17 January 2013

C-123 Discussed at First 2013 Institute of Medicine Meeting

C-123 issues presented to the 15 IOM members, 16 January 2013
Yesterday's meeting of the Institute of Medicine's Agent Orange Committee included a briefing about post-Vietnam Agent Orange contamination of C-123 aircraft. While the Committee cannot act on its own regarding any single issue, we were able to present the fundamentals of our cause.

And that cause is that we flew contaminated aircraft and were exposed aboard them. Not only aircrews, but also aerial port, AME and maintenance personnel were identified to the Committee as the veterans deserving of their intervention. How that intervention might come about, publicly or privately, I don't know and I don't care...at least the IOM knows what the VA has been doing to us ever since the problems with post-Vietnam contamination first surfaced publicly in 2011.

The crux of that VA opposition has been their refusal to accept the contamination information as indicative of exposure also. Not only that, but they deny any exposure could have occurred because of a novel concept, unknown to science outside VA headquarters, of "dry dioxin transfer." Using it, and a pretense that there wasn't "enough" dioxin to cause long-term health issues, the VA has directed regional offices to continue refusing medical care and benefits to C-123 veterans. They even rely on the opinion of the Director, Compensation Services, to write in denying veterans' benefits "there is no conclusive evidence that TCDD exposure causes any adverse health effects.
IOM Conference Center at UC-Irvine

This brought a smile, then a frown, from most Committee members when it was read to them! "Not sure which medical school or toxicology program that" (came from), was one Committee member's comment as he shook his head.

We shake our heads also, but in sadness, not just bewilderment. Recent VA actions and letters make it more clear than ever than no amount proof or expert independent opinions will sway them to permit service connection for C-123 veterans. It just won't happen. They have all the time in the world...and we don't. Besides, fellow veterans, we must come to understand that these VA people are not like us. They are different, with a different set of values, a different perspective regarding "those trash-haulers, freeloaders" (as the OSD consultant slandered us), and a different perspective regarding honor. 

Already, signaling this sea-change, I listened to the bulk of the Committee's free time being spent today on health issues of Vietnam veterans' children...and grandchildren. I was the oldest guy in the room.

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