2ND BATTALION 94TH ARTILLERY

 

‘FLEXIBLE’

 

2003 Agent Orange Reunion Discussion

 

At the 2003 reunion I held a mini seminar/discussion on the Agent Orange Issue.

 

Like most of you until last years reunion I did not realize the impact to you, as well as myself.  In addition, I think everyone was taken back by the amount of children that were possibly involved.  I know I had no idea.

 

I thought I was alone with my medical problems since the doctors could not find out what caused the problems. By the way, none of my five doctors indicated any possible damage by Agent Orange until I came back and told them what I had found out. They then indicated that made sense.

 

However, because of the rules the VA or ANTI-VA has imposed I am having to fight, as most of you have had to.

 

Lets start with what I have found out in my research.

 

1. The spraying actually started in 1962.

 

2. The types or nicknames and when sprayed were:

 

Agent Blue: code name for cacodylic acid (dimethyl arsenic acid).

 

Agent Orange: code name for mixture of 2,4,5-T (2,4,5.-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid; 545.4 Kg/m3) and 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid; 485.1 kg/m3), altogether weighing 1 285 kg/m3; a herbicide; associated with the (2,4,5-T moiety is the impurity dioxin (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p- dioxin). Sprayed between 1965 and 1970.

 

Agent Orange II or “SUPER AGENT ORANGE:" I have not located the chemicals yet nor the mixture ratios. Sprayed between 1968 and 1969. (I am guessing here but it almost sounds like they upped the mixture ratios and after seeing the Agent Pink was 100%. Who knows what this one was?)

 

Agent White: code name for a mixture of an approximate ratio of 4:1 of 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid; 239.7 kg/m3) and picloram (4-amino-3,5,6-trichloropicolinic acid; 64.7 kg/m3). (As a side note: Picloram is a bad boy by itself as far as carcinogens.) Unclear as to when this was sprayed. Accounts do show spraying; Carroll, Cam Lo, Rockpile, Dong Ha, Khe Sanh, all along the DMZ.

 

Agent Purple: 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. Sprayed between 1962 and 1964.

 

Agent Pink: 2,4,5-T. Sprayed between 1962 and 1964. Agent Pink was 100% Dioxin; no mixing.

In all cases, records show the DMZ and/or the DMZ Firebases were sprayed.

 

There were other chemicals sprayed which included Malathion (S-(1,2-dicarbethoxyethyl)-0, 0-dimethyldithiophosphate). Sprayed between 1967 and 1972.

 

Others

BROMACIL:
DIQUAT:
TANDEX:
MONURON:
DIURON:
DALAPON:


As I previously stated in my e-mails they, whoever they is, has uncovered more spraying records that indicate an additional 1.82 million gallons of Agent Orange was sprayed. That would bring the total up to around 21 million gallons of toxic spray of different chemical compositions and mixture ratios.

 

Now this is stated in two ways. One sounds like much more than the first reported amounts but that was amended later on. So this new finding is about 10% more or less than the revised amount that was amended earlier.

 

Yet, researchers have all of sudden come out of the woodwork saying things like, Boy now we can really find out what happened and the impact. So for 10% more; all of sudden, this is supposed to make a difference in the previous findings.

 

I hate to be negative about all this but you think about it. 10% more of anything that has “supposedly” been studied for 40 years. I would not think would have the impact the researchers are feinting. I think maybe they see the possible dollar signs for research grants and not for us but for the Vietnamese which is shortly coming in my opinion.

 

(Yea man! We put 25 bullets in the guy and if we could have only put just 10% more bullets into him we could have made him more dead than the 25 bullets did!)

 

In addition to that, it really makes no difference what they find/submit to the VA; as I will address later. Statistics, Congressional Mandates, Congressional commissioned studies for a consensus, nor an additional advisory council have any impact on the VA. They totally do what they want to do regardless of facts. And our politicians just let it go merrily along the way. Kind of like the IRS.

 

Like my DAV representative stated they "negotiate what they will cover and what they will not cover." Negotiate? Now there is a good medical analysis term.

 

Here is a list of illness and medical problems the VA has cited as Service Connected.

 

If you look on other medical studies, reports, white papers, hospital research grants, etc. You will find the VA has only included a very few of the medical problems shown to be caused by Agent Orange and what ever else they sprayed with.

 

By the way, the only thing they have studied is Agent Orange. As you can see there were others we were hit with. Which also in the studies I have read can cause a multitude of problems by themselves.

 

Chloracne

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Hodgkin's Disease

Porphyria Cutanea Tarda

Multiple Myeloma

Respiratory Cancers (lung, larynx, trachea and bronchus)

Prostate Cancer

Peripheral Neuropathy (acute or subacute)

Diabetes Mellitus (Diabetes Type II)

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

Note: CLL was just added this year to the VA list while it was indicated by the other agencies it could be caused by the toxin poisoning years and years ago.


Peripheral Neuropathy (acute or subacute)- This one is a real joke!!!!! No one can qualify for this the way they have it cited. Even though it was added in 1996. One year after leaving Vietnam and totally cured in within one year after are the rules. I will address this later. You can claim this as a secondary to the Diabetes Type II only.

 

Children; the VA say are only affected as follows:

 

Spina Bifida

 

Now here are some of the problems others say, outside the ANTI-VA, show a connection to Agent Orange. There are many many more but I do not have time to list all of them.

liver dysfunction

severe personality disorders

cancers

birth defects

Cancer:

tumors

liver

lung

testicular

ear duct

Cardiovascular:

elevated blood pressure

blood deficiency (anemia)

Endocrine:

enlarged male mammary glands (gynecomastia)

excessive milk flow from nipples (galactorrhea)

decreased sexual desire

difficulty maintaining an erection

Family:

child deaths

birth defects:

cleft palates

open eye

kidney abnormalities

enlarged liver

enlarged head

club foot

intestinal hemorrhage

missing or abnormal fingers, toes

missing or abnormal reproductive organs

missing, abnormal or displaced body parts

Miscarriages

Gastrointestinal:

loss of appetite (anexoria)

nausea

vomiting

diarrhea

constipation

yellowing of eyes, skin and urine (jaundice)

liver inflammation (hepatitis)

vomiting blood (hematemesis)

abdominal pain

gastric hyperplasia

gastric ulcers

Genitourinary:

stones

burning

bloody urine (hematuria)

dribbling

brown urine

bladder discomfort

kidney pain

hearing loss

Metabolic:

extreme fatigue

rapid weight loss

spontaneous fever

Chills

Neurological:

tingling

numbness

dizziness

headaches

twitching, fidgeting, etc. (autonomic dyscontrol)

suspension of breath (sleep apnea)

incoordination

unnaturally drowsy (hypersomnolence)

loss of sensation in extremities

Psychiatric:

violent

irritable

angry

severe depression

suicide

frenzied (manic)

tremulous

memory loss

loss of concentration

severe personality changes

Respiratory:

difficult or painful breath (dyspnea)

shortness of breath

Skin:

rash

increased sensitivity (heat)

increased sensitivity (sun)

altered skin color

loss of hair

brittle nails

Visual:

blurring

burning

 

Again, notice what I pointed out about the PTSD Vs the Psychiatric damages to the Central Nervous system. Most curious that the markers are almost identical.

 

As a side note:  I just read an article where a doctor did a study where he compared a number of Veterans that served in Vietnam against a number of Veterans that served elsewhere.  He was looking for autoimmune diseases as a standout.  He could not find it until he compared those Vietnam Veterans with PTSD.  Then he found a significant increase in things like Arthritic conditions.  He is presenting that paper this year.

 

My contention is that if a Veteran has PTSD chances are in he was in a heavy combat area.  Thus he probably received higher doses of Dioxin and all the other stuff that was sprayed.  With out eliminating that as a possibility of the autoimmune diseases; the report/study is bogus.  It is not the PTSD; is the carcinogen.

 

Now why it is important to file a claim even though what you have been diagnosed as having is not on the VA hit parade?

 

As you can see there are many many other problems that the EPA and research hospitals all say are associated with Agent Orange.

 

You must get on record NOW! Even though you know you will turned down. It seems that about every two years, as we slowly die off, the VA will pronounce another association in their God Like Manner.

 

The first thing is you are retroactive back to filing date. Not a big deal but can help, especially if you can no longer work.

 

The second thing is if you die because of this then they announce a service connected disability your wife then has a leg to stand on to obtain your compensation.

 

As I indicated, a lady contacted me from our website with the AO data I had added. Her husband died of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) in 2001. He was an 18 month Veteran in our war. Now since the VA has only added that in 2003 and they did not file immediately when he was diagnosed in 2001 she has a real fight on her hands.

 

To me it is logical and straight forward but to the VA she will have to fight and fight and fight. Then get up off the mat and fight some more. More than likely she will end up with a four or five year fight on her hands. They will want her just to give up and go away.

 

You would be surprised at the illnesses you can just type in and be on an Agent Orange website.

 

I know I am very pessimistic in my accounts of the VA and here is why.

 

The process the VA uses is they contract with the National Academy of Science to do research on a specific problem or issue. (Quite frankly I would rather have seen an independent research outfit as opposed to someone on the government research dole.)

 

They then have a “so called” advisory board of questionable appointees that are supposed to review data, history, medical info/reports, medical studies, etc. Then the VA, with the NAS data and the recommendations of the board, make what is supposed to be intelligent and unbiased decisions as to Service Connected Disability. That isn’t happening as they say!

 

Lets review some of the history.

 

Everyone denied any cause and effect for Agent Orange much less any of the other chemicals for 22 years until 1984. It then took the Veterans a lawsuit in which the lawyers got over 50% of the money allocated.

 

Now we are hearing that the chemicals used were mixed at ratios of 4X to 25X and even now indicated 100% straight chemical. Now this does not seem quite right that the chemical companies were the ones that we had to sue. Seems to me if you do not follow the recommended mixing instructions; the manufacture is no longer at fault. Yet, our government never stepped in and took our part. Instead they defaulted to the chemical companies. Now most of these chemicals are still on the market today. I believe the EPA made them reduce the amount of chemical regarding ppm in some of them but they are still available and are being used. The fact the EPA forced them reduce the ppm in 2,4,5-T is also a clue there was a problem.

 

So while everyone is denying cause and effect in the late 60’s and throughout the 70’s and even into the 90’s as the VA slowly announces an associations. We are being diagnosed with everything or even nothing as they cannot find out what is the real problem. I personally do not fault our doctors as they probably believed the crap being put out as to the denials. Therefore, it never entered their diagnostics as a cause of the symptoms.

 

Case in point. My mother always said I got into something over there. I had nothing but problems with digestive system after arriving back home. I went through every test known to man at the time for digestive system analysis. Some tests were done three times including a four day hospital stay for evaluations.

 

Now at that time everyone is still denying everything. Yet, my mother finds an article in our home town newspaper that the University of Florida Research Hospital is doing research on the WHY so many Vietnam Veterans are coming home with Digestive System Problems. Now folks they were not doing that just for me! The study they followed, again with the denials, was that maybe we were bring a bug back home in the digestive track. It probably never entered their minds that we were being poisoned and that it was nerve damage.  Yet, the government indicated NO PROBLEM!

 

So let us look at the NAS study paid for by the VA:

 

Here is there submittal to the VA:

 

“There is also limited/suggestive evidence of an association between exposure to herbicides and acute and subacute (transient) peripheral neuropathy.

 

There are several published studies relevant to this health outcome, but they are primarily case histories from occupational studies and chemical reports following the Seveso accident, which describe transient symptoms of peripheral neuropathies in highly exposed intervals (Todd, 1962; Berkley and Nagle, 1963; Goldstein et al., 1959; Boeri et al., 1978; Pocchiaari et al., 1979; Filippini et al., 1981).

 

Todd (1962) reported a sprayer of 2,4-D weedkiller who developed a gastrointestinal disturbance and, within days, after contact with the chemical, a severe sensory/motor polyneuropathy. Recovery occurred over a period of months.

 

Berkley and Magee (1963) reported another patient who developed a polyneuropathy four days after exposure to a liquid solution of 2,4-D, which was being sprayed in a cornfield. The neuropathy was purely sensory in type. The patient's symptoms gradually resolved over months.

 

Goldstein et al. described three patients with sensory/motor polyneuropathies that developed over several days and progressed over several weeks after exposure to 2,4-D.

All had incomplete recovery after several years. Although these patients were not examined neurologically before their exposure, the temporal relationship between the development of their clinical deficit and the herbicide exposure was clearly documented in the study (1959).

Nonetheless, the possibility that their occurrence was unrelated to the herbicide exposure and was due to other disorders such as idiopathic Guillain-Barre syndrome cannot be entirely excluded.

The trend to recovery in the individual cases reported and the negative findings of many long-term follow-up studies of peripheral neuropathy suggest that if a peripheral neuropathy indeed develops, it resolves with time.”

 

Now, do any of these cited statements even come close to the Vietnam Veteran and his type of exposure to Agent Orange, Agent White, Agent Blue?

 

The answer has to be NO! These are one time exposures to a chemical. Not drinking the contaminated water for a year, or showering in water, or eating food processed in the water, or eating the dust particles laced with the chemicals, etc. This is an apples and oranges assessment.

Most of these studies were done prior to Vietnam. No wonder the VA picked them to evaluate.

 

Now here is the real ironic part:

 

These stupid studies cite 2,4-D which is Agent White; NOT 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T which is Agent Orange.

Apples and Oranges comparison to say the least!

 

Not only with the chemical but even the types of exposure.

 

Plus, I see no follow ups here at all.

 

Agent White was sprayed at a rate of 5% of that of Agent Orange on average at the different locations.

 

My God, how they are getting away with this is just mind boggling to me???

 

Is everyone, including the service organizations, just letting this sham just go on and on and on?

 

Now lets look at the second process of the VA’s evaluation the so called experts on the advisory board.

 

A letter to the VA director cites some of the following indicating that some of the board members are ex chemical company chemists and were involved in our first law suit while they worked for the chemical company. So much for being non biased. A professional that had a job of once proving there is no connection cannot sit on a board that is supposed to be unbiased. Number one if he now changes his professional opinion he will commit professional suicide much less leave himself open to the attacks of the Veterans lawyers which he went against in the lawsuit.

 

……as these health effects related to exposure to dioxin-contaminated herbicides (Agent Orange) during military service (57 FR 2236). These comments address 1) the failure of the VA's Veterans' Advisory Committee on Environmental Hazards (VACEH) to utilize basic concepts of neurotoxicity when limiting compensation for peripheral neuropathies, 2) the neglect by the VACEH of the central nervous system effects of dioxin which occur prior to any manifestation of Peripheral Neuropathy, …….

Finally, the informal, unstructured, and covert manner in which the VACEH came to its decision in the proposed rulemaking is discussed in terms of the Administrative Procedures Act, which requires adequate notice and opportunity for comment. The operational mode of the VACEH is contrasted with the operational procedures of other federal advisory bodies.

 

UNJUSTIFIED LIMITATIONS ON COMPENSABLE PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHIES
The VA's proposal to compensate Vietnam veterans for Peripheral Neuropathy, as related to exposure to herbicides containing dioxin (Agent Orange), excludes neuropathies under a wide range of conditions. The proposed compensable neuropathies include only those manifested not later than 10 years following the date of exposure, and excludes those related to the effects of aging, alcohol abuse, trauma, other diseases known to be associated with Peripheral Neuropathy such as Diabetes and Parkinson's disease, and exposure to other toxicants known to produce Peripheral Neuropathy. In making such exclusions, however, the VACEH did not take into consideration relevant information on neurological damage.

 

This assumption contradicts the findings of the OTA, which found that neurological damage is not always detectable clinically, or noticeable by, the sufferer after exposure to a neurotoxic substance such as dioxin. As time progresses or old age approaches, the rate of natural neuronal cell death accelerates, and the results of earlier neurological damage may first become evident, or unmasked (OTA, 1990). The availability of alternate neuronal pathways is reduced, which were formerly responsible for compensating for earlier toxic damage. The OTA specifically noted the importance of research showing the possibility that neurotoxic substances were important in Alzheimer's
disease, the degenerative brain disease of old age.

 

The VA also proposed exclusion of peripheral neuropathies which could only be attributed to diseases associated with neurological deficits (Diabetes, Parkinson's disease) or alcohol abuse, under the assumption that the disease or alcohol abuse, and not dioxin, was the cause of neuropathy, similarly contradicts the findings of the OTA. The OTA found that damage to the nervous system from toxicants may first be unmasked by other conditions, such as diseases associated with neurological disorders or the voluntary intake of substances capable of neurological damage (alcohol, prescription drugs). The OTA cited evidence that toxic chemicals might even be the sole causative agents in some cases of Parkinson's disease, since onset in certain families was at similar ages, and since Parkinson's disease has increased significantly from 1962 to 1984 along with exposures to toxic chemicals. The OTA also cited evidence that the substantial increase in the incidence of motor neuron disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) between 1962 and 1984 was due to environmental exposures to neurotoxic chemicals.

It is therefore scientifically probable that in the future a higher incidence than normal of Peripheral Neuropathy will be experienced by Vietnam veterans due to Agent Orange exposure, despite the fact that the Peripheral Neuropathy was not detected in the 10 year interval after exposure in Vietnam. The degree or incidence of neurological damage in those Vietnam veterans suffering from Diabetes or Parkinson's disease is also predicted to be higher than others suffering from Diabetes or Parkinson's disease, due to earlier aggravating exposures to Agent Orange.


For the same reasons, there is no scientific basis for presuming that alcohol abuse is the only cause of any Peripheral Neuropathy in a Vietnam veteran.

 

The Secretary of Veterans' Affairs, therefore, should not place any limitations or exclusions on compensation for Peripheral Neuropathy, and following the congressional mandate of providing the benefit of the doubt to the Vietnam veteran.


The exclusion of Peripheral Neuropathy associated with Diabetes as a compensable disease is flawed for another reason. This is because the VACEH conveniently neglected the results of the Ranch Hand study (Roegner, et al., 1991) and other epidemiological research which shows a dose-related significant association between Diabetes and dioxin exposure (see attached affidavit). The minutes of the May 23, 1991 VACEH meeting discussed in detail the correlation between serum dioxin in Ranch Hand veterans and increasing diabetic rates, with Dr. Lathrop stating "these are figures which support an association." For the VA to now exclude Peripheral Neuropathy associated with Diabetes, when the VA has not been able to exclude Diabetes itself as being caused by dioxin, is spurious.


NEGLECT OF CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS) EFFECTS
The controlling majority of the VACEH, in making its recommendations to compensate Vietnam veterans for Peripheral Neuropathy, neglected to evaluate dioxin's central nervous system (CNS) effects.* Because the available evidence for CNS damage by dioxin outweighs that for peripheral nervous system (PNS) among Vietnam veterans, and because of the inseparable relationship between the biological mechanism by with dioxin exerts both CNS and PNS effects, this failure of the VACEH is indefensible.

* The CNS consists of the neurological apparatus of the brain and spinal
cord (including motor neurons), while the peripheral nervous system (PNS)
consists of those nerves in the extremities of the body (arms, legs, etc.).
Peripheral neuropathies are one result of damage to the PNS.


CNS damage by fat soluble (lipophilic) neurotoxicants such as dioxin has
always been found to accompany, and usually precede, any peripheral nervous
system (PNS) damage such as Peripheral Neuropathy. See the discussions of
relevant studies in the attached affidavit (Jenkins, 1991). The prestigious International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded as early as 1977 that human CNS damage was associated with dioxin exposures (IARC, 1977a, 1977b). In 1986 the IARC clearly restated its finding that dioxin was associated with both peripheral neuropathies and personality changes, a neuropsychological consequence of CNS damage (IARC, 1986).


The OTA found that degeneration of the axon (axonopathy) is one of the most
frequently determined neurological effects from neurotoxic chemicals (OTA,
1990). If the axon of a nerve cell dies back, it no longer reaches the next nerve cell, muscle, etc., and cannot transmit any message. Because the longer axons have more targets (larger surface area) for toxic damage, it is predicted that the longer axons found in CNS are more effected by neurotoxicants (Anthony and Graham, 1991), assuming the neurotoxicant is sufficiently lipophilic to cross the blood-brain barrier. A critical difference between nerve cell damage in the CNS compared to the PNS is that PNS nerve cells can regenerate, while those of the CNS cannot.


Thus, any toxic damage to the CNS is permanent.


Although the mechanisms by which dioxin exerts its neurotoxic effects have yet to be fully elucidated, the CNS effects are consistent with destruction of the nerve axons (axonopathy). Because of the extreme toxicity of dioxin and the wide range of biological affects, however, the mechanisms of dioxin's neurotoxicity may not be limited to axonopathies. The hypothesis that dioxin damages the CNS and PNS by destruction of axons is supported by the similarity of the neurological symptoms caused by dioxin and many other lipophilic neurotoxicants causing both CNS and PNS axonopathies, including carbon disulfide, hexane, methyl n-butyl ketone, trichloroethylene, polybrominated biphenyls, and polychlorinated biphenyls (Anthony and Graham, 1991). The attached affidavit discusses the enduring CNS deficits found among populations exposed to these other lipophilic neurotoxicants.


Lipophilic toxicants such as dioxin are able to cross the blood-brain barrier to affect the CNS. In addition, since the brain is 50 percent lipid (dry weight), compared to 6 to 20 percent lipid in other organs (OTA, 1990), the brain may be particularly vulnerable to accumulating dioxin into its fat content. Nervous system tissue itself, with its high lipid content, will also act as a selective repository for dioxin. In addition, the low elimination rate of dioxin from the body will contribute to its ability to reach equilibrium concentrations in lipid-rich nervous system tissues.


CNS EFFECTS OF DIOXIN DEMONSTRATED BY EPIDEMIOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS
In addition to the biological basis for the involvement of the CNS whenever PNS damage is produced by a lipophilic neurotoxicant, there are also numerous epidemiological investigations to support the casual relationship between dioxin and CNS effects (see attached affidavit). CNS effects observed in dioxin exposed populations include depression, anxiety, suicide, decreased cognitive function, fatigue, and poor coordination. The most severe neuropsychological consequence of dioxin exposure is excessive suicides, which has been demonstrated among exposed Vietnam veterans, chemical production workers in the U.S. and European countries, forestry workers, and railroad workers, as discussed in the attached affidavit. Another severe consequence is the excessive death rate from accidents found among the dioxin-exposed chemical production workers and Vietnam Veterans, representing either motor neuron malfunction or suicide in disguise.


In 1977, the Working Group of the International Agency for Research on
Cancer found that neurological and behavioral changes were among the most
frequently reported effects in studies of exposures to 2,4,5-T (IARC, 1977a). IARC identified 6 out of 7 different populations occupationally exposed to chlorinated phenolic compounds where neuropsychological symptoms such as neurasthenic or depressive syndromes were established (IARC, 1977b).
IARC noted that PNS damage was also found in the same 6 dioxin-exposed populations, including polyneuropathies, lower extremity weakness, and sensorial impairments (sight, hearing, smell, taste). In 1986, the IARC clearly restated its finding that dioxin had been found to be associated with peripheral neuropathies and personality changes (IARC, 1986).


NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS DEMONSTRATED BY RANCH HAND STUDIES
The evidence from the 1990 Ranch Hand study (Thomas, et al., 1990) is particularly compelling in demonstrating CNS damage from Agent Orange exposure, and is discussed here as well as in the attached affidavit.


Significant psychological deficits were found among Ranch Hand veterans in
several subscales in a battery of psychological tests. In contrast, none of the typical dioxin-related psychological deficits were ever found in statistical excess among matched controls. Ranch Hand veterans experienced a statistically significant excess of great or disabling fatigue during the day, a condition found among many other populations exposed to dioxin.

 

All the medical reasons go on and on and on that the VA has totally disregarded.


Now lets look at the operation of the Advisory Board. These comments are also from the EPA addressed to the VA.

 

VIOLATION OF ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE ACT PRINCIPALS AND UNJUSTIFIED, UNUSUAL INFORMALITY IN OPERATION OF VACEH VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS AND OPPORTUNITY TO COMMON RIGHTS GUARANTEED BY THE
ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES ACT
The manner in which the VACEH conducted its business, proposing wide- sweeping regulations to either compensate, or not compensate, Vietnam veterans for injuries suffered as a result of their service to our country, violated the substance and most fundamental principals of due notice and
opportunity for comment established by the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946, as amended (60 Stat. 237; 5 U.S.C. 522), which is controlling for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other federal regulatory bodies. This is reflected in the fact that the only written document supporting the
VA's proposed compensation regulations is a transcript of the May 23, 1991 meeting of the VACEH. This transcript does not supply even the barest basis information for the public to determine which epidemiological studies were evaluated by the VACEH, and which studies were then used (because of their adequate statistical design) to reach a determination on whether to compensate or not compensate Vietnam veterans.


For example, the transcript usually refers to only the last name lead authors of studies (which occasionally are misspelled), but no other identifying information is given, such as the date or journal in which the study was published or the organization conducting the study, or a description of the exposed population. When one of the Air Force Ranch Hand studies was discussed, one of the VACEH members described the relevant study in question as perhaps being the fifth mortality study in the series, which would have been impossible in May 1991, while another member referred to the same study as one which had been published in JAMA (which has not occurred if the
study were either the fourth or fifth mortality study in the series). At another time, the large study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety of several Agent Orange manufacturing plants was only described as "the Fingerhut study." VACEH members described having been given "stacks of studies" by unknown researchers with unknown biases to evaluate, with no tabulation of which studies were in these elusive stacks.


When the VACEH voted on whether or not a statistical association existed
between Agent Orange and certain diseases, no verbal summary was provided
of the studies upon which this conclusion was based. Such a summary conclusion would be as follows: "based on NIOSH, 1990 Ranch Hand study,
study by Zober, et al., of BASF production workers, -- etc., we conclude that the statistically significant findings of no effect established by these studies provide a firm basis for our conclusion that at this time, no significant association exists between Agent Orange and lung cancer."
No such statements were ever made in the May 23, 1991 meeting.


Thus Vietnam veterans have been denied due process by the denial of adequate information upon which to comment on the proposed compensation regulations, which will have a major impact on their lives and the lives of their families.


The transcript of the May 23 meeting itself reveals the "standard operating
procedure" of the VACEH. During the meeting, there were numerous admissions that committee members were unaware of the existence of certain studies (IE., the American Legion-Columbia University study). In other instances, it was clear that VACEH members had never had access to data until it was presented at the meeting (IE., Dr. Lathrop's presentation during the meeting itself of new information over that published in the latest Ranch Hand study). Individual VACEH members, rather than the VACEH as a whole, reviewed relevant studies. Dr. Colton described himself as "the principal reviewer" for lung cancer (transcript, p. 58). Drs. Lathrop and Kurland alone apparently had the responsibility for reviewing studies on Diabetes and Peripheral Neuropathy. Dr. Lathrop describes his disorganized efforts quite graphically as follows (transcript, p. 64): "I have some papers that were submitted with respect to both Diabetes and Peripheral Neuropathy. And on occasion it is difficult to sort out which applied to which. What I would like to do is go through the stack very quickly and give you my impressions whether an association exists..."

Then, without recessing for an independent review of the new data or studies unfamiliar to specific members, the committee as a whole proceeded to vote, cavalierly rendering their verdicts, interspersed with jocularity and personal spite. In comparison to the EPA's SAB, the VACEH process is nothing more than a kangaroo court.



DEMONSTRATION OF BIAS AGAINST VIETNAM VETERANS BY CONTROLLING VACEH MEMBERS
Earlier sections of these comments detailed the flawed scientific pronouncements of the controlling majority of the VACEH. Because all of the flawed judgments by the controlling majority of the VACEH were on the side of denying an association between Agent Orange and various health effects (or neglect to even consider certain health effects), it may be concluded these one-sited flawed scientific assessments provide A PRIORI evidence of bias against Vietnam veterans (or bias for the chemical companies which made Agent Orange) by the controlling majority of the VACEH.


Additional information from the May 23, 1991 transcript also supports a conclusion of bias against veterans by the controlling majority of the VACEH. In closing the meeting certain VACEH members first complained about the harassment they had experienced during their illustrious career as committee members, and the horror of having been sued thereby.
Not stopping with these comments for the official record, their bias against all veterans was amplified.

 

These also go on and on.

 

At the end the EPA cites a ton of medical studies to prove their point.

 

The OTA referred to above was the Office of Technology Assessment commissioned by the congress to evaluate toxin chemical poisons. Again, the VA has totally disregarded its findings also as referenced in the EPA citing.

 

So we have an NAS pronouncement that relates to nothing we were exposed to nor the methods as to which we were exposed. We have a biased medical advisory board that does not cite medical studies for its decisions. Only gather around and I will give my impressions real quick as to whether there is any associations.

 

This is the operation of the VA and its lawyers at appeal boards. Operating as if they are answerable to no one; like the IRS. Just pronounce it so and it is. Regardless, if they are lying through their teeth.

 

And just like the IRS, our elected officials let them get away with it.

 

The VA makes it decisions based on what they want the answer to be; not what it is. Then throw in some “Negotiated Coverage’s.”

 

Congress put out a mandate that the Veteran, not the VA, gets the benefit of the doubt. Obviously the VA has thrown that out and totally disregarded that.

 

In addition, I for one believe that the congressional mandate applies to the Veterans doctor as well. Without that premise the mandate has no teeth. The Veterans doctor cannot certify anything that happened 40 years ago. Yet, the VA demands the doctor sign in blood the problem was caused by Agent Orange.

 

The VA on the other hand can ignore all the studies it wants to and then after 40 years based on nothing, except some negotiations, indicate a statement like “shows an association.” That to me is a double standard and is in violation of the intent of the congressional mandate regarding the Veteran and his doctor.

 

I have proposed the following should be acceptable:

 

“From all indications the Veteran exhibits Neuropathy/Neuropathies characteristics. Whether these manifestations are from his Vietnam service cannot be determined three to four decades after the fact. Since there is no other logical explanation for the Neuropathy/Neuropathies manifestations it is presumed that Agent Orange toxin poisoning during his/her Vietnam Service is possibly associated.”

The Veterans disabilities or limitations, at this time, are:

 

I have set two goals for myself and the other veterans.

 

1. To get the VA to allow the doctors statement as above. Regardless of what the medical problems are. That certainly should be sufficient, straight forward, and logical.

 

2. To get the VA to recognize the Neuropathy issues caused by toxic poisoning as a long term health issue and not just a one time dose deal with recovery. This as progressive as any disease. Once the nerve damage starts there is no recovery. Autonomic nerve damage is even much more severe and can cause an early death. (Which the VA is hoping for.)

 

I ran a survey on the Khe Sanh website as well as some of you and it sure sounds like we all have similar symptoms. Some worse than mine yet some just now beginning to feel the effects.

 

At the reunion it was suggested we do an additional survey within the battalion since we know where the folks were and what years.

 

This would include not only the Veteran but the children of the Veteran.

 

Glenda is working on that and should have something to review for approval in a few weeks.

I hope many of you will understand now why I am so negative with this VA thing and even our congressmen and service organizations who have obviously let this go on and on and on over the past at least four decades.

 

I was naïve and thought they would do the best for us. After all is it called the Veterans Administration. I was wrong. Don’t you be wrong and think like I did.

 

My thoughts are; for them to be honest they should change their name to the Anti-Veterans Administration or just disband them all together and let the Veterans go under the socialized medicine policies the country has gone to. At least we could go to our family doctor and local hospitals.  Probably a whole lot better off.

 

They are not to be trusted at any level, obviously.

 

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