29 December 2012

VA Director Compensation & Pension Service Slams C-123 Vets

Tom Murphy, VA Director of Compensation Services
"Claim Denied!" "Veteran submitted a few documents." Thus did Mr. Thomas Murphy, Director of Compensation Service for the VA fulfill his organizational duty of automatically denying a C-123 veteran's claim, no mater how justified the clam actually is. Thank you for your service, indeed!

The particular claim in question, one of our first C-123 claims, had over 80 supporting documents. Articles from medical journals detailing identical situations. Letters from physicians and scientists offering expert independent opinions. Sworn testimony of other veterans, including unit commanders, field grade officers, flight examiners and instructors, senior NCOs, fellow veterans. Treatment records from VA, military and civilian hospitals. Lots of stuff. And all of it, no matter how much of it, no matter what the science, all of it not enough.

Never enough to overcome the VA's knee-jerk automatic rejection of any dioxin exposure claim by every veteran outside those with Boots on the Ground in Vietnam, and some minor and very specific Thailand and Korea situations. For C-123 veterans, the full weight and majesty of the VA swings into action to immediately construct barriers to justice and medical treatment. To explain, even in the face of proof, why there is no proof. To explain even, even with dozens of non-VA experts and other federal agencies claiming veterans were exposed, why there was no exposure.

Why? "Because we say so!"

Duty to Assist? Benefit of the doubt to rest with the veteran? Again, no. Never. The VA, in two years of working with us, has done absolutely nothing to seek confirming evidence or opinions as the question of  C-123 veterans' exposure came to light. Not once have they ever introduced or admitted to a single fact which could be interpreted as supportive of C-123 veterans' claims. Every citation they have offered in their "scientific" bulletins has been to deny exposure claims. Every single reference, expert, whatever that supports the veterans' claims has been ignored. They probably had a struggle admitting that there ever were C-123 airplanes and people who flew them! "What? C-123? Never heard of it? Thank you for your service.

There is not a single scientific or academic journal which would accept such shoddy work from authors seeking publication of an obviously slanted article! Any reputable journal would demand a juried review, and that panel of independent experts would condemn using their loudest megaphone the lack of even-handed, scholarly work in such materials. "Unscientific" was the description offered by independent scientists. "Not dioxin experts" was the description offered by another federal agency's head after careful investigation...and that person is a dioxin expert!

Any benefit of the doubt? Never, not when the VA's nuclear-powered mission focusses denying veterans' claims, even when such claims are within the scope of their judgement. The benefit of the doubt to the VA means that if there is any possible way to reject claims, that way must be seized upon. The benefit of the doubt to the VA means that unless compelled by law, ordered by Congress, only those veterans specifically named in the law are covered, not those whom the law may allow to be interpreted as covered - and so the VA exercises every possible twist and turn, obfuscation, delay, evidence misinterpretation, denial of truth handed them on a golden platter - all to prevent C-123 veterans from getting medical attention for our Agent Orange illnesses.

 Veterans Say:
-"It is my opinion that aircrews operating in this, and similar, environments were exposed to TCDD."
(Dr. Tom Sinks, Deputy Director, CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry)
- "It is my professional opinion that (veteran name withheld) (and likely, other aircrew veterans who flew these aircraft in the same time period) was exposed to harmful levels of dioxin." 
(Dr. Fred Berman, Oregon Health Sciences University Toxicology Department) 
- "Heavily contaminated. A danger to public health."
(Dr. Ron Porter, toxicologist, USAF Armstrong Laboratories)
- "In my opinion, it is highly likely that you and other crew members were exposed to the herbicides and to their highly toxic contaminant, 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (dioxin, for short)," 
(Dr. Jeanne Stellman, Professor Emerita, Columbia University School of Public Health)

But VA Says:
- "No conclusive evidence that TCDD exposure causes any adverse health effects."
VA Compensation Services in claim denial)
- "TCDD is the most toxic of the dioxins, and is classified as a human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency."
(VA Public Health Bulletin )
- "Claims will be decided on an individual basis."
VA Public Health Bulletin (however: 100% of claims denied -  0% approved, but on an "individual" basis, of course!)
- C-123 vets are "Trash-haulers. Freeloaders looking for a tax-free dollar. I have no respect."
(VA & USAF consultant on Agent Orange, email re: C-123 veterans; also recommended destruction of C-123 fleet to prevent veterans learning of C-123 contamination & crew exposure)

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