VA has informed C-123 veterans that opinions and official
findings from federal government agencies such as the US Public Health Service and CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will not be accepted in evaluating our veterans' claims for service connection for the various Agent Orange illnesses. In particular, they will not accept the official finding by the Director of the ATSDR, Dr. Christopher Portier, and the Deputy Director, Dr. Tom Sinks, in which that agency determined C-123 veterans had been exposed to C-123 dioxin.
Yet for some reason, VA respects ATSDR enough to explain on the VA Internet pages various details about Agent Orange and to link to ATSDR data sheets for more focused information. We believe it is appropriate that VA defer to ATSDR expertise, as that agency has statutory responsibility for determining such things. VA, on the other hand, has the responsibility (assumed, but not in the law) of denying such facts to better prevent veterans' disability claims.
Similarly, VA's Public Health has determined the C-123 veterans haven't been exposed to Agent Orange, yet the United States Public Health Service has determined that we have been exposed.
Gee, with every agency in sight agreeing that we've been exposed, and with medical schools and other experts also agreeing, and only VA saying we haven't been exposed...what the heck is going on???
After VA's Compensation Services informed us at our February 28 meeting that no amount of outside expert testimony, findings, proofs of any sort would be able to counter the VA's Health Benefits Administration ruling against our having been exposed, we've obviously stopped trying to get such support...it would be wasting our time and that of the folks from whom we'd be seeking such findings.
Further, we've seen from the Manchester NH decision where the rating officer simply dismissed EVERYTHING in the veteran's folder under the category he called "unacceptable lay evidence" that nothing will be allowed to be considered unless it agrees with the VA concept that we've not been exposed. You know...lay evidence such as from NIH, CDC, ATSDR, EPA, US Public Health, Columbia University, University of Texas Medical School, Oregon Health Sciences University, etc...that kind of "lay evidence" which the VA says cannot be accepted. VA definition of lay evidence = "Whatever we say it is, plus EVERYTHING which doesn't agree with us regardless of law, science, justice or even mere logic."
There are more "Catch-22" problems here than I can shake a stick at!!