The 1991 Agent Orange Act, Title 38 and Federal Register publications combine to, in the VA's own words, "make clear" the fact that veterans exposed to military herbicides will be treated the same as Vietnam veterans for presumptive service connection. The key word: exposed.
The VA mission: redefine exposure so veterans' exposures would not be exposures to the VA.
This they did at the 2012 Society of Toxicology. VA surrendered ethics to policy, and redefined exposure to prevent exposure being acknowledged for C-123 veterans' claims. Of course, careful reading of their redefinition makes clear VA can apply it to consideration of any exposure...radiation, other toxins, biological hazards, burn pits...anything.
The was deceptive. Its title promised an historical perspective on Agent Orange and an update. This was done, but the key objective was inserting their deceptive redefinition to block exposure claims by C-123 veterans. Thus, "exposure = contamination field + bioavailability." Wrong. Wrong in every way.
Bad science. The words used by scientists on reading it: ludicrous, unscientific, preposterous!
The words used by VA raters on reading it while considering C-123 claims: Claim denied! Any excuse will suffice to prevent exposure claims at Veterans Benefits Administration.
We make special observation at the title of a key section of VA's poster: "Risk Assessment of Post-Vietnam C-123 Aircraft."
1. Actually, who cares from a claims perspective, as risk is irrelevant. The issue is exposure, and thus the section title should have been, "Exposure Assessment of Post-Vietnam C-123 Aircraft."
2. The risk assessment is unscientific, and recently challenged by the Environmental Science article. This means C-123 veterans are at risk for health issues which their civilian and VA physicians must be aware of, yet VA's unscientific poster pretends no health risks exist, a position taken only to save VA the cost of such care and only by pretending VA has the wherewithal to redefine fundamental terms in science for employment against their veteran clients' interests.
So far, job well done! Universal claims denial, with a neat circle of initial invitation to exposed veterans to submit claims, the inquiry to JSRRC with their response (VA edited, and VA-limited as to what can be fed back to VA,) followed by the referral for opinion from Compensation and Pension and their boilerplate denials, concluding in the claim's final denial letter to the veteran.
As both VBA and VHA intend, this wastes as much as two years, and that's a terrific built-in benefit for the VA as it keeps the doors locked against the C-123 vets. It saves VA money, more of us die, and then the BVA appeal is designed to lock those VA hospital doors for another two to three years. More of us die. Then, after what has been a four to seven year process, receive a BVA decision...always affirming...and can survivors walk (if they still can) into the VA hospital and get on the waiting list for treatment of our cancers, heart disease and other ailments we had been suffering when we first applied for care.
All this from their simple, unique redefinition of "exposure." We trust their annual reviews reflected the pride VA had on the skillful wordsmithing and other accomplishments the staff in Post Deployment Health exhibited in responding to the VA agenda of preventing C-123 claims...or perhaps even implementing that policy on their own.
Wouldn't want any papers left laying around for some FOIA miner, would they?