01 March 2012

New Studies Not Needed- C-123 Agent Orange Benefits NOW!

Mention was made of a possible need for additional statistical or epidemiological studies of C-123 aircrews and maintenance personnel to better understand our dioxin exposure. The following note was submitted to two of the scientists who've looked into the situation:

Argument Against Time-Wasting Further Analysis:

A study could have been a good idea back in 1994 when the AF Museum/Brooks Armstrong Labs first identified the degree of toxicity on Patches. Studies could have been a good thing back in 1996 when, instead, the AF Office of Environmental Law directed that the info should "be kept in official channels only." In 1994 and 1996 most of us were still available to participate in a study, assuming enough veterans were existent to lend any accuracy to the study. It would have been decent...in fact, the only moral and legal decision, to alert our veterans so we could consider precautions and know to watch for AO-type symptoms. It would have been a better study if the veterans who've died before this problem was exposed in April 2011 had been able to participate - Lou Paskowitz, Paul Huffman, Bob Boyd, George Gadbois, Tim Olmsted, Warner Jones...all the others. 

I ask the VA and other government people to imagine what the public outcry would be if some large company exposed thousands of employees to dioxin (however innocently), learned about the exposure after the fact, and spent decades preventing notification of the affected employees...and even took steps to shred and smelt the evidence? This would be evening news headline matter...such criminal behavior would be meat for the grand jury! What would government employee unions do if workers had spent ten years inside a building with a 200-times greater risk of cancer due to dioxin exposure...and the government kept the information from them and even fought to prevent access to medical care when the news leaked? 

Imagine a whistleblower leaking an email in which managers labeled exposed employees "freeloaders", as our aircrews have been described by a VA consultant who has received support from the chemical industry for articles and served as an official of the Secretary of Defense office--he expressly cited the need to destroy the stored C-123s to prevent veterans' benefits from being awarded.

The last comprehensive study of contaminated aircraft at Davis-Monthan found half of the tested airplanes still hazardous in 2009 (nearly forty years after their last spray missions) except for short-term exposure!

It is flat-out unconscionable for VA to take any action that fails to recognize C-123 veterans' exposure NOW by citing cost, difficulty, small population or any other time-killer suggestion regarding further statistical or epidemiological studies, and unconscionable for VA to delay our care for the time to design, conduct, evaluate and obtain peer-review of such a study. Wasting still more time (what the Army veterans call "waiting for an Army to die") would obviously penalize the veterans by denying us essential medical coverage just so the VA could burn away a couple years for more studies followed by outside review of those studies.

The military completely failed to address the problem when it first surfaced, worrying only about the stored airplanes and avoiding EPA fines and bad publicity.Today, there can be no further failure of the AF or VA to promptly recognize our exposure to TCDD. There can be no further delay to conduct more "studies." Time enough is wasted in the VA application (FYI my own has gathered dust for 332 days so far.)

The studies have been done. The results have been validated by federal court, the GSA, the Air Force, the ATSDR and outside scientific experts. Crews and maintenance personnel were exposed to harmful amounts of dioxin....case closed!
The requirement for veterans (outside the Boots on the Ground Vietnam group) seeking service-connection for TCDD exposure is simply reasonable proof of exposure. That proof was developed in multiple tests by the Air Force, and substantiated by the GSA, federal court, ATSDR and reputable scientists. That proof has been offered, and substantiated, in spades!

We're not mad, but those of us still alive are sick as hell and we're not going to take it any more! 

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