Friday, October 2, 2015

Veteran Affairs department in dilemma over toxic exposure claims
In a hearing on Tuesday at Capitol Hill, Senators said that the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) should actively support veterans in their claims regarding the illnesses caused by environmental exposures and contaminants during their tours of duty.
From the deserts of Arabia to South of China Sea, from Iraq to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and places elsewhere; health-related issues are common for service members. While working, soldiers might be exposed to pollutants that have led to a deterioration in their health. A USA Today report claims that some people in the VA department have inappropriately used their positions of authority and financial benefits, which questions their accountability over society.
Despite these hurdles, the VA continues its “passive-aggressive rebuttal of scientific findings” and disapproves the claim regarding compensation and healthcare, accused Richard Burr, Senator, R-N.C. But Burr is encouraged by VA Secretary Bob McDonald who is taking an initiative to improve the department’s better understanding of exposure-related problems.
"Our government rewarded them for their service by negligently poisoning them,” says Burr. He feels that it is appalling how the United States government has mistreated the families. This was in reference to 1 million residents of Camp Lejeune who consumed contaminated drinking water at the installation from the mid-1950s through 1987.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont. have sponsored a bill, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, that will grant benefits to hundreds of thousands of sailors in the waters off Vietnam who served on destroyers, aircraft carriers and other large Navy ships, and who have illnesses associated with exposure to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.
A Military Times report said that in 2011, the Institute of Medicine released a study saying that there were not adequate evidence or information whether these "blue water" veterans were exposed to Agent Orange. While some agree regarding the compensation, others feel that the sailors were not directly exposed to toxic elements, and therefore, claims regarding their illness are not valid.
VA considers that quite a few birth defects in Vietnamese children are service-connected, including spina bifida for male vets’ children and 18 health conditions for children of mothers who served in that combat zone.
The Veterans Benefits Administration is taking initiatives to improve its determinations for the claims related to toxic exposures. This will include contracting with the Institute of Medicine and other scientific bodies to study the issues in the best possible way, said David McLenachen, VA acting deputy secretary for disability assistance.

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