11 March 2014

Air Force Times: C-123 Veterans Battle VA on Post-Vietnam Agent Orange Claims

Vets battle VA on post-Vietnam Agent Orange claims

Proof C-123-123 'spray birds' caused illnesses long after war

Posted today, by Gannett's Patricia Kime who has covered this issue with sensitivity and remarkable accuracy for several years. Reporter Kime details the track record of C-123 contamination, destruction, experts' opinions, other federal agency findings, test reports and recent scientific investigations.

She also reports the VA's standard response to any proofs against their predetermined refusal of C-123 claims, quoting VA spokesperson's promise to consider claims on a case-by-case basis, not reported was that gentleman's position, as detailed to W. Carter and M. Wentworth at our meeting with his staff on 28 Feb 2013, that no claims will be approved

Or VHA Chief Consultant Post Deployment Health assurances given C-123 veterans that "probably none" of the veterans' exposure claims would ever be approved before our deaths. VHA then comforted us with his assurance "We all die."

Obviously, there is a contradiction between VA uniform denials and VA assurances to the Senate, the veterans and the public that individual C-123 veterans' claims will be carefully evaluated on their merits, on their qualification for meeting the law's requirements and regulations enacted by the VA. And all then denied.

The contradiction is created by VA having both written and perfectly understood unofficial policies that all such claims are to be prevented, the laws apparently being waived in this situation.

So, on a case-by-case basis, all claims are uniformly denied. So much for law, justice, medicine, science, ethics, honesty, honor, and other values and standards we respect...and expected of VA. Just as the VA spokesperson promises, on a case-by-case basis, as each inquiry comes in from the VAROs in accordance with VA21-1MR, each claim then receives one of the boilerplate denial orders.

Why do all the VA spokespersons skip that last part? About all C-123 claims being denied on orders of Post Deployment Health staff?

The Secretary must have authorized various VA units to disregard VA commitments expressed in the Federal Register 31 Aug 2010, freeing the VA in some way from the rule of law (Administrative Procedures Act)

The Secretary must have authorized Post Deployment Health to overturn his earlier order to allow all veterans claiming exposure to receive an Agent Orange Registry exam. 

Although we've written, and the Washington Post carried full details in August just as the Air Force Times did today, the Secretary must not have been informed of the repeated findings by other federal agencies which confirm C-123 veterans' exposure, the staff at Post Deployment Health having a different perspective than the rest of Science, Law and Medicine.

We respect the talent of Dr. Davey's staff, with Post Deployment Health. However, would it not seem that the expertise of the NIH, CDC, EPA, and US Public Health Service might have some influence also?

The veterans' concerns were detailed (as a confidential communication to Dr. B.) to the VA National Center for Ethics in Healthcare, where staff, including its chief, declined to act in any way when we sought advice. This is perhaps because no ethical issues rose to their level of concern, or because the issues were voiced by veterans and not VA professional staff.

We are assured by Assistant General Counsel Hipolit that claims are handled appropriately. After detailing to him our concerns about VA legal shortcuts denying us our rights without due process, he reminded us that any objections can be brought to the Board of Veterans Appeals.

This is where surviving C-123 veterans can have their cases heard on actual legal and scientific merits, contrary to VARO decisions and orders from Compensation and Pension to deny such claims. To many C-123 veterans, the average 900 day wait for a BVA hearing is but fatal advice from Mr. Hipolit...as he knows.

No C-123 claims, other than Paul Bailey's, have ever been allowed by Compensation and Pension. They fulfill the instructions from Post Deployment Health that C-123 exposure claims "just cannot be permitted."

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