Monday, July 26, 2021

Just in case you have forgotten...

Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions 

*Exceptions: osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and mesothelioma

This is an up-to-date list of conditions on the VA’s Agent Orange presumptive list. 


Year Added

AL Amyloidosis


Chronic B-Cell Leukemias




Diabetes Mellitus Type 2


Hodgkin’s Disease


Ischemic Heart Disease


Multiple Myeloma


Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 


Parkinson’s Disease


Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset


Porphyria Cutanea Tarda


Prostate Cancer


Respiratory Cancers


Soft Tissue Sarcomas*


Bladder Cancer






Toxic burn pit exposure: Afghanistan and Iraq veterans’ hidden cost of war


As our 20 years of war in Afghanistan draws to a close, we must never forget the more than 2000 U.S. service members who died there—nor the 20,000 who suffered injuries. Similarly, more than 4400 U.S. service members died in Iraq and nearly 32,000 suffered injuries.

Many of those who served in those theaters returned home wearing the scars of battle—loss of limbs, disfigurement, loss of sight, and other physical injuries. Then there are the other injuries that are not quite as obvious—the emotional and mental injuries that reveal themselves as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).

However, a lesser-known category of injuries exists that Congress must acknowledge and address immediately. These injuries result from exposure to burn pits that existed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 20 years.

Burn pits are sites used to burn various materials ranging from garbage, human waste, chemicals, and paint to lubricants, plastics, ordnance, and medical waste—all often ignited by jet fuel. Burn pits were used because a more appropriate facility to dispose of these materials was simply not available.

Unfortunately, what has resulted from these burn pits has been referred to as the Agent Orange of our time in Southwest Asia. We are seeing a wave of rare cancers and other illnesses suffered by those who have served there and became exposed to the toxins from the burn pits. Some veterans, long after their service in uniform, have already died from these illnesses.


Vietnam locks down capital Hanoi for 15 days as cases rise


HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam announced a 15-day lockdown in the capital Hanoi starting Saturday as a coronavirus surge spread from the southern Mekong Delta region.

The lockdown order, issued late Friday night, bans the gathering of more than two people in public. Only government offices, hospitals and essential businesses are allowed to stay open.

Earlier in the week, the city had suspended all outdoor activities and ordered non-essential businesses to close following an increase in cases. On Friday, Hanoi reported 70 confirmed infections, the city’s highest, part of a record 7,295 cases in the country in the last 24 hours.

Nearly 5,000 of them are from Vietnam’s largest metropolis, southern Ho Chi Minh City, which has also extended its lockdown until Aug. 1.

In the latest wave of COVID-19 since April, Vietnam has recorded over 83,000 infections and 335 deaths.

A meeting of the National Assembly scheduled to open in Hanoi on Tuesday with 499 delegates will go ahead but was shortened to 12 from the original 17 days.

The delegates have been vaccinated, are regularly tested for the coronavirus and are traveling in a bubble, and will be isolated at hotels, according to the National Assembly.


How the U.S. unleashed hell’s agent: It left a trail of appalling birth defects in Vietnam


When Carol Van Strum moved to Five Rivers, Oregon, in 1974, she thought she had found the perfect rural idyll.

Surrounded by National Forest, her four young children could grow up close to nature. They loved fishing and playing by the river, fascinated by the little ‘dipper’ birds that sat on the rocks.

‘They knew everything that lived down there,’ she recalls. ‘There were beavers and otters in the river, and all the fish and herons and ospreys. So they just were part of that.’

Then one day the children fell sick, choking and gasping.

Down at the river, Carol found a scene of devastation — dead ducklings, crayfish and trout. The cause seemed fairly obvious: a U.S. Forestry Service helicopter had been flying overhead the day before, spraying something over the land.

Nobody knew what it was but, ‘a lot of people assumed, “Well it’s the government doing it, it must be OK,”’ says Carol. ‘We called the fire service and they said: “Oh no, it’s perfectly safe.”’ But it wasn’t.

The chopper was spraying a herbicide known as 2,4,5-T — the highly toxic main ingredient of Agent Orange, the notorious chemical defoliant used to blanket swathes of South-East Asia during the Vietnam War.

A helicopter in Oregon in 1974 was spraying a herbicide known as 2,4,5-T — the highly toxic main ingredient of Agent Orange, the notorious chemical defoliant used to blanket swathes of South-East Asia during the Vietnam War.

The U.S. military had stopped using it in 1971 because of growing public health concerns — but here it was being used in the U.S.


Canada and Agent Orange


Agent Orange is a mix of herbicides (plant-killing chemicals) and defoliant (a chemical used to remove leaves from plants and trees). It was used by the US military during the Vietnam War to destroy plants in large quantities. Agent Orange was one of the “Rainbow Herbicides,” alongside Agent Purple and Agent White. These herbicides were used and tested at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick. Agent Orange was incorrectly claimed to have been used to clear public land in Northern Ontario between the 1950s and 1970s. It is unclear how many Canadians were exposed to the potentially deadly chemical. Nor do we know how many may have died as a result.

Use in Warfare

Chemical herbicides were first used in warfare by the British during the Malaya Emergency (1948–1960). Herbicides were employed to destroy both jungle cover and agricultural plants that might be used by Malayan guerrillas.  The British experience using herbicides served as a precedent for American use during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was used in Vietnam from 1962 to 1971. The chemical was used to destroy the dense jungle canopy that provided shelter and cover for the North Vietnamese military and Vietcong guerrillas. Agent Orange was also used against agricultural plants and to control weeds around American military bases. It is believed that upward of 72 million litres of Agent Orange was sprayed over Vietnam and surrounding countries. Over 25,000 square kilometres of forest was defoliated.


State Environmental Officials Take First Steps to Clean Up 23-mile Stretch of Water Leading to Newark Bay


NEWARK, NJ – Years of industrial processing which has contaminated miles of water along the Lower Hackensack River stretching from Oradell Dam to the mouth of Newark Bay is now planned to get cleaned up with some help from federal officials.

State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette announced on Friday that cleanup for the target area will start through a federal process required to list the Lower Hackensack River as a Superfund site.

If approved, designating the river as a Superfund site would provide critical funding to the state for remediation efforts and leverage the Environmental Protection Agency to hold the parties responsible for the contamination to either perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-led cleanup work.


Monday, July 19, 2021

Afghanistan's unfolding tragedy summons memories of Vietnam 1975


Though separated by nearly half a century, the parallels between 1975 and today are eerie. In the White House, then as now, the new president in office for less than a year — his predecessor an impeached and hugely controversial figure — is widely viewed as a decent and affable man, but many, even within his own party, fear that he is not fully up to the job and overmatched by cascading events, foreign and domestic, and the swirling passions of his deeply polarized countrymen who are unable or unwilling to heed his urgent calls for unity and healing.

The veterans who returned from the lost war in Vietnam were greeted not by parades or honors but frequently by mockery or contempt, and those who dared to wear their uniforms in public risked being spat upon by angry members of the now triumphant leftist, anti-war movement — many of whom artfully avoided the draft by going to college or Canada, thereby laying the foundation of the class war that now is so toxically embedded in our national culture.

The soldiers now returning from the lost war in Afghanistan face a different, more ominous kind of disrespect: the newly woke Pentagon leadership has resolved to put aside the problematic war on foreign terrorism and focus on a new war against “domestic terrorism.” The Secretary of Defense has been clear that high priority must be given to weeding out white supremacists and other extremists currently in uniform, and all service members will undergo new training programs aimed at giving soldiers a better understanding of American history (e.g., why 1619 is more important than 1776).


Vietnam curbs movement in southern areas as COVID-19 cases hit record


HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam will impose restrictions on movement in 16 southern provinces for two weeks from Monday as the country faces its worst COVID-19 outbreak so far, the government said on Saturday.

Vietnam has managed to keep coronavirus cases relatively low due to targeted mass testing and strict contact tracing, border controls and quarantine measures, but new clusters of infections in recent weeks have triggered concern among health officials.

“The current outbreak we are facing is getting more complicated,” the government said in a statement. “The curbs are to protect people’s health.”

The Southeast Asian country reported 3,718 new infections, the highest daily increase and the third straight day it has recorded more than 3,000 cases.

Three-quarters of the confirmed cases were detected in southern areas, especially Ho Chi Minh City, and the Health Ministry said it had deployed at least 10,000 health workers to hard-hit provinces.

Vietnam, which has a population of 98 million, has recorded 47,904 infections in total and 225 deaths.

The current surge in cases has increased pressure on the government to boost vaccines supplies and accelerate inoculations, with less than 300,000 people fully vaccinated so far.

Vietnam has received nearly 9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said the United States would provide an additional three million Moderna vaccine doses to Vietnam via the international COVAX programme.


Female Vets in Congress Decry Proposal to Disband Pentagon’s Advisory Panel on Women


 A 70-year-old Defense Department panel focused on women's personnel issues that has advocated for expanded opportunities for female service members must be preserved, say the six female veterans currently serving in Congress.

The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) has been suspended temporarily and its membership dissolved as part of a cost and efficiency review of the Defense Department's 42 advisory committees that began in January.

But six members of Congress, led by Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Virginia, and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, say the committee's work is too important for the panel to be dissolved or rolled into the newly formed Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.

“We are the faces of what DACOWITS has meant for women in the military,” wrote the lawmakers. “As women veterans in Congress, we know the value of expanding opportunities within the services for women and the value that, in turn, has brought to our Armed Forces.”

In January, the Pentagon asked for the resignations of the 21 volunteer members of the committee, a group that included eight retired generals and admirals. The move was part of a larger review of all DoD advisory committees in the wake of last-minute appointments by former President Donald Trump to several boards and committees, including the Defense Business Board.


Court decides millions of veterans are eligible for more GI Bill benefits


WASHINGTON — A new court decision, if it holds, would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide billions of dollars in education benefits to more than 1 million post-9/11 veterans.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided Thursday that veterans who qualify for both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill for multiple periods of military service should be allowed to draw benefits from each. Since the newer Post-9/11 GI Bill became effective in 2009, the VA has limited veterans to benefits from one program, not both.

Under the ruling, veterans who qualify for both programs would be eligible to use one year of benefits from the Montgomery GI Bill program on top of the three years of tuition and housing assistance available through the Post 9/11 GI Bill. 

“We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this case and what it means for our country’s veterans,” said Timothy L. McHugh, the attorney on the case. “An estimated 1.7 million post-9/11 era veterans could benefit from this ruling, so it is truly an impactful decision for those who have bravely served.”

The court upheld the ruling from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, which also ruled against the VA’s interpretation of the law. The VA could next try to take the case to the Supreme Court. It was uncertain Monday whether the department would continue to appeal.  

If the VA doesn’t appeal, the new ruling could go into effect in time for the fall semester.   


Thursday, July 15, 2021

We're Baaaaaaaaaaaaack!

The Agent Orange Zone is back…after a short pause and consultation with medical experts, our staff has charged up their pacemakers, reclaimed their cubicles, fired up their coffee pots, received their COVID vaccines, shaken the cobwebs out of their fabulously fertile minds, dusted off their cutters and pasters and are ready to share the most current and relevant information regarding Agent Orange/Dioxin and how it affects you, your family, and your world.


Jim Doyle, Editor

Agent Orange Zone

VA Expands Agent Orange Presumptive Diseases List


Veterans Administration (VA) has expanded the Agent Orange Presumptive Diseases List and is now processing Claims for bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism.

“Many of our Nation’s Veterans have waited a long time for these benefits,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough. “VA will not make them wait any longer. This is absolutely the right thing to do for Veterans and their families.” Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War may be entitled to an earlier eligibility date for benefits. Vietnam War era Veterans and their survivors who previously filed and were denied benefits for one of these three new presumptive conditions will have their cases automatically reviewed without the need to refile a claim. Veterans can contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000, to ensure their previously denied claims are being reviewed.


Expert Warns of Post-Fire Dioxins: The Most Hazardous Substance in Structure Fire Environments


Sean Scott, author of The Red Guide to Recovery – Resource Handbook for Disaster Survivors and Secrets of The Insurance Game, is offering up important and often overlooked health and safety information for structural fire survivors, first responders and anyone moving into a home that had previously suffered a fire.

In an in-depth article posted on The Red Guide to Recovery website, Scott, an author, disaster recovery expert and fire restoration contractor who has spent nearly four decades in the construction and restoration business, outlines in detail what 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), better known simply as “dioxin,” is, how dioxins are formed in a fire, and why they pose such serious and overlooked health risks. Dioxins have been identified by scientists as being the second most toxic chemicals known to man – bested only by radioactive waste.

In this new article, Scott – who has worked on literally thousands of residential and commercial property damage claims and has spent decades researching the implications and challenges of post-fire scenarios – explains why most protocols for working in or around fire damaged structures or restoring contaminated textiles are actually woefully ineffective in terms of the detection and eradication of dioxins.


Exhibition looks back on 60 years of AO disaster in Vietnam


Nearly 300 photos, documents and items on the Agent Orange/dioxin (AO) disaster in Vietnam over the past 60 years are being displayed at an exhibition that opened at the Vietnam Military History Museum in Hanoi on July 13.

Hanoi (VNA) – Nearly 300 photos, documents and items on the Agent Orange/dioxin (AO) disaster in Vietnam over the past 60 years are being displayed at an exhibition that opened at the Vietnam Military History Museum in Hanoi on July 13.

The exhibition gives visitors an insight into the disaster's aftermath, efforts to resolve the consequences as well as the journey to demand justice for Vietnamese AO/dioxin victims and their desire to rise.

Sen. Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Rinh, Chairman of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) said that the exhibition aims to provide Vietnamese people in and outside the country as well as international friends with deeper understanding of  consequences of the toxic chemical to the environment and people’s health, endeavours taken by the Party, State, the military and the VAVA as well as relevant agencies in overcoming them.

It also spotlights the joint efforts of the society and support of international friends in dealing with the results left by the disaster and helping victims, and the victims’ efforts to integrate into the community, he said, adding that he hopes the exhibition will contribute to calling for more support in easing the pain caused by the disaster and stronger solidarity in preventing the proliferation of mass destruction weapons as well as the support to the struggle to demand justice for Vietnamese AO/dioxin victims.


To fight ecocide, we have to criminalize it


As we face the urgent crises of climate and extinction, we need every tool available — including the law — to fight for life on Earth. By identifying “ecocide” as a prosecutable crime, as a panel of 12 lawyers recently proposed to the International Criminal Court, we can set up a practical framework for tackling these emergencies.

The legal panel defined ecocide as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment.” It’s launching a global campaign to list ecocide as an international crime. Currently, the court can prosecute four crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression. Ecocide would be the fifth.

The term “ecocide” was coined by bioethicist Arthur Galston in the 1970s to refer to intentional destruction of a specific environment. It was inspired by the U.S. use of the toxic herbicide Agent Orange in the Vietnam War and is now used more broadly to refer to a wide range of environmentally destructive behaviors.


Biden’s Vietnam ambassador nominee vows to press Hanoi on rights, trade


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to Vietnam vowed at his Senate nomination hearing on Tuesday to boost security ties with Hanoi while seeking equitable market access and pressing Hanoi to respect human rights.

Marc Knapper, a career diplomat currently serving as deputy assistant secretary for Japan and Korea, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the relationship between Washington and its former Vietnam War foe had undergone a “profound transformation” since normalization of ties in 1995.

“Our two countries have moved from a history of conflict to a comprehensive partnership that spans political, security, economic, and people-to-people ties,” he said, while adding that the relationship was not without its challenges.

“We have serious, serious concerns,” Knapper said. “Only when we see significant progress on human rights can our partnership reach its fullest potential.”


Pesticide caused kids' brain damage, California lawsuits say


Lawsuits in California are seeking potential class-action damages from Dow Chemical and its successor company over a widely used bug killer linked to brain damage in children.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Lawsuits filed Monday in California seek potential class-action damages from Dow Chemical and its successor company over a widely used bug killer linked to brain damage in children.

Chlorpyrifos is approved for use on more than 80 crops, including oranges, berries, grapes, soybeans, almonds and walnuts, though California banned sales of the pesticide last year and spraying of it this year. Some other states, including New York, have moved to ban it.

Stuart Calwell, lead attorney in the lawsuits, argued that its effects linger in Central Valley agricultural communities contaminated by chlorpyrifos during decades of use, with measurable levels still found in his clients' homes.

Lawyers project that at least 100,000 homes in the nation’s largest agricultural state may need to dispose of most of their belongings because they are contaminated with the pesticide.

“We have found it in the houses, we have found it in carpet, in upholstered furniture, we found it in a teddy bear, and we found it on the walls and surfaces,” Calwell said. “Then a little child picks up a teddy bear and holds on to it.”

All that needs to be cleaned up, he says, because “it’s not going away on its own.”

State records show 61 million pounds of the pesticide were applied from 1974 through 2017 in four counties where the lawsuits were filed, Calwell said.

Officials with Dow and its affiliated Corteva Inc. did not immediately respond to telephone and email requests seeking comment.


Overuse of pesticide lawn chemicals is poisoning dying songbirds as well as ourselves


A recent story in the Bristol Herald Courier asked bird lovers to take down birdbaths and feeders because there is something killing songbirds and they don’t know what it could be.

I am not all that smart, but when I see all the lawns in this area without a single weed, without pesky bugs because they spray chemicals on their yards. These chemicals are poison, and when they apply these chemicals, they suggest you not let your animals outside. Poor old birds can’t read; they walk on the treated lawns and eat worms that are now poison and die.

In Vietnam, they sprayed chemicals to kill all the vegetation, and as a result, thousands of us are victims of Agent Orange.

Tom Bouton

Bristol, Tennessee