Thursday, October 28, 2021

Agent Orange Exposed Veterans are eligible for free VA health care for exposure-associated diseases


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.


2,4-D: Concerns about Cancer and Other Serious Illnesses


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.


One of New England’s Most Toxic Superfund Sites Moves Closer to Full Remediation


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

For First Time in Nearly 100 Years, Public Authorized to Approach Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Plaza


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 flower ceremony will start on Nov. 9 at 8 a.m. with representatives from the Crow Nation placing flowers at the Tomb and reciting the prayer given 100 years ago by American-Indian Chief Plenty Coups.

​•  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.


Perez: Prohibit open burning of military waste ordnance


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

October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Reprinted from the Agent Orange Zone, Tuesday October 2, 2018

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

AOZ - Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Men say their breast cancer was caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune

By Ami Schmitz and Kristina Krohn
Rock Center

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.

Review: Desperate – An Epic Battle for Clean Water and Justice in Appalachia


By Kris Maher

Scribner, 2021

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.


‘Delay, Deny, Hope You Die’ – The VA, Burn Pits, and Veterans


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, 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.


‘Donut Dollies’ Served U.S. Troops in Vietnam

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

October is Agent Orange Awareness Month

Toxins, dioxins and potential risks to grandchildren from the UPL chemical inferno


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).


Intelligence at the root of ‘The Problem,’ Jon Stewart’s funny, thought-provoking new series


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.”