to redefine the scientific term "exposure." To prevent veterans from coverage for Agent Orange illnesses, VA redefined exposure to "Exposure = Contamination Field + Bioavailability."
This is incorrect. Exposure is defined everywhere as contact by the skin with a contaminant, or its inhalation or ingestion. There is no requirement for bioavailability, which is the VA's attempt to reintroduce medical nexus as a requirement for Agent Orange coverage – and this was prohibited by the 1991 Agent Orange Act and Title 38! The Federal Register specifically provides for our benefits.
The Association has approached the Society of Toxicology for some sort of platform for us to challenge the VA's unscientific, policy-driven poster presentation. The request to the SOT's president follows:
Dear Doctor Lehman-McKeeman,
We seek SOT assistance regarding the poster display submitted by the VA at an earlier conference, which addressed Agent Orange and our exposure aboard contaminated C-123 transport aircraft.
We believe the science in the poster was flawed and policy-driven, to the point of redefining the term "exposure" to require bioavailability. This incorrect VA redefinition thus denies all our veterans' Agent Orange exposure claims. This definition defies that of the SOT, ATSDR, EPA and others.
I earlier asked SOT's help with this but without response. The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Fox News, UPI and other sources have recently covered this sensitive issue, but the core of it is the VA's SOT poster standing unchallenged by SOT.
I ask that SOT consider the attached article, edited for a more appropriate tone, as a layman's SOT essay. I ask that I be given permission to present at the 2014 conference on this topic, repeating what I said at the January Institute of Medicine meeting.
At the very least, I ask that The C-123 Veterans' Association be permitted to submit a poster display addressing this issue.
The VA used their SOT poster as their pulpit to deny over 2000 veterans coverage for Agent Orange benefits. The question of the medical or legal impact of the dioxin exposure is not at hand, only the word "exposure."
VA has opted to redefine that without challenge by SOT. VA used SOT as a vehicle against our interests, used toxicological concepts which should have been challenged, and we are entitled to our response.
Alternately, can you invite input from a recognized authority, perhaps an interested SOT member?
I hope I can your help with this, as earlier suggested by Dr. Birnbaum. VA redefining science to oppose our claims should not remain unchallenged by toxicologists.
Wesley T. Carter, Major, USAF Retired, Medical Service Corpsattached: "VA Redefines Science to Deny Agent Orange Claims"
Chair, The C-123 Veterans Association