02 August 2017

VBA claims expert offers gracious apology for dismissive remarks about Agent Orange as "all hype and hysteria."

From the VA Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation:

"Chairman Martin reminded attendees that any opinions expressed at the meeting were solely those of the individuals providing them, and did not necessarily reflect the position of ACDC, VA, or the federal government. He read a letter from Jim Sampsel, who briefed the Committee at its March meeting on Agent Orange-related issues, and whose remarks were published in the media. Mr. Sampsel expressed regret over raising the issue of hypertension and recognized the debate on related legal, scientific, and factual issues. He apologized for any negative effects his presentation may have had on the Committee or its mission. Several members praised Mr. Sampsel for his long-time dedication to Veterans’ issues. The Chairman said the Committee welcomed frank and open discussion."

My Public Comments to the Committee:
"Wes Carter spoke on behalf of VVA, the C-123 Veterans Association, and the United Veterans of Colorado. He objected to Mr. Sampsel’s presentation on Agent Orange at ACDC’s March meeting, which he felt had dismissed legitimate concerns over Agent Orange exposure as hype and hysteria. The presentation failed to mention that several institutions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), had concluded that Agent Orange exposure was harmful. The CDC had informed VA that someone (having flown former Agent Orange C-123s) exposed to Agent Orange was 200 times more likely to have cancer.** see correction  
Mr. Carter also objected to being mentioned and having his medical situation discussed in Mr. Sampsel’s presentation. Mr. Sampsel had noted Mr. Carter’s 100 percent disability rating, and commented that he guessed that was not enough. Mr. Carter responded that it should not be enough* and that he deserved acknowledgment that his cancer was due to Agent Orange exposure. 
Mr. Carter was disturbed that Mr. Sampsel validated the claims of a consultant VA had paid $600,000 to oppose him at an Institute of Medicine hearing. This consultant had previously referred to Mr. Carter and similarly situated Veterans as trash haulers and freeloaders, and had taken a contemporary photograph of a C-123 airplane and passed it off as a 1971 picture which he represented as evidence for why VA should keep its hospital doors locked to C-123 Veterans. 
Mr. Carter added that a group of Veterans’ organizations had written a letter protesting VA’s reliance on the consultant, and that ProPublica and Stars and Stripes had written articles criticizing Mr. Sampsel’s conclusions. 
Mr. Goldsmith asked if statements found to be untrue should be stricken from the record. 
Dr. Vvedenskaya said that ACDC’s meetings were open to the public and that any comments made became part of the public record.  Dr. Jones argued that it was contrary to ACDC’s charter to refer to individual Veterans by name at Committee meetings; if a presenter violated that policy, the Committee should make it clear that such remarks were inappropriate. Dr. Granger agreed that personal health information was private and should not be shared in a public forum without the individual’s consent. Chairman Martin thanked Mr. Carter for his comments and his service."

My correction to the ACDC minutes:

1.* I never have had or expressed objection to my VA 100% disability rating being "enough," but only to Mr. Samplel making that sarcastic suggestion to his colleague.
2. CDC/ATSDR reported to VA and the IOM that C-123 veterans face a 200-fold greater risk of cancers. The minutes incorrectly state that CDC reached that conclusion about all Agent Orange veteran exposures.

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