Friday, March 31, 2017

Moran, Tester introduce bill to help Agent Orange vets

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced bipartisan legislation this week (S. 726) to allow veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances in classified incidents to access their military records as they apply for disability benefits and VA health care.

S.726 - A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to declassify certain documents related to incidents in which members of the Armed Forces were exposed to toxic substances.

“Often, the impacts of toxic exposure don’t appear until long after service members have returned home from the battlefield and military records are filed away,” Moran said. “It is my privilege to lead legislation that honors the life of Gary Deloney of Fort Scott who passed while working with my staff to access the classified military records that would have proven his exposure to Agent Orange and service-connected illness.
“Our veterans and their families deserve the best our nation has to offer, and giving them access to their classified military records is the least we can do to make certain they receive the benefits they earned.”

NOW AVAILABLE: Assessment of the Department of Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry



Military operations produce a great deal of trash in an environment where standard waste management practices may be subordinated to more pressing concerns. As a result, ground forces have long relied on incineration in open-air pits as a means of getting rid of refuse. Concerns over possible adverse effects of exposure to smoke from trash burning in the theater were first expressed in the wake of the 1990–1991 Gulf War and stimulated a series of studies that indicated that exposures to smoke from oil-well fires and from other combustion sources, including waste burning, were stressors for troops. In January 2013, Congress directed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish and maintain a registry for service members who may have been exposed to toxic airborne chemicals and fumes generated by open burn pits.



Thursday, March 30, 2017


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

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 6, 2017
Alexandria, Minnesota
Contacts Dave Anderson 320-304-0922
Maynard Kaderlik 507-581-6402

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)

Joint Base reports high levels of two hazardous chemicals in water

A pair of hazardous chemicals used for decades in firefighting at Joint Base McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst have contaminated ground, surface, and drinking water on and near the base, a spokesman said last week, with tests showing levels 20 to thousands of times higher in some samples than federally recommended standards.
Three of 131 private wells tested at homes off the base show evidence of the fluorinated chemicals known as PFOS and PFOA, Staff Sgt. Dustin Roberts said Friday, with one home’s drinking water containing 1,392 parts per trillion. The  Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory for these chemicals has set 70 parts per trillion as its recommended level.
Roberts said the base was providing the affected homes with bottled water and was studying ways to remediate the problem. None of the affected private wells serve schools or other public institutions, he said.
Two shallow wells that provide drinking water to the base showed levels as high as 215 parts per trillion, according to Roberts. He said he did not know how much of the base’s drinking water comes from the two wells.
The base spreads over 42,000 acres and straddles parts of eight municipalities in Burlington and Ocean Counties.  About 3,700 military and civilian personnel work on the base.
PFOS and PFOA are ingredients in firefighting foam used for decades on military bases. To date, the Air Force has not conducted or paid for blood tests of those who might be affected by the chemicals, Roberts said. The base provided the sampling data after a request from the Inquirer. The samples were analyzed by Maxxam Analytics of Ontario, Canada.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Will Trump's EPA Greenlight a Pesticide Known to Damage Kids' Brains?

By Friday, President Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency will have to make a momentous decision: whether to protect kids from a widely used pesticide that's known to harm their brains—or protect the interests of the chemical's maker, Dow AgroSciences.
The pesticide in question, chlorpyrifos, is a nasty piece of work. It's an organophosphate, a class of bug killers that work by "interrupting the electrochemical processes that nerves use to communicate with muscles and other nerves," as the Pesticide Encyclopedia puts it. Chlorpyrifos is also an endocrine disrupter, meaning it can cause "adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects," according to the National Institutes of Health.
Major studies from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of California-Davis, and Columbia University have found strong evidence that low doses of chlorpyrifos inhibits kids' brain development, including when exposure occurs in the womb, with effects ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism. Several studies—examples here, here, and here—have found it in the urine of kids who live near treated fields. In 2000, the EPA banned most home uses of the chemical, citing risks to children.
Stephanie Engel, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina and a co-author of the Mount Sinai paper, says the evidence that chlorpyrifos exposure causes harm is "compelling"—and is "much stronger" even than the case against BPA (bisphenol A), the controversial plastic additive. She says babies and fetuses are particularly susceptible to damage from chlorpyrifos because they metabolize toxic chemicals more slowly than adults do. And "many adults" are susceptible, too, because they lack a gene that allows for metabolizing the chemical efficiently, Engel adds.

Give the Vietnam Blue Water Navy Veterans their presumptive rights

In 1977, the first claims of Agent Orange exposure came flooding into the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But it took 14 years for Congress to actually listen, take action and give our Vietnam veterans the benefits they deserved.
The Agent Orange Act of 1991 was implemented to provide much-needed care to veterans who were exposed to the harmful chemical cocktail Agent Orange. Many of us thought the fight to get the medical attention we deserved was over, but that wasn’t the case. In 2002, the VA amended its initial plan and excluded thousands of “Blue Water” Navy vets -- vets who served right off the coast -- from receiving  our rightful benefits. Because we hadn’t served on land, the VA tried to say we were unlikely to suffer the effects of Agent Orange poisoning.
Even though we didn’t serve on Vietnamese soil, we were still exposed to Agent Orange. In fact, a 2011 study by the National Institute of Medicine found that Blue Water veterans could have been exposed in multiple ways, including via the ships’ water distillation system and through the air. The National Institute of Medicine also stated, “Given the available evidence, the committee recommends that members of the Blue Water Navy should not be excluded from the set of Vietnam-era veterans with presumed herbicide exposure.”
We are asking for your help in urging Congress to pass legislation (House Bill H 969 and Senate Bill S 681)  that will reinstate our right as Vietnam Navy veterans to receive the benefits we deserve for being exposed to this terrible chemical.
Nearly 90,000 Blue Water vets are depending on you. We are dealing with serious health issues that range from cancer to diabetes, and from Parkinson’s to heart disease. Many of these diseases have made it nearly impossible for some of us to get steady work.
Last year, the VA finally extended benefits to Air Force crew members who flew in C-123s after they had been used in Vietnam to spray the toxic cocktail. The VA came to the realization that even the slightest exposure to this chemical had serious effects on a soldier's health. So why are the Navy vets’ pleas being ignored? We breathed the Agent Orange-polluted air that drifted from the coast and drank water sprinkled with the herbicide, and now our bodies are paying the cost.
We ask you to stand with us, and with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Chris Gibson, and demand that the VA assume responsibility for the effects of Agent Orange on Blue Water vets. Please sign our petition asking Congress to pass House Bill H 969 and Senate Bill S 681 and give us our benefits. 
This petition will be delivered to:

These sick Vietnam vets blame exposure to Agent Orange, but VA won't pay

Sam Genco, at age 19, narrowly survived one of the United States’ worst military aircraft carrier fires. Today, 50 years later, it’s that ship’s drinking water he says could be killing him.
Genco was diagnosed last year at a North Carolina veterans’ clinic with ischemic heart disease – a common condition the federal government says is linked to Agent Orange exposure. He suffers from severely blocked arteries, cutting off the normal flow of oxygen and blood to the heart.
“It’s fatigue. Your muscles just don’t want to work. Like an engine full of sludge,” Genco said. “The engine keeps working harder but going slower.”
But the 69-year-old can’t get disability benefits tied to exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange.
If the federal government approved his claim, Genco could receive full disability benefits, which would increase his monthly veteran’s benefit check from about $1,400 to more than $3,000. Full disability benefits also have tax advantages and would improve his wife’s health care coverage. Despite no acknowledgment from the government that he was exposed to Agent Orange, Genco does get free medical treatment, like other veterans, at veterans’ clinics.
His bid for financial help is caught in a bureaucratic maze and a struggle involving widespread disagreement among experts about why he’s sick.
Genco, who lives in Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina, is one of an estimated 90,000 affected “blue water Navy Vietnam veterans,” named for the open seas and harbors where they served.
Federally funded research by the Institute of Medicine – now the National Academy of Medicine – concludes the sailors were possibly exposed to Agent Orange via their ships’ drinking water or from winds blowing the chemical out to sea.
The 2011 study, the most recent assessment, says the blue water controversy can’t be solved with science because the military didn’t track Agent Orange’s drift and presence in the water during the war.
ead more here:

Read more here:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Esty, Costello, McCollum Announce Bill to Aid Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits

Reps. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Ryan Costello (R-PA), and Betty McCollum (D-MN) today announced the introduction of H.R. 1279, the Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act.
Burn pits are areas on military bases where waste, such as human waste, batteries, and other garbage, is incinerated and toxic fumes are released into the atmosphere. The Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act would create a center of excellence within the Department of Veterans Affairs in the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions related to exposure to burn pits. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is also a cosponsor of the legislation.
“I’ve heard from veterans throughout Connecticut who are suffering – or know other service members suffering – from serious health complications that were likely caused by burn pits,” Esty said. “The courageous men and women of our military who endure environmental hazards and risk their long-term health on our nation’s behalf deserve the very best health care. We cannot repeat our shameful inaction after the Vietnam War, when the government failed to acknowledge the terrible toll of Agent Orange. By passing this bill, we can significantly improve the quality of the care for veterans who have been exposed to burn pits, and help them to live longer, healthier lives.”
“The men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting our country must be able to access care for their health needs when they return home,” Costello said. “By establishing a center of excellence within the Department of Veterans Affairs, this bill is an important step forward in providing critical services for veterans facing health issues from burn pits.”
Military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are exposed to a variety of potentially harmful substances including the smoke produced from the burning of waste on military bases. Items such as plastics, aerosol cans, electronic equipment, human waste, metal containers, tires, and batteries are thrown into open pits, sometimes doused with jet fuel, and set ablaze. Smoke from these open-air burn pits can waft throughout the entire base and even into living areas. 
“Burn pits are the ticking time bomb in this generation of combat veterans,” said Lt. Col. Michael. J Zacchea (ret), a Brookfield, CT Marine Corps veteran and the Program Manager at the Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans. “This is a major health issue which will plague more than 4 million veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last nearly two decades of war.”
Health effects from exposure to chemicals found in burn pits can include cancer, neurological and reproductive effects, respiratory toxicity, and cardiovascular toxicity.

Bipartisan bill to provide assistance to burn pit vets introduced in Senate

A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate that aims to finally help veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The “Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act” was introduced on Tuesday by senators Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and aims to create what they say is a ‘center of excellence” within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Many of our brave men and women in uniform were exposed to harmful substances from toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we have an obligation to care for them,” Tillis said in a statement.
Klobuchar shared Tillis’ sentiment.
“With an increasing number of our brave men and women returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan citing illnesses potentially caused by burn pits exposure, it’s clear that we can’t afford to wait,” she said.
The issue of burn pits and their use on military bases during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been referred to as “the new Agent Orange," as scores of soldiers returned home from the fight with a myriad of health issues—many of which proved lethal.
Civilian workers and private contractors are also suffering from cancer, respiratory problems and blood disorders and, like military victims, they say they are being ignored.