On 17 November the VA released their determination that the C-123 aircrews had not been exposed to Agent Orange residue left on the aircraft following Vietnam. This seems to be the first time the VA has launched a preemptive strike concerning veterans' Agent Orange claims, but it is understandable given their determination to prevent any further impact on an already-overtaxed budget. It is unfortunate that they have claimed that a threshold now exists where even a small amount of dioxin exposure is to be held harmless by the VA. It is also unfortunate that this position flies in the face of current research, especially concerning long-term exposure to dioxin, even in low-dosage situations.
Our next steps will focus on challenging this newfound position, with assistance from the various universities and professional societies which have offered their assistance.
Fortunately, the Air Force has not dropped the case and continues their investigation into aircrew exposure, led by experts at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine.
Friends, we need help on this effort. Every one of us lives in a state with many medical schools...these schools are filled with experts we can invite to help us. The VA respects professional letters from chemists, physicians, toxicologists. A recent US Army benefits hearing had the officials constantly stressing to the veteran that they'd accept his doctor's statement that his Agent Orange-type illness was "most likely" due to his Agent Orange exposure while performing depot maintenance on Army helicopters in the states!
We don't have to (and shouldn't) ask our doctors to prepare a phony letter about us...but we have every right to ask that our physicians state that we have an Agent Orange-presumtpive illness, that your records indicate exposure to Agent Orange while serving as a crew member, and that the illness is at least "as likely as not" caused by your exposure.
Ideas welcome...let me know! Meanwhile, get into gear and contact your local universities' experts to ask their help in a letter campaign.