29 May 2013

VA Denies C-123 Veterans' Claims with Deceptions

It is just a paragraph...a bunch of type characters printed onto the claim denial the VA sent this veteran (click to open) of the 731st Tactical Airlift Squadron, received just a few days ago. The paragraph doesn't look particularly evil or vicious. But it is.

Below is the vicious (because of the extent of the awful harm the VA knows they cause and don't give a damn) boilerplate language heartlessly tossed out by VA rating officers dedicated to prevent this veteran, and any others like him, from darkening the door of VA hospitals as he seeks care for Agent Orange illnesses.
"As of this date, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not currently recognize remote or secondary exposure to Agent Orange from contact with aircraft or equipment previously used in Vietnam. It should also be noted that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) recently collected and analyzed numerous samples from C-123 aircraft to test for Agent Orange. The Air Force's recent risk assessment report dated April 27, 2012 found that potential exposures to Agent Orange in C-I23 planes used after the Vietnam War were unlikely to have put aircrew orpassengers at risk for future health problems. The report concluded that a) there was not enough information and data to conclude how much individual persons would have been exposed to Agent Orange, b) that exposure to Agent Orange in these aircraft after the Vietnam War was lower than exposure during the spraying missions in Vietnam, and c) potential Agent Orange exposures were unlikely to have exceed standards set by regulators or to have put people at risk for future health problems."
VA makes a pretense that this claim denial from Providence RI was the result of the veteran's careful "individual" evaluation of his claim. VA makes a pretense also about the other C-123 claims being "individually' evaluated as well. But what is amazing is that VA claims denial officials in Portland and Memphis and Hartford and Boston and Providence (and who knows where else) are all coming up with the very same, identical, boilerplate repeated language...word for wordThe raters caved to inappropriate to inappropriate VA HQ demands that C-123 claims be denied, and HQ kindly provides the boilerplate information. 

So much for the "individually considered" promises of how claims
will be evaluated, made by senior VA folks including General A. Hickey, Undersecretary for Benefits and her Director of Compensation Services. We expected more of these folks.

The only thing "individual" about C-123 claims being denied upon Washington's orders is each veteran's name on the denial package. That's a promise broken...and a promise broken which was made to the United States Senate which asked about C-123 exposure.

The "evil and vicious" parts mentioned above come in because the raters, and those who directed them to deny these fully qualified claims, know the words they copied (fed to every regional office from 1800 G Street in Washington, D.C.) are simply false. Words so false that if on active duty we'd used similar lies in anything involving airplanes or patient health, we'd be facing criminal charges, our honor lost. Planes would crash, patients would die...but that's why honor is required of military folks. It seems honor is not a problem, for some VA people.

Although the VA people also take oaths to support and defend the Constitution, things seem different so deceptions, half-truths, prevarications...anything goes. Their mission comes first, and that mission is barring C-123 veterans from VA hospitals.

What are the "vicious lies" in VA claim denials?
1. To deny claims, VA decided it doesn't recognize secondary or remote Agent Orange exposure. So what...not our problem! Our exposure is direct and primary. "Secondary" exposure is via something touching a contaminated surface and then carrying the contamination elsewhere. In the C-123 the dioxin was tested as "heavily contaminated on all test surfaces."  The LAW promises veterans proving their exposure will be treated...but the VA feels comfortable redefining law to their liking.
2. VA mentions the USAF tested the airplanes. To better deny
claims, VA doesn't get around to saying the AF found the C-123 fleet toxic even decades after the last Agent Orange spray missions and that the airplanes eventually had to be destroyed as toxic waste. Yes, the AV tested the C-123 and the warplanes were so toxic nobody could enter after that without HAZMAT protection!
3. VA mentions the AF report, but doesn't mention that the AF Surgeon General asked the VA that it not be used to deny veterans benefits. 
4. VA viciously lies by going on about exposure, but doesn't mention that the LAW does not specify how much, what kind, what color, what anything. The LAW says exposure, and if a veteran is exposed the veteran gets treated. Neither does the LAW permit the VA to deny veterans medical care because some VA administrator doesn't feel we deserve the care, or anything...no qualifiers in the law, simply the word EXPOSED.
5. VA lies by omission, leaving lots out of their paragraph which they really should publish...but leaving these things out helps VA prevent a claim's approval. VA don't mention that experts from all over have investigated the C-123 contamination and reached opinions that we were exposed. Ignored are experts like the Director, CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Not mentioned either are the Director National Toxicology Program, or experts from the EPA and US Public Health Service. Not mentioned are experts from Columbia University, University of Texas Medical School, Oregon Health Sciences University and so many others. Others, with the statutory authority for making these decisions, and having far greater expertise about dioxin than the VA. Lies, lies and more lies.
6. VA mentions that exposures "after the Vietnam War" were lower than those experienced by the Ranch Hand spray veterans. True enough, but tossed in here just to be disarming, because again the law says EXPOSED, without requiring a veteran to be more or less exposed than any others. Dr. Jeanne Stellman of Columbia concluded C-123 vets were exposed less than Ranch Hand bur more than Vietnam War ground troops. Dr. Christopher Portier of the CDC.ATSDR felt the exposure was on a par with ground soldiers - but again, absolute confirmation C-123 vets were exposed.

VA people. They're not like us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got something to share? Nothing commercial or off-topic, please.