Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Real Vietnam Vets Mask Up!

 Vietnam Veterans of America Charles Kettle Chapter 31

The Agent Orange Next Gen Campaign


During the Agent Orange litigation, 65,000 veterans reported that their children had been born with birth defects or developmental disabilities. Now veterans are also reporting that their grandchildren are affected. Yet, no government studies have been done on the association between the father’s exposure to Agent Orange and adverse outcomes in their children.

Since 1990, only Birth Defect Research for Children has collected data showing a pattern of birth defects and disabilities in the children of Vietnam veterans.

The Agent Orange Next Gen Campaign will draw attention to how many veterans’ families have been affected and raise funds to continue birth defect research.

Agent Orange Exposure Doubles Risk of Developing Dementia, Study Finds


A new study of more than 300,000 Vietnam-era U.S. veterans has found that those who were exposed to Agent Orange are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia as those who were not.

The new finding, published Monday in JAMA Neurology, is among the most substantial to date linking cognitive decline with chemicals used for defoliation during the Vietnam War.

For the study, researchers at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System examined the medical records of thousands of veterans and found a two-fold risk of dementia for those whose medical records indicated evidence of exposure.

According to Deborah Barnes, a researcher with the University of California San Francisco and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the study authors found that, over the course of time, 5% of veterans with a documented exposure to Agent Orange were diagnosed with dementia compared with 2.5% of vets with no known exposure.

"Even though the absolute rates ... are low, these veterans were still relatively young, so if the risk holds, we would expect that to increase as they age," Barnes said in an interview with JAMA Neurology.


French court hears Agent Orange case against chemical firms


A French court will on Monday hear a case against more than a dozen multinationals, accused by a French-Vietnamese woman of causing grievous harm to her and others by selling the Agent Orange defoliant to the US government which used it to devastating effect in the Vietnam War.

Tran To Nga, born in 1942 in what was then French Indochina, worked as a journalist and activist in Vietnam in her 20s.

She filed the lawsuit in 2014 against 14 firms that made or sold the highly toxic chemical, including Monsanto, now owned by German giant Bayer, and Dow Chemical.

Backed by several NGOs, she accuses the companies of being responsible for injuries sustained by her, her children and countless others, as well as for damage done to the environment.

"A recognition of Vietnamese civilian victims would constitute a legal precedent", said international law specialist Valerie Cabanes.


Vietnam, US finish first part of dioxin cleanup at Bien Hoa airbase


American and Vietnamese personnel have removed dioxin from an area of 5,300 square meters at Bien Hoa airport, the most contaminated spot in Vietnam.

The remediation work which began in December 2019 removed 1,134 cubic meters of dioxin-contaminated sediments from Gate 2 Lake within the airport in Dong Nai Province, an hour’s drive from HCMC.

Bien Hoa airport was the largest U.S. military base in Vietnam during the war and is now used for military training.

The remediated area will be handed over to local authorities in the next few days.

At an event held at the airport on Wednesday to announce the results of one year of work, the Air Defense Air Force Command signed an agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to hand over an area of 7.2 hectares at the airbase for the latter to decontaminate over the next two years.

The two nations' governments have agreed that some 515,000 cubic meters of soil on 52.24 hectares at the airport is contaminated with dioxin, a deadly chemical used in the defoliant Agent Orange by the U.S.

Cleaning it up is expected to take at least 10 years and cost the two countries $300 million each.


The E: Documentary explores effects of Agent Orange components persisting in rural Oregon


Officially, the Vietnam War ended for the United States in 1975.

What many Oregonians don’t know is that one of its most deadly weapons simply followed them home.

Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide combo developed to defoliate the jungles and expose the enemy to American bullets, did its job so well it drew the attention of researchers for the timber industry. Chemicals that take out weeds and broadleaf trees from the air? Conifers stay standing? Hey, we could use something like that here for our Doug firs in the Pacific Northwest.

That idea sets the stage for “The People vs. Agent Orange,” a documentary by the husband and wife team of Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna.


#DesertStorm30: Powell says Veterans did ‘fabulous’ job


During Desert Storm, there were many faces of the war. President George H.W. Bush made decisions as the commander in chief and delivered remarks from the White House to the American people on the war’s opening night. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney advised the president on policy. Army Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf led the troops downrange. Serving as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, there was an Army Veteran advising Bush and Cheney while working with Schwartzkopf: Gen. Colin Powell.

Powell was less than a year into his tour as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Operation Desert Shield started in August 1990. Soon after, he was a key player in a war that the now 83-year-old Veteran fondly recalls during his travels downrange to visit deployed service members.

“These youngsters were great,” the retired general said. “These youngsters were fabulous. These youngsters wanted to do their very, very best. These youngsters trained, like you wouldn’t believe to get ready for this conflict.” 


Thursday, January 21, 2021

Birth Defect Research for Children


This year your CFC donation means more than ever!

The Combined Federal Campaign is underway. Thank you to everyone who has supported Birth Defect Research for Children through your workplace donations this year. New rules for the campaign now allow retired federal employees and federal contractors to participate. 

This year BDRC is participating as an unaffiliated charity. You can find us using this number (10374) or you can search on our name "Birth Defect Research for Children."

Want to donate through the CFC? Go here and search for "Birth Defect Research for Children". 

Want to donate to BDRC directly? Go here!



Veterans in the 117th Congress, by the Numbers


When elected officials gather on Capitol Hill to formally convene the 117th Congress on Jan. 3, they’ll do so with 91 veterans among their ranks, the lowest total since at least World War II.

The number of veterans in Congress has declined almost steadily since the mid-1970s, as the military shifted from an end strength of largely drafted individuals to an all-volunteer force. In 1973, nearly three in every four members of Congress had some type of military service. In 2021, it’ll be about one in every six members who have military experience.

Here’s a look at the group, by the numbers:

·        91 total veterans in the 117th Congress.

 17 will serve in the Senate, 74 will serve in the House.

·        28 are Democrats, 63 are Republicans.

 13 served in the military in the 1960s or earlier.

 50 served in the military after 2000.

 More than half (49) had overseas combat deployments.

 15 are first-time lawmakers.

 6 are women, a decrease of 1 from last Congress

 44 served in the Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard.

 15 served in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard.

 15 served in the Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve.

 17 served in the Navy or Naval Reserve.

 None served in the Coast Guard.

 Texas has the most veterans in their state delegation, with nine.

 12 states have no veterans in their state delegations (Idaho, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming)


Army to review thousands of discharges of veterans who suffered from traumas


WASHINGTON — The Army will review thousands of discharge records of veterans affected by military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and other behavioral health conditions following a class-action lawsuit, the service announced Tuesday.

The review is part of a settlement reached in the lawsuit Kennedy v. McCarthy, which was preliminarily approved Dec. 28, according to the Army. The service will look at discharges of veterans affected by PTSD, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma or other behavioral health conditions.

“Under the agreement, the Army will automatically reconsider certain discharge-status-upgrade decisions made by the Army Discharge Review Board between April 17, 2011, and the effective date of settlement that partially or fully denied relief to Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans with less-than-fully-honorable discharges,” the statement reads.

Veterans who were discharged and did not receive an upgrade to honorable from the review board between Oct. 7, 2001, to April 16, 2011, will also be able to reapply due to the settlement.

The lawsuit was filed April 2017 in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut by Army combat veterans Steve Kennedy and Alicia Carson, both of whom suffered from PTSD and other health conditions, but where given a general discharge despite their medical issues, according to the complaint. Their case was handled by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Vietnam to master homegrown dioxin remediation


Vietnam will develop its own technique to clean up dioxin left from the Vietnam War instead of relying on U.S. collaboration.

Colonel General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Minister of National Defense, told a Friday meeting Vietnam targets to complete dioxin remediation across all contaminated areas that have been detected by 2025.

Affected areas include Bien Hoa Airport, the most contaminated spot in the country in Dong Nai Province, neighboring Ho Chi Minh City, and A So Airport in central Thua Thien-Hue Province.

Related agencies will continue to investigate the current status of toxic chemical and dioxin residues in other areas sprayed during the war that last from 1955 to 1975.

Vietnam is expected to develop its own method of cleaning up dioxin, with all such projects thus far completed in collaboration with the U.S.

Between 1961 and 1971, the U.S. army sprayed some 80 million liters of Agent Orange, compounds of dioxins and dioxin-like mixtures, over 78,000 square kilometers (30,000 square miles) of southern Vietnam.

Dioxin, a highly toxic chemical contained in the defoliant, stays in the soil and at the bottom of lakes and rivers for generations. It can enter the food chain through meat, fish and other animals, and has been found at alarmingly high levels in human breast milk.

Between 2.1 to 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals, which have been linked to cancers, birth defects and other chronic diseases.


One year later, VA has processed more than half of Blue Water Navy claims


On Jan. 1, 2020, the Blue Water Navy (BWN) Vietnam Veterans Act went into law, supporting Veterans who may be eligible for benefits based on presumption of herbicide exposure. One year later, VA reflects on its progress.

Granting benefits

As of Nov. 30, 2020, VA has processed 39,061 of 75,205 claims received. Of those, 27,366 were granted – awarding more than $724 million in retroactive benefits. The most common granted claims included medical conditions diabetes, malignant growth of the lung, coronary bypass surgery, malignant growths of genitourinary system and coronary artery disease.

In addition, the law provides benefits for children born with certain health conditions whose parent was a Veteran with verified herbicide exposure while serving in Thailand. 


The law affects Veterans who served on vessels operating not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia, as defined in Public Law 116-23 . Veterans, their dependents, and survivors who meet this criteria can apply for these approved benefits.

Veterans – and survivors of deceased Veterans – who served in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone from Sept. 1, 1967, to Aug. 31, 1971, can apply for benefits.

Increasing accessibility

To help implement the law, VA collaborated with the National Archives and Records Administration to digitize all Navy and Coast Guard deck logs for ships with known Vietnam service. Digitization of the Navy deck logs was completed in December 2019; Coast Guard deck logs were completed in September 2020. As part of the agreement, VA provided digital images of the deck logs to NARA to make them digitally available in the National Archives Catalog. Veterans may contact if the deck log they are seeking is not available in the National Archives Catalog.

Learn more about Agent Orange exposure and VA disability compensation or call 800-827-1000 for more information.


Veterans exposed at K2 push for federal action


The federal government is taking its first steps toward formally acknowledging U.S. troops were stationed at a secret base in Uzbekistan where veterans say they were exposed to toxic hazards that have caused deadly diseases and illnesses.

President Donald Trump signed legislation Jan. 5 requires VA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to conduct a 10-year study of cancers and other diseases among Karshi-Khanabad (K2) veterans. The Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 also opens VA’s burn pit registry to servicemembers who served at the former Soviet base in southern Uzbekistan.

Trump also is considering an executive order allowing former servicemembers who served at K2 to apply for the same VA care and benefits as veterans who were exposed to burn pits or depleted uranium in Afghanistan. In addition, a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act directs DoD to conduct an epidemiological study of toxic exposure among K2 veterans.

None of these measures provide presumptive service connection that would require VA to cover health-care costs for K2 veterans who are dealing with rare cancers and other illnesses they believe were caused by toxic exposures at the base. However, the executive order and NDAA directive are steps toward the federal government’s acknowledgement of the base’s hazardous legacy, K2 veterans say.


Monday, January 4, 2021

VA Must Re-Examine Policy on Vets Exposed to Radiation, Court Says


A half-century ago, Air Force veteran Victor Skaar and hundreds of other troops were exposed to radiation when they responded to a Cold War-era accident in rural Spain involving lost nuclear weapons, a nightmare situation known best by its code name: Broken Arrow.

In December, a federal court demanded the Department of Veterans Affairs re-examine its longstanding policy that has for decades prevented the troops from getting compensation for cancers and illnesses they allege came about from their response to the accident, which spread radioactive debris.

The decision means the department can no longer rely on what the court determined is incomplete science to deny claims, while forcing veterans to provide overwhelming scientific proof to secure claims. Currently, the VA denies Mr. Skaar and others health and compensation benefits related to their claims—including health care at no cost, a benefit typically reserved for those with disabilities connected to their service.

“Such an interpretation would lead to absurd results, something courts should avoid,” the court wrote in its opinion.