|VA Secretary-Designate McDonald|
In his confirmation hearings before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last week, Mr. McDonald described his service, and the service of his family, in the military from World War II, where his dad was a POW, to Vietnam, where his uncle was "exposed" to Agent Orange for which he now receives VA care. He said it, under oath. His uncle was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.
|...and under oath, too!|
You really should have run your testimony past your experts at Post Deployment Health. They have carefully explained to us, and to the Institute of Medicine, that none of the Vietnam ground troops was exposed to Agent Orange. Because your uncle can't prove bioavailability, he was never exposed! Give your uncle a call with the good news!
Forgive the sarcasm, please. We're on your side of the truth, but Post Deployment Health isn't.
What's the basis for this? Following the lead of their $300,000 per year consultant, VA Post Deployment Health has redefined exposure to require veterans also prove bioavailability...the presence of dioxin in the body. Like all other Vietnam vets, Mr. McDonald's uncle can't prove that, just as C-123 veterans can't prove such a thing three decades after our last flights.
Because of such an impossible barrier which VA used to deny their disability claims for decades, in 1991 Congress simply provided presumptive exposure for Vietnam veterans. For non-Vietnam vets like C-123 folks, we have to prove an exposure situation, and then the presumptive eligibility for Agent Orange benefits applies.
At least, that's the law. Its not the way the VA sees it, in their determination to "draw the line somewhere."
VA unscientifically redefined exposure to skip out on its own commitments made in the Federal Register regarding post-Vietnam Agent Orange exposures..."exposure = contamination field plus bioavailability."
We wish Mr. McDonald great success in leading the VA to new levels of excellence. We certainly wish his