Monday, November 30, 2015

Despite Reform Efforts, Number of Veterans Waiting for Healthcare Has Nearly Doubled

More than a year after a scandal broke over U.S. military veterans enduring extremely long waits to see doctors at clinics run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), things have actually gone from bad to worse.
The number of cases in which appointments took 30 or more days to happen has increased by 67 percent in the past year, despite more money and more staff dedicated to the VA.
Jim Hudson, an Army veteran from California who served on the front lines during the Vietnam War, has spent most of his post-war life advocating for other disabled veterans. But he still has to be his own advocate just to get the healthcare he’s owed by the VA.
Hudson, 66, spent 14 years in the military. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other service-related psychiatric issues.
Yet, he still has to wait six months just to see a VA psychiatrist.
I don’t have any idea if or when they’ll come through with the surgery appointment. The pain is horrible. VA is still a mess.
“I have PTSD, anxiety, and depressive disorders, and several other issues,” Hudson told Healthline. “I’m on multiple medications. Six months is far too long to wait.”
Mark Trifeletti, a Gulf War veteran from New York, is in the same boat. Trifeletti suffers from chronic pain, and has been waiting more than three months for emergency surgery to fix a device surgically implanted at the base of his spine that was meant to give him some relief.
“I don’t have any idea if or when they’ll come through with the surgery appointment,” he said. “The pain is horrible. VA is still a mess.”

Dioxin contamination continues to cause miscarriages, stillbirths in Vietnam

Vietnamese experts have called for protecting women in dioxin-contaminated areas as a new study showed local women are still suffering high rates of miscarriages and stillbirths.
“Our study shows the connection between recent pregnancy abnormalities and exposure to the wartime toxin,” Dr Tran Duc Phan of the Hanoi Medicine University said at a conference Tuesday where the Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment and Science and Technology released their latest study on the effects of dioxin on the people and environment.
Phan was a member of the study that investigated 1,500 women in Da Nang city’s Thanh Khe District, 1,551 in Bien Hoa city of the southern province of Dong Nai, and 6,600 in Phu Cat District in the central province of Binh Dinh.
The miscarriage rate in Thanh Khe was 3.8 percent, in Bien Hoa 6.6 percent and Phu Cat 4.5 percent. Their rates of stillbirths were 1.6 percent, 2.4 percent, and 0.5 percent.
He said, as cited by Tuoi Tre, that the study team has urged authorities in the three areas to provide proper medical protection for people.
“We have suggested that all women are given the right dose of folic acid and early pregnancy healthcare.”
Folic acid is a vitamin B synthetically produced to support DNA synthesis and repair and is especially important in aiding rapid cell division and growth during pregnancy.
An undated file photo shows experts inspecting a dioxin hotspot at the Bien Hoa Airbase in Dong Nai Province, 32 kilometers to the northeast of Ho Chi Minh City
Between 1961 and 1971, the US sprayed 80 million liters of Agent Orange containing 366 kilograms of dioxin over 76,800 square kilometers of southern Vietnam to clear the forests used as natural cover by Vietnamese revolutionary forces.
Between 2.1 and 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides during the war.
Bien Hoa, Da Nang, and Phu Cat have been targets of a national dioxin clean-up program since the US stored the chemicals there during the war that ended in April 1975.
Phu Cat was declared clean in August 2012. But the new study suggests it might not be completely safe yet.

Mom says military burn pits in Iraq killed her soldier son

An Aledo, Illinois mom is pushing for more awareness, detection, and treatment for soldiers exposed to  toxic burn pits used in Iraq;  pits that she believes poisoned her soldier son and caused his deadly cancer.

"It's sad, it's just so sad and there's more and more of them passing away becoming ill. Every single day," said Joan Wells; she lost her son Sgt. Jeff Wells in August of 2015.
"He had a lump come up on his arm right here in July of last year. He went to the VA hospital in August 2014, and they had no clue what it was," she said.
Jean says Sgt. Wells was bounced around by the Veterans Administration in Chicago from inexperienced residents, from doctor to doctor, and he was not diagnosed until nine months after his first visit.
"They didn't do a thing, and did not start treatments in May. It was spindle cell sarcoma, a very rare cancer. By the time they started chemo treatments, it was also on his liver, in his lungs, his pancreas," she said.
Wells believes burn pits in Iraq poisoned her son with their toxic smoke and fumes.  His barracks were near one of 230 burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan to get rid of garbage. The military burned massive amounts of plastics, medical waste, body parts, tires, and other toxic materials.
Now, soldiers are coming up with rare cancers, and respiratory ailments that are being linked to toxic fires.
"This is this generation's version of Agent Orange," Wells said.

VA updates list of Navy ships presumptive for Agent Orange exposure

The Department of Veterans Affairs has expanded its list of Navy ships whose crews may be eligible for disability compensation as a result of exposure to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Alphabetized Ships Li
VA announced Monday it has added ships to the “Brown Water” inventory, meaning the vessels were found to have operated on inland waterways and all personnel who served aboard them are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange.
The new additions include the Navy survey ships Sheldrake and Towhee, attack transport ship Okanogan, submarine rescue ship Chanticleer, destroyers Frank Knox and James E. Kyes, and transport ship General W. A. Mann.
VA also expanded the dates of eligibility for sailors who served on the destroyer Fechteler and said veterans may be eligible for presumptive status if they went ashore from the guided missile cruiser Dewey or attack transport ships Pickaway or Paul Revere during certain periods during the war.
VA pays disability compensation to veterans or survivors for 14 medical conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange.
The VA ship list is not static; officials said vessels will be added based on documentation such as deck logs, ship histories and cruise books often provided by veterans as well as records kept in the National Archives.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

AOZ will return Monday, November 30. Enjoy this time with your families.

What are we waiting for?
Agent Orange/dioxin has killed more Americans than al-Qaida, the Islamic State, Boko Haram, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard combined. It has managed to do this without any significant action from our government to stop the slaughter of American veterans and their families.
Currently two bills, Senate Bill 901 and House Resolution 1769, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015, languish in Congress because those we elect choose to ignore the simple fact that Agent Orange/dioxin is injuring and killing people 40 years after the Vietnam War ended.
It is now 50 years since our “official” entry into the war in Vietnam on Nov. 14, 1965, when elements of the 1st Air Cavalry Division engaged a superior North Vietnamese force in the Ia Drang Valley. Gen. Hal Moore and journalist Joe Galloway chronicled this battle in the book “We Were Soldiers Once and Young,” subsequently made into the Mel Gibson film “We Were Soldiers.”
What are we waiting for?
In 1983, scholar Fred Wilcox penned a book titled “Waiting for an Army to Die” about the tragedy of Agent Orange/dioxin. In it, the author quotes a young Vietnam veteran, 28-year-old Paul Reutershan, who told the “Today” show in spring 1978, “I died in Vietnam, but I didn’t even know it.”
This was only three years after we left Vietnam. He died less than six months later from the cancer that had destroyed his colon, liver and abdomen.
These two bills are very simple in their effort to address the crisis of birth defects in the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those men and women who served our nation in Vietnam.

Read more here:

Vietnam Vets warned of increased risk of Hepatitis C
Bill Allen admitted he started using drugs at 14 and several years later was drafted into the Vietnam War, where he continued to drink and use drugs.
He has been clean and sober for more than 25 years but after hearing from a lot of friends who had contracted Hepatitis C, he decided to get tested himself.
In 2000 he said learned he did have the virus, but was still pretty healthy although his liver had early signs of cirrhosis. His doctor tried a variety of different medications, but he did not respond to treatments.
"My doctor told me to keep living a healthy life and don't drink and don't do drugs," he said.
Allen had he continued to be symptom free but about a year ago he tried new drugs to fight Hepatitis C. Tests show he is now free of the virus.
This week he joined with a variety of veterans' organizations and advocates to warn other Vietnam Veterans that they have a higher chance of contracting Hepatitis C during the war and should be tested.
"Ten percent of Vietnam Veterans could have Hepatitis C," said Jodi Reese, a clinical educator who spoke about the disease to a group of veterans at the Chicopee Senior Center.
Hepatitis C is a virus found in the blood. It generally comes with few symptoms but can seriously damage the liver over time.
"There was a lot of blood in the war," she said. People used intravenous drugs, got tattoos and, if someone was injured, no one put on gloves before trying to help him.
In addition, troops heading to Vietnam were lined up to be vaccinated for multiple diseases. Nurses or doctors used a gun-like device to inoculate the large number of people and medical experts believe there was likely blood carried from one person to the next on the device, she said.

Reality Check: The Agent Orange Effect
BLACK MOUNTAIN, N.C. -- For many Vietnam veterans, the war still isn't over 45 years later because of lingering effects from Agent Orange.
Agent Orange was a mixture of herbicides used to kill jungle overgrowth to reveal their enemies' hiding places.
Veterans, their children, and even grandchildren are living with the sad consequences and many without compensation.
Ted Minnick, 69, of Black Mountain was raised in the Air Force and then laced up his own boots.
"When I went to Vietnam, I had been married two years and had a three-month-old daughter and served in Vietnam from July '69 to July '70," Minnick said.
With more than 39 years under his military belt, including more than seven years on active duty, Minnick has stories for days about the Army but not many of them have happy endings because of Agent Orange.
"It could have been anywhere. It's an aerosol spray and it goes all over. It kind of looked like a real thin maple syrup. I mean it was that color and that consistency," Minnick said. "There were over 300 pounds of dioxin sprayed over Vietnam in a short period of time."
Veterans and their families still can't escape Agent Orange even though the war is long over because of the health problems caused by it.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Upcoming Agent Orange Town Hall Meetings

November 21, 2015

Portland, Oregon
Contact :Gary McAdams  

January 23, 2016

Breese, Illinois
Maurice Zurleine

February 13, 2016

Mesa, Arizona
Contact: Michael Marks

March 11, 2016
Elizabeth Town, Kentucky
Contact: David Cowherd

April 16, 201 6
Kansas City, Missouri
Contact: Randy Barnett


Interview a Vietnam Veteran With ProPublica and StoryCorps
This summer, ProPublica and our partners at The Virginian-Pilot asked Vietnam-era veterans to help us investigate the generational impact of Agent Orange exposure by sharing their stories with us. More than 3,400 people have done so, including nearly 600 spouses, sons and daughters of veterans. Many of these relatives are concerned that their veteran's health problems — and sometimes their own — may be tied to wartime exposure to the toxic chemicals.
Mary said she believes her husband Robert's health issues — which include Parkinson's disease – are connected to Agent Orange. Robert served as an Army nurse in 1967 and 1968 in Da Nang, Vietnam.
"Robert worked in evacuation hospitals on the front lines," Mary wrote. "He met and helped evacuate the wounded from the medical helicopters, removed their contaminated clothing and prepared them for surgical procedures."
Tamara suspects her father Stanley's heart and neurological issues are tied to his service in the Army's 25th Infantry Division, which also operated in Da Nang.
"My father explains about being completely covered in Agent Orange during his tour in Vietnam," Tamara wrote. "He was in constant contact with the ground and foliage. He suffers from severe [pulmonary disease] and is oxygen dependent due to breathing Agent Orange and living IN IT!"
Four decades after the fall of Saigon, these families and many other Vietnam veterans are struggling with health problems they say are related to Agent Orange.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Agent Orange Review: A government newsletter devoted to its own war crimes
The United States Government Printing Office (USGPO) is the largest publisher in the world. It publishes almost everything the federal government does – with the exception of “classified” information, which isn’t published immediately, but is declassified and published after about a 30-year delay.
Although USGPO may seem like a triumph of free speech, the fact is, hardly any Americans take advantage of it – or even know about it.
The United States Veterans Administration, for instance, has been publishing a newsletter called Agent Orange Review since 1982. America must be the only country where the government publishes a newsletter devoted to its own crimes! Unfortunately, probably only a tiny fraction of US veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are even aware of the Agent Orange Review.
From issues of this newsletter, it’s possible to determine how the VA’s Agent Orange policy evolved. All the issues are archived online here.
Here’s an excerpt from the first issue, published in 1982:
Q. Will the VA treat Vietnam veterans who have health problems that they believe may have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange? A. Under Public Law 97-72, approved on November 3, 1981, the VA can treat eligible veterans for certain disabilities that may have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Guidelines have been issued to all VA medical centers in order to implement this legislation. Individual veterans should contact the nearest VA medical center to determine their eligibility.
Q. Has any evidence been found that medical problems were actually caused by exposure to Agent Orange? A. At present, the best available scientific evidence fails to indicate that exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides used in Vietnam has caused any long-term health problems for veterans or their children. One effect sometimes observed after dioxin exposure is a skin disorder, called chloracne, which in appearance resembles some common forms of acne. While some of the people exposed to dioxin in industrial accidents developed chloracne almost immediately, this reaction has not been firmly established among Vietnam veterans.
Translation: As of 1982, the government was willing to admit that Agent Orange “may have” poisoned US troops, but still denied that there was evidence to prove it.

Japanese tech could rid Vietnam of war's toxic legacy
HANOI -- Expectations are growing that Japanese technology will help erase one of the darkest legacies of the Vietnam War -- the lingering presence of Agent Orange.
     Although 40 years have passed since the end of the war, areas of Vietnam remain highly contaminated with the chemical defoliant used by the U.S. military in its herbicidal warfare program.
     Japanese construction company Shimizu brought contaminated soil from Vietnam to Japan in late October to begin experiments in purifying it. The Vietnamese government is paying close attention to the outcome, as Shimizu's technology proved effective in purifying soil polluted from the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March 2011.
Lingering danger
During the war, the U.S. military had an airfield in Bien Hoa in the southern Vietnamese province of Dong Nai, located about an hour's drive from Ho Chi Minh City. The airfield, which is currently used by the Vietnamese Air Force, is "the most dioxin-contaminated place in the world," according to Vietnamese daily Bao Thanh Nien.
     U.S. military planes that sprayed chemical defoliants containing dioxins and other toxic substances were washed at the airfield after returning from their missions. The location has remained highly contaminated, possibly because the water used to wash the planes penetrated deep into the soil, carrying contaminants with it.
     Areas around the former U.S. air bases in Da Nang and Phu Cat, in the central and southern parts of Vietnam, respectively, are highly contaminated for similar reasons. Along with Bien Hoa, they are known as the "three hot spots."

Agent Orange links

Agent Orange Links
*Submitted by George Claxton
Clinics in Mother and Child Health
Parabens and Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Ligands Cross-Talk in Breast Cancer Cells
Effects of glutathione on the in vivo metabolism and oxidative stress of arsenic in mice.
Sperm Aneuploidy in Faroese Men with Lifetime Exposure to Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) and Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) Pollutants
Arsenic Exposure and Glucose Intolerance/Insulin Resistance in Estrogen-Deficient Female Mice
Prepubertal Serum Concentrations of Organochlorine Pesticides and Age at Sexual Maturity in Russian Boys
Cigarette smoke as a trigger for the dioxin receptor-mediated signaling pathway.
Associations between DNA methylation in DNA damage response-related genes and cytokinesis-block micronucleus cytome index in diesel engine exhaust-exposed workers.
Oxidative DNA damage enhances the carcinogenic potential of in vitro chronic arsenic exposures.
Exposure to coplanar PCBs induces endothelial cell inflammation through epigenetic regulation of NF-κB subunit p65.
Early life exposure to PCB126 results in delayed mortality and growth impairment in the zebrafish larvae
Low level arsenic contaminated water consumption and birth outcomes in Romania-An exploratory study.
Dioxins and cytogenetic status of villagers after 40 years of agent Orange application in Vietnam.
A Study of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin Induced Liver Injury in Jian Carp (Cyprinus carpio var. Jian) Using Precision-Cut Liver Slices
Association between Dioxin and Diabetes Mellitus in an Endemic Area of Exposure in Taiwan: A Population-Based Study.
Multigenerational and transgenerational effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals: A role for altered epigenetic regulation?
Current approaches in sample preparation for trace analysis of selected endocrine disrupting compounds. focus on polychlorinated biphenyls, alkylphenols and parabens.
Dioxin contamination of bird eggs from different Vietnam provinces
Persistent organic pollutants and male reproductive health.
Tumor necrosis factor-α inhibits effects of aryl hydrocarbon receptor ligands on cell death in human lymphocytes
The expression of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in reproductive and neuroendocrine tissues during the estrous cycle in the pig.
Effects of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and phytoestrogen genistein on the activity and the presence of steroidogenic enzyme proteins in cultured granulosa cells of pigs.
Exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like substances a major public health concern
Telomere measurement in individuals occupationally exposed to pesticide mixtures in tobacco fields
Maternal Transfer of Bisphenol A During Nursing Causes Sperm Impairment in Male Offspring.
Endocrine-disrupting compounds and mammary gland development: early exposure and later life consequences.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals pose global health threat, experts say
Contribution of breast milk and formula to arsenic exposure during the first year of life in a US prospective cohort.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Fort Detrick investigating remnants of Agent Orange, radioactivity on post
Fort Detrick is investigating locations scattered through its main post for remnants of Agent Orange and radioactive waste in addition to ongoing toxin testing near Area B.
Joseph Gortva, manager of the Fort Detrick Environmental Restoration Program, presented the information to the Restoration Advisory Board on Wednesday evening as part of his division’s planned activities for fiscal 2016. The board serves as a forum to keep the community, government agencies and Fort Detrick officials informed of all cleanup activities on post.
The Army’s current investigation into herbicide-related toxins and radioactivity started with a review of archival records pertaining to the post’s history of biological warfare research and possible releases of waste into the environment. The review was completed in 2014.
The Army is now working with contractors to look at sites on the main post and on Rosemont Avenue where Agent Orange and other herbicides were stored or used, and 18 sites on post where radioactive materials were used.
The 18 sites are mainly concentrated near buildings along Miller Drive, Chandler Street and Sultan Street on post, around the National Cancer Institute’s office buildings.
There is a “low likelihood” of finding residual herbicides or radioactive byproducts, according to Gortva, but the Army’s contractors will perform soil and gamma ray testing to confirm that.
The Army is also looking at 11 former incinerator locations on the main post that may have deposited metals and left-behind petroleum products, among other chemicals, in soil and groundwater. Those sites are also near NCI property on the post.

Two Senior VA Officials Plead The Fifth Amendment At Hearing
Two senior officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs have pleaded the Fifth Amendment in front of a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on relocation bonus corruption.
Philadelphia and Wilmington VA regional offices director Diana Rubens and St. Paul VA regional office director Kimberly Graves pleaded the Fifth and refused to answer any of the numerous questions put forward by HVAC chairman GOP Rep. Jeff Miller.
“Sir, I’ve been advised by counsel not to answer that question to protect my rights under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution,” Rubens repeated multiple times.
The five employees from the VA involved in the incident appeared Monday evening before HVAC under subpoena. The subpoena to appear — the first ever issued in the committee’s history — was deemed necessary because the VA did not allow the witnesses to show up to the first hearing on the subject.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


NOVEMBER 4, 2015 
Call 202-224-3121, give the operator your state and ZIP Code and you will be connected with your elected representatives office. Ask to speak with the Legislative Aide for Veterans Affairs.
Be clear that you are calling as a constituent, asking for their support of H.R. 1769 and S. 901, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015.
Do it for your children and their children.     

Transgenerational epigenetic programming via sperm microRNA recapitulates effects of paternal stress
Studies examining paternal exposure to diverse environmental stimuli propose that epigenetic marks in germ cells, including small noncoding RNAs such as microRNA (miR), transmit experience-dependent information from parent to offspring. However, these nongenetic mechanisms of transgenerational inheritance are poorly understood, specifically how these germ-cell marks may act postfertilization to enact long-term changes in offspring behavior or physiology. In this study, through zygote microinjection of nine specific sperm miRs previously identified in our paternal stress mouse model, we demonstrate that sperm miRs function to reduce maternal mRNA stores in early zygotes, ultimately reprogramming gene expression in the offspring hypothalamus and recapitulating the offspring stress dysregulation phenotype.