24 January 2014

VA's Board of Veterans Appeals Cites Phony Post Deployment Health C-123 Study in Decisions Against Other Veterans

Not Vet! VA Docs & Nurses=SUPERB, but Administration=ZERO!
The VA's Post Deployment Health, part of the Office of Public Health in Veterans Health Administration, reviewed literature about C-123 and Agent Orange during 2011-2012. Selecting those reports best fitting their predetermined goal of denying any exposure possibilities, they then published an Internet page explaining away all possibilities of aircrew exposure. Again, this so-called "study" was done to prevent successful claims, and the report was written to make sure supporting evidence of such exposure was ignored. Now VA is using the phony study more broadly and against other veterans besides the C-123 crews.

Their shoddy, policy-driven work product was put together to save VA the estimated $250,000,000 (needed to care for exposed C-123 veterans' Agent Orange presumptive illnesses. It has been challenged strongly by non-VA scientists and physicians, with labels thrown at VA including "ludicrous, not defensible, lacks understanding of the scientific process, clearly does not understand toxicology, not a toxicologist, flawed" and concluding that the C-123 subjected us to "every likelihood of veterans' exposure."

VA knew their work was sub-standard and it received no peer-review, nor have VA leaders been able to defend it. What was important to VA was refusing care to Air Force veterans whom their Agent Orange consultant labeled "trash-haulers, freeloaders looking for a tax free dollar from a sympathetic congressman." 

With that attitude, perhaps that is why the consultant's November 2012 report the VA paid him for recommended against our claims. Although, he did save that there was no way to disprove our exposure, he seems to have felt it best to make sure VA hospitals turned us away.

The problem with it has now grown well past the VA's deleterious use against C-123 veterans – VA now provides their deception for judges in the Board of Veterans Appeals to use against other veterans' exposure complaints. 

While I am not familiar with details of these troops' claims or of any true merit they may have, I'm pained to read that the BVA now cites the phony C-123 study even against other veterans! On 15 November 2013, the BVA in Jackson, Mississippi, issued Citation Nr: 1337387:
"Of note, the Department of Veterans Affairs did addressed residual Agent Orange exposure concerns by post-Vietnam crews that later flew C-123 aircraft that had previously sprayed Agent Orange. VA's Office of Public Health is noted to have thoroughly reviewed all available scientific information regarding the exposure potential to residual amounts of herbicides on the C-123 aircraft surfaces. It was concluded that the potential exposure for the post-Vietnam crews that flew or maintained the aircraft was extremely low and therefore it was concluded that the risk of long-term health effects was minimal. (See www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange.)  
Otherwise, other than his unsubstantiated allegations, there simply is no evidence that the Veteran was exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides based on his contact with any military vehicle that may have once been used in Vietnam."
Amazing, unscientific, deceptive, and unethical! Using shoddy policy-driven deceptions wrapped up as Post Deployment Health "studies" to not only insure C-123 veterans are prevented from receiving VA hospital care, but also finding other purposes, other employment for this drivel. 

The only "thorough review" Office of Public Health completed was to separate the piles of scientific literature into the short pile...(no proof of exposure) from the big pile (proof of exposure), and then to shred the big pile. Now, the only pile left is VA crap published as their C-123 Internet pages. 

Particularly ignored by VA were opinions from the CDC/ATSDR, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, EPA and US Public Health Service which conformed the C-123 veterans' exposure! VA considers its scientific expertise in the Post Deployment Health Section, which is responsible for preventing veterans' claims, to exceed that of all the other federal agencies, universities, independent scientists and physicians...even VA physicians who have officially confirmed C-123 veterans Agent Orange exposure. Do you see now why no peer review was ever conducted? It wouldn't have been acceptable to science and medicine.

A few (we think, four) physicians and scientists in a small section of VA Office of Public Health...hell-bent on preventing C-123 exposure claims, bravely standing up to the opinions of the rest of American medicine and science (and even other VA physicians who disagree with them!!) 

Imagine: A little VA office called Post Deployment Health, hotly opposed by the CDC, EPA, NIH, US Public Health Service, professional societies, veterans organizations (VVA and American Legion and VFW) and a score of universities, all claiming those four folks in Post Deployment Health are wrong. 

But VA is responsible for enforcing the nation's laws...so VA decides how not to enforce them at its pleasure. VA pretends the Federal Register of 8 May 2001 and 31 August 2010 do not apply to them, or us. But does the Secretary know these many other federal agencies, with the statutory authority and the scientific expertise, oppose his little shop in Post Deployment Health?

Does the Secretary know that Compensation and Pension is ordering C-123 exposure claims denied, in defiance of the Secretary's assurances to the Senate that no such blanket policy exists? Can somebody please forward him another copy of the Washington Post from August 5?

The Secretary responded to Senator Burr's inquiry about C-123 veterans in his report of June 7, 2013. After keeping the Senator waiting for several months (that's how they keep each other "in their place" in DC...they stall for months before responding, then have a more junior person respond) the Secretary was handed a report to sign, written by some staffer who might have done a better job double-checking fact and figures! The C-123 veterans have noted the many problems with the letter, but here, note in particular the Secretary's erroneous assurances that there is no blanket policy against C-123 veterans. 

Than why has Post Deployment Health predetermined that VA will never concede our exposures, and told Compensation and Pension that none of us were ever exposed and that our claims must be denied? Can that not be called a blanket policy, when VAROs even deny claims with the standard language from DC, "Please tell the veteran, "Regulations do not permit..." 

Somebody in Congress from Mississippi should take note...your veterans in Jackson are being screwed! Just like the C-123 vets!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got something to share? Nothing commercial or off-topic, please.