Yesterday the VA's Public Health folks released a new perspective on C-123 veterans' Agent Orange exposure at this month's San Francisco meeting of the Society of Toxicology. While they still maintain exposure was unlikely, the door seems slightly ajar - they state C-123 veterans' claims will be judged individually. This is much more positive than the impression we were left with following the March 8 meeting hosted by Senator Burr in Washington DC, where they reported that all our claims "would probably" be denied. If this is so (oh, dare we hope?)...thank you, VA, for a more open mind on this issue!
What I find highly disappointing is their report's reliance on the 1991 data from Al Young (who took leave from the AF and accepted money from the chemical industry for writing articles implying the harmlessness of Agent Orange!) The VA and Young data are in conflict with contemporary ATSDR toxicological profile for TCDD dermal absorption, as well as reports from the Institute on Medicine.
Isn't it reasonable to conclude that the Department of Veterans Affairs is committed to their position that Agent Orange contamination of our aircraft was unlikely, rather than being willing to consider newer and more authoritative research which agrees with our exposure? Every new discovery, every new opinion from non-VA sources which says aircrews were exposed the VA automatically rejects, rather than looking for a good possibility of a path to provide our veterans earned benefits.
These people are supposed to be scientists. The whole evolution of modern science started with, and still depends upon, scientists being eager to accept findings which both argue with and argue against their initial thesis. I can't find "science" in what they are doing...only political obstruction.
These people should remember true science was born only when Western civilization stopped trying to shape observations upon researchers' predetermined beliefs.
Here's the link to their release, entitled
"Agent Orange: The 50-Year History & the Newest Chapter of Concerns: