23 December 2013

VA Official Rejects Institute of Medicine Agent Orange Report!

The VA's Compensation and Pension Service, part of that agency's Veterans Benefits Administration, rejects input from the Society of Medicine's Institute of Medicine Agent Orange Committee!

In his action of September 25 2012 by which he ordered a C-123 veteran's claim for Agent Orange exposure to be refused, The Director of Compensation and Pension Service, determined that no input from scientists was to be accepted by his department. A reasonable conclusion: VA rejects the IOM report because nearly all its members were scientists! VA does, of course, accept input from its own staff scientists, such as its Director, Post-Deployment Health, Dr. Victoria Davey...a scientist, not a physician.

That C-123 veteran's claim had included numerous findings from toxicologists, epidemiologists and other scientists attesting to the contamination of the C-123 and the veteran's own exposure.

Among the official findings confirming the veteran's exposure were those from Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Health National Toxicology Center and also Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Included was an official finding from Dr. Christopher Portier and Dr. Tom Sinks, Director and Associate Director, respectively, of the CDC Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Included were similar detailed conclusions from leading Agent Orange experts such as Dr. Jeanne Stellman, Professor Emereta at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Seemed impressive, but all were ordered ignored by C&P. Throughout its order forbidding the veteran's claim, C&P rejected scientist after scientist, stating each was "not a medical doctor competent to provide that medical nexus."

Actually, none of the scientists even sought to provide medical nexus, but rather only their qualified professional finding that the veteran had actually been exposed, because exposure itself is the only criteria under the law.

Get it? The scientists were addressing exposure, not medical nexus, so C&P junked all their input because in his view, scientists shouldn't address medical nexus...which they weren't addressing anyway.

Amusing, isn't it? And how very transparent the dedication of Compensation and Pension Service in obstructing valid exposure claims. Amusing also that VA even rejects input from other federal agencies with both the expertise and the statutory authority to decide issues like exposure. It is clear...the only evidence accepted in veterans' claims is that evidence which conforms to the VA's policy objectives of denying Agent Orange exposure.

Ignored throughout the Director, Compensation and Pension's personal rejection of the veteran's claim were the numerous physicians' opinions, perhaps not dealt with because they couldn't be challenged...thus all  were ignored to insure the success of the director's action. In particular, the VA ignored the opinion of its own Portland OR director of urology oncology, Dr. Mark Garzotto, a recognized Agent Orange researcher, who agreed with the veteran's exposure claims.

So how is the conclusion reached that the IOM has been rejected? Because nearly all of the committee members were scientists, and not physicians. In fact, only two of the fifteen Agent Orange experts on the committee were physicians...the others, all scientists whose opinions C&P and the VA have emphatically rejected...at least for purposes of veterans' claims.The IOM fails C&P's physician test!

So..it seems when scientists agree with C&P and the VA, their opinions are somehow acceptable. But when scientists disagree with the Director's personal views, and policy objectives (which are outside the law) of the VA leadership, the scientists' opinions are unacceptable altogether! We note the C-123 Agent Orange research contract the VA has with an agricultural specialist...again, that specialist is not a physician but because he constructs views acceptable to the VA, his opinions are worth purchasing to help obstruct veterans' claims.
So much for the manditory "veteran-friendly" appproach of the Department of Veterans Affairs! Doesn't anyone else see through the VA's "cherry-picking" of input to prevent veterans' claims? The VA is policy-driven to prevent, in particular, C-123 veterans' claims and nothing in two years of our struggle says otherwise!

By the way, VA's Post-Deployment Health Section, which sets VA policy against C-123 claims, is headed by a Dr Victoria Davey, a scientist, not a physician! Her Chief Consultant Post Deployment Health is another scientist, Dr. Michael Peterson. Another example of VA carefully selecting which opinions are acceptable for the purpose of preventing veterans' claims. That gentleman, Dr. Peterson, is the one who responded "We all die" when asked by a veteran if a veteran's claim could be processed before the man died.

Note that we are not saying these VA personnel are not dedicated public servants and well-qualified for their positions–just that VA pretends others, extremely well-qualified and dedicated are not. VA maintains this pretense because the others...Stellman, Berman, Birnbaum, Dwernychuk, Ikeda, Sinks, Portier, Garzatta, Schecter, Miller, etc...are physicians and scientists who disagree with VA policy-driven decisions, and all have concluded the C-123 veterans were indeed exposed!

Perhaps VA should read the CVs of those with whom it disagrees!

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