C-123 veterans flew these former Agent Orange spray aircraft after the Vietnam War. The aircraft remained contaminated but in a long series of ethical shortfalls, the VA refused to acknowledge claims in the period 2007-2015.
Unethically, VA staff insisted they had imaginary “overwhelming preponderance of evidence against exposure claims, denying 100% of all claims while insisting VA also had no “blanket policy” against veterans’ applications. VA paid its favored consultant $600,000 in a unique no-bid, sole source contract to help block veterans’ claims.
VA staff violated regulation VAM21-1MR and the Veterans Claims Assistance Act, ignored exposure confirmation from CDC, US Public Health Service and dozens of other authorities, citing instead the VA website as the paramount authority. VA mislead elected representatives.
In January 2015 the Institute of Medicine confirmed crew exposures. in June 2015 VA finally began honoring disability claims but blocked all retroactive compensation normally provided once claims finished adjudication. Ethical failures were in advocacy, privacy, scientific accuracy, fairness, excellence, and respect.
Had VA adhered to their established value system, scandals like Phoenix and the abuse of C-123 exposure claims could have avoided to the benefit of all veterans and the Nation.
Going forward, VA needs to adhere to “I Care” values, and develop a measurement system for job performance in ethical values.