Tuesday, February 28, 2017

USEPA to help Guam test for Agent Orange

"(USEPA) Administrator Pruitt has given us his assurance of assistance as Guam EPA moves forward with testing not only for Agent Orange, but for any dioxins that could negatively impact the health of our veterans and our people." – Gov. Eddie Calvo

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency would help Guam with testing for the Vietnam War-era herbicide Agent Orange in Guam, the governor’s office announced yesterday.
Gov. Eddie Calvo met with Pruitt yesterday and they discussed the situation in which several military veterans have come forward about the use of Agent Orange in Guam, according to the governor’s office.
"Administrator Pruitt has given us his assurance of assistance as Guam EPA moves forward with testing not only for Agent Orange, but for any dioxins that could negatively impact the health of our veterans and our people," the governor stated.
GEPA has sought out price quotes from several environmental companies that can test for Agent Orange and other chlorinated pesticides. The agency also is coordinating with the Department of Defense to test areas on military bases that may have been affected.
Karnig Ohannessian, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for the environment, has also expressed interest in discussing Agent Orange’s impact, according to the governor’s office.
"We look forward to partnering with the USEPA to ensure that our people’s health and island’s environment are protected," GEPA Administrator Walter Leon Guerrero said.
"I advised Administrator Pruitt that regulations like these will put quite a burden on our people, with our small population of 165,000 having to foot the bill," the governor said in a press release. "Our island is committed to keeping our water and air clean, but I’d like to work with him to move in a direction that the people of Guam can afford."

Monday, February 27, 2017

This week in 1983 - EPA to buy Times Beach, Missouri, after dioxin sprayed

The Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to buy and evacuate 2,000 people from the dioxin-contaminated community of Times Beach, Missouri, where streets had been sprayed with used motor oil mixed with dioxin 10 years earlier to control dust. EPA administrator Anne Burford said the government would spend $33.1 million to buy the town’s 800 houses and businesses and would pay for the immediate relocation of residents and businesses.
from Wikipedia...
Times Beach is a ghost town in St. Louis County, Missouri, United States, 17 miles (27 km) southwest of St. Louis and 2 miles (3 km) east of Eureka. Once home to more than two thousand people, the town was completely evacuated early in 1983 due to a dioxin contamination that made national headlines. It was the largest civilian exposure to dioxin in the country's history.
In 1985, the State of Missouri officially disincorporated the city of Times Beach.

VA to Begin Processing Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Claims

The Department of Veterans Affairs expects a surge of compensation claims totaling more than $2.2 billion from veterans exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, N.C., but nothing compared to the "tidal wave" of cases that came out of the Agent Orange class-action suit.
After years of lawsuits and appeals, acts of Congress and amendments since the contaminated water at the Marine Corps base was confirmed in the 1980s, the VA will begin accepting claims March 14 for disabilities stemming from eight presumptive conditions.
A final hurdle to the compensation process emerged with the inauguration of President Donald Trump and his order blocking new federal regulations, which appeared to override rules approved in the last days of President Barack Obama's administration.
However, the office of Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said last week, "The White House has granted an exemption. This means the Camp Lejeune regulation will go into effect on March 14, 2017, as scheduled."
All of the Lejeune claims initially will be handled by the VA's Louisville, Ky., Regional Office (RO), Thomas Murphy, VA’s acting under secretary for benefits, said at a House Committee on Veterans Affairs (HVAC) subcommittee hearing last week.
"Ideally, we want to keep them in the one RO" in Louisville, where a Center of Eexcellence has been set up to deal with presumptive claims, Murphy said. "But if they can't handle the volume, we're going to have to train another and expand it, so we'll have to keep a very close eye on that."
Rep. Tim Walz, a Minnesota Democrat and ranking member of the HVAC, questioned whether Louisville is ready to cope with the claims. Walz asked Murphy, "You're ready to adjust to it, but you don't anticipate anything near the disruption that the Nehmer claims were?"

Thursday, February 23, 2017


We update our meetings regularly on the Town Hall Meeting Calendar:

March 9, 2017
Newport, Oregon
Contact: Tony Molina  541 -270-0569
Tom Owen  541-619-8187

March 10, 2017
Corvallis, Oregon
Contact: Tom Owen 541-619-8187

March 11, 2017
Portland, Oregon
Contact: Gary McAdams 503-577-6639
Tom Owen 541-619-8187

March 11, 2017
Sedro Woolley, Washington
Contact: Chapter President Bob Garrison (360) 770-0545
Pete Sill (360) 420-3891

March 18, 2017
Victoria, Texas
Contact: Leonard Sternadel

April 21, 2017
Frankfort, Kentucky
Contact: David Cowherd

April 22, 2017
Greenfield, Massachusetts
Contact: MA State Council
Gumersindo Gomez

April 22, 2017
Faribault, Minnesota
Contact: Maynard Kaderlik 507-581-6402
James Mayr 608-556-0617

April 22, 2017
Appleton, Wisconsin
Contact Joe Eiting (920) 205-1565

April 23, 2017
Fargo, North Dakota
Contact: Larry Nicholson 701-412-7992
Maynard Kaderlik 507-581-6402

April 29, 2017
Lawrence, Indiana
Contact: Michael Hamm 317-232-3921

April 29, 2017
Arvada, Colorado
Contact: Lee White                  

April 29, 2017
Leavenworth, Kansas
Contact: Kenny Bowen

May 13, 2017
Frewsburg, New York
Contact: Rev. Bob Lewis

June 3, 2017
Lincoln, Rhode Island
Contact: Fran Guevremont

August 19, 2017
McKinney, Texas
Contact: Don Roush,
President VVA Chapter 1122
618-340-0769 (cell/text)

Former Guam resident wins compensation for Agent Orange exposure

The fight is ongoing to get compensation to those exposed to Agent Orange on Guam. Today, one local man also exposed to the chemical during the Vietnam War is sharing how his long battle is finally over.
Putting on an Army uniform has become somewhat of a painful memory for Joey Cepeda. The retired GovGuam worker recalls his time in Korea between 1968 and 1970 during the Vietnam Conflict - the same time Agent Orange was being sprayed near the Korean DMZ. Cepeda told KUAM News, "The only thing that we noticed was the vegetation was down and it was kind of reddish."
It wasn't until decades later Cepeda says he learned about the negative effects from the chemical. - impacts that ultimately led to critical heart complications. He says he was forced to move to San Diego, California back in 2009 to get a heart transplant and for better healthcare.
"I didn't want to leave my home. I love my island and I want to go back home too, but unfortunately I can't because of the medications and there's no doctor that can help me," he stated. "And still they were refusing me saying, no, Agent Orange didn't cause my heart problems."
A battle others are all too familiar with, as many are fighting for their medical benefits after being exposed to Agent Orange on Guam, as well.
Earlier this month, Florida representative Dennis Ross introduced the Fighting for Orange Stricken Territories in Eastern Regions (FOSTER) Act. The measure, named after veteran Leroy Foster who confirmed he sprayed AO on Guam, would provide presumptive AO exposure status to Vietnam War-era veterans who served in our region so they get the benefits from the VA.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Gillibrand reintroduces bill for Navy vets harmed by Agent Orange

Washington, DC — Senators Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Steve Daines (R-MT) reintroduced the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act on Friday.
The legislation would ensure that thousands of Navy veterans, known as "Blue Water" veterans are able to receive disability and health care benefits they need after exposure to Agent Orange while fighting in the Vietnam War.
Agent Orange is a toxic chemical that was used to remove foliage during the Vietnam war that had devastating health effects on millions serving.
In 2002, Veterans Affairs decided that it would only cover Veterans who could prove that they had orders for “boots on the ground” during the Vietnam War.
This exclusion prevented sailors from receiving benefits even though they had significant Agent Orange exposure from drinking and bathing in contaminated water just offshore.
“Thousands of Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are now suffering from severe health problems," said Senator Gillibrand. "The VA is continuing to deny health coverage to many of them because of an arbitrary rule that says veterans who served on boats off of Vietnam’s coast are not entitled to this coverage,”
The act would make it easier for the VA to process Vietnam War veterans’ claims for service-connected health conditions and alleviate a portion of the VA’s backlog by extending presumptive coverage of Agent Orange benefits to these veterans.