21 October 2013

VA Legal Office Challenged to Ethics Review

C-123 veterans have spent years seeking a sympathetic ear at the VA. By "ear," we mean someone focused on the law and veterans. For too long, individuals and sections at the Department of Veterans Affairs have predetermined C-123 veterans to be ineligible for exposure benefits. The law says otherwise!

Today, as we also did in June of this year, without response, this has been brought to the attention of VA's Assistant General Counsel. It is our hope that the most recent request won't be ignored as was the earlier. It is our hope that Attorney Hipolit has a few moments to offer our dioxin-exposed veterans the benefits prescribed by law, rather than allowing VBA and VHA to continue proscribing us from those protections.
Richard Hipolit, Assistant General Counsel
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont
Washington, DC 2042
Dear Mr. Hipolit, 
This June I brought to your attention concerns The C-123 Veterans Association has regarding blanket policy-driven denials of our veterans claims for service connection, but without response from your office.  
I request that you again consider our request, as it is inappropriate for the Department of Veterans Affairs to continue refusing medical care for veterans whose Agent Orange exposure is confirmed by several federal agencies as well as numerous university medical schools and schools of public health. 
We seek a better solution than the VA denying decisions until our veterans have entered hospice care to make such deserved awards, as was the case this July of Lieutenant Colonel Paul Bailey (Huffington Post July 10 2013, Washington Post 3 August 2013, page A1 and page A14, and Washington Post page A2 and UPI, 7 August 2013,  Fox News, 11 August 2013, Stars and Stripes, 15 August 2013, many others.) 
 We believe the blanket predetermination of our ineligibility, as per the verbal assurance given me on 28 February 2013 by officials of Compensation Services that no amount of proof from any university, federal agency or military service will permit approval of our claims to be improper. And not “veteran-friendly.”  
We believe VBA’s blanket refusal to accept expert toxicologists’ input in support of veterans’ claims to be incorrect, considering decisions by both the 8th and 9th Circuit Courts. 
We believe the failure to correct numerous prejudices and improper, VA-unique VHA Post Deployment Health redefinition of the word “exposure” to reintroduce medical nexus is an issue that demands attention from your office.  
If you feel I am incorrect in these assertions, I, as chair of a national veterans organization whose argument has been vetted by both the American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America, then ask that the issue be referred to the ethics office which overseas both VHA and VBA. believe it proper for VA to adhere to the law, even without specific court orders to do so. Somebody at VA might agree. 
Wesley T. Carter, Major, USAF Retired, Chair 

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