and hamlets; many of them still remain hot spots of dioxin contamination.

Nearly five million Vietnamese were exposed to the harmful chemical, which continues to affect even the victim’s children and grandchildren.

One family's battle

Asheville's Susan Reinhardt on one family's battle for help with medical problems they believe stem from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam

Rhonda Lunsford never got the big white wedding she dreamed of, though she loved a man like a husband for 15 years.

Had she married him, she would have lost her government benefits.

At 39, this Swannanoa woman spends most of her time lying in bed, one leg amputated and the other swelling more than 100 pounds.

Her aunt believes with all her heart the problems of Rhonda and her younger brother, whose legs are also riddled with swelling and disease, came from Agent Orange sprayed near their father, Roger Lunsford, in Vietnam.

While a fourth-grader who loved skating, her parents discovered one leg growing bigger than the other. Today, she’s ballooned to 450 pounds and can barely fit in her wheelchair.

Her aunt, Gail Muse, has been her biggest advocate, spending more than 25 years writing every government official or politician she could, blaming the children’s illnesses on the Agent Orange exposure from their dad’s time in Vietnam.

She told me I was her last hope. She wants someone to read this and find a way to treat or cure her family’s medical problems that have stolen their chances for a normal life.

“They have suffered way too much for too many years,” said Muse, of Swannanoa. “My brother (Roger) volunteered for the Army when he was 17, then volunteered to go to Vietnam. There, he was exposed to Agent Orange many times, and his barracks were directly across from where they mixed it and sprayed all around the area to keep weeds down.”

READ MORE: http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20110731/COLUMNISTS16/307310026/Family-believes-Agent-Orange-caused-misery?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Frontpage|s

Agent Orange and Vietnam: Time to end a 50-year legacy

August marks the 50th anniversary of the first use of herbicides by United States military forces during the war in Vietnam. From 1961 until 1971, more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides were stored, mixed, handled by U.S. troops and sprayed by U.S. airplanes over millions of acres of Vietnamese forest and farmland. The goal of this military operation was to deny cover to the enemy on the ground.

The U.S. government now compensates U.S. Vietnam-era vets for 15 serious health conditions and one birth defect related to exposure to the dioxin that was part of those herbicides.

READ MORE: http://www.eastoregonian.com/opinion/other_views/agent-orange-and-vietnam-time-to-end-a-year-legacy/article_3da129fc-ba6d-11e0-a3bf-001cc4c002e0.html

Joint efforts needed to care for AO victims

(VOV) - The whole society should join hands to care for victims of Agent Orange/dioxin, said Minister of National Defence, General Phung Quang Thanh.

More efforts to help AO victims

General Thanh, who is also a Party Politburo member, emphasized this at a meeting with the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) on July 30. He said this tragic aftermath of the American war remains a big problem and resolving it will take a long time.

VAVA President Nguyen Van Rinh said that, since it was established seven years ago, the Association has mobilised social resources to provide the victims with both physical and mental support. The VAVA has developed and now has 58 provincial and municipal branches nationwide.

Despite economic difficulties, the Party and State have issued numerous policies to support AO victims, while businesses and donors have also joined hands to care for the victims.

However, Mr. Rinh said, only 200,000 out of more than 3 million victims have benefited from the Party and State’s policies. Third-generation victims and those living or working in seriously infected areas are still facing difficulties.

READ MORE: http://english.vovnews.vn/Home/Joint-efforts-needed-to-care-for-AO-victims/20117/128840.vov