Included in the public comments submitted to REGULATIONS.GOV regarding the VA's C-123 interim final rule, about 52 responses were received and 48 accepted for posting.
Except for four, all encouraged VA to recognize the legal and moral argument for providing retroactive disability compensation to C-123 veterans and survivors whose claims were submitted prior to June 19 2015. The rule only provides for compensation after June 19, even if claims have been in to VA for years already.
The VA consultant explained his opposition by submitting a copy of the challenge he sent to the IOM C-123 committee, detailing the committee's scientific failures (from his perspective.) The highly-paid consultant, known for disagreeing with Agent Orange being harmful, didn't address concerns we raised about his clipboarded Internet photos taken about 2000 but which he told IOM represented 1971 restoration and reconditioning of C-123 aircraft. The photos were of #664, which never even was an Agent Orange spray airplane. Very creative but misleading wordsmithing, indeed.
Prompts bought further challenges from some Ranch Hand aircrews who disagree with others aircrews' Agent Orange cancers being treated by VA, and by a scientist who actually did testing on the Davis-Monthan C-123 fleet then in surplus storage. This testing was done around 2009.
Such challenges were already weighed by the IOM C-123 committee and found wanting, compared to the body of evidence submitted from the CDC, DOD, US Public Health Service, EPA, NASA, National Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and dozens of independent scientists, physicians and research centers.
The VA paid $600,000 via his unusual no-bid, sole source contract to its Agent Orange consultant to oppose C-123 and other exposure claims, and to affirm all VA decisions and positions already assumed by the Department. The VA permitted no expense to support the veterans' perspective of having been exposed, and the veterans themselves paid nothing to the experts whose opinions supported our exposure claims...we didn't have to and we couldn't anyway...no money.
We had to pay our own way, depending on a handful of checks from fellow veterans very few of whom are included in this effort because most of us are Vietnam vets, retired military, or already totally disabled with the VA...so the final results, however VA writes them up, mean nothing to us other than the invaluable satisfaction of serving our fellow crews, both Active and Reserve.
And yes, we draw special satisfaction having won for them the benefits flowing to our Active Duty C-123 brothers and sisters!