Wednesday, September 29, 2021

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? Our human dignity is at stake. The world will benefit from this research.



Inside the Shifting Treatment Landscape for Advanced Genitourinary Cancers


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 benefits could see a big cost-of-living boost later this year


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.


Vietnam, US step up cooperation in tackling war consequences


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?

Our human dignity is at stake.
The world will benefit from this research.


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. 

Vet Benefits Expansion Prompts Hiring Push at VA


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.


Answering Your Questions About Prostate Cancer in African American Men


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?


VA Extends disability deadline for Gulf War vets


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.


Slowing Housing, Food Allowance Raises Could Save the Pentagon Billions, Congressional Report Says


Slowing increases to housing and food allowances for service members by switching a crucial benchmark could save the Pentagon billions, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday.

The idea proposed in the report involves tying those allowances to the same benchmark used for basic military pay raises.

The Defense Department is required to use the Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment cost index, or ECI, to adjust basic pay, which makes up 70% of the military's regular pay expenses. The only exception is when Congress approves a bigger pay raise.

But housing allowance rates are set annually by the defense secretary, using data on rental housing vacancies in each location. Food allowances are set annually based on the Agriculture Department's index for food prices.

These methods combined have resulted in troops' compensation growing beyond what the DoD envisioned, according to the CBO report released Thursday.

The Pentagon's goal was for troops to be paid at the 70th percentile of earnings for comparable civilians, meaning 30% of civilians in similar jobs would earn more than troops.


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

ATTENTION! Contact your local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter to SIGN

Samaritan CME Live Webinar September 22: Agent Orange - Health Effects on Veterans


“Agent Orange: Health Effects on Veterans”


Mitchell Turker, PhD, JD

Professor, Medical Genetics, OHSU


September 22, 2021 12:30-1:30pm

MS Teams Meeting 

(Contact Kyle @


Activity Objectives:

  • Review what is known about health effects from exposure to Agent Orange and its most toxic ingredient, dioxin
  • Explain why we do not have a complete picture of the health effects from Agent Orange exposure
  • Explain the regulatory approach that was created to deal with Vietnam Veteran concerns that their long-term health was negatively impacted from their exposure to Agent Orange and other defoliants


Samaritan Health Services is accredited by the Washington State Medical Association to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


Samaritan Health Services designates this live activity for a maximum of one (1) AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


Dr. Turker and the planners for this educational activity have no relevant financial relationships to disclose with ineligible companies whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients.

When Rivers Are Contaminated, Floods Are Only the First Problem


As floods increase in frequency and intensity, chemicals buried in river sediments become “ticking time bombs” waiting to activate.

Hurricane Harvey flooded or damaged at least 13 Superfund sites in 2017, sending cancer-causing compounds into Texas waterways.

Dioxins—the category of chemicals that includes Agent Orange—have been banned in the United States since 1979. But that doesn’t mean they’re gone. Like in the plot of countless scary movies, dioxins and other banned chemicals are just buried beneath the surface waiting to be unearthed.

A new perspective paper in Journal of Hazardous Materials calls attention to an understudied area: the remobilization of pollutants buried in riverbeds. Chemicals have a knack for binding to sediments, meaning chemical spills in rivers frequently seep into sediments instead of flowing downstream. Future layers of silt bury the pollutants and hide the problem.

But persistent chemicals in riverbeds are “ticking time bombs,” warned Sarah Crawford, an environmental toxicologist at Goethe University Frankfurt and lead author of the paper. The buried chemicals can easily be remobilized. “It just takes one flood event,” she said.


Blue Water Vietnam veterans are getting benefits payouts, but not always the right amount


By Leo Shane III - Blue Water Vietnam veterans are getting their disability benefits paid out by the Department of Veterans Affairs, but it might not be exactly how much they deserve, according to a new watchdog report.

The VA Inspector General’s Office found that while department staff have done a good job at getting benefits flowing to newly eligible veterans covered by the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act two years ago, nearly half of the claims decisions investigators reviewed from 2020 were “inaccurate.”

The mistakes total an estimated $37 million: about $12 million in underpayments based on veterans eligibility and $25 million more in excess payments to individuals.

“Employees did not always know how to correctly process these claims, particularly determining accurate retroactive effective dates for evaluations,” investigators stated in the IG report, released late last week. “[Benefits officials] should increase oversight to help ensure employees processing these claims clearly understand how to correctly evaluate and decide them.”

Benefits for ‘blue water’ veterans finalized after years-long fight

The move ends a years-long fight to get faster disability benefits for up to 90,000 Navy veterans who served in Vietnam.

In a statement, VA officials told the Inspector General that they have improved training in recent months and put in place “special focused quality reviews” to address the problem.


Out of context: Many exhibits at National Air Force Museum lack key details


The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton is stunning.

Where else can you stroll through the actual plane that flew FDR to Yalta in 1945, or the one that flew Harry Truman to meet an insubordinate Douglas MacArthur on Wake Island in 1950, or the one that flew Dwight D. Eisenhower to Switzerland in 1955 for the first peacetime meetings between the Soviets and Western powers?

You can also walk through the plane that ferried JFK to Dallas in November 1963 — and brought back his lifeless body along with new President LBJ after Kennedy was felled by an assassin’s bullet.

So much history made tangible — and that’s just in the Presidential Gallery far at the back of the museum’s four huge hangars.

From cloth-covered planes pioneered by the Wrights at nearby Huffman Prairie to spaceships that descended from them, a breathtaking array of the technology that has dramatically reshaped modern life is on display in those yawning spaces.

Oh, and did I mention that admission is free?

When I first visited as a child, all was awe walking among primitive biplanes and sleek, supersonic fighters.

But returning to Ohio a few years ago, much older and a little better read, I spotted some holes. Many of the captions accompanying the exhibits omitted key details, enough in some cases to be misleading.

I know. This is the Air Force’s museum and it would be silly to expect it to present a completely objective account of itself.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Long-Term Environmental Impacts of Pesticide and Herbicide Use in Panama Canal Zone


The opening of the Panama Canal in 1913 transformed ocean-shipping and the availability of internationally-traded goods, shortened travel time between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, increased ship tonnage, and sparked the growth of port authorities on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the Panama Canal. Historically, the United States was number one and China was number two in tons of cargo that pass through the canal annually in the high stakes game of import and export markets. Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal, the most efficient way to cross the 82-kilometer isthmus, between the Port of Panama City on the Pacific and the Port of Colon on the Atlantic, was by mule trails through tropical forests and river transportation. Since the construction of the Panama Canal through tropical forests in the 1910s, pesticides have been essential for managing mosquitoes as well as controlling wetland vegetation that blocked lakes, rivers and the canal. The primary objective of this research study is to document the long-term environmental impacts of pesticide and herbicide use in the Panama Canal Zone. Many of these chemicals, including 2, 4,-D, 2, 4, 5-T and DDT, have a long half-life under water and some, like arsenic (As), have no half-life. Pesticides and chemicals flowed into Lake Gatun via surface runoff either in solution or attached to the sediment during the rainy season. The by-product 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is an unanticipated contaminant created during the manufacture of the herbicide 2,4,5-T. TCDD can bio-accumulate in fish and birds and enter into the human food supply. The extent of the current chemical and pesticide contamination on former U.S. military base grounds and in Lake Gatun is unknown. Systematic soil sampling of current and former military bases, chemical disposal sites and Lake Gatun or the Panama Canal sediments is needed to determine if mitigation is necessary.


Parkinson’s Foundation Consensus Statement on the Use of Medical Cannabis for Parkinson’s Disease


With the growing availability of medical marijuana and other medical cannabis products in the United States, there has been a marked increase in its use for various medical conditions. Currently, medical cannabis is legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the U.S. territories Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of these, 17 states list Parkinson’s disease (PD) as a qualifying condition: CA, CT, FL, GA, IL, IA, MA, MO, NH, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, VT and WV. Cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp products (defined as having less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol - THC) are legally available in all 50 states.


More Vets Reaching Out for Crisis Line Help Amid Afghanistan Collapse


Calls and texts to the Veterans Crisis Line have increased significantly amid the end of U.S. operations in Afghanistan in recent weeks. But Veterans Affairs officials say that’s good news, not bad.

“The more that we can do to normalize discussions about crisis and about suicide and how it’s okay to reach out for help, the better,” said Dr. Lisa Kearney, director of crisis line operations. “I’m thankful for it, hopefully we can … make it easier for folks to reach us.”

Calls to the crisis line jumped about 7 percent over the last three weeks compared to August 2020. Online chats with crisis line staff are up almost 40 percent. Texts to the emergency service are up about 98 percent.

That time frame coincides with international headlines chronicling the fall of the democratic government in Afghanistan, the return of Taliban rule and the chaotic end to U.S. military operations there.

However, Dr. Matthew Miller, National Director of VA’s Suicide Prevention Program, cautioned against assumptions that all of the increase is from veterans of the recent wars traumatized directly by the events overseas.


National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month [Sept. 2021]


Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer diagnosed in men, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men, after lung cancer.

 The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds part of the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder). The prostate gland produces fluid that makes up part of semen.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Prostate cancer often has no early symptoms. Advanced prostate cancer can cause men to urinate more often or have a weaker flow of urine, but these symptoms can also be caused by benign prostate conditions.

Because of effective screening options for prostate cancer, the disease is often caught before it spreads, and as a whole, survival rates are good for this type of cancer.

The NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program estimates that more than 248,530 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 34,130 men will die of the disease in 2021.

Prostate cancer is more common in older men. It is more likely to occur in men with a family history of prostate cancer and in men of African-American descent. Other risk factors include smoking, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise. In the United States, about 11 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetimes.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Agent Orange - A Primer

Jack McManus is a Vietnam Veteran who served in Operation Ranch Hand. Watch and listen as he explains the history of Agent Orange.

Birth Defect Research for Children - Because Every Birth Defect has a Cause

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.

Join the Vietnam Veterans of America Charles Kettle Chapter 31 in showing your support for the children and grandchildren of Vietnam Veterans affected by Agent Orange. Wear an Agent Orange Next Gen mask. For each $10 mask sold, a donation will go towards research connecting Agent Orange exposure to the birth defects and illnesses that veterans’ children and grandchildren are facing every day. Please help by ordering your mask today.

Is there a link between Agent Orange exposure and CLL?


Agent Orange was an herbicide the American military used to clear leaves and other vegetation during the Vietnam War. More than 12 million gallons were sprayed in Vietnam, according to the Aspen Institute.

The name Agent Orange comes from the colored stripes on the 55-gallon drums it was kept in.

Reports of potential health problems due to Agent Orange exposure started emerging in the late 1970s. The herbicide has now been connected to dozens of health problems in United States veterans including:

The Red Cross, as reported by the Aspen Institute, also estimates more than 3 million Vietnamese people have developed health complications, including 150,000 birth defects, due to Agent Orange contamination.

Are those exposed to Agent Orange at risk for CLL?

In 2002Trusted Source, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs added CLL to the list of diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure.

Of the 195 veteransTrusted Source who were diagnosed with CLL from 2001 to 2010, a disproportional 17 percent were exposed to Agent Orange, according to a retrospective cohort study published in 2014.

Researchers have found that the average age of CLL diagnosis in people exposed to Agent Orange was 61 versus 72 for people who were not exposed.


Understanding VA’s current claims backlog environment, future growth


VA’s claims process has undergone a tremendous positive evolution over the past eight years. It is now a ‘paperless’ system thanks to the Veterans Benefits Management System and the digitally based National Work Queue system. This evolution, led by VA’s dedicated claims teams across the country, resulted in a claims backlog of over 600,000 claims in 2012 fall below 100,000 by 2017.

VA defines backlog as the number of claims pending over 125 days.

Two events have occurred that will, however, result in significant claims backlog increases in the near term.

First, unprecedented claims processing delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a current claims backlog of approximately 180,000, more than double its pre-COVID-19 backlog levels. After in-person work restrictions at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) caused a significant growth in the number of outstanding requests for military records, VA collaborated closely with (and continues to collaborate with) NARA to retrieve and scan records into VA’s electronic claims processing system.  Mitigating these COVID delays will take more time.

Second, VA is beginning to now process claims related to two significant benefits changes for Veterans enacted by law and expect these new processes have an impact on VA’s ability to deliver benefits within 125 days.


VA Secretary Appoints New Veterans Law Judges to Adjudicate More Appeals for Veterans

The VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals has appointed 20 new veterans law judges to deliver more veterans appeals decisions — bringing the total to 113. Most of the new veterans law judges will arrive prior to the end of Fiscal Year 2021, with additional judges to be appointed in Fiscal Year 2022. The judges will receive extensive training from mentor judges to prepare them for their new responsibilities and will be supported by a cadre of attorney-advisors and professional staff as they adjudicate appeals.