29 July 2017

More famous quotes from VA's favorite Agent Orange "expert," Dr. Alvin Young

Having spent two full careers (even more) specializing in Agent Orange issues, Dr, Al Young has plenty of simply amazing quotes attributed to him.

Amazing, that is, only in revealing how much harm was done to exposed veterans.

His twenty-year USAF career as a scientist mostly focused on weaponizing Agent Orange, followed by attempting to explain away its dangers as its use was suspended in 1971. While at Brooks AFB in 1979, Young told the media that dioxins (the toxin in Agent Orange) released into the environment seem to be "much less hazardous than lab tests suggest."

The USAF later loaned him to the VA where he was under Dr. Shepard first head of their Environmental Medicine section (Agent Orange Projects Office,) and responsible for fending off the early wave of Vietnam vets' exposure claims. That's right – the same guy who weaponized Agent Orange was given a desk at VA and told to block exposure claims.

He led the VA's fight for years, but Congress grew frustrated at their obstructionist foot-dragging and passed the 1991Agent Orange Act to settle the issue. 

Retirement from the Air Force brought Young out of the VA to the White House. His duty: director of the Office of Technology Assessment. He coordinated the evaluation/policy of the effects of Agent Orange on Vietnam veterans, and general issues involving Agent Orange affecting various other federal agencies.

One of his 1983 statements was that he didn't think dioxin constituted a national problem, but it might pose a problem in specific parts of the country. Yeah, "might." A year later he contradicted himself when testifying before a Congressional committee, saying, "I think it definitely is (harmful.) I think the data certainly harmful to humans. One of his most frequent quotes: "We just don't know." In 1984 he was quoted in Toxicity Material News saying, "Dioxin poses no health problems."

2014 brought Dr. Young before the Institute of Medicine C-123 Agent Orange exposure committee. There we saw a great number of his truly interesting statements:
1. First, telling the IOM he wasn't representing the VA. In fact, he was still operating under his $25,000 per month consulting contract to support VA's resistance to Agent Orange claims.
2. Next, asked why the C-123s were destroyed if not contaminated, he said it was because USAF needed the storage space and the planes were unsaleable. Young skipped revealing the key point about how in 2009 he'd repeatedly recommended their destruction because of Agent Orange, and because we vets might apply for exposure benefits for our illnesses. 
3. What was he thinking?? Dr. Young presented IOM a set of photos of C-123 #664 supposedly taken by the Air Force in 1971, saying they showed the superb restoration and decontamination after Vietnam. His photos were indeed of #664, but were taken in 2004 by the Pennsylvania-based Air Heritage Museum who did the restoration themselves. Young simply lifted the photos right from the museum's web site.
4. Dr. Young stressed to the committee that no Agent Orange spray missions were done with the ramp doors open. But –  just two weeks later the Sunday Boston Globe had a front-page photo of a Ranch Hand C-123 doing exactly that in Vietnam.

But for most of us, our all-time favorite Al Young quote came in 2011: C-123 vets "are hoping they can cash in on  tax-free money" and are "trash-haulers." C-123 vets are "concocting exposure stories about Agent Orange hoping that some Congressional member will feel sorry for them." He concluded, "I have no respect for such free loaders. If not freeloading, what is their motive?"

Great thoughts fron Young, who between 2012-2014 profited from his no-bid sole-source $600,000 contract with VA to help block our claims.

Another word from Dr. Al Young, VA's famous Agent Orange "expert"

Agent Orange:  A veterans' issue, but one of only "questionable importance." So said Dr. Alvin Young, who offers us a wealth of such amazingly off-center and anti-veteran views.

His "expert" opinion above is from "back in the day" while helping form VA opposition to veterans' exposure claims.

26 July 2017

VA acts to correct new regulation that "forgot" about C-123 veterans' Agent Orange benefits

It is a brand-new core document: "VHA Directive 1601A.02, ELIGIBILITY DETERMINATION."

It is important. VHA issued the newly revised directive to its offices nationwide, with the stated purpose:
"This Veterans Health Administration (VHA) directive updates Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) information on determining eligibility for VA health care benefits."

So it's pretty important because VA personnel will refer to it when deciding whether or not someone needing care is an eligible veteran or not.

Important, but flawed...they forgot about us C-123 veterans! For whatever reason, VHA didn't include our thousands of C-123 Agent Orange veterans in the description of vets having presumptive eligibility.

Solution? On Sunday afternoon I dropped a note to Acting Deputy Secretary Scott Blackburn and by Wednesday morning, Dr. Ralph Erickson called to acknowledge the problem and promise a quick fix. Erickson is VHA's Chief Consultant for Post Deployment Health Services and a retired Army doc.

And very importantly, Dr. Erickson was an Army flight surgeon who understands us when we seek his help!

What a change in his function: for four years his predecessor led VA's efforts to block our exposure claims. But now, he oversees VA's efforts to ensure vets like us are properly cared for as per law and regulation.

Thanks, VA and Dr. Erickson!