We sat down again with Mr Brooks Tucker of Sen. Burr's staff to review with officials of the VA's Health Benefits Administration and Public Health Administration today at the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Minority Party Conference Room at the Hart Senate Building. At issue was the recent ATSDR letter affirming the herbicide contamination of the aircraft and the reasons VA has found most of its points not relevant to aircrew exposure...at least, not relevant enough to warrant VA actually allowing exposed aircrews to receive medical care for Agent Orange-presumptive illnesses.
VA explained that current law prohibits treating veterans other than "boots on the ground" Vietnam veterans with a few exceptions. Their opinion is that our exposure was, if anything, on a par with the general population.
We were told that regardless of statements from the variety of medical and scientific experts, as well as other government agencies, aircrew and maintenance personnel present and future claims for care will most likely continue to be denied. There is a suggestion that the question will be referred to the Institute on Medicine for a study with perhaps some response by the end of 2012 at the earliest.