24 November 2015

Seven Dates = years of VA blocking C-123 Agent Orange exposure claims

I'd like to put seven events before veterans, our legislators and the public to illustrate VBA's tortuous and wrong-headed struggle to prevent C-123 veterans' Agent Orange claims. VA dragged out justice for years, with acts I feel violated VA21-1MR, VA's pro-veteran duty, the VA duty to process claims in a non-adversarial manner, the Veterans Claims Assistance Act and the Due Process Clause in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

This is an important matter because VA's misdeeds denied our veterans up to $150,000 in retroactive compensation generally awarded other Agent Orange veterans once claims are resolved. Plus, C-123 vets were denied years of vital medical care. Important issue, because it shows VA disregard for its own regulations and obligation for a pro-veteran perspective.

1. VBA's Agent Orange desk repeatedly informs veterans that JSRRC confirmation is required to acknowledge claims, saying VA cannot act and citing VA21-1MR requirements for JSRRC report
2. March 12 2013: VBA Agent Orange desk receives JSRRC director's confirmation of evidence for C-123 Agent Orange exposure which cites numerous government records
3. March 12 2013: VBA and VHA discuss JSRRC confirmation in their internal communications, its role and its availability to veterans and whether it triggers presumptive service connection; decision to disregard as irrelevant (violates VCAA and Due Process at this point)
4. May 9 2013: Two months after JSRRC official confirmation, VBA corresponds with C-123 veterans informing them JSRRC confirmation is necessary but does not reveal JSRRC confirmation already received two months earlier
5. June 10 2013: VBA Agent Orange desk drafts letter for Under Secretary Hickey to Oregon Governor, avoids mention of JSRRC and other government proofs received by VA, cites non-existent "specific scientific investigation" (which was instead a VHA staff consensus...no scientific study was ever done) against C-123 claims
6. July 10 2013: Mr. John Kruse (Director Benefits Team VA Congressional and Legislative Liaison) submits detailed letter from C-123 veterans re: JSRRC, VCAA violations and other issues to Secretary Shinseki, without response
7. May 2014: VBA begins receiving individual veteran JSRRC confirmations in May 2014 but does not act or inform veterans, stating it will delay and, await the IOM study (which resulted in the June 2015 Interim Final Rule)

Net effect: eligible deserving veterans were denied VA medical care and other benefits for over four years following CDC, NIH and US Public Health Service confirmation of our exposures, and for over two years following DOD JSRRC confirmation of our exposures which satisfied the VA's own regulation VA21-1MR but which VA ignored, violating Veterans Claims Assistance Act and Due Process Clause.

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