1st Cav Veterans Nurse wife response to
To: Commissioner John Grady and all concerned Commissioners
Attn: Commissioner Grady
Congressional Members, Congressional Staff, and VA staff:
1. Study designs are/were flawed from the outset.
2. Subject inclusion for studies were selected from one very limited group not easily generalized to the entire group of veterans and their offspring.
3. No large-scale study across the branches of service as to mortality/morbidity/reproductive problems post Vietnam.
4. The people studying the problems of veterans are the same people charged with providing care and compensating them.
5. No one has done a valuable study to determine if other factors exacerbated the problems posed by other toxic/noxious chemicals or conditions. Does ANYONE have a clue what the combined effect of Dapsone, Agent White and Agent Blue And Combat stress mixed in with dehydration and insecticide might be? Let's see how well the cattle do exposed to ALL those elements! Bet at least a few would be going hooves up!
6. No one studied more than one toxic chemical/noxious condition. Arsenic IS a poison, sir. Anything in the wrong proportions, even H20, can be toxic.
7. Pearson R levels and confidence levels do not have to be <0.1 to have significance. Generally, accepted confidence levels are <0.5. Confidence levels for veterans should not be tougher than for any other population group in society, in fact, they should be more generous rather than stringent.
Furthermore, in my view, politicians should not play footsie with veteran's lives by giving and taking compensation each time a new party comes into power. That leads to rife corruption and patronage schemes, will lead to the formation of veteran 'unions' to get the biggest buck for the biggest vote, and will leave our national security rife with corruption and patronage schemes. Veterans have to be given a measure of security--- financial and otherwise to allow their bodies and futures to be used at the whims of national politicians.
The scientific community can study, restudy, and restudy these problems again and again and depending on the study design and strength of the analyses, could come to infinite conclusions, many colored by the researcher's own personal and moral stands on war and the military. All they are doing is spinning wheels, wasting valuable resources, and denying veterans justice by trying to prove the un-provable.
In the meantime, the federal government must always protect the taxpaying public from those who would manipulate for funding--- and bankrupt our economy by using veterans who believe their every ache and pain might be due to their time in service. There has to be some balance and some justice. To me, the only fair thing to do is to be reasonable--- and quit all the game playing. If the medical community is seeing patterns in veterans, then that should be reported. Just as stats on communicable diseases are collected by local health departments. It could be done very simply...... make a veteran status category on every insurance claim. Those stats can be fed into a national database and trends can easily be ascertained and compared to the general population. I have little doubt that certain conditions would come to light--- PTSD, DMII, Prostate CA, PN, all would have no problem passing the bar of confidence level at the .05 level. I would bet my life that many vets would also be found to have sexual function disorders, reproductive disorders, etc.
I think the VA and military should figure out the whys of those figures, and correct those issues, to the greatest extent possible, not the other way around..... finding a causal relationship prior to determining a significant trend in mortality or morbidity. The VA/congress have the cart before the horse.
That is why they are less than compassionate and causing needless stress in veteran's lives by this shell game that they continuously want to play....let's see, just in the five years that Alan has returned to the VA for help with his health issues, they have tried to delete or downgrade his PTSD claim how many times now? At least three? His DM claim, first approved at 10% then taken away, and now dropped by him (it should still be given at 10%) is ridiculous. The peripheral neuropathy claim (that he also dropped) was shown to be in evidence by three EMG's, three different doctors, and now was confirmed to be getting worse----by the VA itself. No one has explained just what this neuropathy is and what caused it...... and now, of course, since his claim is dropped, now they call it what it really is.
Last weekend, he was with a large group of Veterans in Kokomo, Indiana. There were several Vets he met with who were in his regiment at the same time as he was. All have developed borderline DM (some are now on meds, others still right on the cusp), all have PN, all have erectile dysfunction (they all talk frankly of penile implants and Viagra treatments), all but Alan have prostate CA (one had to have his whole prostate removed, a very radical procedure). What are the odds of that happening with any other group of 58-60 year olds who did NOT go to Vietnam? Come on folks! Let's get real!
Now, is 100% compensation due them? I say yes, in most cases. Look at us--- we were lucky to have two children. One grandchild. Due to the health problems of our children (which could be related to AO/etc), we will have little or no help as we approach our senior years. We will, most likely, have to move into a care facility and will most likely spend every cent we have saved to just live. When that money is gone, we will become a burden on the state. In the meantime, my brother-in-law who dodged the draft in 1970, has two children also, and has five grandchildren to help them into their old age. It isn't fair!
Those who didn't go should be shouldering the burden for those who did. Same with Gulf War etc. Anytime a trend is seen in ANY veteran group, the compensation should be first and foremost, and THEN the hunt for the causative agent, so that the military can correct its practices.
The bottom line is as always an ethical question---how do we care for those who served our country and do it in fairness to all the people of the USA, not just the veterans? It is not the greatest good for the greatest number ethical application, for as anyone can readily see, the largest number of Americans DID NOT FIGHT IN THE VIETNAM WAR. However, for those who did, we have an OBLIGATION to make certain that their needs are met, both during their service and their time as a veteran. Their contributions are enormous to our country and they ask little in return----in fact, I have observed, that most veterans who begin getting compensation and that steady financial support are very wise with their money. They often give large contributions back to the government or military service organizations.
Compared with the amount of foreign aide, misguided attempts to rectify social problems in areas of our world that have neither asked for or wanted our intervention, and completely stupid wastes of tax payer monies for investigations into petty crime, political infighting, etc etc, I cannot understand how and why our congress and policy makers would even begin to suggest that giving these veterans a very minor amount monthly for compensation (treatment costs are not the REAL issue here-- it is about money for justice) would make any real difference to our nation or its economy at all. I bet if someone quantified how much actual benefit that veterans who are service connected actually receive, it is an amount less than what our nation pays on chalk for our nation's schools.
Thanks for continuing this important work.
Yes, I want the answer to the question....just why does the government insist on proving the un-provable. I guess there are too many lawyers involved---because only in a court of law can something be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In science, that concept does not exist.
I wonder if they know that.