Agent Orange is harmless, or so claims VA's Director of Compensation and Pension Services (C&P.)
His exact words were, "There is no conclusive evidence that TCDD exposure causes any adverse health effects." At least, Agent Orange is harmless only so far as veterans' Agent Orange exposure claims are concerned if they reach the director's desk for prompt denial.
TCDD is the toxic contaminant in Agent Orange, or, more specifically, 2,3,4,8-Tetrachlorodibenzenzodioxin. It is a recognized human carcinogen, recognized as such by EPA, WHO and other authorities, and also by the VA! Again, quite harmful except where Agent Orange-exposed veterans' claims are concerned...pretending otherwise is merely part of VA's campaign to deny medical care to qualified veterans.
C&P's statement was part of his September 2012 order that an Agent Orange-exposed war veteran's claim be denied. The VA's Portland Regional Office had recommended approval, but C&P then directed the refusal over his signature once he was made aware of the veteran's claim. The director of C&P was asked about his position, obviously contrary to both law and science, during a face-to-face February 2013 meeting with C-123 Association members Wes Carter and Marlene Wentworth at VA's 1800 G Street headquarters.
He and his staff seemed unaware of his action in this particular case, but did nothing then or subsequently to revise the order denying the veteran's claim. Thus, it remains the position at the Department of Veterans Affairs that Agent Orange has not been shown to cause adverse health effects...their pretense is that it is harmless.
Apparently objecting to the veteran's submitting an Agent Orange exposure claim, the diretor went so much further in his order forbidding this veteran's application. Because numerous government and university scientists provided substantial proofs of the vet's exposure situation, He directed that all input from toxicologists, chemists, epidemiologists and environmental scientists input be flatly rejected and only physician input be acceptable. This flies in the face of decisions by the 8th and 9th Circuit Courts which ruled such arbitrary dismissal of expert toxicological input illegal and unfair.
Actually, numerous physician statements of support were also included in the veteran's claim and these should have meet C&Ps requirement. These were submitted by the vet's own VA physician (Dr. Mark Garzotto, an acknowledged Agent Orange researcher and also professor of medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University), from Rear Admiral R. Ikeda (MD, USPHS) Director CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, CAPT Aubrey Miller (MD) US Public Health Service, and Professor Arnold Schecter (MD) at the University of Texas Medical School.
However, these physicians were all dismissed by simply ignoring them without comment of any sort, either in C&P's order or in the actual claim denial. By pretending their nonexistence, VA skirted the need to permit this convincing evidence to support the veteran's claim.
The determination of Compensation and Pension Service to prevent this veteran's claim was made even clearer in their mischaracterization of the C-123 Agent Orange study completed by the Air Force and release in May 2012. The VA twisted the fact, saying the Air Force concluded exposures by crewmembers were unlikely to have exceeded regulatory standards. In fact, the AF made that conclusion only for passengers, not for crew members who were in the C-123 much more over a full decade of flying. And besides, there are no published regulatory standards for dioxin exposure, because any exposure is considered harmful by regulators.
Conclusion: strictly for policy reasons alone and disregarding the 1991 Agent Orange Act, Title 38 and the Federal Register of 8 May 2001, and disproving promises by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki that all C-123 claims will be carefully considered, the VA is determined that C-123 veterans' claims will be denied regardless of proof, legal sufficiency, medical or scientific justification. At least, if C&P has any say.