While C-123 veterans support valid claims from all other veterans seeking Agent Orange service-connection, we must comment regarding the current state of the "Blue Water Navy" sailors.
Recently the Secretary of Veterans Affairs dismissed the presumptive connection for Agent Orange exposure of "Blue Water Navy" veterans. He cited the Institute of Medicine 2011 report which examined their issue and concluded merely that dioxin exposure via distillation of ocean water by naval vessels at sea could not be completely disproved, and was mostly speculation. The situation (of gun-line, aircraft carrier and other Blue Water Navy vessels, not in reference to USN or MSTS transport vessels) is greatly different from C-123 veterans' claims in that:
-No naval vessels were ever scientifically proven and acknowledged by the Bureau of Ships to be contaminated by dioxin, as were C-123 aircraft acknowledged by the USAF Air Staff
-No naval vessels were ever destroyed because they remained contaminated by dioxin, as were C-123 aircraft were in 2010 solely because of lingering Agent Orange contamination
-No naval vessels were ever sold, then sales canceled via federal court action in which they were described under oath by government toxicologists as "heavily contaminated" and "a danger to public health", as were C-123 aircraft
|C-123 HAZMAT storage, Davis-Monthan AFB AZ|
-No naval vessels ever had personnel exposure to dioxin confirmed by NIH as well as the CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, as did C-123 personnel
-No naval vessels were ever ordered by the US Navy Surgeon General to require all personnel working aboard to wear full HAZMAT dioxin protection, as did C-123 personnel who were ordered to do so by the USAF Surgeon General
-No naval vessels were ever ordered decontaminated for confirmed dioxin toxicity, as were C-123 aircraft
-No naval vessel's personnel were ever confirmed by a large and prestigious group of dioxin experts to have been exposed to Agent Orange, as were C-123 aircraft aircrew, maintenance and aerial port personnel
-No naval vessels were described for decades in official documents as "Agent Orange Vessels," in the manner that C-123 aircraft were described as "Agent Orange airplanes"
-No naval vessels' contamination was ever ordered "kept in official channels only," as with C-123 aircraft by the USAF Office of Environmental Law
|Workers smelting shredded C-123 airplanes into ingots|
-No naval vessels were destroyed via shredding and smelting to avoid an EPA $3.4 billion fine, as were C-123 aircraft
-No naval vessel's personnel were ever described by DOD officials as "trash haulers, freeloaders" as C-123 personnel were described by the Senior Agent Orange Consultant to the Office of Secretary of Defense; this attitude poisons any C-123 veterans' hope of even-handed VA treatment - what a hateful attitude!
-No veteran has ever had to prove standard dermal, inhalation or ingestion routes of exposure when his/her contact with dioxin was already proven, as with C-123 veterans
-No veteran in recent decades has had an Agent Orange claim denied because "no conclusive evidence that TCDD exposure causes any adverse health effects" as with C-123 veterans like myself, a statement which contradicts EPA, WHO...everyone!
-No veteran has ever had to submit over 80 supporting documents from numerous scientists, physicians, universities, federal agencies and fellow veterans yet had the claim denied as not even reaching equipoise or receiving the benefit of the doubt, as with C-123 veterans
-No veteran has ever had dioxin exposure from a known contaminated surface disputed by VA officials disagreeing with standard scientific methods of detection, as with C-123 veterans
-No veteran has ever had scientific opinion denied by VA Compensation Service officials solely because that scientific opinion came from scientists, not physicians - Agent Orange Act of 1991 requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to weigh scientific AND medical evidence; toxin exposure is studied by toxicologists, so it is ridiculous for the VA to ignore veterans' independent expert toxicologists but accept VA toxicologists. Still, even independent physicians have also challenged the VA C-123 pronouncements as "unscientific"
-No group of veterans have, in recent decades, faced such absolute refusal by the VA to admit the benefit of the doubt, especially when other federal agencies have concluded that no reasonable doubt exists regarding the certainty of C-123 veterans' exposure.