Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Big tax refunds coming for 130,000 veterans

More than 130,000 veterans are receiving letters on how to apply for refunds of taxes they paid on disability severance pay dating back to 1991 — a minimum of $1,750 per veteran.
While exact estimates were not available, because each veteran’s payout varies, the government could be paying out a minimum of $228 million in tax refunds, if all those eligible file claims.
The eligible veterans will have a year after the date of their letter from the Defense Department to file a claim for the refund, or three years after filing their tax return that reported the disability severance pay, whichever is later. Survivors of those who paid the taxes are also eligible for the refund, which would be paid to the estate of the veteran.
The mailings to 130,062 veterans started on July 9, and are scheduled to be completed by July 20. The letters are being sent by the Internal Revenue Service on behalf of the Defense Department, because the IRS maintains the last known addresses of taxpayers, said Army Lt. Col. David Dulaney, executive director of the Armed Forces Tax Council.
These refunds are the result of a law passed in 2016 — the Combat Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016 — which applies to veterans who received this pay dating back to Jan. 17, 1991, with taxes withheld. By law, DSP is not taxable if:
The DSP is paid for combat-related injuries determined by the military service at the time of separation, or, the veteran is eligible for disability compensation from the Veterans Affairs department.

Finding Untapped Monetary VA Benefits for Surviving Spouses

By: Bart Stichman, Executive Director, National Veterans Legal Services Program
It is an unfortunate truth that millions of Americans have to struggle to make ends meet.  But some of these citizens may not realize that they are now entitled to at least $15,300 per year in tax-free financial assistance from the federal government.  All they need to do is file a simple VA application.
Who are the people unaware of their entitlement to this money?  Tens of thousands of surviving spouses of veterans who served in Vietnam and who are now deceased.  The reason these survivors now qualify for these benefits relates to Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide used by the U.S. Government more than four decades ago during the Vietnam War to clear vegetation in areas where enemy troops were hiding.  2.7 million veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975.  The overwhelming majority of them are men, and many of them were exposed to this toxic herbicide.
Until the 1990s, the VA took the position that the only adverse health effect of exposure to Agent Orange was chloracne, a skin condition.  In 1991, Congress required the VA to contract with an independent agency, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), to review the emerging scientific studies on the adverse health effects of exposure to this herbicide and to prepare a report for the VA every two years with its conclusions.

Doing right by vets: Give Agent Orange benefits to Blue Water Navy

The benefit of the doubt must go to those who put their lives on the line for their country
How can the federal government be sure that sailors stationed aboard Navy and Coast Guard ships off Vietnam’s coast weren’t exposed to Agent Orange? It can’t, and that’s why the U.S. Senate should pass a House bill that expands health benefits for veterans who served at sea.
The House passed the bill with a bipartisan 382-0 vote in June. Last month, 119 House members, sent the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee a letter urging passage in that chamber, too. The collaboration of so many House members from both parties is a sign of the bill’s worthiness.
The U.S. military used about 20 million gallons of the toxic defoliant Agent Orange in the jungles of Vietnam. Today, the government provides coverage of Agent Orange-related diseases to veterans who served on the ground in Vietnam or sailed in Vietnam’s inland waterways, presuming that those soldiers and sailors came into contact with the toxin.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

‘I thought it was very nice’: VA official showcased portrait of KKK’s first grand wizard

A senior official with the Department of Veterans Affairs removed from his office a portrait of a Confederate general and famed Ku Klux Klan grand wizard after a Washington Post reporter asked him about it, the paper reported Tuesday.
According to the Post, David J. Thomas Sr., a deputy executive director of the VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, removed the portrait from his Washington, D.C. office after the reporter told him that its subject, Lt. Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest, was a slave trader and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
 ‘I thought it was very nice’: VA official showcased portrait of KKK’s first grand wizard
David J. Thomas Sr. said he was unaware of former Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest’s affiliation with the hate group.
“It was just a beautiful print that I had purchased, and I thought it was very nice,” Thomas, who has worked as a civil servant within the VA since 2013, told the Post.
He also said that he only knew of Forrest as a “Southern general in the Civil War.”
Nine of the 14 managers who work in Thomas’s staff are black, according to the newspaper. At least three of his employees have opened racial discrimination cases against the senior official.
A lawyer representing two of the employees in the discrimination case told the Post that Thomas’ choice of portrait is an example of his attitude toward black people.
“You don’t hire someone who puts a picture of the Klan in his office unless” you’re racially insensitive, the Post reported attorney John Rigby as saying.
The Veterans Affairs chapter of American Federation of Government Employees launched a petition for the removal of the portrait after a union representative recognized the portrait’s subject as a founding member of the KKK during a meeting in Thomas’ office.

White House rejected Democratic candidates for nonpartisan board: report

The White House this summer rejected half of the candidates for the nonpartisan Board of Veterans’ Appeals after asking for the candidates' party affiliations, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The Post, citing documents, reported that the White House required candidates for the board to disclose their party affiliations "and other details of their political leanings" before determining whether to accept them. The candidates were nominated to serve as administrative judges on the board.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals, which is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, determines whether injured veterans are entitled to benefits.
The questions the White House asked about the candidates' party affiliation and political leanings had not been asked of candidates in the past, according to the Post.
The rejected candidates consisted of three Democrats and one independent, according to the newspaper. The accepted candidates, who were sworn in last week, were made up of three Republicans and one person who isn't registered with a party but has voted in Republican primaries, the Post reported.
One candidate told the Post that candidates were required to submit links to their social media pages and say whether they had ever given a speech to Congress, spoken at a political convention, appeared on talk radio or published an opinion piece in either a conservative or liberal outlet.
Although the denied candidates weren't told why they were turned away, their rejections have caused concern among current and former officials in the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the Post.
VA spokesman Curt Cashour told the Post that the rejections were part of a vetting process of candidates, noting that in 2016 two judges on the board and three attorneys were found to have sent racist and sexist emails.

Agent Orange Concerns Joined by Worry Over Modern-Era ‘Burn Pits’

WASHINGTON—Members of Congress and veterans advocates are mounting a push to get the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase aid to former service members with health problems blamed on toxic exposures, a move the VA secretary has publicly fought since taking over the department.
Secretary Robert Wilkie opposes legislative proposals to expand benefits to thousands of Vietnam War veterans who served at sea and claim exposure to Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant. The VA also opposes new benefits for Iraq and Afghanistan troops exposed to burn pits until the issue can be studied in depth.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation in June to provide Vietnam veterans with benefits, and senators said they would push Mr. Wilkie to revise his position. Fueling the push, 45 members of the House last week sent an open letter to the Senate VA committee urging it to pass legislation on the matter.
The congressional action on the Vietnam veterans’ benefits is the first major policy challenge to Mr. Wilkie, who took over the VA in July after being nominated by President Trump in May.
Many Vietnam veterans already are eligible for benefits related to disease assumed to be linked to Agent Orange exposure. But these benefits don’t extend to many veterans who served on ships off the Vietnam coastline; they are among those now claiming a right to the assistance.
The outcome of the standoff will decide whether about 90,000 of the Vietnam-era veterans will receive new benefits, according to some estimates.
More than 150,000 modern-era vets also could be affected. They have added their names to a congressionally mandated burn-pit registry.

Tests show PFAS, dioxin-like chemicals in Otsego-area wells

OTSEGO, MI -- The Department of Environmental Quality has received test results that show the presence of more contaminants in Otsego-area water wells, all below government-set health advisory levels, though the validity of some test results are being questioned.
The DEQ released a summary of test results to MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette on Thursday, Oct. 18, through a Freedom of Information Act request, that show the chemicals found in 62 residential wells tested in the area.
Dioxin-like chemicals were found in each of the 62 wells tested, though none were above the government's health advisory levels, DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division Kalamazoo District Supervisor Dave Heywood said on Oct. 19.
The presence of dioxin-like chemicals was surprising, Heywood said, partly because it is rare to find it in water

Guam - Oversight hearing on Oct. 31, more Agent Orange soil sampling

A legislative oversight hearing on Agent Orange-related concerns is set for Oct. 31, while soil sampling outside of Andersen Air Force Base to detect any traces of the herbicide may begin in November.
The Department of Defense denies Agent Orange was ever used outside of Vietnam and Thailand during the Vietnam War.
But several veterans have come forward with claims of exposure outside of these areas, including on Guam.
The veterans, some of whom formed the group called Agent Orange Survivors of Guam, have been seeking medical attention for major health problems they said are linked to their exposure to Agent Orange, including different types of cancer.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sidelined children's health official says EPA inaction means "kids are disposable"

Making sure children are protected from environmental toxins has been Dr. Ruth Etzel's job at the Environmental Protection Agency. She's the agency's top pediatric expert – the author of textbooks and policy handbooks on children's environmental health. As director of the Office of Children's Health Protection (OCHP), it was her job to determine the impacts of regulations on children.
"I often think of the Office of Children's Health as the conscience of EPA, because, you know, we're kind of nagging at them: 'Is this okay for children? Are you sure this is okay for children?'" she told correspondent Anna Werner.
But from the beginning of the Trump administration, Dr. Etzel says it seemed those above her no longer wanted her advice. "Our message is no longer welcome. The message that children are not little adults and they need special protections is not welcome," she said.
Her monthly meetings to advise the EPA administrator were abruptly halted.
"So, you had no one-on-one meetings with Scott Pruitt, and you had no one-on-one meetings with Andrew Wheeler? Not one?" asked Werner.
"Not one."
And, she says, a national strategy to remove lead from children's environments – launched after the Flint, Michigan water crisis – stalled, with one official brought in by the new administration telling her that anything involving new regulation "wouldn't fly."
"My sense is that the government has absolutely no intention of taking any action toward seriously changing lead in children's environments," Dr. Etzel said.
Werner asked, "What does that mean for the kids?"
"It basically means that our kids will continue to be poisoned," Dr. Etzel replied. "It basically means that kids are disposable, they don't matter."

House to Senate: Pass ‘Blue Water’ Navy bill already

As tens of thousands of so-called “Blue Water” Navy veterans wait for Congress to act, 45 House Members are calling on the Senate to advance crucial legislation to expand much-needed care to them.
In a letter sent to Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) and 44 other House lawmakers urged the Senate VA Committee chairman to pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, “so that the legislation can be brought to the Senate floor as soon as possible.”
43 House Democrats signed on to the letter, including Walz, with Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.), and Mike Bishop (Mich.) as the Republican signatories.
“It is a very sad reality that every day of delay means there are fewer Blue Water Navy veterans who earned and deserved compensation and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care for their illnesses,” the letter reads.
“As veterans’ advocates, we have all heard from frustrated veterans who say it sometimes looks to them as if the Congress and the VA are denying benefits just waiting for them to die.  Unless Congress passes this bill, it will be hard to argue against that notion.”
The House unanimously passed the bill in June, which represents “the first time these veterans saw any real progress from their government,” says Walz.
“However, it’s extremely disappointing to see the legislation lose traction in the Senate, presumably because the Trump Administration has come out in strong opposition to the bill, not based on policy, but because it simply does not want to invest the money it would take to do right by these veterans.
The legislation would finally grant a presumption of exposure to Agent Orange for sailors who served in territorial waters off the coast of Vietnam; U.S. service members who served on-the-ground in Vietnam during the war already have that.
 It would also allow these veterans to receive expedited care and other VA benefits if they’re suffering from illnesses connected to their exposure.

U.S. prepares for biggest-ever Agent Orange cleanup in Vietnam

BIEN HOA AIR BASE, Vietnam (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday visited a former American air base in southern Vietnam that will soon become the biggest-ever U.S. cleanup site for contamination left by the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Standing near a skull-and-crossbones warning sign meant to keep people away from toxic soil, Mattis was briefed by Vietnamese officials about the massive contamination area.
In a possible sign of the sensitivity surrounding Agent Orange in Vietnam, where millions of people are still suffering its effects, reporters were not allowed to attend the outdoor briefing for Mattis at Bien Hoa Air Base.
“I came to show the support of the Defense Department for this project and demonstrate that the United States makes good on its promises,” Mattis told his Vietnamese counterpart at a closed-door meeting later in nearby Ho Chi Minh City.
Cleanup is expected to start getting under way early next year.
U.S. troops dropped Agent Orange during the Vietnam War to clear thick jungle. But it contributed to severe health problems that, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, can include Parkinson’s Disease, prostate cancer and Chronic B-cell Leukemia.
Of the 4.8 million Vietnamese who were exposed to Agent Orange, some three million are still dealing with its effects, including children born with severe disabilities or other health issues years after their parents were exposed, according to the Hanoi-based Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Project RENEW handles 590 explosive devices in Quang Tri

Quang Tri (VNA) – A team of the “Restoring the Environment and Neutralising the Effects of the War” (RENEW) project said it safely moved 590 explosive devices from a construction site in the central province of Quang Tri.
The mission took place from October 10-11, right after the team received a report on explosive devices from workers, who were building a guest house of Quang Tri town’s military high command at a location near the southern bank of Thach Han river.  
At the site, the team found many devices, including shells and mortar shells, at a depth of 2 metres, with their detonators remained intact.   
The devices were moved to a safe site for defusing in Trieu Trach commune, Trieu Phong district.
RENEW, mainly sponsored by the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), aims to help Quang Tri, known as one of the provinces hardest hit by the war, settle post-war bomb and landmine impacts.
To date, more than 131 million square metres of land in Quang Tri province have been mapped out as confirmed hazardous areas that need full clearance. The NPA’s teams have destroyed about 70,000 pieces of dangerous ordnance, helping to eliminate the risks of death and injury for local residents.-VNA

Let $289 million jury award stand in Monsanto case

We were among the millions of citizens who felt a surge of optimism that justice might actually prevail on Aug. 10 when a San Francisco Superior Court jury awarded a historic $289 million verdict against the agrochemical conglomerate Monsanto.
On Wednesday, we learned that a California judge is considering taking away that jury award for punitive damages.
When we learned that Dewayne “Lee” Johnson had taken Monsanto to court saying he got his terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from on-the-job exposure to Monsanto’s ubiquitous weed killer, Roundup, we were so captured by Johnson’s battle that we traveled to San Francisco to watch the trial. Would democracy finally prevail? Or would Monsanto again find a way to subvert the justice system?
Johnson’s was the first of some 4,000 similar claims headed for courts across America.
Initially, we were discouraged because the judge appeared to be bending over backward to help Monsanto. California Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos carefully screened the jury pool to exclude all individuals who had been exposed to negative articles about Monsanto, or who had shown the least disapproval of the company. She unseated 35 jurors in all, including many who said that they could be fair and impartial. The 12 who issued the verdict were those who showed no predisposition against Monsanto.
During trial, Judge Bolanos consistently sided with Monsanto on the company’s evidentiary objections. At Monsanto’s request, Judge Bolanos deemed any mention of Monsanto’s genetically modified crops off-limits during the trial. Judge Bolanos forbade Johnson’s lawyer from showing the jury Monsanto’s internal studies showing that Roundup caused kidney tumors in mice; that the chemical easily penetrates the body through the skin; and that Monsanto had a flimflam system in place for killing unfavorable scientific studies by independent and government scientists. Judge Bolanos even gave a “curative instruction” telling the jury that Monsanto had never manufactured Agent Orange. That statement was simply not true — however the judge deemed the instruction necessary to neutralize potential bias from statements made about Agent Orange by dismissed jurors in front of their fellow jurymen.

Vietnamese and US author co-operate on Agent Orange book

The 258-page book, which was released in English by the publisher G. Anton in the US in early 2018, and in Vietnamese by the Thế Giới Publishing house in Vietnam in August, is the result of endless efforts by the two authors in seeking documents and interviewing AO victims, officials, veterans and local people in Vietnam and the US.
“It’s been long and hard working days for two of us. We just try to tell the story of dioxin and AO victims as well as the disastrous consequences of the toxic chemical,” Son said as he introduced the book in Da Nang early October.
“Da Nang was not a major site for the dioxin-spraying campaign during the American war in Vietnam, but the airport of Da Nang had been contaminated with dioxin as it was a warehouse for the chemical,” Son said.
“Many people in the city and neighbouring provinces had contact with dioxin in the jungle when they joined the Army of Vietnam during the war, and their descendants consequently suffered birth defects due to the dioxin,” he said.
Son said the 10-chapter book aims to call for dioxin-producing companies to accept more responsibility for easing the pain of AO victims both in Vietnam and the US.
He hoped that the US and Vietnam would sign an agreement for long-term support for disabled persons and AO victims.
Dr Son, who worked for the Việt Nam National Steering Committee for Agent Orange Impact Relief, said Agent Orange/dioxin was a point of  bitterness between the US and Vietnam in the past, but the two sides have come closer together in dealing with dioxin contamination in Da Nang’s airport and Bien Hoa Airport. They plan to work on other hot spots in Vietnam in the near future.
He said many efforts had been made by both sides to ease the harmful effects of herbicides containing dioxin and to help AO/dioxin victims. 
Charles Bailey, an advisor on AO in Vietnam, said: “We thought we could write the book in 18 months but it took three years. We wanted our book to be a complete and comprehensive source of information on Agent Orange/dioxin. We believe we have achieved this.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


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

October 13, 2018
Oxford, Michigan

October 25, 2018
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Dorn Patrick Farrell

October 28,  2018
Fargo, North Dakota
Contact: Becky Bergman 701-200-7193
Maynard Kaderlik 507-581-6402
Dan Stenvold 701-331-2104

Soft Tissue Sarcomas

List of service-connected diseases and disabilities related to exposure to herbicides in Vietnam

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Post-9/11 Vets Look to Vietnam Veterans’ Agent Orange Fight

Megan Howard
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are looking to a Vietnam group’s fight for health coverage for guidance on their fight for care after burn pit exposure.
Vietnam’s Blue Water Navy Veterans, a group who served on ships miles off the coast, are embroiled in a battle with the Department of Veterans Affairs over disability benefits related to Agent Orange exposure. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie says there is not enough scientific evidence to back up claims that their illnesses were caused by the toxic herbicide, while veterans say there is a clear link.
Advocates say the denial of claims for Blue Water vets could also be an issue for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were affected by burn pits.
“It’s very similar,” Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Legislative Director Tom Porter told Bloomberg Government. “We’re going to be facing the same challenges as the Blue Water Navy Veterans from Vietnam if we don’t solve their problem.”
Lawmakers are working to overrule VA officials who oppose a presumption of benefits for Blue Water Navy veterans. But House-passed legislation (H.R. 299) has stalled in the Senate as members attempt to find a compromise with VA officials.
“The issue of dealing with Blue Water Navy is no longer a question, it’s a matter of how we deal with Blue Water Navy,” Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said at a hearing last week. “We’re not going to get bulldozed into a corner, and we’re not going to bulldoze someone into a corner.”
Burn pits were commonly used at military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of trash including chemicals, paints and human waste. Veterans groups are pushing the department to collect more data on service members who were exposed to toxic waste via the burn pits, but officials have struggled to enroll former service members via a Burn Pit Registry.
The lack of data could lead to problems evaluating burn pit exposure — the same challenge Vietnam veterans are facing today, Porter said.
That is why veterans groups are supporting legislation (H.R. 5671), sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), which would require the Defense Department to conduct health assessments for service members who were exposed to burn pits now so they’re able to make service-related disability connections sooner. The bill has not been considered in committee, and it is not clear if it will be taken up this year.

Isakson vows 'Blue Water' relief; Trump inflates Choice reform

Veterans have reason to be uncertain over what Congress and the Trump administration plan both for “Blue Water Navy” Vietnam War veterans who have Agent Orange-related ailments, and for veterans seeking smoother access to more convenient and timely health care from private-sector physicians and hospitals.
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, insisted throughout a hearing last week that he and Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie will deliver a solution to extend VA disability benefits and health care to veterans who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam during that war and today have conditions VA presumes are linked to toxic defoliants sprayed on land.
But Wilkie, the only witness at the “State of the VA” hearing, wasn’t prepared to echo the chairman’s assurances. Wilkie didn’t even mention the House-passed Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (HR 299) in his oral statement highlighting priorities for improving VA’s organization and services.
In his written testimony, he reiterated VA opposition to extending benefits for up to 90,000 aging Blue Water Navy veterans and survivors, saying VA’s “commitment to science and an evidence-based approach to creating or expanding [Agent Orange] presumptions should be maintained.”
If HR 299 is enacted absent stronger scientific evidence that shipboard veterans were exposed to wartime defoliants, Wilkie wrote, it “would erode confidence in the soundness and fairness of the veterans’ disability benefits system, creating the impression that the system can be gamed by political activism.”
Also, he argued, it would increase pressure on VA to “expand additional presumptions administratively, under a similarly liberal approach, favoring less deserving but politically demanding veterans over more deserving veterans who trust VA to do the right thing for all veterans.”

Mental Health - VA Releases National Suicide Data Report for 2005-2016

On 26 September 2018, the VA released national-level and state-level findings from its most recent analysis of veteran suicide data, from 2005 to 2016. On average, about 20 current or former service members die each day; 6 have been in VA healthcare and 14 had not.
From 2015 to 2016, the overall current and former servicemember suicide count decreased from 7,663 to 7,298 deaths, a decrease of 365; the veteran-specific suicide count decreased from 6,281 to 6,079 deaths, a decrease of 202; and from 2015 to 2016, the veteran unadjusted suicide rate decreased from 30.5/100,000 to 30.1/100,000.
Though the data showed the rates of suicide to be highest among younger veterans (ages 18-34) and lowest among older veterans (ages 55 and older), because the older veteran population is the largest, this group accounted for 58.1 percent of veteran suicide deaths in 2016. The rate of suicide among 18-34-year-old veterans continues to increase. The report showed that the use of firearms as a method of suicide remains high, with the percentage of suicide deaths involving firearms at 69.4 percent in 2016.
The “VA National Suicide Data Report 2005–2016,” and the accompanying state data sheets are available at: 
courtesy VVA

EPA presents plans on Mohawk Tannery

NASHUA – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representatives discussed the ongoing efforts to remediate the Mohawk Tannery site during a special Tuesday Board of Aldermen meeting.

Featuring potentially radioactive barium, as well as carcinogenic dioxin and arsenic, the property along the Nashua River is an EPA Superfund site.
“The plan as it is conceived right now is to basically contain all that waste that is already in there by building a containment structure, or wall around it,” EPA Remedial Project Manager Gerardo Millan-Ramos told board members on Tuesday.
“The general idea or approach here is to basically consolidate all this waste in this area by building that secant wall first up to the soil level and then on top of it a containment wall that would hold the initial waste and then have it capped with an impermeable cap,” Millan-Ramos added.
New Hampshire and Rhode Island Superfund Section Chief Melissa Taylor said as a “back of the envelope estimate” to dispose of the Fimbel Door Landfill waste off site at a disposal facility would be about $6.5 million. However, some money could be saved, dropping that price tag down to around $4.5 million if no retaining wall is built.
“The proposal, as the neighbors understand it, has not been to clean up the lagoons – it has been to add more to them and then cap it,” Alderman Tom Lopez, Ward 4, said. “There’s a separate chamber that they are describing behind the two lagoons, but they also have a plan to pile stuff higher on the secant wall, if I understand correctly.”
Gerardo then softly replied by saying, “correct.”

Joint VSO Letter to SVAC supporting HR 299

The Honorable Johnny Isakson, Chairman
Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
United States Senate
412 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Jon Tester, Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
United States Senate
825A Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Isakson and Ranking Member Tester:

On behalf of the millions of veterans we represent, we urge you to take every action necessary to ensure that a vote is held by the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and then the full Senate, on H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018, as soon as possible before the 115th Congress concludes. This bipartisan legislation was passed by the House earlier this year by a 382 to 0 vote. It is now time for the Senate to follow suit by swiftly passing H.R. 299.

This legislation would reverse an erroneous decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2002 that made thousands of Vietnam veterans – commonly called “Blue Water Navy veterans” – ineligible for health care and benefits connected to illnesses caused by exposure to Agent Orange. VA’s decision to issue new administrative rules requiring that a veteran, “…must have actually served on land within the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) to qualify for the presumption of exposure to herbicides” (M21-1, Adjudication Procedures Manual, Part III, Paragraph 4.24(e)(1)) was not based on any new scientific evidence or changes in law, and should therefore be reversed.

EPA turns to scientific outliers in effort to loosen radiation limits, saying a bit of exposure may be healthy

Associated Press
The EPA is pursuing rule changes that experts say would weaken the way radiation exposure is regulated, turning to scientific outliers who argue that a bit of radiation damage is actually good for you — like a little bit of sunlight.
The government's current, decades-old guidance says that any exposure to harmful radiation is a cancer risk. And critics say the proposed change could lead to higher levels of exposure for workers at nuclear installations and oil and gas drilling sites, medical workers doing X-rays and CT scans, people living next to Superfund sites and any members of the public who one day might find themselves exposed to a radiation release.
The Trump administration already has targeted a range of other regulations on toxins and pollutants, including coal power plant emissions and car exhaust, that it sees as costly and burdensome for businesses. Supporters of the EPA's proposal argue the government's current model that there is no safe level of radiation -- the so-called linear no-threshold model -- forces unnecessary spending for handling exposure in accidents, at nuclear plants, in medical centers and at other sites.
At issue is Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule on transparency in science.
EPA spokesman John Konkus said Tuesday, "The proposed regulation doesn't talk about radiation or any particular chemicals. And as we indicated in our response, EPA's policy is to continue to use the linear-no-threshold model for population-level radiation protection purposes which would not, under the proposed regulation that has not been finalized, trigger any change in that policy."
But in an April news release announcing the proposed rule the agency quoted Edward Calabrese, a toxicologist at the University of Massachusetts who has said weakening limits on radiation exposure would save billions of dollars and have a positive impact on human health.
The proposed rule would require regulators to consider "various threshold models across the exposure range" when it comes to dangerous substances. While it doesn't specify radiation, the release quotes Calabrese calling the proposal "a major scientific step forward" in assessing the risk of "chemicals and radiation."
Konkus said the release was written during the tenure of former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. He could not explain why Calabrese was quoted citing the impact on radiation levels if the agency does not believe there would be any.
Calabrese was to be the lead witness at a congressional hearing Wednesday on the EPA proposal.
Radiation is everywhere, from potassium in bananas to the microwaves popping our popcorn. Most of it is benign. But what's of concern is the higher-energy, shorter-wave radiation, like X-rays, that can penetrate and disrupt living cells, sometimes causing cancer.                                                                                                     

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Agent Orange Awareness Month

AOZ - Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Men say their breast cancer was caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune

By Ami Schmitz and Kristina Krohn
Rock Center

Mike Partain got the shock of his life five years ago when he was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39. That he got breast cancer at all is surprising. It's so rare that for every 100 women who get it, just one man will.
“Five years ago I was just an ordinary father of four, husband of 18 years. And one night, my then-wife gave me a hug and she felt a bump on my chest,” he said in an interview with Dr. Nancy Snyderman airing tonight at 10pm/9CT on NBC News’ Rock Center with Brian Williams.  
When his doctor delivered the devastating news in a phone call, Partain’s first thought was, “What contest in hell did I win to deserve this?”
After his diagnosis, Partain was desperate to answer the question, “why”? He said, “I don't drink. I don't smoke. I've never done drugs. There is no history of breast cancer in my family.”  
But everything changed after he saw a news report, where a former Marine drill instructor named Jerry Ensminger told Congress how his 9-year-old daughter Janey died of leukemia, and that he believed her death was caused by drinking water at Camp Lejeune contaminated with chemicals.
“My knees buckled,” Mike said, “I grabbed the back of the couch and I sat there.  I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is what happened.’” 
The son of a Marine, Partain was born at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He soon learned that there had been a long history of suspicion about the water at Camp Lejeune.
“The entire time my mother was pregnant with me, we were drinking high levels of tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and benzene in our water” he said. Partain believes these chemicals caused his breast cancer.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 500,000 and 1 million people were exposed to the contaminated water from 1953 to 1987, when the last of several contaminated wells were closed. 
Partain has found 83 other men who lived or served at Camp Lejeune who have also been diagnosed with male breast cancer. 
Peter Devereaux, a 50-year-old a former Marine, is one of them. He was diagnosed in 2008.
Devereaux remembers when his doctor first let him know he had breast cancer.
“I was just like, whooo. Even now I've said that so many times, it still takes your breath away,” he said.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Male Breast Cancer - DIOXIN

by George Claxton
A new study conducted by Sara Villeneuve, et al and published in the journal "OCCUPATIONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE" was released on August 25, 2010. This study related to the incidence of breast cancer in males whom were exposed to PCBs, dioxins, and other toxins and occupations.

In volume 69 of the International Agency for Research on Cancer published in 1997 it was suggested that dioxin might be related to male breast cancer. Now a study has shown a connection. The new study showed a 3.8 (95% CL 1.5 to 9.5) increase from exposure to these compounds.

The authors stated that "Endocrine disruptors such as alkylphenolic compounds may play a role in breast cancer".

There is a lot of evidence on dioxin like compounds in female breast cancer but this is the first study that I know of that connected dioxin like compounds with male breast cancer.


Veterans who served at Fort Drum, New York during certain years may have been exposed to Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide used during the Vietnam War.
A document from the Department of Defense (DoD) shows that a formulation of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, the two ingredients in Agent Orange, were tested by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in an approximately four square mile area of Fort Drum in the summer of 1959. According the document, thirteen drums totaling 715 gallons of Agent Purple, made up of concentrated butyl esters of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, were sprayed by helicopters over 2,560 acres of Fort Drum.
The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims recently issued a decision in a case in which a veteran claimed service connection for multiples conditions due to exposure to Agent Orange at Fort Drum. The Court’s decision discussed numerous documents that the veteran submitted for his claim which detail the use of Agent Orange and other herbicides at Fort Drum as early as 1959 up to the 1970s.