Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ignoring the casualties of war

All U.S. veterans of every recent war, their families and doctors are absolutely right to question the Department of Defense and the U.S. military’s commitment to them. When politicians talk about how we owe them, and thank them for their service, every American should question what action they have taken as opposed to the words they speak.
Veterans suffering from illnesses caused by exposure to burn pits during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are especially vulnerable, and that means every veteran who served in either country, where the U.S. military maintained dozens of burn pits — football-field sized areas — where everything from chemical weapons to computer hardware was burned, created a toxic smoke in direct proximity to where soldiers and Marines lived and worked.
Veterans are dying from illnesses — rare cancers and other horrible diseases that can be traced to exposure — every day. For other veterans, the fear of developing these illnesses is very real. For more than a decade, families have been fighting for benefits they are being denied, for the VA to recognize, track and treat these illnesses. And, sometimes veterans are forced to hide their illnesses to preserve what VA benefits they do have, including preserving their life insurance benefits.
Veterans and families fear the Department of Defense is intentionally denying burn pits illnesses from toxic exposures to avoid the liability of caring for veterans, as casualties mount, and Congress is a willing co-conspirator. The DoD is refusing to acknowledge burn pits illnesses in the same way it fought covering illnesses related to exposure to Agent Orange, a tactical herbicide used to destroy trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War.
Veterans sick from exposure to burn pits — the ones who have not yet died — have been asking the DoD to acknowledge, track and treat their illnesses for more than a decade. The response has been systematic denial of their requests. The military has controlled the information Congress gets about burn pits illnesses, but Congress has been a willing stooge in this shameful betrayal of the men and women who did their duty to this country.
The responses (and nonresponses) the Register received from U.S. senators who serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee show a callous disregard for our veterans, a fake lip service to their needs, and a disappointing lack of courage. We appreciate U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s efforts asking for hearings during which veterans, their families and physicians will be allowed to testify, but the response from members of the Senate committee tell us it won’t happen without a serious push from the public.
We urge you to call members of the committee and tell them to let veterans testify. The time to do right by our men and women who served this country is right now — not in a year, or two years — and these senators should be called out for not supporting our troops.

EPA targets Bergen, Passaic counties for Passaic River dioxin cleanup. But is it enough?

Pockets of highly contaminated Passaic River sediment in Bergen and Passaic counties would be partially excavated and capped with a barrier under plans being considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, officials said.
Cleaning up 9 miles of the Passaic — from North Arlington to the Dundee Dam in Clifton and Garfield — would not be as massive as the still-pending $1.4 billion plan to partially dredge the river's lower 8 miles from bank to bank in Newark and Hudson County. 
Instead, contractors are targeting hot spots contaminated with cancer-causing dioxin, PCBs and other industrial pollution that have made the Passaic one of the most polluted waterways in the U.S.
But the EPA's proposal to leave a portion of the pollution under a barrier — a strategy that it has often been used at other contaminated sites — has drawn criticism for both portions of the Passaic cleanup.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Are fighter pilots at greater risk for prostate cancer? The Air Force is now asking

The Air Force has begun to look at whether there’s increased risk for prostate cancer among its fighter pilots. A new investigation by McClatchy shows just how serious the problem may be.
The fighter pilot study was requested by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein after he was contacted by concerned veterans service organizations in 2018, according to the report obtained by McClatchy.
At the heart of the Air Force study was a question of whether extended exposure in the cockpit to radiation may be linked to increased risk of prostate cancer.
The study said “pilots have greater environmental exposure to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation ... (fighter pilots) have unique intra-cockpit exposures to non-ionizing radiation.” The Air Force study was conducted by the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Military Veterans and Medical Marijuana -- a Combustible Mix

When a newly retired U.S. Army veteran applied for a job in March, he told the local recruiter that he was using CBD oil through Florida's medical marijuana program.
The revelation was soon confirmed by a failed drug test. The federal contract position would have paid $10,000 for a month's work abroad. But forced to choose between his health and his wallet, he kept taking the CBD oil.
"I don't think it's right that we have to make that choice," said Vincent, 45, who asked that his full name not be used out of fear his legal cannabis use could jeopardize his veteran benefits.
Veterans like Vincent -- who served two tours in Iraq -- find themselves increasingly frustrated with the hurdles they face in trying to access marijuana for medical purposes even as support for legalizing the drug continues to grow.
Lucrative federal jobs become off limits even if they reside in one of the 34 states with a medical marijuana program. They need to pay out of pocket for the drug and required doctor visits, and it has to be in cash because banks can't work with the marijuana industry under federal law. And many worry they could lose hard-earned benefits if they publicly disclose legal use.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs states on its website that "veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of marijuana use," including disability payments.
Yet when Vincent asked his veteran service officer how his marijuana use would affect his disability and retirement checks, he said the officer could not give him a clear answer.
Individual reports, such as a case in Massachusetts this year where a veteran reportedly lost their VA home loan eligibility because they worked for a legal marijuana company, stoke fear and uncertainty.
But the perceived risks aren't stopping a growing number of veterans from trying medical marijuana as an alternative treatment, though they are careful to remain in the shadows.

VA releases Benefits Administration’s 3rd quarter benefits performance results

WASHINGTON — U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Undersecretary for Benefits, Dr. Paul R. Lawrence, reported on his organization’s performance for the third quarter of fiscal year 2019 in a livestream broadcast today.
The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) provides disability, education, and other forms of benefits earned through military service.
 “Being open and transparent about how VBA measures up against its quarterly targets continues to build trust between VA and those we are dedicated to serving,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilke. “VA’s Benefits Administration lays it all on the table, highlighting the organization’s accomplishments, opportunities for improvement and plans for ongoing initiatives.”
VBA met or exceeded this quarter’s targets in the majority of its business lines. In the last eight weeks of the quarter, VBA completed more than 261,000 disability compensation claims, which is above the eight-week cumulative target of 255,000. For the entire quarter, VBA completed nearly 351,000 of these claims exceeding their target of 335,000. This was done in an average of 105 days, which is above the longstanding goal of 125 days to complete these claims.

Friday, July 26, 2019

This pesticide is closely related to nerve agents used in World War II. Trump’s EPA doesn’t care.

Here’s a question: Do you think that a chemical cousin of nerve agents used in World War II that alters the brain function of children should be used as a pesticide? I’d hazard a guess that most people think this is a bad idea. The Trump administration, on the other hand, thinks this is just fine.
What I’m talking about here is the decision from President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency — going against decades of science and its own scientist’s advice —to reject an Obama-era petition to ban the pesticide called chlorpyrifos.
What we know about chlorpyrifos is alarming. Perhaps the most well-known study is one done by researchers at Columbia University who performed brain imaging on young kids with high exposure to chlorpyrifos. The results are shocking and unambiguous. In the words of the researchers: “This study reports significant associations of prenatal exposure to a widely used environmental neurotoxicant, at standard use levels, with structural changes in the developing human brain.”
Yes, you read that right. The pesticide the Trump administration wants to continue to use interferes with childhood brain development. Trump’s EPA assured the public in a statement that “there is good reason” to continue allowing farmers to use the chemical, arguing that “critical questions remained” regarding its harmful effects. Let’s explore the science.
Chlorpyrifos operates by targeting the nervous system of living animals. Here’s how it works: When a nerve cell in our body is stimulated and wants to pass that message to an adjacent nerve cell, it needs a means to pass that message along. Nerve cells do this by releasing a small amount of acetylcholine (ACH) at their terminal end so that adjacent nerve cells can pick up that signal and pass that message along. The receptors on the adjacent nerve cell detect the ACH, which triggers them to “fire,” and the cascade continues, thereby transmitting the signal throughout the brain and body. For that reason, ACH is what is called a neurotransmitter.

Susan Hammond: Agent Orange interview, Public Radio International

Generations later, people in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos still feel the health effects of Agent Orange, the defoliant used by the US military in the Vietnam War. The World’s host Marco Werman speaks with Susan Hammond with the War Legacies Project.

Make environmental damage a war crime, say scientists

International lawmakers should adopt a fifth Geneva convention that recognises damage to nature alongside other war crimes, according to an open letter by 24 prominent scientists.
The legal instrument should incorporate wildlife safeguards in conflict regions, including protections for nature reserves, controls on the spread of guns used for hunting and measures to hold military forces to account for damage to the environment, say the signatories to the letter, published in the journal Nature.
The UN international law commission is due to hold a meeting with the aim of building on the 28 principles it has already drawn up to protect the environment in war zones.
Prof Sarah Durant of the Zoological Society of London, one of the signatories to the letter, said the principles were a major step forward and should be expanded to make specific mention of biodiversity, and then adopted across the world.
 “The brutal toll of war on the natural world is well documented, destroying the livelihoods of vulnerable communities and driving many species, already under intense pressure, towards extinction,” she said.
 “We hope governments around the world will enshrine these protections into international law. This would not only help safeguard threatened species, but would also support rural communities, both during and post-conflict, whose livelihoods are long-term casualties of environmental destruction.”
Work in this field began in the 1990s after the Iraqi military set fire to more than 600 oil wells during a scorched-earth retreat from Kuwait in 1991, but the idea dates back at least to the Vietnam war, when the US military used Agent Orange to clear millions of hectares of forest with dire consequences for human health and wildlife.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019


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

August 7, 2019
Jacksonville, Florida
Contact: Char Miller

October 19, 2019
Portland, Oregon
Contact: Steve Carr

October 26, 2019
Princeton, West Virginia
Contact: Roger Williams

The U.S.’s Toxic Agent Orange Legacy

AMPOUT TUK, Cambodia—Paris Dauk’s left arm lies close to her chest, reminiscent of how a bird bears a broken wing. She’s talkative and has a propensity to fill her face, itself marked by abnormal growths, with a toothy grin. Yet while the bird’s wing may eventually heal, Dauk’s limb will not, remaining forever crumpled, underdeveloped, and, ultimately, deformed.
Dauk, 24, is among several people in border villages in southeast Cambodia who, despite being born to families with no history of deformities, came out of the womb with defects that include missing or shortened limbs, abnormal head growths, and developmental disabilities. These deformities, earlier reported by The Phnom Penh Post, appear only in those born after 1970––the year elders say the United States sprayed parts of their village, which sits about a mile from Cambodia’s border with Vietnam, with a powder that irritated their eyes and killed surrounding plants. Residents, and some researchers, now say this powder was likely Agent Orange, the U.S.’s favored dioxin-laced Vietnam War defoliant, which scientists say causes cancer and heart disease in those directly exposed and an array of birth defects in their descendants.
President John F. Kennedy approved the first defoliant-spraying missions in the early 1960s, a period during which tens of thousands of Communist Vietcong guerrillas had infiltrated and begun recruiting forces within U.S.-aligned South Vietnam. Until 1971, aiming to decimate the vegetation that provided the Vietcong with cover and sustenance, the U.S. sprayed nearly 19 million gallons of defoliants, at least 11 million gallons of which was Agent Orange. But the guerrillas’ infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail jutted into Cambodia and Laos; where it did, American bombs and Agent Orange often followed.

Lawsuit filed against VA secretary over delaying benefits for Blue Water Navy vets

WASHINGTON — A lawsuit was filed Monday against Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie over his decision to delay claims processing for tens of thousands of “Blue Water” Navy veterans until next year.
Military Veterans Advocacy and the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, arguing Wilkie doesn’t have the authority to delay work on the claims until Jan. 1, 2020 — a decision he announced earlier this month.
Blue Water Navy veterans served aboard aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships in the territorial seas of Vietnam and fought for years to prove they were exposed to the chemical herbicide Agent Orange. Because of a federal court case and a new law passed by Congress, they became eligible in June for VA disability compensation.
Advocates stressed in their complaint that the veterans can’t afford to wait for benefits. The lawsuits names one veteran, Johnnie Harper of Louisiana, who “is not expected to survive” until 2020.
 “These veterans are dying at a high rate every single day,” the complaint reads. “[They] deserve the peace of mind and sense of closure that accompanies a granted claim for earned benefits.”

Opinion: VA secretary uses religious liberty to delay veterans' claims

The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a press release July 5 announcing the extension of Agent Orange claims for “Blue Water Navy” veterans.
Agent Orange was the toxic herbicide used to clear plants and trees in battle zones in
Korea and in Vietnam. Vietnam veterans who served offshore of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962-May 7, 1975, and veterans who served in or near the demilitarized zone in Korea from April 1, 1968-Aug. 31, 1971 are eligible for benefits.
The 2019 Blue Water Navy Veterans Act was signed into law June 25.  According to the VA press release, 420,000 to 560,000 Vietnam veterans may be considered Blue Water Navy Veterans.  The law goes into effect Jan 1.  Korean War veterans in their late 80s may not live long enough to collect these benefits.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie stated, “VA is dedicated to ensuring that all veterans receive the benefits they have earned.”  Wilkie further stated the VA will not begin to process the claims until Jan. 1 “we are working to ensure we have the proper resources in place to meet the needs of our Blue Water Veterans community and minimize the impact on all veterans filing for disability compensation.”
Wilkie fails to mention the VA denied these claims for years, and fought a bitter court battle before Congress could finally pass the bill.
Wilkie found a cause, which is of such importance, that he issued a press release on July 3 to let the public know the VA is overhauling religious and spiritual symbols to protect the religious liberty of veterans effective immediately.
The reason given for this urgent action by Wilkie is “to make sure that all our veterans and their families feel welcome at VA no matter their religious beliefs.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Great Gatsby star Kate Mulvany reveals a doctor told her "Don't do it, don't even try" for children after cancer caused by her father's exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War

Great Gatsby star Kate Mulvany has revealed her experiences after she recovered from childhood cancer.
The 41-year-old actress from Geraldton, Western Australia, has endured chronic pain for almost 30 years, as her body tried to recover from excessive radiation treatment for renal cancer. 
The busy playwright was aged three when she was diagnosed with the cancer, which was later connected to her father Danny's exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.
Speaking about her decades of physical suffering, Mulvany explained she was never angry with her body but rather the systems that made her body that way.
'I'm angry that I have a cancer that came from the spraying of dioxin in South-East Asia in a war six years before I was even born,' she told The Weekend Australian.
Mulvany was diagnosed with renal cancer at age three, which was connected to her father's time fighting in the jungle during the Vietnam War.
Mulvany had once dreamed of having six children but was devastatingly advised against it.
The Little Death actress explained her mother had always told her she probably wouldn't be able to be able to have children, but a doctor's diagnosis tipped her over the edge.
'When a doctor definitely said to me, ''Don't do it, don't even try'' I was furious,' she recalled.
'That was the first time I'd really felt bitter fury about who the f*** had made that choice about my body. Why would my body always have to deal with this?'
Mulvany, who has written 25 plays, said her legacy would be left through them. 
Her father, who suffered from PTSD, died in 2017 following a battle with with oesophageal cancer.
Mulvany described him as a 'superhero' who held a lot of guilt, heartbreak and trauma about his legacy of dioxin.
In the years of battling chronic pain, Mulvany said she felt some relief when she decided to label her condition as a disability. 
The hardworker won't turn down jobs from the pain but admits it's important to be frank when she's having a difficult day, as her body's not always able to cope like an able body. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

First Post - July 15, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
by Jim Belshaw

Dayna and Keeyan's story is brought to you by The Missouri Vietnam Veterans Foundation.
Dayna Dupuis Theriot writes a letter filled with questions, not the least of which is to whom she should send it for answers. She scours the Internet looking for such answers and finds only tantalizing clues, or more to the point, one clue, one connector between her son and the various abnormalities that have been visited upon him. The clue repeatedly shows itself, but never to the degree that she can say it is the answer with any certainty.
“Every time I put in one of Keeyan’s abnormalities with that information about my dad, Agent Orange in the first thing that would pop up,” she said.
With the exception of a too small body, his physical appearance gives no indication that her young son knows firsthand the medical mysteries that Dayna includes in her letter:
“Esophageal Atresia/stricture
“Dyslexia and learning disabilities
“Speech and hearing problems
“Asthma and allergies so severe that Keeyan is on Xolair injections (normally for people who are 12 years of age or older according to the Xolair Web site)
“Illecolitis (a form of Crohn’s disease)
“Premature Ventricular Contractions (heart disease).”
Her father, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Army, is under treatment for PTSD, but has never been diagnosed with a disease connected to Agent Orange. Nonetheless, pointing to the presence of Agent Orange in her Internet research, Dayna finds yet another clue hard to pin down .
“My father was in an area that was heavily sprayed with Agent Orange,” she said. “He’s been through a lot. I don’t know how he would handle it if we found out this kind of thing was transferred from his body to us. It would have a powerful emotional effect on him. I would hate for him to blame himself. What I’m doing now is just looking for answers. You don’t know who else is out there with the same problems.”
Dip in anywhere in her letter and “powerful emotional effect” becomes understatement.
“My son, Keeyan, was born August 2, 2000, weighting only 4 lbs., 14 oz.,” she writes. “He had problems before coming home with his sugar levels and body temperature. We stayed in NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) for five days before allowing us to go home. He then came home to vomiting, choking, and almost losing him in our home.
“He was checked by his pediatrician to discover his esophagus was strictured. It was narrowed so severely that it only allowed a few drops in at a time and not even his own mucus could be digested. It is similar to Esophageal Atresia. He was admitted and the surgeon dilated the esophagus. It lasted two weeks before collapsing again. So in September 2000, only 4 weeks old, a thoracotomy was done. They would cut out the narrowed part and resection the damaged esophagus.
As her letter continues, it takes on a peculiar phenomenon of language, one in which mothers become conversant in a medical language usually reserved only for specialists, men and women who have spent the greater part of their lives studying such things. It falls to mothers to understand medical terms and procedures that would leave most people scratching their heads.
This is not the case with the mothers of children like Keeyan Theriot. They understand the complications because the complications become the stuff of daily life.
“After the procedure was done, he assured us that Keeyan would be fine,” she writes. “He then began vomiting, choking, and the esophagus was so irritated that it began to bleed. We began PH probe studies to find out what was going on. The studies showed reflux and it was really bad. So they put him on a drug given to patients with esophageal cancer to be able to tolerate feedings. It didn’t help …
“We went to see a Pediatric Surgeon for Rare Anomalies. He gave us a few options … He mentioned doing a fundoplication/nissen so he would not be able to vomit. The procedure was done at age 4 1/2 … only to be discouraged by vomiting and bleeding …"
Some of the questions Dayna asks are the same questions asked by the wives of other Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange:
+If the children of women veterans are determined to suffer from such service connected disabilities, why are the children of male veterans excluded? (Dayna's son, as well as the children of other women, were born with conditions that are on the presumptive list for children of women veterans.)
+Studies show more defects in women than men. Why?
+There are cases of second and third generations, but no proven studies. Why?
+Are there more studies planned for future generations?
+In the small study of 24 Vietnam veterans, they all had some type of chromosomal changes. Why was the study stopped?
It is a proven fact, Dayna points out, that more children of Vietnam veterans suffer learning disabilities, health issues, asthma/allergies, birth defects, and other health issues. “They all seem familiar to me,” she says. Kids are also born with rare disorders that may show up later.
“It’s been rough,” she said. “You always have in the back of your mind that (answers) would leave you with some closure and you would be done with this. I mean, you have to live with it, but at least you know why and you say, OK, this is the way life is going to be. We’re going to have to live with it, like it or not. This has been my life for the last eight years. I have no idea how I get through this. It takes a lot.”

This article was Published in The Fresno Bee online on Saturday, Jun. 27, 2009

by Jim Doyle

On June 2, the Ford Foundation released the results of a lengthy study on the effects of Agent Orange/Dioxin, and confirmed what Vietnam veterans have known for years: This stuff will kill you, or worse, pass to your children and grandchildren and cause a range of disabilities and diseases that will profoundly affect their lives.
Every good parent does their best to assure a better life for their children, irrespective of time and place. Many Vietnam veterans, however, have unintentionally left a disturbing legacy -- birth defects or damaged genes that carry the potential risk of birth defects in succeeding generations.
This troubling inheritance is directly linked to the harm caused as a result of our exposure to Dioxin, an unintended by product of the combination of 2-4-5-T and 2,4,D that created the herbicide more commonly known as Agent Orange.
Over a period of nearly 10 years, about 21 million gallons of Agent Orange was sprayed over more than 10 million acres in Vietnam. The VA presumes that veterans who served in Vietnam were exposed to Agent Orange. It was in the air and in the water. Dioxin was one of the more prevalent culprits at Times Beach and Love Canal.
Agent Orange was composed primarily of two commonly used commercial weed killers, the combination of which creates the chemical 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), known to be toxic in humans. One of these ingredients (2,4,5,T was banned by the World Health Organization in 1970. TCDD accumulates in human fatty tissue, where it is neither readily metabolized nor excreted.
Over time, the toxin accumulates and the effects can remain. In April 1970, the federal government found evidence that TCDD had caused birth defects in laboratory mice, but it was still used in Vietnam for nearly eight more months.
Children and grandchildren of Vietnam veterans suffer from a wide spectrum of conditions including Achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism to Williams Syndrome, a rare disorder caused by "erasure" of about 26 genes from a specific chromosome that can cause mental retardation, a distinctive facial appearance and cardiovascular problems for starters.
Cleft lip and palate, congenital heart disease, fused digits, hip dysplasia, neural tube defects and undescended testicles -- the list goes on.
Who drafted these kids?
Physical, mental and emotional disabilities in our children, and now a growing number of anecdotal reports of these same birth defects turning up in our grandchildren haunt Vietnam veteran parents.
These are the result of wounds that will never be acknowledged by a Purple Heart medal, wounding yet another generation.
When will the casualties of the Vietnam War end? After 30 years of research, the evidence is firmly on the side of Vietnam veterans, both male and female. Despite this evidentiary flood, Mom and Dad are still running the gauntlet of rules, regulations, administrative decisions, legal opinions, forms, physical examinations, evaluations and plain old indifference in an attempt to get treatment and compensation, not only for themselves but for their children.
Again it must be asked, who drafted these kids?
After more than 30 years, isn't it long past time for this issue to be settled?
The Ford Foundation report calls for improved diagnosis and treatment, and continued study of the environmental and health effects of Agent Orange. It also appeals for expanded care, not only for veterans but for their children suffering next-generation effects from their parents' toxic exposures.
In the face of the growing scientific evidence and the conclusions of the foundation study report the government still refuses to fully acknowledge the friendly fire toll of Agent Orange, now visited upon another generation.
Vietnam veteran moms and dads must focus on what will be there for their children after the flag on their casket has been presented.
The reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of Vietnam veterans who endure daily struggles with diseases and conditions that are a direct result of their exposure to Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals used in Vietnam. There is little, if any, serious dispute of that fact. Millions of Vietnamese also suffer the same illnesses and die the same agonized death, and their children too.
Just as Traumatic Brain Injury has become the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so to has the long-festering wound of Agent Orange become the signature wound for Vietnam veterans.
Before his death in January 2000, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., commander of U.S. naval forces in Vietnam and later Chief of Naval Operations, fought to force those in power to take responsibility for their actions and admit that Agent Orange killed more than vegetation.
Zumwalt ordered the spraying of Agent Orange in the Mekong Delta and it ultimately lead to the cancer that killed his Navy lieutenant son, Elmo Zumwalt III at 42. Grandson Elmo IV was born in 1977 with a severe learning disability.
For Admiral Zumwalt, it was simple.
When Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a World War II veteran whose son served in Vietnam and died from cancer, recuses himself from Agent Orange cases, there is a reason.
Vietnam veterans are not asking for a handout, they are just asking for some truth. Oh, and a return on the investment they made in freedom four decades ago. There can be no recession in that account.

Read the Ford Foundation Report on Agent Orange at:


Waiting For An Army To Die Won't Work When A Significant Number of Vietnam Veterans Are Reporting Children and/or Grandchildren With Birth Defects Related to Exposure to Agent Orange:

by Mokie Porter

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at the Cosmos Club in Washington D.C.the Ford Foundation, announced that it is funding and launching of a full-scale, public-relations campaign to win the sympathy of the American people for the plight of Agent Orange victims in Vietnam
The Ford Foundation and the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin are hoping to mobilize resources and raise awareness for the continuing environmental health consequences of dioxin contamination in Vietnam resulting from the use of A/O, with the end goal of gaining the support of Congress, American business, and the American people to direct U.S. dollars to Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. When representatives of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) asked at the June 2nd meeting whether the condition of American veterans, their children, and grandchildren would also be a subject of the public relations campaign, the answer from the chair of the Working Group, came back "We have given you the report."
The June 1, 2009, report, "U.S. Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange: Understanding the Impact 40 Years Later," which was done by the National Organization on Disability with funding from the Ford Foundation, concludes that it is not "too late to correct the lapses in the nation's treatment of veterans who were exposed to dioxin during the Vietnam War." It goes on to state that "One lesson of the Agent Orange experience has been that the consequences of such chemicals are rarely easy to predict, and that the burdens they impose may well be borne for generations." for report and VVA reactions. 
The report includes five detailed recommendations for greater clarity and justice: (1) Outreach to All Affected Veterans and their Families; (2) Outreach to Health Practitioners and Disability-Related Service Agencies; (3) Medical Care for Affected Children and Grandchildren; (4) A Fresh Approach to Research; and (5) Direct Service to Veterans and their Families, in Their Communities.
If the Ford Foundation's publicity campaign will focus on the plight of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, but not American victims of Agent Orange, then veterans need to launch our own grassroots publicity campaign to gain the support of Congress, American business, and the American people for the unfinished Agent Orange agenda for American veterans and their families.
The Task Ahead: Don't Mourn, Organize and Publicize in Your Own Communities 
This is not just a VVA issue.VVA members, chapters, and state councils need to reach out and work with other veterans organizations in their communities and to be a force multiplier. Many of our members, of course, are members of other veterans organizations, so this will help. 
The brunt of the fallout of this one-sided, public-awareness campaign will rest on our members at the grassroots, in chapters and state councils, where the network exists for our veteran families. We cannot allow those veterans outside the VA/VSO network to find out about their A/O exposure from the perspective of the Vietnamese victims, as they watch the Ford Foundation media campaign unfold in print and on television.
While, at this point, we know very little about the when and where of the Ford Foundation media campaign, we expect that it will begin this summer and continue through the year. We anticipate a multi-media barrage, with Ford's efforts directed toward the documentary film industry, the print media, radio, television, celebrities, etc. We have not located the budget for this endeavor yet, but expect that, minimally, it will be in the range of six figures.
This is not about animosity toward Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, but it is a response to the telling of only one side of the story by the Ford Foundation media campaign. That's not the right approach to take and may well create a great deal of pain in those veterans, whose "welcome home" nearly forty years ago, was a slap in the face, or disdain and distance, and who will now, once more, be reminded of the esteem in which their government holds them, as they watch while the Ford Foundation media campaign focuses on the suffering of their former enemy.
What do we need to create awareness? We need real stories about real people to convince the American people and Congress that our A/O problems are real.
We already have two excellent stories, though still in the rough draft stage. More will be needed. If each state would identify at least one family with a child or grandchild affected by A/O, willing to share their story, we will begin to have ammunition to use locally and nationally with the media and with legislators. 
One idea that has been suggested is holding veterans health forums at the chapter and state council levels. That's a good way to get local media attention, and a forum to discuss the issue of A/O, as well as all the host of illnesses and maladies associated with military service. It would likely be useful to have a nuts-and-bolts, how-to plan for this type of health forum.
What we need is something that could be shared with other states and chapters, like a "checklist for organizers of local health forums," or a document that has tips for putting on a "high-interest, high attendance, high media coverage veterans health forum in your community.
Ideas other than a veterans health forum will likely emerge, and a forum for the sharing of these ideas, info, intel, and good stories will be needed, if we are to sustain a vital campaign. What works in one area may not work in another area. Local initiative, local creativity, and local enthusiasm and energy will be essential.
This is not just about Vietnam/Agent Orange alone; it is about all toxic exposures in all theaters of our recent wars whether in Thailand, on Eglin Air Force Base, Guam, Puerto Rico, Texas, the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.--the larger lesson continues to be this: The cost of war doesn't end when the guns are silent, in fact it takes a generational toll so we, as a nation, must be willing to pay the price.
(See VVA web page http://www.vva.org/ for report and VVA reactions. The report is also available at http://www.veteranstoday.com/article7206.html)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

VA MISSION Act: Answers to the top five questions about urgent care

Urgent care is one of the new benefits offered as part of the VA MISSION Act that gives Veterans greater choice in their health care. The benefit is offered in addition to the opportunity to receive care from a VA provider, as VA also offers same-day services. We are working to ensure Veterans understand how to use the new urgent care benefit as part of VA’s comprehensive benefits package. In this article, we answer some common questions about the new urgent care benefit.
  1. What is urgent care? Urgent care is a type of walk-in health care for situations where you need help but don’t have an emergency, such as colds, ear infections, minor injuries, pink eye, skin infections, and strep throat.
  2. Why are there different urgent care locations? There are two types of urgent care network locations: Retail and Urgent.
  • Retail locations such as CVS or Walgreens are places where you can get care for minor ailments like a sore throat or earache.
  • Urgent locations provide more comprehensive walk-in care for illnesses or injuries that are not life-threatening, like splinting, casting, lacerations, or wound treatment.
Both retail and urgent locations are staffed with healthcare professionals who are licensed and credentialed.
  1. Are there urgent care providers near me? VA launched the urgent care benefit on June 6, 2019, and we are working to expand our network of urgent care providers, adding more every week. Urgent care providers are vetted and must meet strict standards of care and other requirements before they are added to VA’s network. To find a location, use the VA facility locator at https://www.va.gov/find-locations/. Select the link entitled “Find VA approved urgent care locations and pharmacies near you”. If you arrive at an urgent care network location and have difficulty receiving care, call 866-620-2071 for assistance. More information.
  2. How do I get prescription medication with the urgent care benefit? You can get up to a 14-day supply of prescription medication through VA, a VA-contracted pharmacy, or a non-contracted pharmacy. If you choose to fill an urgent care prescription at a non-contracted pharmacy, you will be required to pay for the prescription when you pick it up and then file a claim for reimbursement at your local VA medical facility. Prescription medication for longer than a 14-day supply must be filled by a VA pharmacy. More information.
  3. Do I have to make copayments for urgent care? Copayments for urgent care depend on your assigned priority group and the number of times you visit any urgent care provider in a calendar year. Urgent care copayments are not charged when you receive care from an urgent care provider, but are billed separately by VA. More information.
For additional information about the VA MISSION Act, visit https://missionact.va.gov/ 

from The Virginia Pilot: Editorial: Delays of vets' benefits a national disgrace

THE LATEST DELAY in providing disability benefits for “blue water” Navy veterans, so called because they served in the waters around Vietnam, seems unnecessary and cruel after decades of inaction, a court victory and a long overdue act of Congress.
Just when these veterans, who suffer health problems related to exposure to Agent Orange, thought they had won their long struggle to get the same benefits as veterans who had boots on the ground in Vietnam, the Department of Veterans Affairs said it won’t start processing their claims until next year.
It is abhorrent that veterans who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam were so long denied eligibility for Agent Orange-related benefits. But Congress finally passed a bill ordering the VA to treat the blue water veterans equally, and President Donald Trump signed the bill into law.
Now comes this unconscionable and unnecessary new delay.
A lot of wrongs are involved, starting with the United States using Agent Orange to clear Vietnamese jungles without understanding its effects on U.S. troops. Those include sometimes fatal illnesses such as cancer, respiratory ailments, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and leukemia, and spina bifida in children born to affected parents.
As evidence of the link between Agent Orange exposure and veterans’ illnesses grew, Congress passed a 1991 law mandating that such problems be treated as the result of service in war, with appropriate benefits.
But the VA used a loophole in the law to exclude the thousands of sailors who were on ships just off Vietnam, and Marines on board the ships.

Marines stage awareness campaign to reach those sickened by Camp Lejeune toxic water

Former Marines on Wednesday staged a campaign in front of the Salem VA Medical Center to let other veterans know that their illnesses might be related to their time at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Congress in 2012 passed the Camp Lejeune Families Act, which provides medical treatment for qualifying veterans who were on active duty at the base for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987, and for their families. The Department of Veterans Affairs presumes that 15 medical conditions are related to exposure to toxins in well water at the base.
Curtis Crawford, 56, of Troutville said the Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Survivors want the list of conditions expanded, and they want the VA to do more to reach exposed veterans.
 “It’s destroyed my life. I’ve lost everything. I’ve lost my home, my business, a little bit of my dignity, but I’m getting that back,” Crawford said. “Nobody knows to what level this is. There were over 900,000 Marines, family members, Navy and Army personnel that were exposed.”
He and William Armentrout, 62, of Covington sat with signs at the entrance to the medical center under what little shade was offered mid-afternoon. They had been joined by others earlier in the day, and figured they had shared information with 20 to 30 veterans.
Crawford said he searched for years to determine why he has a number of autoimmune diseases and neurobehavioral disorders. He believes they are connected to the 45 days in 1981 he was at Camp Lejeune. But as a reservist he said he isn’t entitled to care at the VA. He’s also been denied disability benefits.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Navy and Coast Guard Ships Associated with Service in Vietnam and Exposure to Herbicide Agents

This ships list is intended to provide VA regional offices with a resource for determining whether a particular US Navy or Coast Guard Veteran of the Vietnam era is eligible for the presumption of Agent Orange herbicide exposure based on operations of the Veteran’s ship.
According to 38 CFR § 3.307(a)(6)(iii), eligibility for the presumption of Agent Orange exposure requires that a Veteran’s military service involved “duty or visitation in the Republic of Vietnam” between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975.  This includes service within the country of Vietnam itself or aboard a ship that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam.  However, this does not include service aboard a large ocean-going ship that operated only on the offshore waters of Vietnam, unless evidence shows that a Veteran went ashore.  Inland waterways include rivers, canals, estuaries, and deltas.  They do not include open deep-water bays and harbors such as those at Da Nang Harbor, Qui Nhon Bay Harbor, Nha Trang Harbor, Cam Ranh Bay Harbor, Vung Tau Harbor, or Ganh Rai Bay.  These are considered to be part of the offshore waters of Vietnam because of their deep-water anchorage capabilities and open access to the South China Sea.
In order to promote consistent application of the term “inland waterways”, VA has determined that Ganh Rai Bay and Qui Nhon Bay Harbor are no longer considered to be inland waterways, but rather are considered open water bays.  This is a change from previous policy.  As of February 2, 2016, new ships will not be added to the list based on operations in those locations and no additional dates for operations in those locations will be added to those ships already on the list. Veterans who served aboard ships already on the list for those locations will retain the presumption of Agent Orange exposure.  New Veteran claimants who were aboard ships in those locations, during the dates already on the list, will also qualify for the presumption of exposure.  This presumption will extend to all future disability claims from these Veterans.  However, Veterans who were aboard ships in those locations, during new dates not currently on the list, will not qualify for the presumption.  Likewise, Veterans aboard new ships in those locations will not qualify for the presumption of exposure.

VA extends Agent Orange presumption to ‘Blue Water Navy’ Veterans

Eligible Veterans may now be entitled to disability compensation benefits
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is preparing to process Agent Orange exposure claims for “Blue Water Navy” Veterans who served offshore of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
These Veterans may be eligible for presumption of herbicide exposure through Public Law 116-23, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, which was signed into law June 25, 2019, and goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020. They may also qualify for a presumption of service connection if they have a disease that is recognized as being associated with herbicide exposure.
The bipartisan Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act gives VA until Jan. 1, 2020, to begin deciding Blue Water Navy related claims. By staying claims decisions until that date, VA is complying with the law that Congress wrote and passed.
“VA is dedicated to ensuring that all Veterans receive the benefits they have earned,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “We are working to ensure that we have the proper resources in place to meet the needs of our Blue Water Veteran community and minimize the impact on all Veterans filing for disability compensation.”

Friday, July 5, 2019

Farmers Are Losing Everything After “Forever Chemicals” Turned Up In Their Food

“Forever chemicals” linked to cancer are turning up in farm produce across the country, leading farms to lay off workers, incinerate cranberry harvests, kill cows, and dump thousands of gallons of dairy milk.
Such long-lived "fluorinated" compounds have been measured in the drinking water in over 600 locations in 43 states, near factories or military bases that use them in firefighting foams. Best known as PFAS chemicals (short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), they line numerous waterproof consumer goods, from hiking shoes to pizza boxes.
Now their emergence in farm produce has spurred state and federal agencies to ramp up efforts to test for the chemicals in a wider variety of foods, and to fund studies to track how the chemicals enter the food supply.
In June, the FDA announced the results of its first tests for PFAS compounds in supermarket staples, including cooked meat, fruit, and iced chocolate cake. The health agency said it did not see a “food safety risk” in its sampling and did not find PFAS chemicals in most foods. But it did report PFAS in milk and produce that had been farmed near polluted locations. While researchers at the National Institutes of Health and CDC are still studying the health effects of the chemicals, some are known to hinder growth and learning in children, lower chances of pregnancy, and increase the risk of cancer.