10 March 2014

VA Announces C-123 Institute of Medicine Exposure Study

VA has posted a revision of the C-123 exposures page, which now includes a brief statement of the recent referral of the issue to the Institute of Medicine. Results expected late 2014.

The affected veterans appreciate the concern of the public and the Department of Veterans Affairs in submitting the issue to the Institute of Medicine. We feel, however, the issue is well-addressed in both legal and scientific proofs available to the VA today.

The inevitable delay in fairly considering C-123 veterans' claims which this IOM project involves means eligible veterans will continue to be denied VA medical care. This delay, perhaps as much as two more years, takes from us two years we don't have left to wait for such a decision to gain access to vital medical care.

It has been two years since VA broke their promise of the C-123 IOM project we'd agreed to, and now two more years are proposed mostly as a means of saving money by refusing medical care. That's wrong.

We're eligible now. But regardless, VA denies all claims now, on orders from Compensation and Pension.

Is it not a reasonable interim position that well-qualified C-123 claims be permitted approval? VA could ask for proof of service, proof of diagnosis of an Agent Orange-presumptive illness, and proof of duty aboard a known former Agent Orange spray aircraft such as # 362 (Patches) or one of the other Ranch Hand warplanes.

In our situation of exposure outside Vietnam, VA21-1MR requires VAROs to inquire of C&P as well as JSRRC. Rather than any evaluation at this point, C&P then responds to every referral by ordering denials, and VA has controlled how JSRRC can respond and upon what evidence JSRRC summaries can be based. Post Deployment Health and Compensation and Pension are able to explain better.

We believe that eventually somebody in authority will walk into General Hickey or General Shinseki's office and tell them what's actually being done to the C-123 veterans. The law reads exposure, the rules read exposure, the proofs from science and other federal agencies confirm both exposure and medical impact, but it seems orders still blast out of Washington to "deny, deny, deny. Invent whatever reason, but deny." Once leaders realize, as does the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, that VA procedures are improper, things can change.

Until then, we'll continue to see each and every one of our perfectly valid exposure claims denied on the preferences of a few staffers.

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