Thursday, May 28, 2015

AVAO organizes meeting to mark its 10th anniversary of establishment
The Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (AVAO -Dioxin) in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday held a press conference about the 10th establishment anniversary of the association.
At the meeting, the association summed up its activities during 10 years including scientific seminar on overcoming the chemical consequences;  to pool support for a Vietnamese-French woman, Tran To Nga, a dioxin victim, in her lawsuit against 26 U.S. chemical companies for producing dioxin chemicals to spray in Vietnam during wartime against France;  a demonstration with 10,000 participants to support the struggle for Vietnamese dioxin victims and ground breaking  ceremony for a village in Xuan Thoi Thuong commune in Hoc Mon District in HCMC to take care of Agent Orange victims.
Currently the country has nearly 5 million Agent Orange victims and of them, around 3 million people are disabled and live in despair. In HCMC, 19,000 people are Agent Orange victims. In 10 year establishment, the association has spent VND13 billion (US$ 598,000) to look after 5,234 agent orange victims; build charity houses; repair houses and supporting victim families’ businesses.
In addition, the association has also offered wheelchairs and motorbikes to victims who are difficult in moving as well as provided free orthopedic surgeries to them. Thanks to the assistance of the association, many agent orange victims have had stable life.
The even was presided by Major General Tran Ngoc Tho, former chief of staff of the High Command of Military Zone 7 and the chairman of the association with the participation of Prof. Dr Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, Vice Chairwoman of the association, and Colonel Le Cuong, head of the Information Section of the association.

Herbicide used in Vietnam War has lingering effect on vets
ENID, Okla. (AP) - The effects of the Vietnam War still are reaching Enid in 2015.
During the Vietnam War, United States military forces encountered an enemy that didn’t march in formation and meet on a battlefield; they fought Viet Cong soldiers who took cover in the thick forests and vegetation that grew in rural areas of South Vietnam, making it almost impossible to see where troops were moving, the Enid News & Eagle ( ) reported.
One answer to this problem was a mass defoliation project from 1961 to 1971 to remove the tree cover and deprive the Viet Cong soldiers of food using several herbicides, including a mixture of two phenoxyl herbicides: Agent Orange.
Agent Orange, or Herbicide Orange, got its name from the orange markings on the storage barrels, and was manufactured primarily by Monsanto Corp. and Dow Chemical.
Nearly 20 million gallons of herbicides, including about 12 million gallons of Agent Orange, were sprayed over Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia from helicopters of low-flying C-123 Provider aircraft fitted with sprayers.
The toxins destroyed more than five million acres of forests and 500,000 acres of crops, and the effects of Agent Orange and other herbicides continue to wreak havoc.
Agent Orange destroyed more than foliage and vegetation; it began destroying lives, and it still does so today.
Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange reported illnesses or miscarriages and birth defects after returning home. In Vietnam, Dr. Nguyen Viet Nhan reported children born in the areas where Agent Orange was sprayed were three more times likely to have multiple health problems, including cleft palates, mental disabilities, extra digits, and some were stillborn and physically deformed after prenatal exposure, according to a 1998 article from BBC.
U.S. Veterans began filing claims in 1977 for disability payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs for illnesses they believed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange.
Now, the VA acknowledges that some diseases, including chronic B-cell Leukemias, type 2 diabetes, Hodgkin’s Disease, Ischemic heart disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s Disease, peripheral neuropathy, respiratory cancers and soft tissue sarcomas in veterans exposed to Agent Orange could be a result of the exposure.

Potential Exposure at Fort McClellan
Fort McClellan was an Army installation in Alabama that opened in 1917.
Some members of the U.S. Army Chemical Corp School, Army Combat Development Command Chemical/Biological/Radiological Agency, Army Military Police School and Women's Army Corps, among others, may have been exposed to one or more of several hazardous materials, likely at low levels, during their service at Fort McClellan. Potential exposures could have included, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Radioactive compounds (cesium-137 and cobalt-60) used in decontamination training activities in isolated locations on base.
  • Chemical warfare agents (mustard gas and nerve agents) used in decontamination testing activities in isolated locations on base.
  • Airborne polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the Monsanto plant in the neighboring town.
Although exposures to high levels of these compounds have been shown to cause a variety of adverse health effects in humans and laboratory animals, there is no evidence of exposures of this magnitude having occurred at Fort McClellan.

PCBs and the Monsanto chemical plant

From 1929 to 1971, an off-post Monsanto chemical plant operated south of Fort McClellan in Anniston. PCBs from the plant entered into the environment, and the surrounding community was exposed.
In 2013, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) completed an assessment of the potential health risks caused by airborne PCBs in Anniston and concluded that the concentrations found were "not expected to result in an increased cancer risk or other harmful health effects in people living in the neighborhoods outside the perimeter of the former PCB manufacturing facility."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Important Agent Orange Links

from our Dear friend,
 George Claxton
Molecular biology of the stress response in the early embryo and its stem cells.
Thyroid and growth hormone concentrations in 8-year-old children exposed in utero to dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls
Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals during Pregnancy and Weight at 7 Years of Age: A Multi-pollutant Approach.
Brominated Flame Retardants and Other Persistent Organ halogenated Compounds in Relation to Timing of Puberty in a Longitudinal Study of Girls
The diversity of mechanisms influenced by transthyretin in neurobiology: development, disease and endocrine disruption.
Long-term health effects of early life exposure to tetrachloroethylene (PCE)-contaminated drinking water: a retrospective cohort study
The UK’s use of Agent Orange in Malaysia
Transgenerational Effects of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
Endocrine Disrupters
Environmental Factors and Breast Cancer
Birth Defects Caused by Agent Orange
Exposures of zebrafish through diet to three environmentally relevant mixtures of PAHs produce behavioral disruptions in unexposed F1 and F2 descendant.
Reducing dioxin formation by adding hydrogen in simulated fly ash.
Agonistic effect of selected isoflavones on arylhydrocarbon receptor in a novel AZ-AhR transgenic gene reporter human cell line.
Arsenic Exposure in Infancy: Estimating the Contributions of Well Water and Human Milk
Effects of Low-Dose Bisphenol A on DNA Damage and Proliferation of Breast Cells: The Role of c-Myc
Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and hexachlorobenzene, semen quality and testicular cancer risk.
Metabolic syndrome and the environmental pollutants from mitochondrial perspectives.
Environmental epigenetic inheritance through gametes and implications for human reproduction
Dioxin and furan levels found in tampons
The Corporate Crimes of Dow Chemical and the Failure to Regulate Environmental Pollution

Count It! Parkinson’s Priority Moves to House Floor
Exciting news for the Parkinson’s community! On May 21, 2015, the House Energy & Commerce Committee unanimously passed H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes a key Parkinson’s priority, the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act (H.R. 292/S. 849). The House is expected to bring the 21st Century Cures Act to a vote in June.

Before passing the bill, the committee held opening statements, where Parkinson’s was front and center. Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO), who is a leader on the 21st Century Cures Initiative, mentioned her connection to Parkinson’s disease and her support for the data collection priority, which is included in the bill as the “National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System.” Watch Rep. DeGette’s statement. 
The 21st Century Cures Act features other key provisions, including a $10 billion “Innovation Fund” at the National Institutes of Health, additional funding to support activities at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), incorporation of patient experience data into the regulatory process at FDA, and exemption of FDA user fee programs from sequestration.
While we’ve taken an important step in the process, your continued advocacy is needed to ensure passage in the House. Please ask your Member to co-sponsor H.R. 292 today and support this priority by voting yes on the 21st Century Cures Act when it is considered on the House floor.



Veterans' Diseases Associated with Agent Orange
VA assumes that certain diseases can be related to a Veteran's qualifying military service. We call these "presumptive diseases."
VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for benefits for these diseases.
  • AL Amyloidosis
    A rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters tissues or organs
  • Chronic B-cell Leukemias
    A type of cancer which affects white blood cells
  • Chloracne (or similar acneform disease)
    A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
    A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin
  • Hodgkin's Disease
    A malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia
  • Ischemic Heart Disease
    A disease characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart, that leads to chest pain
  • Multiple Myeloma
    A cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow
  • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
    A group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue
  • Parkinson's Disease
    A progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement
  • Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
    A nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and motor weakness. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure.
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
    A disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
  • Prostate Cancer
    Cancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among men
  • Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer)
    Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
    A group of different types of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues

Friday, May 22, 2015

S.681 - Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2015

Sen. Gillibrand wants to do a press release on The Blue Water Navy Bill, S.681.
She is looking for Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans (Navy and Marine Corps) who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam with an Agent Orange illness who have either been denied benefits or are still waiting for their claim to be decided because that had “no boots on the ground”.  
Please contact

Post-Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange-Contaminated C-123 Aircraft

Governor Christie vetoes bill that would hand over more funds for river cleanup
On Monday May 11, Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill which would have revised this year's state budget to provide more of the money from settlements with polluters to go toward cleanup of the Passaic River, which is laced with cancer-causing dioxin, mercury and PCBs.
The bill introduced March 9, if signed by Christie, would have amended the Fiscal Year 2015 annual appropriation act to ensure that one-half of all natural resource recoveries and associated damages recovered by the state, in excess of $50 million, be deposited into the Hazardous Discharge Site Cleanup Fund and be appropriated for direct and indirect costs of remediation, restoration, and cleanup. Without the enactment of the bill, all amounts of natural resource recoveries and associated damages recovered by the state in excess of $50 million during 2015 will now be deposited in the State General Fund as general state revenue.
"The protection and preservation of the ecological wonders of which New Jersey is so proud have always been critical considerations when weighing where New Jersey's limited budget dollars should be delivered, but there are always challenging decisions that must be made when balancing a complex state budget," said Christie. "The allocation determined as part of the collaborative state budget process strikes an appropriate balance between the environmental and fiscal needs of the citizens of New Jersey, and goes as far as possible to continue the restoration of the natural spaces and waterways our citizens enjoy."
The Christie Administration allocated $50 million received from recoveries for the restoration and remediation of natural resources throughout New Jersey in 2015, as well as fund $334 million to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

The Vietnam War: After 40 Years

Today, 40 years after the American war in Vietnam ended in ignominious defeat, the traces of that terrible conflict are disappearing.
Traveling through Vietnam during the latter half of April 2015 with a group of erstwhile antiwar activists, I was struck by the transformation of what was once an impoverished, war-devastated peasant society into a modern nation.  Its cities and towns are bustling with life and energy.  Vast numbers of motorbikes surge through their streets, including 4.2 million in Hanoi and 7 million in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).  A thriving commercial culture has emerged, based not only on many small shops, but on an influx of giant Western, Japanese, and other corporations.  Although Vietnam is officially a Communist nation, about 40 percent of the economy is capitalist, and the government is making great efforts to encourage private foreign investment. Indeed, over the past decade, Vietnam has enjoyed one of the highest economic growth rates in the world.  Not only have manufacturing and tourism expanded dramatically, but Vietnam has become an agricultural powerhouse.  Today it is the world’s second largest exporter of rice, and one of the world’s leading exporters of coffee, pepper, rubber, and other agricultural commodities.  Another factor distancing the country from what the Vietnamese call “the American War” is the rapid increase in Vietnam’s population.  Only 41 million in 1975, it now tops 90 million, with most of it under the age of 30 — too young to have any direct experience with the conflict.
Vietnam has also made a remarkable recovery in world affairs.  It now has diplomatic relations with 189 countries, and enjoys good relations with all the major nations.
Nevertheless, the people of Vietnam paid a very heavy price for their independence from foreign domination.  Some three million of them died in the American War, and another 300,000 are still classified as MIAs.  In addition, many, many Vietnamese were wounded or crippled in the conflict.  Perhaps the most striking long-term damage resulted from the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange (dioxin) as a defoliant.  Vietnamese officials estimate that, today, some four million of their people suffer the terrible effects of this chemical, which not only destroys the bodies of those exposed to it, but has led to horrible birth defects and developmental disabilities into the second and third generations.  Much of Vietnam’s land remains contaminated by Agent Orange, as well as by unexploded ordnance (UXO).  Indeed, since the end of the American war in 1975, the landmines, shells, and bombs that continue to litter the nation’s soil have wounded or killed over 105,000 Vietnamese — many of them children.
During the immediate postwar years, Vietnam’s ruin was exacerbated by additional factors.  These included a U.S. government embargo on trade with Vietnam, U.S. government efforts to isolate Vietnam diplomatically, and a 1979 Chinese military invasion of Vietnam employing 600,000 troops.  Although the Vietnamese managed to expel the Chinese — just as they had previously routed the French and the Americans — China continued border skirmishes with Vietnam until 1988.  In addition, during the first postwar decade, the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party pursued a hardline, repressive policy that undermined what was left of the economy and alienated much of the population.  Misery and starvation were widespread.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Call your Legislators TODAY!

Urge your Representatives to Support S. 901 & H.R. 1769

Delaware's landmark Agent Orange case
Art Chadwell had been back from Vietnam for 18 months when he and his wife-to-be Kathryn first met. Even then, in 1967, she noticed he had problems with peeling skin, hard lumps and a lot of joint pain. He trembled all the time, she recalled.
"He knew something was going on," Kathryn said. "But he didn't know what it was."
Chadwell, who moved from Tacoma, Washington, to Dover in 1956, was a loadmaster on a variety of airplanes, including the C-123. The prop-driven cargo plane was a major player in the Vietnam War's Operation Ranch Hand, an 11-year program of chemical defoliation aimed at denying the enemy cover and food. One of the chemical defoliants sprayed across the jungle came to be known as Agent Orange, named for the orange stripe painted on the 55-gallon containers.
As a loadmaster, Chadwell had a lot of contact with the military-grade herbicide, which contained the highly toxic compound dioxin, an unintentional byproduct of the manufacturing process that causes skin lesions in the short term and is classified by the World Health Organization as a "known human carcinogen."
"He was heavily exposed to the Agent Orange in the aircraft and on the ground," Kathryn said in her soft Tennessee drawl. "But they told him it was safe. He told me that the men even took rags and used the Agent Orange to clean their tools, with their bare hands. That's how heavily exposed he was to it."
Over the years – the couple spent most of their 28 years together in Bridgeville – Chadwell's condition sometimes improved, though he suffered frequent skin infections, some of which had to be cut away. Losing weight and becoming jaundiced, he visited a Department of Veterans Affairs doctor in April 1996. The news was heart-stopping: Chadwell had developed pancreatic cancer. Six months later, he was dead. Arthur C. Chadwell was 51.
For much of the next two decades, Kathryn tried and failed to get the government to acknowledge that Agent Orange had caused his cancer, despite the efforts of the Vietnam Veterans of America and, beginning in 2012, a Bethesda, Maryland, national law firm that specializes in compensation cases before VA.
Then, in April, she opened a letter from the VA containing a copy of a decision by the Board of Veterans' Appeals, or BVA. She could hardly believe what she read: "The Board finds that service connection for the cause of this Veteran's death due to herbicide exposure in service is warranted."
"After 181/2 years, I was so stunned that I had to read it, like, six times before I believed it," Kathryn said during a recent interview. "I just knew there was something in the verbiage that I was missing."
For Kathryn, who'd never worked outside their home and suffered financial hardship following Art's death, the decision should mean the ability to live out her life more comfortably, said Joe Moore, an attorney with Bergmann & Moore, the firm that took up her case. The decision is also important news for others who have been similarly afflicted, or who lost a spouse to the disease, he said.
"This case isn't precedential," Moore said. "This case doesn't, unfortunately, add this cancer to the presumptive list. But if veterans and their families hear about the fact that pancreatic cancer can be service-connected due to Agent Orange exposure, they won't give up."


Is Dong Nai River filled with dioxin-contaminated soil?

VietNamNet Bridge - The Dong Nai provincial authorities on May 7 convened an urgent meeting to clarify information provided by a local newspaper that the Dong Nai River is being filled with dioxin-contaminated soil and rocks taken from an area near Bien Hoa Airport.
The urgent meeting was held just several hours after an article in Thoi Nay, indicating that Toan Thinh Phat, the contractor for the project on Dong Nai riverside improvement and urban development, is filling the River with soil and rocks from a dioxin-contaminated area.
The public reacted strongly to the news. Thoi Nay is a publication of Nhan Dan (the People), the organ of the Vietnamese Communist Party, and therefore, any news released by the newspaper can cause repercussions to the society.
The project on improving the Dong Nai riverside landscape appeared in local newspapers a few weeks ago when environmentalists issued a warning about the danger the project could bring. Locals repeatedly called on to stop the project implementation.
The article could not show convincing evidence for Toan Thinh Phat’s actions. It only raised a question if the soil and rocks exploited from the Bien Hoa Airport were being used for the Dong Nai riverside landscape improvement.
The reporters quoted a leader of the Bien Hoa Airport as saying that a big volume of soil and rocks from the airport has been taken by Toan Thinh Phat and carried away both on air and by land.

The Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Department of Construction and the Bien Hoa Airport management unit have been checking sources of materials used for Dong Nai River project.
Meanwhile, Dong Nai newspaper quoted Tran Van Dung from Regiment No 935 which now manages the Bien Hoa Airport as saying that no rock exploitation activities are being carried out within the campus of Bien Hoa Airport.
There is only one project under implementation there – the one on building a water reservoir, implemented by Than Dong Bac, a mineral investment joint stock company.
However, a Than Dong Bac representative affirmed that the company has had tested soil taken from the reservoir bed and dioxin was not found.
He went on to say that the soil taken from there has been transferred to Hung Thinh Phat, a company in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, for use, and the soil has not been provided to serve the Dong Nai river project.
Meanwhile, Toan Thinh Phat, the suspected culprit, said that it used the soil and rocks sourced from Thanh Phu, Vinh Cuu and Tan Cang quarries in Dong Nai and Tan Uyen quarry in Binh Duong provinces.

Friday, May 15, 2015

MIT Researcher: Glyphosate Herbicide will Cause Half of All Children to Have Autism by 2025

Half of All Children Will Be Autistic by 2025, Warns Senior Research Scientist at MIT
Why? Evidence points to glyphosate toxicity from the overuse of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide on our food.

For over three decades, Stephanie Seneff, PhD, has researched biology and technology, over the years publishing over 170 scholarly peer-reviewed articles. In recent years she has concentrated on the relationship between nutrition and health, tackling such topics as Alzheimer’s, autism, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as the impact of nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins on human health.
At a [recent] conference, in a special panel discussion about GMOs, she took the audience by surprise when she declared, “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.” She noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the use of Roundup on crops (and the creation of Roundup-ready GMO crop seeds) with rising rates of autism. Children with autism have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate, seizures, and mitochondrial disorder.
A fellow panelist reported that after Dr. Seneff’s presentation, “All of the 70 or so people in attendance were squirming, likely because they now had serious misgivings about serving their kids, or themselves, anything with corn or soy, which are nearly all genetically modified and thus tainted with Roundup and its glyphosate.”
Dr. Seneff noted the ubiquity of glyphosate’s use. Because it is used on corn and soy, all soft drinks and candies sweetened with corn syrup and all chips and cereals that contain soy fillers have small amounts of glyphosate in them, as do our beef and poultry since cattle and chicken are fed GMO corn or soy. Wheat is often sprayed with Roundup just prior to being harvested, which means that all non-organic bread and wheat products would also be sources of glyphosate toxicity. The amount of glyphosate in each product may not be large, but the cumulative effect (especially with as much processed food as Americans eat) could be devastating. A recent study shows that pregnant women living near farms where pesticides are applied have a 60% increased risk of children having an autism spectrum disorder.
Other toxic substances may also be autism-inducing. You may recall our story on the CDC whistleblower who revealed the government’s deliberate concealment of the link between the MMR vaccine (for measles, mumps, and rubella) and a sharply increased risk of autism, particularly in African American boys. Other studies now show a link between children’s exposure to pesticides and autism. Children who live in homes with vinyl floors, which can emit phthalate chemicals, are more likely to have autism. Children whose mothers smoked were also twice as likely to have autism. Research now acknowledges that environmental contaminants such as PCBs, PBDEs, and mercury can alter brain neuron functioning even before a child is born.
This month, the USDA released a study finding that although there were detectable levels of pesticide residue in more than half of food tested by the agency, 99% of samples taken were found to be within levels the government deems safe, and 40% were found to have no detectable trace of pesticides at all. The USDA added, however, that due to “cost concerns,” it did not test for residues of glyphosate. Let’s repeat that: they never tested for the active ingredient in the most widely used herbicide in the world. “Cost concerns”? How absurd—unless they mean it will cost them too much in terms of the special relationship between the USDA and Monsanto. You may recall the revolving door between Monsanto and the federal government, with agency officials becoming high-paying executives—and vice versa! Money, power, prestige: it’s all there. Monsanto and the USDA love to scratch each others’ backs. Clearly this omission was

12 Years Later, a Mystery of Chemical Exposure in Iraq Clears Slightly
The toxic vapors acted quickly against the Second Platoon of the 811th Ordnance Company, whose soldiers were moving abandoned barrels out of an Iraqi Republican Guard warehouse in 2003. The building, one soldier said, was littered with dead birds.
As the soldiers pushed the barrels over and began rolling them, some of the contents leaked, they said, filling the air with a bitter, penetrating smell. Soon, many were dizzy and suffering from running noses and tearing eyes. A few were vomiting, disoriented, tingling or numb.
After the soldiers staggered outside for air, multiple detection tests indicated the presence of nerve agent. Others suggested blister agent, too. The results seemed to confirm the victims’ fear that they had stumbled upon unused stocks of Iraq’s chemical weapons.
From Camp Taji, where the barrels had been found, more than 20 exposed soldiers were evacuated in helicopters to a military hospital in Balad, where they were met by soldiers wearing gas masks and ordered to undress before being allowed inside for medical care.
“They drew a box in the sand and had armed guards and were like: ‘Do not get out of that box. Do not get out of that box,’ ” said Nathan Willie, a private first class at the time. “I was kind of freaked out.”
Since last fall, the United States military has acknowledged that American soldiers found thousands of abandoned chemical weapons in Iraq, and that hundreds of troops notified the military medical system that they believed they had been exposed to them. The military acknowledged the exposures after years of secrecy — and of denying medical tracking and official recognition to victims — only after an investigation by The New York Times.
Even then, the affliction of the 811th Ordnance Company had quietly remained one of the unsolved mysteries of the Iraq war, and a parable of what several of the victims describe as the corrosive effects of the government’s secrecy on troop welfare and public trust.
Since the episode, several of the sickened soldiers have complained of health effects that they say may be linked to handling leaking barrels. But instead of finding the Army concerned or committed to their well-being, they faced years of shifting stories about what exactly had made them ill.
The Army, they said, at first suggested that they might have been exposed to the nerve agent sarin. Then it said that chemical warfare field detection tests were unreliable and that the liquid was most likely a pesticide or something else. Then it dropped the subject entirely.
Still, several of the victims suffered. But because the military’s records relating to the episode were classified, the victims said, they lacked the information to settle their gnawing worries or to give them the standing necessary to pursue medical care or disability claims.
Thomas S. Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, which advocates open government, said the government’s refusal to share its information was a case of the habits of secrecy trumping common sense.
“Soldiers exposed to something really dangerous cannot find out what it was because ‘Sorry it’s classified’?” he said. “It’s creepy and it’s crazy.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why does the Tulip Represent People with Parkinson's Disease?
Did you know that the tulip became the international symbol of Parkinson’s disease in 1980 when a horticulturalist named a tulip after Dr. James Parkinson? To honor all those who have Parkinson’s disease or who are affected by it, the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) is pleased to announce the launch of the 2015 Tulip Tribute Garden.
The Tulip Tribute Garden celebrates, honors, and remembers those affected by Parkinson’s disease while supporting PAN’s vital policy initiatives.
Would you consider making a donation of $25, $55, $70, $100, $250, $400, or more? Your gift will immediately help PAN work toward better treatments and a cure for Parkinson's disease.
For gifts of $25 or more, you will be invited to plant a virtual tulip and leave a message on the Tribute Wall. At the $70 level, you or someone you designate will be sent a lovely chocolate truffle confection. For donations of $400 or more, a beautiful bouquet of tulips will be sent to you or a loved one.
Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to push bill extending VA benefits to Vietnam-era Navy veterans exposed to Agent Orange

WASHINGTON - Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will use a Veteran's Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday to push a bill to extend Veterans Affairs Department benefits to "blue water" Vietnam-era veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
It's a bid to right what many of those Navy veterans see as their unfair exclusion from a 1991 law that requires the VA to provide presumptive disability coverage to Vietnam veterans potentially exposed to Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide the U.S. used to remove jungle foliage if they develop health conditions tied to the chemical.
Though some of the Navy vets faced exposure, they cannot receive the benefits unless they set foot on the ground in Vietnam or can show "on factual basis" that they were exposed.
That leaves tens of thousands of veterans like Bobby Condon uncovered.
Condon, 68, who grew up in Flatbush, enlisted in the Navy at just 17, serving from 1965 to 1968. He was nicknamed "Brooklyn" by fellow sailors.
Condon, who had previously overcome throat cancer, was diagnosed in 2008 with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, an incurable form of cancer linked to Agent Orange.
He believes he was exposed to Agent Orange while working on planes that had flown threw areas where the chemical was dropped while he worked on the flight deck of the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier.
"You're telling me that this plane is flying through this stuff, we're changing the planes, we're pushing them around, then we're going down and getting a hamburger, and we're not exposed?" he said.
He noted that he used to bite his nails.
Condon says he has a "50-50 chance of dying" from the condition, but can't get coverage from the VA.
"They're just trying to wear me out," he said. "They won't wear me out."
Gillibrand's bill, cosponsored by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), would allow veterans who served up to approximately 12 miles offshore to get VA health and disability benefits for illnesses that are tied to Agent Orange exposure.
The junior New York senator has pushed the measure since 2009, but failed to win Senate passage amid concerns about the cost the coverage would impose on the VA.
Condon said he will watch what senators do with the bill, which is set to receive a committee vote in coming weeks.
"These guys are sitting in their plush chairs," he said. "They are either gonna vote no or yes on this."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Announcement on benefits for Westover veterans exposed to Agent Orange should come soon
The four-year battle for medical benefits waged by Westover Air Reserve veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while flying C-123 planes after the Vietnam War could be over by the end of the month.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald said he plans to make an announcement within a few weeks about care for the crews who flew the twin-propeller driven C-123 Providers after many were used to spray the chemical over the Vietnam countryside to ruin crops and defoliate trees, a department spokeswoman said.
"VA officials have engaged in a collaborative conversation with key stakeholders, including veterans' service organizations and Congressional staff, to discuss existing legal authorities and the steps needed to authorize benefits for all Reserve personnel who had sustained contact with the contaminated aircraft and developed one of the covered Agent Orange presumptive conditions. We will continue to work with Congress on this important matter to provide our Veterans with the benefits they have earned and deserve," a spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs said in writing.
At least 11 of the 16 planes used at Westover Air Reserve Base between 1972 to 1982 at Westover are known to be former Agent Orange spray planes. Some of them were tested a decade after they were retired and results showed at least one used at Westover was "highly contaminated."
The C-123 planes were also sent to the Pittsburgh Air National Guard Base and Rickenbacker Air National Base in Ohio.
Veterans did not learn that the planes were contaminated until about four years ago when Retired Air Force Maj. Wesley T. Carter, now of Colorado, started requesting reams of documents through the federal Freedom of Information Act after he and a number of fellow reservists started falling ill with multiple cancers, heart disease and other illnesses known to be caused by dioxin, the toxic chemical in Agent Orange.
The reservists have been fighting for the same benefits that people who served in Vietnam receive. Under federal law anyone who spent any time in Vietnam, even if it was only a day, is presumed to be exposed to Agent Orange and eligible for full medical benefits and some disability benefits if they fall ill with one of the diseases caused by dioxin.
For several years the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Air Force have refused to grant the benefits, saying the reservists could not be exposed to dioxin from dried Agent Orange. That changed in January when the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, released a study saying the veterans were made ill from being exposed to Agent Orange.
"The Committee states with confidence that the AF (Air Force) Reservists were exposed when working in the ORH C-123s (used in Vietnam) and so experienced some increase in their risk of a variety of adverse responses," the study said.
It estimated 2,000 to 2,500 pilots, loadmasters, mechanics, medical personnel and others who worked on the C-123s were exposed. A number of them however, including Carter, are already eligible for the benefits because they served in Vietnam or through other means.
A number of veterans organizations, including the Vietnam Veterans of America and the National Veterans of Foreign Wars have been lobbying to support the C-123 veterans.
In February six senators, including Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts signed a strongly-worded to the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to show their support. The six have followed that up recently demanding quick action from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Chris Gibson (R-NY) optimistic about 'Blue Water' veteran bill
U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, is optimistic about the outlook for legislation he introduced to establish “presumed coverage” for so-called “Blue Water” veterans for treatment of Agent Orange exposure.
“Clearly we are further along then we have ever been in any previous Congress, and I am hopeful the President of the United States will sign this into law this Congress,” Gibson said in an interview in Queensbury on Saturday.
Gibson said there are several hopeful indicators:
The House bill he introduced – H.R. 969 -- has 218 co-sponsors, the number of votes necessary to pass legislation. There are 98 Republican co-sponsors, including Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, and 120 Democratic co-sponsors, including Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has introduced companion legislation in the Senate, which will be the topic of a Senate hearing this week.
The Congressional Budget Office is in the process of conducting a new estimate of the cost, a factor Gibson said has been a hurdle in getting approval of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “I’ve maintained from the very beginning that the CBO cost was not accurate. We have been working diligently with the CBO and believe that there will be good news to report on that immanently, in the coming days if not in the coming weeks,” he said.
The legislation would clarify existing law so veterans would be automatically covered by the federal Veterans Administration for treatment of Agent Orange exposure if they served within the “territorial seas,” approximately 12 miles off the shore of Vietnam.
Agent Orange is a toxic chemical used to remove jungle foliage.
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed about 20 million gallons of the chemical in Vietnam.
Currently, veterans only have presumed coverage if they were actually on the ground in Vietnam.
Others are decided on a case-by-case basis, which can be a lengthy process.
“We’re proud of the fact that we do win a fair number of these cases,” Gibson said. “But we shouldn’t have to. They should get presumed coverage.”

Colombia ending use of Monsanto’s Glyphosate to combat cocaine production

Authorities in Colombia have been told they must stop using Glyphosate the controversial herbicide, that is more commonly known by Roundup it brand name.
Authorities have been using the herbicide to eradicate the illegal coca plantations by spraying them with the herbicide. Juan Manuel Santos the president of Colombia was the one who informed the military of his decision.
Santos said he would ask government officials at the next meeting of the National Drug Council to suspend all spraying of glyphosate on the illegal coca plantations.
The practice of spraying the herbicide was started in 1994. It has been treated for years as sacrosanct by officials in Colombia, who were more than happy to accept the billion of U.S. dollars from the government of the U.S. and were successful in slashing the production of cocaine that fueled the civil war in the country for the past five decades.
However, this past March, the World Health Organization made an announcement that the herbicide glyphosate was likely a carcinogen. That prompted the cabinet of Santos to make a decision as to whether they should continue with their war through the air on coca, the raw ingredient used to make cocaine.