Wednesday, December 22, 2021
VA disability compensation benefits are a monthly, tax-free payment to Veterans who were injured, sustained a long-term illness or experienced a worsening medical condition during their military service.
In addition to compensating Veterans whose disabilities incurred while serving in the military, Veterans may also be granted compensation for specific post-service medical conditions that arose because of their military service. Known as presumptive disabilities, these conditions may not have arisen in service but may be granted as service-connected because its occurrence can been linked directly to military service.
VA recently added new medical conditions to a growing list of presumptive disabilities, which you can view here. These conditions can be presumed to have occurred because of an exposure to Agent Orange, ionizing radiation, and service in the Gulf War.
How to file a claim for disability compensation
The COVID-19 pandemic has not halted the claims process. Veterans can still file claims, and VA is still processing them. VA recommends filing a claim online, but it can still be done in person or through the mail. To get started, visit the VA disability compensation webpage and follow the steps listed below.
For decades, the company once known as Monsanto has dominated U.S. agriculture. Famous for its Roundup Ready system—which consists of the herbicide Roundup, made with glyphosate, and seeds genetically modified to resist it—the global corporation became the largest seller of seeds in the world by the 1990s. Fast forward nearly 30 years, and Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company that bought Monsanto in 2018, now faces a number of high-profile lawsuits related to glyphosate’s cancer-causing potential as well as the failures of the Roundup system.
In his new book Seed Money: Monsanto’s Past and Our Food Future, historian Bartow J. Elmore uncovers Monsanto’s record of producing not only Roundup, but also many of the chemicals that make up our modern world: the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in electrical equipment, the defoliants in home-garden herbicides and the Agent Orange used for chemical warfare during the Vietnam War, and the herbicide dicamba.
Elmore traces the company’s record of misleading regulators and the public about the dangers of such chemicals to human health and the environment and explains how the chemicals themselves have become deeply ingrained in our economy and agricultural system for the foreseeable future.
Vietnamese and foreign scientists, experts and doctors gathered at a conference on December 20 to seek measures to improve the efficiency of preventive measures against and treatment to diseases related to Agent Orange/dioxin exposure.
Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnamese and foreign scientists, experts and doctors gathered at a conference on December 20 to seek measures to improve the efficiency of preventive measures against and treatment to diseases related to Agent Orange/dioxin exposure.
Participants analyse the real situation of the diseases in Vietnam, evaluating the results of relevant researches and giving a number of models of preventing and treating diseases related to Agent Orange/dioxin (AO) exposure.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son said that although the war ended nearly 50 years ago, dioxin consequences have still lingered. AO victims and their offspring have suffered serious diseases and deformities, while medical facilities have yet to meet their demand, he said.
The official said that despite efforts to support AO victims, the prevention and cure of AO related diseases have remained a tough issue that needs further researches.
Toxic exposures on our military are no new thing, often it is the side effect of chemical war like mustard gas, nuclear or radiation, agent orange, or burn pits. But what I am going to talk about is the exposure to our families inside our own country. This isn’t about PFAS, or the exposures on Fort McClellan or Camp Lejeune, this is about the drinking water at military installations in Hawaii.
There were already reports of residents on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam being sickened, possibly from the water. On November 29, the base commander, Captain Erik A.Spitzer, sent out a message to all military housing residents. He stated: “I can tell you at this point that there are no immediate indications that the water is not safe… We visited several communities and homes last night to get samples of water and we talked with residents who had concerns.”
But it was found that just before Thanksgiving on November 22 a fuel-water mixture totaling 14,000 gallons was spilled from a leak in a drain line on Pearl Harbor.
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
The Supreme Court could decide this week whether to take up a legal battle that has the potential to upend a watershed victory by a California landowner against the manufacturer of a popular weedkiller.
Monsanto Co.’s petition — should the Supreme Court choose to take it — would throw into question the future of a $25 million verdict a jury awarded to Edwin Hardeman, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after years of using Roundup on his San Francisco Bay Area property, as well as potentially billions more in settlements.
Hardeman’s verdict, which was affirmed this year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was the test case for thousands of trials over the harm posed by glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup.
Monsanto wrote in its petition for Supreme Court review that the justices should not allow the 9th Circuit’s decision to govern that massive body of consolidated cases.
“Because important federal questions related to Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that would otherwise be tested in different courts nationwide are instead being resolved solely in a single district, this Court should not wait to grant review,” Monsanto wrote.
Monsanto v. Hardeman is one of thousands of petitions that make their way to the Supreme Court each year. The justices grant just a tiny fraction of the petitions they receive.
The petition is scheduled for discussion during the justices’ conference tomorrow. They could announce a decision by early next week on whether they will hear the case.
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
When troops are wounded, time is precious. That’s why the fast-ticking minutes that follow such an event are called the “golden hour.” Get the right care within the right time and you survive. Wrong care or an evac takes too long — you’re dead.
While major efforts across the government push to advance medical technology in the field and speed up the vehicles that carry troops to top treatment, one new effort is trying something even more ambitious — slowing life to save life.
Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently launched a five-year project dubbed “Biostasis.” The program will “leverage molecular biology to develop innovative ways of controlling the speed at which living systems operate.”
By doing that they hope to extend the “golden hour” before it’s too late.
“At the molecular level, life is a set of continuous biochemical reactions, and a defining characteristic of these reactions is that they need a catalyst to occur at all,” said Tristan McClure-Begley, the Biostasis program manager.
Those catalysts, McClure-Begley said, are proteins and “large molecular machines” that transform chemical and kinetic energy into biological processes.
“Our goal with Biostasis is to control those molecular machines and get them to all slow their roll at about the same rate so that we can slow down the entire system gracefully and avoid adverse consequences when the intervention is reversed or wears off.”
The program starts small, first by aiming at slowing certain processes within cells, then slowing whole cells and later tissue processes, then onto the entire organism, he said.
But the goal isn’t simply to slow processes down but to do it without damaging the processes when they return to normal speed.
ARLINGTON, Virginia – The Army is working on all kinds of ways to defeat, destroy and kill the enemy in what leaders believe will be the next fight — a large-scale ground combat operation with multi-domain implications.
But an even more vexing problem than defeating high-tech enemies is how to handle what most experts agree will be a number of casualties like the United States hasn’t seen since World War II.
At an Association of the U.S. Army forum held Tuesday, top leaders in the Army medical field laid out some of the challenges they’re facing.
“The future battlefield is one of isolation, without the ability to evacuate casualties or get resupply,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony McQueen, commanding general of the Army’s Medical Research and Development Command.
McQueen noted some key demands that need solutions, including more blood on the battlefield to treat higher numbers of wounded, more oxygen and perhaps more medically-trained soldiers to increase the “holding” capacity of keeping wounded in place as the force fights for safe evacuation options.
The goal is to use technologies and procedures to extend the “Golden Hour” — the vital time following injury to ensure survivability — to the “Golden Day,” McQueen said.
“Equipment must become smaller, lighter and more rugged,” he said. “And prolong life until the casualty can reach a higher level of care.”
Jen Burch served a seven-month tour in Afghanistan a decade ago.
It has haunted her ever since.
Burch, who was 23 when her tour ended, worked as an operations manager for an Air Force combat engineer unit. She aspired to be a physician. She spent her downtime as a volunteer medic at a Kandahar trauma hospital.
"I saw the worst of war and the best of humanity," she says.
She came home with the service's prestigious Commendation Medal, awarded for acts of valor or meritorious service. She also brought home a case of post-traumatic stress, frequent migraine headaches, and bronchitis and other breathing problems. But help has been slow in coming—both for Burch and for other veterans, she says.
"They need peer community support and easier access to health care and benefits," says the 34-year-old retired Air Force staff sergeant. "Everything moves at this bureaucratic pace."
While many Americans may have seen the end of the forever wars as the cap on two decades' worth of war spending, the job of Veterans Affairs has only just begun—and will continue for decades. But some fear the antagonistic relationship between VA and veterans will continue as advocates are forced to fight bureaucracy to gain benefits, even as VA officials say they're ready to move forward.
"As we look to the future, we're not trying to build a VA that goes back to the old normal," VA Secretary Denis McDonough recently said at the National Press Club. "Instead, we're going to continue to do better for vets, we're going to continue to be better for vets."
Once again, Department of Veterans Affairs bureaucrats are making a concerted effort to prevent veterans from using our health-care benefits at community-based providers outside the VA system — despite a law requiring them to do so.
Seven years ago, while suffering from excruciating pain, I attempted to make a primary-care appointment at a VA hospital. In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, no one at my Durham, N.C., VA facility answered the phone. In January, it took two weeks to get a new provider assigned and an appointment scheduled. The earliest they could offer was April 15, 90 days out.
At that point, inflamed joints throbbing, I asked if I could use my Choice card, which had arrived in November with the promise it gave me access to private, local health care in the event “the Veteran is told by his/her local VA medical facility that he/she will need to wait more than 30 days from his/her preferred date or the date medically determined by his/her physician.”
WASHINGTON — A process will begin in 2022 to review Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the country to determine which buildings to close and where to invest more resources.
The VA will submit its recommendations about the realignment of VA facilities in January, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said Wednesday during a Senate hearing. Those recommendations will go to a commission, which will spend the next year looking at the VA’s plan, conducting hearings, and submitting its own proposals to the White House.
“We’re on the verge of some very big decisions here,” McDonough said.
Congress approved the creation in 2018 of an Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission to work on the “modernization or realignment” of VA properties. As of Wednesday, the White House had selected seven of the nine commissioners, McDonough said.
The commissioners have not yet been named publicly. The law mandates the commission reflects the demographics of VA patients, and some commissioners must have expertise in either the VA health care system or federal capital asset planning and management. Three of the commissioners must be representatives from veterans service organizations.
If the asset-review commission determines a facility no longer meets the VA's needs, it's supposed to recommend how the facility could be reconfigured, repurposed, consolidated, realigned, exchanged, leased, replaced, sold or disposed, the law states.
The commission must send its recommendation to President Joe Biden by Jan. 31, 2023. Biden will then decide to reject the plan or forward it to Congress. Congress can either accept all of the recommendations or vote down the proposal.
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Minister for Veterans, the Hon Meka Whaitiri announced today that two new conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure have been added to the Prescribed Conditions List.
Under the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Crown and representatives of Vietnam veterans and the Royal New Zealand RSA. Vietnam veterans in New Zealand who have these conditions are eligible for an ex gratia payment of $40,000.
Prescribed Conditions are those for which the United States National Academy of Sciences considers there is scientific evidence of association with exposure to Agent Orange. The two new conditions on the list are monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and hypertension.
Dangers of drinking water from plastic bottles:
- Dioxin Production: Direct exposure to the sun. Such heating releases a toxin called Dioxin which when consumed can accelerate breast cancer.
- BPA generation: Biphenyl A is an oestrogen-mimicking chemical that can lead to a lot of health problems like diabetes, obesity, fertility problems, behavioural problems and early puberty in girls. It’s better not to store and drink water from a plastic bottle.
- Impact Immune system: Our immune system is immensely affected when we drink water in plastic bottles. The chemicals from plastic bottles are ingested and tend to disturb our body’s immune system.
- Liver Cancer and Reduced Sperm Count: Because of the presence of a chemical called phthalates in plastic, drinking water from plastic bottles can also lead to liver cancer and a reduction in sperm count.
We may have ended combat in Iraq and Afghanistan but the mental, physical, and fiscal costs of those who have borne the battle will linger for many decades.
In taking over the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Secretary Denis McDonough, only the second non-veteran and the second person not confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate, faced a series of unprecedented challenges in providing for the needs of the 19 million living veterans. The most critical of these can be placed into six categories: the rapidly increasing size of the department’s budget, the dramatic expansion of the number of veterans eligible for disability benefits, providing benefits for those LGBT personnel with less than honorable discharges, the backlog of compensation exams, the high suicide rate among veterans, and GI bill benefits.
THE Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific said waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities proposed for the Philippines are effectively incinerators, fueled by municipal waste, that release toxic chemicals into their immediate surroundings.
“WTE is simply waste incineration in disguise. It burns tons of municipal wastes to generate a small amount of net energy while emitting massive amounts of toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases,” Jorge Agustin O. Emmanuel, a Silliman University expert on managing waste, said at a GAIA briefing.
GAIA is a network of over 800 environment groups in over 90 countries.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s in the U.S. One million Americans live with Parkinson’s today – and of those, approximately 110,000 Veterans with PD receive Parkinson’s treatment through VA.
While the exact cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, research suggests that its cause can be linked to genetic and environmental factors. For some Veterans living with Parkinson’s, the disease can be associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service.
To make life better for Veterans with Parkinson’s, the Parkinson’s Foundation has a partnership with the VA. Below we answer the top questions asked by Veterans and their family members about Parkinson’s.
Not all of the food you eat is healthy, especially if it comes from foreign countries where it can be difficult to control quality and respect hygiene. The fact is that in 2020, in Italy, almost one food alert was issued per day with as many as 297 notifications sent to the EU, of which only 56 concerned products of national origin, while 160 came from other EU countries and 81 from countries outside the European Union.
This is what emerges from Coldiretti’s dossier on the “blacklist of the most dangerous foods” presented by the association yesterday, at the conclusion of the 19th International Forum on Agriculture and Food, based on the findings of the latest report from the World Health Organization. The EU Rapid Alert System, which, in effect, records alerts for food hazards that have been verified due to chemical residues, mycotoxins, heavy metals, microbiological contaminants, dioxins or additives and dyes in the EU last year.
Thursday, November 4, 2021
The United States government owes a debt to its veterans for their service to the country, said Bart Stichman, special counsel to the not-for-profit National Veterans Legal Services Program.
"Unfortunately, the government has not kept that promise since the Vietnam War," Stichman said.
He was the keynote speaker for Friday's symposium on veterans' issues presented by the University of Missouri School of Law Veterans Clinic: "Pushing the Envelope: Firsts in Advocacy for America's Heroes."
"The government made the decision not to pay the cost of war" after Vietnam, Stichman said.
His organization was able to get upgrades to discharges for more than 7,000 Vietnam veterans who received "less than honorable" discharges.
Those with less than honorable discharges aren't eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits, and have a stigma attached to them that hurts job prospects.
The government lowered its requirements for military service to get more bodies to Vietnam and were surprised when not all performed well, he said.
"No other employer grades your performance when you leave and says you're undesirable," Stichman said.
Veterans were helped by the repeal of two laws, he said. One was a law that barred them from appealing VA denials to federal courts, resulting in 1988 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
The NVLSP has filed more than 5,000 appeals in the court, he said.
The other law repealed was an 1862 law that made it a federal crime for lawyers to charge more than $10 to represent a veteran in a claim.
"Probably our greatest victory has been the 1989 Nehmer case," Stichman said.
It dealt with veterans who had negative health effects from exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant used heavily in Vietnam.
Legislation addresses presumption that Thailand vets weren’t exposed to herbicides
Vietnam War-era veterans who served in Thailand say they’re still fighting.
Veterans who served in Thailand have long contended they face a higher bar in winning Veterans Administration (VA) disability benefits claims, having to clearly demonstrate they were exposed to Agent Orange or other harmful herbicides while their fellow veterans enjoy a presumption that they were exposed.
Several bills in Congress purport to take aim at the problem. Among them: The Veterans Agent Orange Exposure Equity Act, the Cost of War Act, and others, including the Fairly Assessing Service-related Exposure Residual (FASTER) Presumptions Act, also dubbed the “FASTER” Act.
The agency has started paying out the pledged benefits to veterans exposed to chemical agents during the Gulf War in addition to compensation for those who served in Vietnam.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun processing new compensation to veterans who suffered toxic exposure during the Gulf War.
Following a statement in May 2021 that the agency would begin new payouts to veterans who bear health consequences as a result of napalm and other chemical agents while serving in southeast Asia, VA declared additional planned compensation for Gulf War veterans.
In the wake of the May 2021 statement, Secretary Denis McDonough outlined that “[The Veterans Benefits Administration] estimates approximately 52,000 veterans and 6,000 survivors will be receiving benefit payments in the first year alone.”
Thursday, October 28, 2021
Significance of the Asymptomatic Disease MGUS to Veterans’ Advocates
This article addresses the question “Why should Veterans’ advocates care that Agent Orange exposed Veterans are over twice as likely as unexposed Veterans to be diagnosed with the generally asymptomatic disease MGUS?” Recent research by scientists at the NIH, CDC, and others that showed that MGUS is significantly more prevalent in Agent Orange exposed Veterans is described in a previous post. Why is this a big deal?
Findings of recent research by Mayo Clinic scientists that answer our question are presented in Table 1 below. This research quantified the percentage of Mayo Clinic patients with either of the two major biologic subtypes of MGUS (IgM MGUS and non-IgM MGUS) who progressed to each of five diseases that are on the current presumptive Agent Orange list over a 34 year period.
Significantly, lifelong monitoring of patients with MGUS showed that almost one in six (16.2 percent) of IgM MGUS patients and more than one in eleven (9.4 percent) of non-IgM MGUS patients progressed to an Agent Orange disease during the study period. IgM MGUS patients were 13.1 times more likely and non-IgM patients were 8.3 times more likely to be subsequently diagnosed with the deadly Agent Orange disease AL (light chain) amyloidosis compared to a general population served by the Mayo Clinic.
Since its introduction in the 1940s, the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) has been widely used to control weeds in agriculture, forestry, and urban and residential settings. According to documents obtained by public records requests, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forecast sharp increases in the levels of 2,4-D in American food after regulators approved new genetically modified 2,4-D tolerant crops that tolerate being sprayed directly with the herbicide. Use of 2,4-D is “expected to triple” after the introduction of these GMO crops, the agency said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also approved Dow Agroscience’s “Enlist Duo,” a mixture of glyphosate and 2,4-D for use on genetically engineered corn, cotton and soybean seeds that Dow developed to tolerate the chemicals.
NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. — From the outside, Centredale Manor resembles most other assisted-living facilities. It has 123 bedrooms, and houses elderly and low-income residents. It rests comfortably on the eastern banks of the Woonasquatucket River, not far from the mom-and-pop shops in the village of Centredale. Town Hall and Route 44 are a stone’s throw away.
The Smith Street facility is also a Superfund site, built on top of or near some of the state’s most toxic dirt. A legacy of Rhode Island’s manufacturing era, the Centredale Manor site was once a dumping ground for untold amounts of hazardous chemicals and other waste. Three-plus decades of industrial polluting from chemical production and drum reconditioning created one of the most toxic Superfund sites in New England.
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
ARLINGTON, Va. — For the first time in nearly 100 years, and as part of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration, the public will be able to walk on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Plaza and lay flowers in front of the Tomb on Nov. 9 and 10, 2021.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration Public Flower Ceremony, a two-day event, will be free and open to the public and will allow them to personally pay their respects to the Unknown Soldiers. This is a rare opportunity for the public to walk next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a privilege otherwise given only to the sentinels of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard.”
“As the stewards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it’s our honor to lead the centennial commemoration of this site,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery. “The Tomb has served as the heart of Arlington National Cemetery. It is a people’s memorial that inspires reflection on service, valor, sacrifice and mourning. As a sacred memorial site and the grave of three unknown American service members, the Tomb connects visitors with the legacy of the U.S. armed forces throughout the nation’s history.”
The public flower ceremony information and instructions include:
• The ceremony will end on Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. with the original benediction recited by the Army Chief of Chaplains, Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Solhjem.
Sen. Sabina Perez has expressed her "strong opposition" to an open burning/open detonation permit at Andersen Air Force Base and is requesting the administrator of the Guam Environmental Protection Agency to prohibit open burning of waste ordnance materials, and for the agency to deny the military an open burning permit.
The senator submitted the letter after an information hearing last week on issues and concerns related to open burning and detonation operations.
"The draft permit would allow the release of hazardous chemicals such as lead, which has been banned in Guam since 1990, and highly carcinogenic substances such as strontium and uranium. Dioxin, which is an endocrine disruptor, carcinogenic in small quantities, and a persistent organic pollutant, has been known to be released as part of the emissions and has been detected in soils at OB/OD sites," Perez's letter stated.
The senator also urged the agency to conduct environmental impact studies before processing the permit application, facilitate and require the use of alternative technology in the disposal of ordnance, strengthen groundwater monitoring and air emissions detection, and to reopen the public comment period on the permit application, in addition to other requests.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Reprinted from the Agent Orange Zone, Tuesday October 2, 2018
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Men say their breast cancer was caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeunehttp://rockcenter.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/22/17059795-men-say-their-breast-cancer-was-caused-by-contaminated-water-at-camp-lejeune?lite
By Ami Schmitz and Kristina Krohn
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.
READ MORE: http://rockcenter.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/22/17059795-men-say-their-breast-cancer-was-caused-by-contaminated-water-at-camp-lejeune?lite
By Kris Maher
In 2012, I spent a few days in Nitro, West Virgina, for the Wall Street Journal, reporting on a settlement the town had won from Monsanto for its pollution of local groundwater while making Agent Orange for the U.S. military. I expected rage against the corporation. Instead what I found was a longing for the days of smoke and particulates. That stinky air? To people in Nitro, that was the smell of jobs.The tension between small town employment and its deadly costs, and consequent tragedy, are central to Kris Maher’s important and gripping new book, Desperate: An Epic Battle for Clean Water and Justice in Appalachia, the saga of mining communities in southern West Virginia in the early years of this century fighting coal company Massey Energy and its titanic boss Don Blankenship, for clean water.
For Maher, a Pittsburgh-based former colleague of mine at the Wall Street Journal, the story he tells is “a distillation of what’s happened in other parts of the country with small towns,” he told me in an interview. “But it’s more evident here because you only had the coal industry and you never had some other industries come in and replace it. There’s more of a focus on one specific industry, and its impact.”
In the 1980s, a coal mining company called Rawl Sales&Processing, controlled by Massey, in Mingo County, started injecting waste from active mines into abandoned mines which then leaked into the water supply of local towns.
Burn pits: Human waste. Feces. Trash. Plastic. Batteries. Medical waste and supplies. Body parts. Yes, body parts. Dead animals. Chemicals. Paint. Tires. Anything and everything not wanted or used anymore. Burn it all. Pour diesel fuel on it, and light a match. Anyone would agree that this is quite the cocktail, with a very disturbing mix.
For everyone who has ever been to Iraq or Afghanistan, or who has a family member or friend who served, burn pits are not a secret. It’s extremely common knowledge. Everyone knows they suck and were a terrible aspect of any deployment.
What is a secret, shockingly enough, is how the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) is handling the severe health issues many veterans experience as a result of these burn pits. The VA is denying coverage to the vast majority of veterans who submit health claims as a result of constant and prolonged exposure to the toxic nature of burn pits.
In fact, the number of denied claims is quite high. According to data obtained from the VA by Military.com, as of March 31, the VA had denied 72 percent of burn pit claims.
After a hiatus from cable and comedy TV, comedian and TV host Jon Stewart is back. He just launched a new show on Apple TV, The Problem With Jon Stewart. The first episode aired on September 30, 2021. What was that first episode about? Burn Pits and Veteran healthcare. It was titled: The Problem with War: Burn Pits and Sick Veterans.
To his great credit, burn pits and the health issues surrounding their use, have been something Jon Stewart has been working on, and advocating for years. God bless him for it. Just like the work he has done with First Responders, and those associated with the clean-up in New York City after 9/11, he’s trying to get the same care and attention to veterans with burn pit exposure.
Now in their 70s, these Red Cross women went to war to help morale
Fresh out of college during the late 1960s, these women chose an unlikely path far from the anti-war marches and protests across the U.S.
They went to Vietnam.
They were American Red Cross recreation workers nicknamed the “Donut Dollies.” Nobody remembers them handing out doughnuts in Vietnam since, as a mess sergeant grumbled, “It was too damn hot.” But the nickname stuck since Red Cross workers had, in fact, distributed doughnuts in prior military campaigns, including World War II.
Applicants for Vietnam had to be single, ages 21 to 24 and graduates of a four-year college. The Donut Dollies who are alive now are in their 70s, and though more than 50 years have gone by from their life-altering, perilous time in Vietnam, their memories are vibrant.
Thursday, October 7, 2021
With the barest trickle of information seeping beneath the closed-door investigation into the UPL chemical disaster in Durban, the public is still in the dark about health impacts and exposure levels from airborne toxic chemical exposure. But studies on people and animals exposed to several of these chemicals point to significant health problems that could potentially extend several generations into the future.
Viktor Yushchenko was on the point of gaining power as president of Ukraine in 2004 when he became seriously ill and was flown to Austria for specialist treatment. He was poisoned deliberately, possibly by Russian agents.
Medical experts later determined that the poison was a highly toxic chemical known as 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD).
TCDD is a colourless, odourless but highly toxic dioxin, one of several by-products of a wide range of manufacturing and heating processes including smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacturing of some herbicides and pesticides.
Yuschenko survived, but was left with a severely disfigured face, with his skin bloated and pockmarked by chloracne (a severe form of acne linked to exposures to dioxins).
The problem with Jon Stewart is he signed off as host of “The Daily Show” in 2015, at a time when we needed him the most. Not that Stewart didn’t deserve to take a break from the grind of a four-times-a-week show after 16 Emmy-spangled years and not that Trevor Noah hasn’t been a worthy successor — but it would have been awesome to hear Stewart’s wry and sardonic and fact-fueled takes on all the madness that has transpired in our world over the last half-dozen years.
Here’s the good news headline: Stewart is returning to the current-affairs milieu with the Apple TV+ series “The Problem With Jon Stewart,” a multiple-season, single-issue show in which Stewart (backed by an enormously talented team of writers and producers) will introduce a major topic on each episode and then do a deep-dive into the subject. We start with a Producers’ Meeting in which Stewart and senior staffers kick around ideas and share stories; continue with Stewart seated at a desk in a loft-like studio, delivering a monologue to a live audience; break for the occasional short comedic filmed bits, and continue with Stewart talking to guests who have been impacted by the issue of the day.
If it all sounds a bit like a grad school lecture delivered by the hippest and funniest prof on campus, well, that’s kind of what we’re getting, and it’s vintage Jon Stewart: thought-provoking, laugh-out-loud funny, insightful, clever, occasionally a bit too pleased with itself but on balance, pretty flippin’ great, only they don’t say “flippin’ ” on this show cause you can swear on Apple TV+.
“The Problem With Jon Stewart” plays like a particularly compelling segment on “60 Minutes” crossed with a late-night comedy talk show. In Episode One, titled “War,” Stewart shines a harsh spotlight on the military’s use of Burn Pits, i.e., the common practice in Iraq and Afghanistan of digging huge holes next to bases and burning chemical drums, vehicles, medical waste, food waste, amputated body parts, tires, tarps, batteries and mountains of human waste. Pour on the jet fuel, light it up — and toxic, black plumes of smoke would be inhaled by the soldiers on the bases.
“In this divided country, the one thing we can agree on, is we love our troops,” says Stewart. “We support our troops — unless they actually need support.” We see evidence of the grave damage caused to veterans who have been exposed to burn pits and learn some 72% of related claims filed with the VA have been denied, for reasons of, well, money. Money and bull----. “I was retired from the Army at 27 years old,” says Sgt. Isiah James, who says he could once run five miles but now can hardly breathe at night. “Burn pits are our generation’s Agent Orange.”
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Our last battle is for the future generations of innocents. We will go to our graves without honor if we abandon the future generations. If we lose this battle for P.L. 114-315, the child victims die without recognition of their veteran ancestors' service causations.... How many generations must suffer? Our human dignity is at stake. The world will benefit from this research.
Surgery to remove cancer and even vital organs such as kidneys has been a mainstay of cancer treatment, but today, researchers are striving to find other options for patients. For example, nonsurgical treatments for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma include the use of immunotherapy (which uses one’s immune system to attack cancer cells) and tyrosine kinase inhibitors (which block enzymes that aid in cancer growth).
Fifteen years ago, there weren’t many first-line treatment options for patients with this type of cancer, but now we have several — allowing patients and their oncologists to choose which treatment may work best for them.
In this special issue of CURE®, we spoke with a patient with metastatic renal cell carcinoma who obtained a second opinion after experiencing tumor growth while on a combination of two immunotherapy drugs. His new doctors suggested he enroll in a clinical trial that was testing an immunotherapy drug with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. He enrolled and participated, which resulted in the cancer shrinking. “Every scan I had showed a decrease, and the overall reduction of my cancer was 54%,” he told CURE®. Two other patients interviewed for the story had similar experiences with the combination treatment, highlighting its effectiveness in treating this disease even in earlier stages.
Veterans may be in line for a big cost-of-living boost in their benefits payouts starting in December thanks to legislation finalized by Congress on Monday.
The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act passed unanimously in the House on Monday and without objection in the Senate earlier in the summer. It now heads to the White House, where President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law in coming days.
The legislation ties the cost-of-living boost for veterans benefits to the planned increase in Social Security benefits. Although the Social Security boost is automatic each year, lawmakers must approve the veterans benefits increase annually.
How much that boost will be next year is still not certain. The Social Security Administration is expected to announce the COLA rate for 2022 next month, based on economic trends over the last few months.
That increase will go into effect for benefits checks sent out starting this December.
The cost-of-living bump hasn’t been above 3.0 percent since 2011, and has averaged less than 1.3 percent over the last six years.
But last month, officials from the Senior Citizens League predicted that next year’s rise could top 6.2 percent, based on recent inflation and wage data released by federal economists. If so, it would be the largest increase since 1983 for Social Security and VA benefits recipients.
Deputy Minister of National Defence Sen. Lieut. Gen. Hoang Xuan Chien met with Patrick Leahy, president pro tempore of the US Senate on September 22 (local time) in Washington DC, with their discussion focusing on war-aftermath mitigation projects in Vietnam.
Hanoi (VNA) - Deputy Minister of National Defence Sen. Lieut. Gen. Hoang Xuan Chien met with Patrick Leahy, president pro tempore of the US Senate on September 22 (local time) in Washington DC, with their discussion focusing on war-aftermath mitigation projects in Vietnam.
The US senator expressed his delight at outcomes of the nations’ collaboration in tackling war consequences, particularly a dioxin detoxification project at the Bien Hoa airport and a project on improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in eight provinces heavily sprayed with Agent Orange.
He also acknowledged the progress made in cooperation in searching for remains of missing-in-action US servicemen and Vietnamese martyrs as well as in the implementation of joint communications campaigns.
Chien informed Leahy that his ministry has supported the COVID-19 vaccination of people involved in the Bien Hoa airport project to ensure its progress and asked the US official to support the provision of more funding to complete the project sooner.
Chien proposed the US study to expand the beneficiaries in the life quality improvement project as most provinces in Vietnam have AO/dioxin victims.
Thursday, September 23, 2021
We Need Your Help: Act Now! 30-day Challenge to collect signatures to show Secretary McDonough that we are serious.
Our last battle is for the future generations of innocents. We will go to our graves without honor if we abandon the future generations.
If we lose this battle for P.L. 114-315, the child victims die without recognition of their veteran ancestors' service causations.... How many generations must suffer?
The American citizens and signers of this formal petition for just reconsideration do hereby demand Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Dennis McDonough personally read the entirety of The Toxic Exposure Research Act (TERA), Public Law 114-315, Sections 631 through 634. Upon reading this law, we further demand the VA Secretary read and understand the DVA-contracted report issued by NASEM (IOM) dated 2018, Gulf War and Health, Volume 11: Generational Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War, specifically the sections within the report that stipulate the research mandated by TERA, Public Law 114-315, is both feasible and necessary. Most importantly, we demand the VA Secretary follow the specific, written intent of TERA, Public Law 114-315, and based upon NASEM’s declaration of feasibility, certify to both Veterans Affairs committees of Congress his understanding of the research feasibility, and certify it is his honorable intent to proceed with the specified research and implement the remaining provisions of that noble law, as specified and intended for the wellbeing of and for the American people.
Please circulate this petition. Ask your fellow Americans (friends, family, neighbors, fellow veterans and non-veterans alike) to sign it. For every 100 signatures submitted, you will receive an Agent Orange face mask.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is hiring new staff within its Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA) to support the adjudication and disbursement of benefits related to agent orange and other toxic chemical exposure.
Since January, the agency has sought to expand benefits to veterans who suffered damage to their health as a consequence of exposure to napalm and other harmful chemical agents. In addition to the support provided for Vietnam War veterans, these benefits will also extend to veterans who faced similar exposures during the Gulf War.
VA has just begun processing these new claims as of September, noted Secretary McDonough at a recent press conference in Washington, DC.
“We’ve started processing claims for the new presumptive conditions related to toxic exposure for Vietnam War and Gulf War vets," he said.
Ensuring these claims are evaluated and distributed in a timely manner will require additional manpower within the Veterans Benefits Administration, with the agency now undergoing a considerable hiring push to fulfill this demand.
“VA has begun an aggressive effort to hire 2,000 more employees to process these claims,” McDonough said.
One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes. But the risk for African American men is higher—75% higher.
“Starting in your early to mid-40s, engage in this discussion with your family doctor,” says, Oncologist Dr. E. Ronald Hale. “Be diligent about having regular prostate screening tests done.”
What are the risk factors?
According to Dr. Hale, the risk for prostate cancer in African American men is 75% higher than in white men who are the same age. And African American men have twice the risk of dying from it.
Typical risk factors include unhealthy eating and lack of exercise, which can increase the likelihood of developing prostate cancer and other potentially dangerous medical conditions.
Veterans of the Vietnam War should be also aware of their elevated risk.
“Men who served in Vietnam, or otherwise had any Agent Orange exposure should absolutely undergo regular testing,” Dr. Hale says. “That should also be reported to their local Veteran’s Affairs Hospital.”
And while prostate cancer has no known early warning signs, you can do a few things to help lower your overall risk.
How can you lower your risk?
The Department of Veterans Affairs has extended the time limit for Gulf War veterans to claim presumptive disability for certain chronic illnesses related to their military service.
The illnesses, commonly referred to as “Gulf War Syndrome,” are considered “presumptive” by the VA, meaning veterans claiming a disability related to them are not required to prove they were caused by military service.
While there is no time limit for claiming disability benefits from the VA in normal circumstances, some presumptive conditions do come with time restrictions.
According to the Disabled Veterans Of America (DAV) Gulf War Syndrome affects approximately 200,000 veterans of the 650,000 service members who served in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
To qualify as disabling, a covered illness must have caused illness or symptoms in the veteran for at least six months and:
• Occurred during service in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations from Aug. 2, 1990, to the present. This also includes Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2010) and Operation New Dawn (2010-2011), or;.
• Been diagnosed as at least 10% disabling by the VA after service.
Originally the VA was scheduled to stop awarding benefits to new Gulf War veterans with a related disability diagnosis that was given after Dec. 31, 2021. However, the VA has extended that cutoff date to Dec. 31, 2026.