08 October 2011

VA Deceives Sen. Burr's Staff re: Agent Orange & C-123

Correspondence Thursday regarding a meeting in which senior staff of North Carolina's Senator Burr (ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee) discussed our C-123 Agent Orange issues with representatives of the Veterans Administration. The VA put forth an argument denying the possibility of our exposure during the years 1972-1982 by saying that the surface contamination of the aircraft decades later when stored at Davis-Monthan would have lessened.

Does that make sense to anyone? To say that airplanes MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN contaminated in 2010 so they therefore weren't contaminated in 1972? What about the multiple Air Force tests done over the decades between 1972-2008 in which every single test reported POSITIVE for the presence of dioxin.

The VA wonks are using a hypothetical argument that dioxin would have decayed over the decades to claim we couldn't have been exposed the very year after the last spray mission. I'm working here to find a word other than "liar" to fairly describe such a statement!

Here is the response we sent Sen. Burr's office to the summation they provided of their meeting with the VA:

To: Tucker, Brooks (Burr)
 Subject: Sen. Burr's Staff report - meeting with VA and VA position re: C-123 Agent Orange

Thanks for responding.  They mislead you. Please remind them that Air Force tests, done in 1994, determined the aircraft "heavily contaminated"...Air Force words! Further, additional tests done in 1996, 1998 and 2000 showed continued contamination. These tests cannot be ignored! The VA can't pick and chose which facts to use to deny us service connection 
Hypothetical dioxin degradation on surfaces in direct sunlight hasnothing to do with our flying these airplanes right after their last spray flights...nothing to do with the contamination throughout each aircraft. A half-baked VA concept of surface dioxin degradation cannot trump multiple Air Force tests PROVING contamination. To accept the VA position one would have to say each of the scientific Air Force tests done over the decades didn't exist, or were in error.  Professor Jeanie Stellman of Columbia University School of Public Health has told the VA that Agent Orange can degrade as the volatiles age, but not dioxin! It remains. On some surfaces, it can remain for decades.   
Tell them that we flew the airplanes NOT decades after Vietnam, but just ONE YEAR after they stopped spraying Agent Orange. We started flying them in 1972 and flew them for a full decade. The contamination of the dioxin on the aircraft was not only on metal surfaces, but in nooks and corners, ducting, hollow tubing, insulation, fabrics (this old airplane had fabric everywhere!) and pooled under the floor as well as in the wings.  
IMPORTANT: Dioxin contamination of painted surfaces is also much more dangerous than dioxin on plain metal, and nearly every metal surface in our aircraft was painted, thus retaining dioxin longer because the toxins soak into paint more readily than into solid metal. This is why complete paint removal is required as part of the dioxin decontamination, as was done on Patches.
 Finally, they may have an opinion which they leap to in preventing our claims, but the Oregon Health Sciences University Toxicology Department and the School of Public Health at Columbia have reviewed the Air Force tests, concluded that they are scientifically acceptable even though a decade or more old AND THAT OUR AIRCRAFT WERE CONTAMINATED AND OUR CREWS WERE EXPOSED!   
The VA and Dod have as their usual source of the surface lifespan info Dr. Alvin Young, who is the gentleman who sarcastically described our Agent Orange-contaminated C-123 crews as "trash haulers, freeloaders", "looking for a sympathetic congressman for tax-free dollars." His attitude must disqualify him from influence regarding our claims.  
In the case of our aircraft stored at Davis-Monthan (the Boneyard), perhaps decades of the aircraft sitting in the desert sun did degrade the dioxin present on the exterior surfaces of the C-123K/UC-123K airplanes...but that hypothetical degrading did not take place between 1972-1982 when we flew, and it did not take place INSIDE the aircraft where our duties placed us for thousands of hours. Further, tests done during the decades the aircraft were store continued to show their toxicity. The aircraft did not go into storage until 1981-1982. Our exposure was over a decade BEFORE the first Air Force test on Tail #362 reported 100% of the swipe tests as positive for presence of dioxin. Our exposure was two decades BEFORE the first Air Force test on Tail #362 directed personnel not enter or work around the aircraft without hazmat protection.  
You mention "the lack of testing on the C-123s in the years following the Vietnam War". CORRECTION: there were tests, many of them, each of which established the toxins present. Air Force tests done in 1979, Air Force tests done in 1994, Air Force tests done in 1996, Air Force tests done in 2000, Air Force tests done in 2008, Air Force tests done in 2010...what lack of tests are they talking about? All these tests showed Agent Orange present. No tests done FAILED to show Agent Orange present. The words used by the Air Force..."HEAVILY CONTAMINATED, EXTREMELY HAZARDOUS, EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, EXTREMELY CONTAMINATED"...perhaps these should be strong enough to convince the VA that it is "as likely to as not". 
And I assure you, even accepting their thought that Agent Orange has a very short lifespan...we flew them within a year of their last spray missions! We flew them with dioxin contamination.  If the Air Force prohibited sale of the aircraft in 2000 to prevent a risk to public health, it is impossible to avoid the absolute fact that OUR health was affected decades earlier, with the contamination more intense. Further, Ranch Hand aviators flew their missions for 11 months while in-country. We flew our missions in these contaminated aircraft for A DECADE! Our exposure may have been less intense but it was over a much longer period. Please press as strongly as you can on this. 
We need you and Senator Burr to help us. An expert in dioxin contamination from any reputable laboratory or university would have laughed those guys out of your office! 
Wesley T. Carter, Major, USAF, Retired    http://www.c123kcancer.blogspot.com- 

1 comment:

  1. Readers may find valuable information on a new website, 'The Agent Orange Action Group' at www.aoag.org


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