VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey stirred her troops in the Veterans Benefits Administration forward with her rousing message, "Let's show the world how much we care about them all! Lean in -- grant if you can. Deny only if you must!!!"
Sounds terrific. Great leadership from a woman who knows leadership inside and out. Yet it seems, based on years of our struggle, that the VA feels it "must" deny even in the case of medically and scientifically proven C-123 exposure claims.
VA policy trumps, law, regulation, the Senate and the House, and General Hickey's message.
VA rejects input from the EPA, NIH, CDC, ATSDR, and US Public Health Service, all of whom support the C-123 exposure claims. VA rejects world-renown Agent Orange scientists who confirm the C-123 exposures. VA rejects any outside government agency, medical school, university school of public health, independent scientist...VA rejects every opinion if it supports the C-123 exposure claims, and VA accepts any opinion which denies it.
It don't seem fair. It seems far, far off from General Hickey's orders to the field..."deny only if you must" being twisted to "deny whenever possible."