14 January 2014

VA "Final Rule" Addresses Agent Orange Exposures Outside Vietnam

We have frequently cited the 8 May 2001 Federal Register page 23166, in which VA states that it will treat veterans exposed to military herbicides outside the "boots on the ground" veterans, the same as boots on the ground veterans.

To be more complete in our referrals, we should also cite the Federal Register of 31 August 2010, where VA made its rule final, and stated:
"[w]we wish to make clear that the presumptions of service connection provided by this rule will apply to any veteran who was exposed during service to the herbicides used in Vietnam, even if exposure occurred outside of Vietnam. A veteran who is not presumed to have been exposed to herbicides, but who is shown by evidence to have been exposed, is eligible for the presumption of service connection for the diseases listed in § 3.309(e), including the three diseases added by this rule."
To all our readers, once again it should be obvious why Post Deployment Health, part of VA's Veterans Health Administration Public Health service, has unscientifically redefined the word "exposure." Doing so, VA is able to deny vital medical care to Agent Orange-exposed C-123 veterans by pretending the veterans weren't exposed at all.

VA accomplished this by redefining "exposure" to be:
"Exposure = Contamination Field + Bioavailability."

VA is unique in this redefinition, and in fact, Post Deployment Health is unique within the VA with their redefinition of exposure. Critical  observers might question the ethics involved. The redefinition has saved VA millions of dollars...not in compensation which will catch up with the veteran once BVA has overturned the denial, but in the medical care Compensation and Pension decided they should, outside the scope of law, deny the C-123 veterans.!

More critical ones might question the unlawful actions taken, solely to prevent C-123 veterans from receiving VA medical care.  

The 1991 Agent Orange Act, Title 38 and multiple rulings in the Federal Register need to be read carefully at 1800 G Street. It is wrong for Compensation and Pension Service to deny us medical care and other benefits as an expression of their personal preferences.

The law says, "exposure." Not bioavailability, not amount, not anything other than exposure.

Hey...we're not making this stuff up!!

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