26 September 2015
21 September 2015
|74AES Executive Committee|
Good friends, good food, and I hear they even serve beer. RSVP to Steve.
Hey – I'm coming in hopes of seeing Steve in lederhosen!
10 September 2015
It hurt a lot to read Steve Caraker’s email with that news, even though it was sure to come. Dick’s long struggle with illnesses showed strength and bravery beyond what most of us can imagine…heart transplant, heart attacks, the loss of his legs and so much more suffering.
It hurts all of us to lose him, and our condolences to his family. He joins Mayleen Adams, Bob Boyd, Giff, Cliff Turcotte, Mike Lieb, Bill Schindler, General Walker and so many others for whom we cared. His arrangements are here.
Matte made the front page of the Boston Globe last June! He was featured in an article addressing the VA’s reluctance to deal with C-123 Agent Orange exposures and illnesses, and that coverage helped bring the public’s attention to this issue and its resolution on June 19. Secretary McDonald’s welcome decision to provide C-123 veterans our disability benefits was due in good part to Dick’s story told so publicly in the Globe.
Thanks to Arch Battista, John Harris and the Yale Veterans Legal Clinic, Dick's VA claim was honored and benefits established even before the VA decision. He and Paul Bailey are the only two C-123 veterans whose claims were awarded before VA decided to care for all of us.
As his friend Steve Carr wrote, we’ve lost a fellow airman and a good soldier. Dick’s faith grew even stronger with all struggles. Now he rests in the peace he knew was ahead. God Bless.
04 September 2015
02 September 2015
|Good work, VA!|
Mr. Murphy insisted he was right, and the scientists and government agencies, including the Department of Defense, were wrong. In his office on February 28 2013, Mr. Murphy explained the issue had already been decided by VA's Post Deployment Public Health group in Veterans Health Administration and that no C-123 claims were to be approved. None. That's apparently what VA leaders meant by "every C-123 claim evaluated on a case-by-case basis" when the Senate accused them of a C-123 blanket denial policy. Clearly, VA had a universal blanket denial of C-123 claims, however VA chose to describe their 100% denial record.
Mr. Murphy's insistence that Agent Orange was harmless, later referred to by VA officials as "an unfortunate phrasing," doomed the claim despite reams of medical and scientific justification which first led the Portland VARO to recommend approval. Apparently VBA's Agent Orange Desk was the originator of the Murphy opinion, and for years that staffer wrote that VA had "an overwhelming preponderance of evidence against C-123 claims...not because there was any such evidence but because he felt the claims must be prevented. Actually, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence was, as the Institute of Medicine concluded, C-123 veterans were exposed and were harmed.
My claim for Agent Orange benefits per the 1991 Agent Orange Act to address Agent Orange illnesses caused by Agent Orange exposure was denied because Mr. Murphy wrote that Agent Orange is harmless. A great surprise to science and medicine which consider TCDD a potent human carcinogen.
So, too, does the CDC. They wrote VA that C-123 veterans were exposed to Agent Orange at 182-times safety threshold, and face a 200-fold greater cancer risk. Mr. Murphy wrote that CDC was not qualified to comment, nor were any other scientists qualified to comment. On February 28 2913 he explained to me that VA had already determined none of the C-123 claims were to be approved. Regardless of the amount of evidence from whatever source, every claim was to be denied because VHA Post Deployment Health had already decided the issue. Mr. Murphy expressly stated that no amount of evidence would suffice...the decision was already made to deny every C-123 claim.
Compensation and Pension ordered my claim denied. They didn't use those exact words...they just said it couldn't be approved. Seems like the same thing to me. Then VA insisted to everyone that each claim "was carefully evaluated on a case-by-case basis" before it was automatically denied.
So yesterday was wonderful. I had a good conversation with an expert claims worker and now I feel encouraged that after more than four years, my claim seems to be moving along. VA is also looking over my appeals, so perhaps those won't have to wait more years in the BVA queue.