23 October 2011

VA Congressional Liaison Offers Teleconference re: C-123 Agent Orange

The teleconference organized by the VA's Congressional Liaison Office is set for 2PM Eastern on October 27, and limited to those invited by Brooks Tucker of Senator Burr's office.

Senator Burr will be represented by Mr. Tucker. Major Wes Carter, USAF Ret. (74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 439th MAW) will represent the C-123 aircrews from all squadrons. Offering expert toxicology information and interpretation of Air Force tests will be Dr. Fred Berman who heads the Toxicology Department of Oregon Health Sciences University. Explaining the VA position that C-123 dioxin contamination is not a health concern for aircrew veterans will be Dr. Michael Peterson, Chief Consultant, Environmental Health, Veterans Health Administration, Mr. James Sampsel of the Veterans Benefits Administration will explain why the VA cannot permit medical care for aircrew C-123 dioxin exposure and AO illnesses.

Our C-123K veterans only ask that since we can provide persuasive evidence from a host of government and scientific sources as to the dioxin contamination of our airplane, and can prove that we flew aircraft specifically identified as contaminated with dioxin, that the VA accept disability claims from those who also have Agent Orange-presumptive illnesses. I thought those were the ground rules described on the VA web site...perhaps not. Doesn't it seem wrong to deny veterans benefits not because of the abundant evidence of eligibility provided by the veterans but merely because of VA policy to prohibit such claims? 

Perhaps we can draw some comfort from the assurances of Dr. Peterson that we haven't been exposed to dioxin after all. 

Outside the scope of this teleconference, our small group working on this issue feels compelled to add an additional concern. We expect to eventually prevail (or at least, our widows will) regarding "Boots on the Airplane" so that if we can show service aboard a contaminated C-123 and proof of an AO illness, a claim can be put forward to the VA. Our new effort will be to uncover the confusing reason for the intensity of the VA's dedication in denying our claims....Questions arise:

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