In one of the first formal rejections of a C-123 veteran's Agent Orange exposure claim, the VA's Director VA Compensation Service (C&P) himself authored a four-page, detailed denial of each expert cited in the veteran's application. The director brings his extensive business background, including several years at Home Depot and 21 years of Reserve service in making his conclusions about the toxicological, medical, environmental sciences and other issues at hand.
Of course, C&P had to reach deep. Very deep, in structuring his denial. He had to flat-out deny professional toxicologists and epidemiologists who'd supported our veterans. He even had to deny the professional qualifications of Dr. Tom Sinks, Deputy Director of the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Regisry! Dr. Sinks is the government expert who opined who told the AF and the VA"Given the available information, I believe that aircrews operating in this, and similar, environments were exposed to TCDD." C&P somehow concludes his review of Dr. Sinks' comments with the amazing, bewildering, fantastic, statement:
In summary, there is no conclusive evidence that TCDD exposure causes any adverse health effects.
Veterans should draw comfort from C&P's reassurances. The director's basic objection to the multitude of experts who weighed in to support C-123 veterans was that they were not physicians. He feels only physicians could offer reasonably informed expert opinions. Of course, one is left certain that if instead four gallant physicians had investigated the situation and provided their input, it would be rejected because they're physicians and not scientists.
Amazing, because what the VA initially argued was a scientific question, not a medical one. VA argued that no aircrew exposure to dioxin in our contaminated airplanes could occur. Congress and the IOM already resolved the question about a medical nexus between exposure and Agent Orange-associated illnesses, yet here VA twists logic into an enigma wrapped in confusion and surrounded by mystery and obfuscation. Anything to deny a veteran's claim, right, C&P?
Oh, well. This just means more work ahead. More windmills at which to tilt until, in that Great Glory Day Coming, someone at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or at 810 Vermont Avenue can see both justice and common sense with the same pair of eyes! The application which C&P trashed is my own, submitted early-on in our struggle. I'm saddened that this means the VA's rubber stamp is ready to smash DENIED on all our veterans' applications.
As for you, dear reader: Know any physicians who will weigh in on this? We could sure use their help1