Also prohibiting C-123 veterans' access to VA medical care is Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey, herself a retired Air Force general officer and pilot. Her letter to the C-123 veterans was received 3 October:
Her introduction of secondary exposure was a surprise. While our aircrews certainly did have secondary exposure to TCDD aboard the C-123, our main exposure was instead primary and mostly dermal. We physically touched military herbicides which remained on the aircraft following their Agent Orange spray missions during Vietnam. Primary! As well as secondary. And while dermal absorption of TCDD can be slower because of the skin barrier, dermal generally includes the ingestion route was well.
Too bad there wan't any place on the C-123 to wash our hands!
Remember readers that our exposure, while it may have been "low concentration," was long-term...a full decade and many, many years before the first official tests which established the aircraft as "heavily contaminated." The airplanes were much more toxic when we flew them than later, after the dioxin had degraded.
Every study about dioxin which touches upon long-term and short term exposure stresses the fact that long-term low dose exposure like ours is even worse than short-term, high dose exposure.
Our absorption of dioxin added up. We sure wish the logic of our exposure added up to the VA also!