Thursday, February 20, 2020

Carper, Coons press Trump administration for stonewalling veterans suffering from Agent Orange

Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, both D-Delaware, joined 41 Democratic senators in denouncing the Donald Trump administration for blocking critical benefits to veterans suffering from health conditions associated with their exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
The letter specifically called on the administration to stop denying scientific evidence, and end the years-long delay of adding bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, parkinsonism and hypertension to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ list of service-connected presumptive conditions.
“Your administration’s refusal to add these conditions to the presumptive list continues to deny more than 190,000 sick and aging veterans the health care and compensation they have earned and desperately need,” wrote the senators. “More
than 50 years after their service and sacrifice, these veterans continue to suffer the detrimental effects of their exposure each day. These heroes deserve more than inaction and indecision from their own government — they deserve justice.”
Since the Agent Orange Act of 1991, VA has established a presumption of service-connection for 14 diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reports. However, in a recent report required by Congress in the fiscal 2020 appropriations bill, VA called into question the scientific evidence put forth by the National Academies of Medicine, noting “significant concerns and limitations” in the findings of NASEM scientists. VA also cited additional requirements in the Department’s standards for presumptive conditions, delaying the consideration of care and compensation for thousands of suffering veterans.

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