From: Wes Carter <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sat, Oct 22, 2016 4:35 pm
Subject: Patches & the IOM C-123 Agent Orange Report – Oct 14 2016
note: our association’s work continues on the issue of retroactive disability awards and compensation, with legal representation from the firm of Fregre-Baker Daniels
“Patches & the IOM C-123 Agent Orange Report”Visiting the USAF Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB and home of “Patches,” our Agent Orange-contaminated C-123. 14 Oct 2016
To all post-Vietnam C-123 Veterans: if you haven’t already, contact VA and arrange your Agent Orange Registry physical. This is a free comprehensive exam looking for any possible Agent Orange exposure medical issues and it is vital whether you have any such illnesses or not. The first friend I talk into having the physical was found to have a life-threatening heart problem, and the physical perhaps saved his life. Call VA now!I’m holding the report from the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Sciences that convinced the VA our aircraft had been contaminated, we were exposed to Agent Orange, and we were harmed greatly by that exposure. Behind me is Patches, now decontaminated, of course.The report summary can be downloaded free at https://www.google.com/url…The archives at the museum revealed the evidence of testing back in 1979 and 1994 and 1996, and the evidence that USAF bioenvironmental scientists concluded the airplane was “heavily contaminated with dioxin on all test surfaces, STILL after its last spray missions in 1968 during the Vietnam War.We started flying Patches in 1972 and were exposed to the Agent Orange residue for the next decade. Although the CDC informed VA and USAF that the aircrews and maintainers had been exposed, officials at VA continued to insist otherwise and stated VA had “an overwhelming preponderance of evidence” against any harm being done.
In 2014 it became clear, based on the IOM study and the report I’m holding, that VA’s position was based solely on its policy decision to block additional Agent Orange claims like ours. Policy, not science. Policy, not law.
The US Senate agreed. Under leadership from Senator Burr of North Carolina and Senator Merkley of Oregon the Senate blocked all VA confirmations until the C-123 issue was resolved. The national commander of the VFW testified to Congress that that full benefits for C-123 vets must be authorized, All six major veterans organizations insisted VA act, with the Vietnam Veterans of America leading their joint efforts.
The media was behind us all the way. The first press coverage was in early 2011 in the Air Force Times where reporter Patricia Kime detailed our USAF Inspector General complaint wherein the service was asked, but refused, to notify our veterans of their potential exposures. Subsequent articles appeared in the Washington Post, Springfield Republican, American Legion Magazine, the Oregonian, Associated Press, CBS News, Pittsburgh Gazette, NPR All Things Considered, Boston Globe, Air Force Magazine, plus Military.Com and other Internet outlets. Air Force Times and the Springfield Republican both ran editorials insisting VA act in our behalf.
In 2009 Dr. Alvin Young, VA’s principal consultant on Agent Orange, had strongly recommended to the USAF the immediate destruction of all C-123s stored in a hazardous material quarantine section of Davis-Mothan Air Force Base because, among other reasons, our already exposed air crews and maintenance veterans might approach the VA seeking care for Agent Orange illnesses. Destruction of the aircraft would help prevent such claims, especially, as it was pointed out, if the aircraft disappeared without public attention. Preventing claims seems to of been awfully important to the VA and so many others. It seemed so important to Dr. Young because in 2011 he denigrated us as “trash haulers, freeloaders looking for a tax-free dollar from a sympathetic congressman.” The VA certainly found the right voice to help it oppose our claims – VA had found a man who holds us in contempt to help VA avoid treating our illnesses.
In 2013 Dr. Young was in the middle of his unique VA two year $600,000 no-bid sole source Agent Orange consulting contract. He urged Mr. James Sampsel at the VA Agent Orange desk to “hold the line” (his words) against our claims. For his part, Mr. Sampsel informed his VA colleagues and supervisors that all proof confirming our exposure submitted to VA by independent scientific authorities and other federal agencies (CDC, DOD, USPHS, NIH) was merely the real “problem” for VA – proof Mr. Sampsel and others in VBA would ignore despite VA regulation VAM21-1MR and despite the Veterans Claims Assistance Act.
Dr. Terry Walters at the VHA Post-Deployment Health Section, told the Associated Press that a line had to be drawn against our claims. Hold the line, indeed!
For too many years the VA “held their line” and denied every single claim submitted by our veterans of the post-Vietnam C-123 spray aircraft. While being paid by VA Dr. Young testified before the Institute of Medicine C-123 committee against our exposure claims. He even attacked the IOM report after its publication in January 2015 using arguments similar to ones used earlier when Dow and Monsanto sponsored him. But the committee saw through that. The committee also criticized VA and USAF for routinely dismissing, ignoring or minimizing proof of veterans’ exposures
In June 2015, the Institute of Medicine report I’m holding in the photo was acted upon by Secretary McDonald. He brought truth, science, law, and compassion into the process at last. The 2100 of us who volunteered to serve our country by flying and maintaining our aircraft willingly accepted the hazards of aviation service and now are acknowledged to have also endured hazardous toxin exposures for which the VA will now care.
As VA Secretary McDonald said to me at the White House, “We won.” He meant “We” the veteransand “We” the VA, No longer adversaries.
Let’s not let this happen again to other veterans facing toxic exposures.