01 September 2014

Our Blog – Disrespectful? Let's Hope Not!

 Carter Blog: "Truth cannot be found, only exaggeration, misinformation and propaganda?"   
Having been challenged to do so, I'm thinking through my blog perspective and re-reading the entries. A suggestion was made that I'd not had respectful comments regarding one individual, perhaps even more.

Obviously we have a pro-veteran perspective here, trying to argue the eligibility of post-Vietnam C-123 veterans' VA Agent Orange exposure benefits. The VA, its consultant, both Dow and Monsanto, and perhaps other veterans with different views argue otherwise...and that's the perfect system for civil discourse. We believe we're right, as do so many scientists, physicians, legal scholars and other agencies who've spoken up for us.

Our opponents have the advantage of experience, unrestricted access to VA and AF documentation, greater scientific understanding, federal funding, the opportunity to carefully word the charge to the IOM, and the final decision-making authority.

We do not argue any science, not having the qualifications for that, but we do try to put forward the various ways in which we believe ourselves eligible through the opinions of others such as the CDC/ATSDR and NIH. At time, this means that we say our opponents are wrong on an issue, or fail to interpret issues in a pro-veteran, pro-claimant manner as required by law,  or seek to implement unofficial policy or personal agendas rather than help us.

Each side has stated its objectives. VA: "We cannot permit any C-123 claims." (VHA.) And, "C-123 veterans have been subjected to long-term/low intensity AO exposure and are due care for Agent Orange-recognized illnesses." (Wes Carter.)

So once again, I'll ask for comments, corrections, anything. If I have erred in facts, I'd like to correct those facts because otherwise the value of our entire effort is diminished. If I have erred in a more subtle way, perhaps over-emphasis or sarcasm, I welcome suggestions for improvement there as well.

The fact does remain, however, that VA and its consultant actively oppose every argument we put forward. We have never had a helping hand offered us, other than three quite polite conferences at which we were told none of our claims would ever be approved. Great sums have been spent by VA to insure our claims remain denied and to influence the IOM report. Our requests for VA assistance in research are all denied, and VA even recently reserved the right to redefine "exposure" to prevent exposure claims such as ours.

Of course, VA personnel and their contractor have always been very courteous, but courtesy does not make up for locking VA hospital doors against us.

We've been asked by VA's contractor, what's our agenda? Simple...we'd like our illnesses associated with Agent Orange exposure to be treated. Until such time as the law changes, we're eligible for this care and the decision to withhold it is wrong.

I trust this entry, at least, is not "exaggeration, misinformation or propaganda."

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