05 June 2015

Too Many VA Phrases = Hot Air

There is no need, and no excuse, to paint all VA folks with the same tar brush that some in that department fully deserve. Our problem focuses on the gatekeepers in both VHA and VBA who were professionally dedicated to implementing VA policy by blocking our exposure claims.

That policy was to prevent our access to VA medical care and other benefits and disability compensation. "We have to draw the line somewhere," was last year's VBA's quote to the Associated Press.

That was wrong...scientifically, morally and legally.

It pains us that we can point to no heros helping us in the beginning of this miserable struggle and only a very, very few in VA who've stepped up in any meaningful way over the years.

We're blessed with key influencers in VA...leaders who got the IOM C-123 study back on track after we were cheated out of it back in 2012. For them, and for those in VA who finally became aware of the injustice dealt us, our sincere thanks and pledge of cooperation...and a return to more positive attitudes!

A little summary is due of the language used by the VA in dealing with C-123 veterans. "Hot air" is an honest generalization of four years in which VBA and VHA peppered their web pages, internal correspondence and external reports with deceptions and prevarications, as well as simple lies and errors.

• VA Cares

• We take these issues very seriously.

• Each claim is handled on a case-by-case basis.

• VA has no blanket policy of C-123 veterans' claims denials.

• A spokesperson offered to look into the problem.

• VA is dedicated to helping veterans obtain their earned benefits.

• VA and its partners will end the homeless veterans problem by 2015.

• VA is committed to a 60-day claim process through FDC.

• We must insure this never happens again.

• We will hold accountable those responsible.

• Only one C-123 ("Patches") tested positive for dioxin residue.

• The desert C-123s were destroyed to free up precious desert storage space, in an environmentally responsible manner.

* We are unable to verify or document that aircrew members were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting from Agent Orange residue or dioxin contaminated airplane parts.

• Regulations prohibit recognizing C-123 Agent Orange exposure.

• (VA) Office of Public Health concluded that the existing scientific studies and reports support a low probability that TCDD was biologically available in these aircraft.

• There was no cover-up.

• The Denver hospital will be completed in 2014.

• VA has "an overwhelming preponderance of evidence" against C-123 exposure claims.

• "Several scientists" (Young, Ginevan, & Ross) have independently come forward (paid to do so by VA, Dow and Monsanto) made clear no aircrew exposures were possible, while a "few" (NIH, CDC, EPA, US Public Health Service, National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Defense, Columbia University, Oregon Health Sciences University, VA physicians, dozens of independent scientists, university researchers) have provided alternate input.

• There is no possibility C-123 Agent Orange exposure.

• We will get  back to you with that information.

• VA is committed to assisting these veterans and evaluating their claims, and ensuring that AO exposure related laws are applied in a fair and equitable manner for all Veterans.

• VA applies the benefit-of-the-doubt principal contained in 38 United States Code § 51 07(b) and 38 Code of Federal Regulations § 3.102. 

• There is no conclusive evidence of adverse health effects from TCDD exposure.

• Agent Orange is no more than teenage acne.

• It is difficult to ascertain a basis upon which to find a health risk among crew members of post-Vietnam Operation Ranch Hand C-123s.

• "Exposure" = concentration present + bioavailability

• VA takes the exposure concerns of Veterans very seriously, and will carefully review new sources of information on exposures and health outcomes as they become available.

• If there is evidence that a Veteran was exposed to herbicides during service, VA will acknowledge the exposure in evaluating any claimed disability that is presumptively associated with herbicide exposure.

• The available reports and studies lead Public Health officials to conclude there was a “low probability” of exposure.  

•One scientific advocate supporting post-Vietnam C-123AO “exposure” points to percentage of TCDD in wipe samples from “Patches” as exceeding a military standard for direct environmental exposure. (actually, several did, including CDC/ATSDR) 

• The majority of scientists on record, including those with VHA, state that any solidified TCDD in post-Vietnam aircraft is not active in the environment and cannot biologically enter the human body in any significant amount; therefore no TCDD “exposure.” (actually, only two outside scientists, one VA contract scientist and VHA staff concurred. Dozens of other federal agencies, universities, VA physicians, and independent physicians and scientists concluded the opposite.

CS has scientific statements from Dr. Alvin Young and unsolicited statements from two other toxicologists refuting “exposure” and Carter’s supporters. Memo creator does not mention dozens of other scientists and federal agencies confirming veterans' exposure, only the VA consultant (Young) and the Dow and Monsanto writers.

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