28 January 2015

Ohio NPR Covers C-123 Exposure Issue

Ohio's NPR reporter, Lewis Wallace, does a complete and fair job reviewing the C-123 post-Vietnam Agent Orange exposures. He details how Patches came to be the lightening rod for veterans' attention, and the difficulties moving VA forward on acknowledging veterans' disability claims. Visit for text and audio.npr,

Secretary McDonald's Key Point Addressing the Institute of Medicine Annual Meeting

"Employees across the Department have rolled up their sleeves, and work is underway to make the changes to VA systems, procedures, and culture that the law requires. We’ve done a lot, but there’s a lot left to do if we’re to right the wrongs, institute reforms and employee accountability, modernize, and recruit the numbers of healthcare professionals we need.We are committed to doing the right thing—delivering the right programs, in the right way, at the right time, for those special Americans we serve."
Let's trust that the Secretary's assurances will lead the C-123 Committee towards the right decisions – decisions about fully embracing our veterans rather than, as many feat, develop schemes to evade the IOM conclusions and the impact their report has on the issue of presumptive service connection.

Vets Speak Up for VSO Representatives in VA Video –– Also, Free Tax Returns for Vets!

VIDEO SPOTLIGHTs 

Jr MartinezA Message from JR Martinez

Veteran and actor JR Martinez offers words of support to VSO Representatives for their efforts to assist Veterans with getting faster claims decisions by filing electronic Fully Developed Claims on eBenefitsSee the Video »

Close up of a hand filling out a 1040 EZ tax form.Tax Return Info for Veterans

The IRS works with community and government partners to provide timely tax-related information to Veterans including free federal tax preparation.

ROA Calls on Secretary McDonald To Do The Right Thing For C-123 Veterans!


Yesterday, Reserve Officer Association Executive Director Major General Jeffrey Phillips added ROA's powerful voice to the Air Force Times and other calls for the Department of Veterans Affairs to act quickly, and inclusively regarding C-123 veterans' claims.

ROA first sought justice for C-123 vets in 2012 and subsequently, the late CAPT Marshall Hanson's very nice article about us in 2013. We appreciate this leadership and trust ROA's voice will be heard...loud and clear.


26 January 2015

"Best Care Anywhere" - new book about VA health care & how it would work better for America


What the heck? Is this for real??

You just have to wonder...what amazing timing for a book about how the VA "turned itself around from scandals," published just as the Department of Veterans Affairs was running head-on into the Perfect Storm of 2014!

Part of patient care is getting that care to the patient. Locking the door to keep eligible veterans out doesn't satisfy anybody's definition of patient care. The veterans' primary battle with VA is not the care given by health professionals which is quite excellent, but trying to get into their hospitals, past the gate keepers who (mis)manage the claims system.

Some have asked why VA seems to lack the courage, the heart, the brains to avoid these scandals. Those scandals should not be permitted to taint everyone at VA.

Anyway, if you want it, here's the data from Amazon. To the author: planning an update??

25 January 2015

VA? Can you hear us knocking at the door?



Hello in there? 

VA?
VA? Can you hear us?


Can't you hear us knocking? Can't we come in yet?

We're sick and its cold out here. You've kept us standing for years. Some of us have died, knocking at your doors.

Won't someone please come approve our disability applications which have been on your desk for years, and unlock your hospital door.

We want to come in for help. Now is much better than later!

We served. What more do you ask of us? 

Can't you hear us knocking? Hello?

Thank you.

    C-123 Veterans
VA Hospitals Still Locked to C-123 Veterans! Why?

24 January 2015

AF Times: C-123 Veterans Were Exposed!



Veterans Affairs: A "HAMPSTER WHEEL" DISABILITY APPEALS PROCESS"

Veterans advocates: Stop the VA 'hamster wheel' disability appeals process

The effort to clear a massive backlog of veteran disability claims is hurting efforts to address a similar backlog in appeals of denied claims, say advocates demanding reforms to an onerous “hamster wheel” system that leaves veterans languishing for years.
A congressional subcommittee hearing Thursday focused on the appeals process, noting that the Department of Veterans Affairs has about 350,000 pending appeals of denied service-connected disability claims.
“I am aware that the [VA] chose to prioritize certain initial claims in recent years, but I must say that when veterans in my district share that they waited six, eight, 10 years to resolve a meritorious appeal of a service-connected disability claim, I just find that alarming and unacceptable,” Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., said.
Veterans wait an average 3½ years to get an initial decision and often years longer for the VA to finalize that decision. There are almost 510,000 original disability claims pending, with more than 240,000 deemed “backlogged” — meaning the veteran has been awaiting a decision for at least 125 days.

23 January 2015

Army Times: Full Page Reports – "C-123 Vets Exposed!"


Today's Army Times dedicated a full page to coverage of the C-123 Agent Orange exposure concern, plus an editorial which ran in all four services' Times.

C-123 veterans are grateful for this editorial support with which the media keeps close eye on the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as their legislative overlords! 

Thanks, Gannett and Patricia Kime!

Full-Page Articles:

http://armytimes.va.newsmemory.com/pda.php?date=20150126&eid=0&sid=0&vis=touch&aid=48&action=fullpage

Army Times Editorial:

http://armytimes.va.newsmemory.com/pda.php?date=20150126&eid=0&sid=0&vis=touch&aid=258&action=fullpage

VA & C-123 Veterans: "A Bellwether Moment" for Secretary McDonald (Navy Times Editorial)



Editorial: A bellwether VA moment
2:27 p.m. EST January 23, 2015

Bob McDonald must turn around VA.

New Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald has the Herculean task of trying to right his scandal-­plagued department, a mighty challenge forcefully defied by institutional resistance to change and a bureaucratic belief that its core mission is to serve the best interests of the government rather than those of the men and women who served the country in uniform.

VA's latest success in embarrassing itself involves the Air Force's fleet of C­-123 aircraft that sprayed the toxic defoliant Agent Orange on the jungles of Southeast Asia in the Vietnam War.

After the war, the planes were scrubbed down and kept in service, with 1,500 to 2,100 troops flying on them before they were retired for good in 1982. Many of those troops are now sick with cancer and other illnesses that they've long claimed were caused by toxic residue lingering in those C­-123 airframes.

That charge was backed up in 2012 in a government report. In customary fashion, VA's response was complete denial. Now, a new scientific review has come to the same conclusion as the earlier report — "with confidence." It's the latest in decades of VA health controversies: depleted uranium, burn pits, tainted anthrax vaccine, and more. 

In the pointed words of Rick Weidman of Vietnam Veterans of America, VA's standard approach to veterans' environmental health issues is "delay, deny, wait 'til they die."

McDonald somehow must turn around this massive, calcified outfit that still lacks vision, accountability, and, most importantly, trust among many of the
veterans it was created to serve.

VA officials promise to respond to the newest C-­123 report. That response will go a long way toward determining whether McDonald can effect the changes so badly overdue at VA.

Read or Share this story: http://militari.ly/1BRZWqL

(PS..no steroids necessary to solve this exposure mess!)
    WTC

House Veterans Committee Chair Blasts VA

He said it, right out loud. In the stately halls of Congress.

"FUBAR on steroids." Congressman Miller was referring to the Department of Veterans Affairs. If the phrase FUBAR is unknown to you, enjoy watching Saving Private Ryan again!

FUBAR for VA wan't good. It was Chairman Miller shooting from the hip with a couple full belts from his verbal .50 cal M2, expressing the nation's concerns over VA construction, claims, appeals backlogs and other scandals.

We don't know if VA opposition to C-123 claims these past four years fits into his FUBAR F-bomb, but we do know the delay has denied us medical care and also has cost us money. Denied state benefits because we still wait for VA disability ratings. Denied property tax relief while waiting for the VA to process our claims. Our kids, all now past college age anyway, denied tuition waivers due children of disabled veterans. There is a "catch-up" check of VA disability benefits when a long-delayed claim is finally approved, but there is no catch-up for everything denied the veteran during the years of waiting for "the big brown envelope" to arrive with a disability decision.

In our case, scientists have had everything the VA needed to properly adjudicated our exposure claims since at least 2008. VA, on the other hand, had everything it needed to delay our service connection ratings for these past years, and now seems ready to help only because the Institute of Medicine report showed the way.

That's their job, it seems. Our was to fly aeromedical evacuation. Both are important jobs with people's lives in the balance. We did our jobs to perfection. The airplane business is like that...imperfection equals death. The medical business of aeromedical evacuation is like that, too. Imperfection equals patient suffering or death. We did our jobs to perfection.

Can you imaging their take on us if we waited four years to do our jobs, getting around to picking up a load of patients? And doing our job only when forced to?

No...we were volunteers. We were professional and we were caring. The nation, and our fellow servicemembers, could and did count on us. No four year delay like we were handed by the VA.

22 January 2015

Please Join This C-123 Blog

Please consider joining this blog as regular readers. Its free and you'll get the postings as soon as they are entered.

All you have to do is click here and tell Google you've joined.

I have asked for ideas and suggestions of all types for years...I don't get many from you folks, but please suggest topics you want investigated or issues about which you have concerns.

One big issue for us right now is considering merging the C-123 Veterans Association with the Vietnam Veterans of America. Your thoughts, pro or con??


21 January 2015

Compensation & Pension Exec Gets $11,000 Bonus for Defending Agent Orange!

VA's Veterans Benefits Administration includes the famed Compensation and Pension Service. Its director's bonus in 2013 was over $11,000 and over $20,000 with earlier years' checks. Well-earned? Perhaps so, but let's check.

In 2012, its director explained to C-123 veterans and the worlds of science and medicine that:
"In summary, there is no conclusive evidence that TCDD exposure causes any adverse health effects."
Really? This is reassuring, but wildly inaccurate even though it met VA policy objectives for denying exposure claims. Other VA executives and the entire Department of Veterans Affairs including the Secretary, consider TCDD to be a known human carcinogen. So do the CDC, NIH, EPA, OHSA, World Health Organization, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Toxicology Program and most middle school students. The Institute of Medicine confirmed C-123 veterans' Agent Orange exposures, and the harm to veterans who served aboard them, in their January 9, 2015 report.

TCDD, aka dioxin, is clearly not good for anybody. Not even veterans.

But Compensation and Pension's director wrote this statement in recommending his denial of an Agent Orange veteran's claim for Agent Orange medical care and benefits under the 1991 Agent Orange Act.

But perhaps the irony isn't immediately obvious: an Agent Orange claim was denied by C&P because, according to them (at least for the purposes of the veteran trying to get medical care) Agent Orange and its toxic component TCDD are harmless. No adverse health effects. Claim denied.

No adverse health effects. Except (well, by golly, according to the VA itself,) prostate cancer, diabetes, soft tissue sarcoma,multiple myeloma, B-Cell leukemias including hairy cell, Parkinson's disease, ischemic heart disease, Hodgkin's disease chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Plus peripheral neuropathy (acute or subacute), and a couple others which Compensation and Pension group into its "no adverse health effects" category.

Puzzled by this, veterans read it aloud, and showed the statement to the director of Compensation and Pension, in his office together with his staff, without any challenge or correction from him or them other than his statement that he wasn't familiar with everything leaving over his signature. This was on February 28, 2013.

His statement has been allowed to stand, and the veteran's claim remains denied and in appeal for three years. Three years have provided the director, and VA itself, ample time to amend or correct such an obvious error and anti-veteran missive. Some veterans' groups term this, "Delay, deny wiat
'till they die."

His bonus checks have probably been cashed already, the money long since spent. Certainly, denying veteran's claims is a VA money-saver which justified the bonus payments but it is not in line with what the Nation expects of the VA.

I've met the director of Compensation and Pension Service. One has to acknowledge the gentleman (he's a veteran himself) is, indeed, a hard-working and faithful public servant, but he seems more policy-oriented than veteran-oriented.

His policy as he explained it to Major Marlene Wilson and me: no C-123 claims were to be permitted, per VHA. And despite VA's assurances to Congress of C-123 "case-by-case" decisions, all have been denied per VHA. No claims been permitted – ever. Thus far, only DRO or BVA actions have permitted C-123 veterans to receive earned benefits and VA medical care. Every other claim remains denied or "suspended."

The TCDD veteran is still waiting for his claim to be reconsidered, the claim not even forwarded by the regional office to the Board of Appeals following the 2012 denial.

Appeals of bad decisions take three to four years in the VA system, with the greatest delay at the regional offices where claims sit for years before heading to the BVA. There, however, decisions are quickly resolved in just months. It seems delays are caused by volume, but also by design, allowing years to take a deadly toll of veterans already sick enough to have applied in the first place. Too often, veterans are sick enough not to survive the appeals process but continue in hopes of aiding their survivors.

Compensation and Pension Service, in ordering all C-123 claims denied (regardless of the language with which it was done, that was both the intent and the effect) disregarded VA's own assurances to Congress via the Federal Register that all non-Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange were eligible for care.

Here is the entire paragraph in the opinion signed by the director, in which he summarizes (accurately? Read the Sinks letter and then C&P's summary) expert input to the VA from the CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Nowhere in his summary of the CDC's finding does the director bother mentioning the CDC key points: C-123 veterans were exposed to 182-times the screening value for dioxin, and experienced a 200-fold increase in cancer risk.

Later, CDC reported to VA and DOD (repeatedly, by several subsequent directors of the ATSDR including Rear Admiral R. Ikeda, MD USPHS) that the C-123 veterans actually should have been flying in full HAZMAT protection, their airplanes were so contaminated with Agent Orange.
CDC-recommended C-123 aircrew and maintenance worker protection - FULL HAZMAT


Department of Veterans Affairs: "pro-veteran, non adversarial. All benefit of the doubt resolved in favor of the veteran." Thank goodness for the Institute of Medicine, and those worthy executives (specifically Under Secretary Hickey and Dr. Loren Erickson) in the VA who in2014 reordered the C-123 study, first promised by VA in 2012 but a promise forgotten once made but put right again by these folks. Again, thank you!

We agree that mistakes happen, even with veterans' claims as horrible as such cases may be. That's understandable. What is not understood and not forgivable is having the error pointed out (repeatedly, in writing as well as face-to-face) and yet the error allowed to stand for years! Wrongly denied veterans' claims mean financial loss, plus painful suffering and even death unless the vets can locate other care.

But "other care" can be hard to get for an Agent Orange veteran, even one blessed with solid health insurance. That's because most insurance carriers have a war clause and Agent Orange is a recognized weapon of war – thus no insurance, either. 

I am reminded of the famous quote from Upton Sinclair:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”


20 January 2015

Department of Defense Passes The Buck - and veterans pay!

Who is the Decision-Maker on AO Sites?
Help is needed on this issue, please. Even some questions in the right place might resolve things.

Our own former Ranch Hand C-123 aircraft, having sprayed over 615,000 gallons each of Agent Orange plus thousands more of other toxic herbicides, are not considered to be among the DOD group of Agent Orange locations for testing, storage, evaluation or transportation. The agency responsible, the Armed Forces Pest Management Board, declined to do so and rejected repeated requests, including three managed through General Fedder in the OSD. From FOIA papers, it seems the request had initial concurrence from SECDEF but stumbled at AFPMB who recommended denial. Repeatedly.

One list shows US sites and the web site states it was supplied to VA by DOD. There is a published hard-copy second list, prepared by Dr. Al Young through Battelle as a DOD response to a VA request. A third list is another online list of outside Vietnam sites, again attributed to the DOD, to whom VA repeatedly referred me for a solution – hopefully including former Ranch Hand C-123s somewhere.

How can a C-123, the principal delivery vehicle for Agent Orange not qualify, yet the soil which it sprayed does? How can these aircraft, which carried an average of over 615 loads of 1000 gallons each not be considered transport or storage sites? How can the planes not be listed even though tested by the Air Force and their contamination established over the decades?

Nobody in DOD or VA seems to be the owner of these lists yet VA cites the absence of anything not on DOD lists as justification for denial of exposure claims, per VA M21-1MR. A veteran serving at one of the places named on a list doesn't automatically qualify him/her as "exposed" but the veteran's claim of service at some place not on a list is disqualifying in most instances.

Joint Services Records Research Center also cites the DOD lists in responding to VA's inquiries about veterans' claims but helpfully, references CDC sources for the airplanes' toxicity.

If any authority or reference, such as these DOD lists, is cited by the government to deny a citizen's rights and privileges, it must be accurate or the citizen's rights to due process are abridged. To refuse its amendment, which seems here to be the VA's responsibility because VA in each instance is credited with requesting the information and it is VA which cites the DOD lists in VA regulations, is only to prevent claims and not to properly adjudicate them.

I also believe AFPMB's response flies in the face of DODI 6055.5 as well as US Army TG312, and the intent of Air Force Manual 48-155 and OSHA requirements detailed in 29 CFR 1910.1450 (as regards Air Reserve Technicians exposed in civil service status, and perhaps traditional Reservists as well.)

It is also wrong-headed buck-passing which harms veterans. None of our rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments were sacrificed by serving in the United States military. Due Process is denied us by this inaction and we remind authorities of their personal oaths to support and defend the Constitution.

Now would be a good time.




19 January 2015

NPR Seeks Ohio C-123 Veterans


A reporter has contacted our Association to discuss possible coverage of the C-123 Agent Orange issue, but needs some Rickenbacker/Wright-Patterson C-123 veterans with whom to speak.

Contact: lwallace@wyso.org or call 937-769-1380

A current Ohio-area resident is ideal but they'd also like input from others previously stationed there with the spray outfit, or who flew with Westover or Pittsburgh and moved to Ohio later.

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS TO LEAD C-123 VETERANS ASSOCIATION

My time at the stick is over, and crew rest and financial relief desperately sought! I haven't checked but maybe there is even a FAR about too much time on veterans issues by one individual??

Who feels led to offer time and talent for the next year, with our important new objective of working with VA to implement recommendations of the IOM? The worst of the struggle is over – now we find our aircrews and maintenance personnel from all three bases and start getting the word out.

VA will help just in their administrative changes. Web pages, training letters, press releases all will orient claims official, health provider and veteran. The major veterans organizations will all be carrying the news in their magazines and web sites and we on ours. I've asked VA about reaching out through DFAS, ARPC, TREA, ROA, AFA and other authorities and associations. VA's working group, in place since IOM briefed VA on January 8, seems to be their focal point for the many decisions and we need leadership to liaise with them.

I believe we need to stay an informal, funds-free organization welcoming all with a simple request to join us. We do now need to start identifying all who'd like to be members and start a more formal collection of names, their association with the C-123 and how they can document that, illnesses, claims, denials, survivors and whatever else comes to mind in our group's new leadership.

John, Charlie, Andy, Big John, Butler, Arch, Jim, Clancey, Al and Gail, MGB...everyone. Please work this out among yourselves and find us leadership for 2015 and beyond!

Finances. We have nothing in the piggy bank, obviously. I propose we raise voluntary funds of at least $2000 per year for travel expenses, and that really covers only two trips to DC. There will be much work with legislators, VA, military associations and others which will need to keep us busy. Example: my last trip for IOM Jan 6-13 was $1250 and we shouldn't ask our leadership to get soaked for such expenses personally,

The web sites run about $250 a year, and postage maybe $200 now that we don't need to blitz every senator with a $35 350 page 3-ring binder, or solicit interest from reports with one.

Chores, either done by the chairman or delegated to another volunteer:
1. web site and blog entries
2. correspondence with vets, legislators, military associations
3. close contact with VA to insure our needs are met with their program changes
4. PR...keep seeking interest from the press, promoted good coverage about us
5. a couple trips to DC each year; at least one guest appearance at the next annual meeting of the Vietnam Veterans of America and at the American Legion, our two key sponsoring veterans groups
6. I propose a poster display at the 2015 Society of Toxicology and the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, telling the story of how we were screwed and how things worked out
7. work with the USAF Museum to amend Patches' history to cover our service
8. maintain contact with the Senate minority and majority leaders of the Veterans Affairs Committee
9. consider a more formal, permanent organization structure
10. STRATEGY, STRATEGY, STRATEGY for ongoing "guerrilla" advocacy of our veterans' issues, aka running an effective national campaign on less than pocket change!

Please find us a new chairman! If you want to pass the buck, nominate someone else and we'll crown him/her by popular acclaim!

    Wes


16 January 2015

First C-123 Claim Approved Since IOM Report (9 Jan 2015)

MATTE HAS WON HIS VA CLAIM!

photo: Boston Globe




Great news today: Dick Matte, veteran of the 74th AES and resident of Chicopee, MA, received his VA disability award (via DRO decision) of 80% today! This is simply terrific and reflects well on VA acting to help our most seriously ill vets – ASAP!

Thanks, Boson VARO!
The award was for 80% service connected, not the full 100% requested but sill, wonderful news and the remaining 20%, if it is due him, will be sought via further appeals. Dick was represented by scholars from the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Clinic.

To all who helped, both in and out of government, THANK YOU!

13 January 2015

ARE YOU ILL? We have to identify C-123 Veterans needing urgent help!

Please contact me by email (wes@c123kcancer.com) to identify C-123 veterans who are in immediate need of assistance.

With last Friday's very helpful Institute of Medicine report confirming our Agent Orange exposures, we may be able to bring serious cases to the attention of the VA. There is no assurance of any intervention but we can ask VA to try cutting the red tape!

VA Changes Their Web Pages About C-123 Agent Orange – VERY CAUTIOUS & RESERVED

Our elation over last Friday's release of the Institute of Medicine C-123 report is tempered somewhat today.

We see that VA has modified their web pages touching on C-123 veterans' issues, but used very cautious language without any suggestion of acceptance of the affirmation contained in the Institute of Medicine findings released last Friday. VA simply says the IOM report is out and they've assembled subject matter experts to consider it.

Consider it? Not accept and implement it? This is a worry. Is VA seeking ways to negatively interpret the findings or to avoid presumptive service connection? Or poke holes in it to prevent any meaningful recognition of exposure?

The VA web pages cite references, but pointedly avoid including the many which affirm our veterans' exposure (Porter, CDC, ATSDR, etc.) The IOM report itself isn't included as a reference. On the other hand, we're glad that VA did react and post web page changes...they're doing something, we just don't know the details yet.

Let's hope for the best from VA! We want to work with VA. Time is of the essence here, given our ages and illnesses. We've already paid a terrible price because the IOM has shown we were exposed from 1972 on, and many of us had illnesses during these years that can be associated with that exposure. For instance, I had surgery in 1978 to sever nerves in my thigh to stop a severe burning pain we now know could have been Agent Orange-associated peripheral neuropathy.

These four years since we've had to work against...not with...Veterans Benefits Administration and Veterans Health Administration on this concern. At this point, we should finally be on the same page.

We want to wrap up this burdensome struggle and turn to our health concerns and our families! This was not a battle we should have had to fight for ourselves, but instead a situation where VA should have turned to us, offering their care based on science and facts in hand since 2008 and even earlier.

I hope we don't have a Camp Lejeune situation where VA takes a couple years getting machinery in place to administer our situation. After all, there is no legislation needed, the VA has multiple Federal Register announcements covering this very situation, and the "veteran status" of the crews is covered in USC whether flying as ART, AD, UTA, AFTP or even points-only status.

This last weekend the C-123 Veterans Association and the VA reached out to each other to cooperate – lets hope for that cooperation and for prompt acceptance of our veterans' claims per VA M21-1MR. As I read it, we'll have to provide proof of duty aboard C-123s at some point between 1972-1982, and evidence of an Agent Orange-recognized illness. We have JSRRC confirmation available as well!

We found a hero last year in the VA when Paul Bailey's exposure claim was approved by a Manchester New Hampshire DRO. VA was right then, even though the DRO decision was made without the recent IOM report, the moral and scientific validation was still in place. We need a hero again in the VA to get the ball rolling, notify the VAROs that these claims can be approved with proper evidence, and get our folks into the VA medical system.

Some questions:
• Denied claims now awaiting appeals - can these be reconsidered rather than wait out an appeal?
• Current claims "postponed" decisions - can these be released for final evaluation?
• All claims - can we hope for another fast-track? There will be so few it won't burden VA!
• Denied claims past one year appeal date such as Aaron Olmsted's - can they be resubmitted with "new & material evidence?"
• Effective date of awards?
• Can any sort of "provisional" approval be given urgent cases?
• Invite C-123 veterans to the Agent Orange Registry and physical?

To all who've helped, especially the scientists and journalists, God Bless.

10 January 2015

C-123 Post-Vietnam Aircrew and Maintainers: Agent Orange Exposure CONFIRMED by IOM!

Exposure CONFIRMED! Last hurdle overcome!

In a clear message to the VA and USAF, yesterday the Institute of Medicine dismissed any questions of C-123 post-Vietnam Agent Orange exposure with their press release announcing conclusion of a year-long investigation. IOM confirmed the post-Vietnam exposures of C-123 aircrews and maintenance personnel in their VA-sponsored research.

This is a game-changer as VA has stated, through Under Secretary Allison Hickey, that whichever way the IOM report recommended the VA would likely follow. VA executives were briefed on Thursday and the IOM released their C-123 investigation to the public, legislators and the press on Friday. Following the report's presentation, VA leaders said staff was already working on the implications of the IOM's finding and details were being resolved.

The VA has been hit hard this last year, which with justification will be remembered as the year of the scandals. This is a scandal resolved, through the efforts of the scientific community )to include IOM as well as the independent scientists and physicians who continued to reveal the basis for C-123 veterans' exposure claims,) and VA staff which opened the door and their hearts with determination to resolve this mess.

So the resolution is on its way. We should see changes in VA web pages, communication from VA to their staff, press releases from VA on its views regarding the IOM report, and we hope...claims being released from the current suspended status ordered for all such claims.

Let's hope this is as much as win-win as it seems. In my mind, it leaves all involved a solid justification for feeling their duty to America's veterans has been satisfied. Congratulations!

09 January 2015

Good News from the Institute of Medicine

Initial thoughts: the IOM agreed that Reservists were exposed. Their comment:
It is the Committee's opinion that it is quite plausible that, for some Reservists, the exposures received during their work on C-123s exceeded TCDD guidelines for workers in enclosed settings.

Now to read the report more carefully, and just as important, find out the impact of this on the VA's processing of our veterans' exposure claims.

The briefing starts in a few minutes and I'll update further when possible.

Again...good news!

08 January 2015

IOM Report Due January 9 at 11:00 Eastern

Tomorrow we'll know the recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine about our C-123 Agent Orange exposures. We hope for the best when IOM begins their briefing at 11:00 here in Washington, D.C.

A long and painful time has passed since we started our effort in the early spring of 2011, and so many kind people have done right by us.

Whatever IOM recommends, and whatever VA does with that recommendation, our thanks must be expressed for the hard work of the committee and the IOM staff, headed by Dr. Mary Paxton. Also, thanks to those many VA leaders who kept an open mind...and an open heart

Although we hope for the best, and the most comprehensive positive finding, realistically there can only be a compromise. Not on the science or the history of the C-123 exposure story, but on the consensus report selected as the format for this investigation.

Stay tuned: I'll post the IOM's conclusions as soon possible.

01 January 2015

Air Force Association Features C-123 Agent Orange Exposure History

 

The Lingering Story of Agent Orange