26 October 2016

ProPublica Publishes Major C-123 Agent Orange Report

Today, ProPublicawhat I call the "NPR of the Internet," together with the Virginian Pilot, published the 19th in the major series on Agent Orange and the problems veterans had over the decades during and since Vietnam. The article is titled "Doctor Orange: The Secret Nemesis of Sick Vets."

It focuses heavily on the role of retired Air Force Col. Dr. Alvin Young. Dr. Young has consistently opposed veterans' claims for Agent Orange illnesses, insisting no serious harm is possible from the toxin. His views are refuted by virtually every government expert outside the VA including those at CDC and the National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Science-Institute of Medicine.

In one of its most recent reports, the IOM concluded that the Department of Veterans Affairs, which for decades has relied heavily on Young's input, consistently ignored or minimized all evidence supporting veterans claims for Asian orange illnesses.

The veterans paid nothing for the opinions offered my government and industry experts. The VA, despite having evidence from government agencies available up to it paid Dr. Young and his consulting firm $600,000 via a sole source no bid contract. VA got what it paid for, written just the way VA wanted, as Dr. Young even submitted his reports in draft form to ensure they complied with VA policy!

Defying input from other government agencies and dozens of universities in medical schools, VA denied every C-123 vet's claim, insisting since 2011 that it had "an overwhelming preponderance of evidence" against their exposure claims.

VA was wrong.

Their so-called "evidence" consisted of Young's flawed opinions, the VA web page statement of position, and certain staffers' preferences to, as they told the Associated Press, "hold the line" against further such claims.

Congratulations are due Charles Ornstein and his team at both ProPublica and the Virginian Pilot for this report which joins the other eighteen in this exceptional series.

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