"It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."
On more than one occasion we have accused the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs [DVA] with protecting the chemical companies that manufactured Agent Orange by prohibiting Blue Water Navy Veterans from receiving presumptive benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991. We have explained that by granting presumptive eligibility to the Blue Water Navy Veterans, they would be validating a new class of potential litigants in civil class action suits against the manufacturers of Agent Orange. By doing so, the resulting litigation would be disastrously costly to those manufacturers as they have already lost the same suit with an earlier class of Veterans in the late 1990s. The chemical companies settled that lawsuit, and with a friendly judge, they are currently safe since that Federal judge will not allow the case to be reopened or revisited.
Blue Water Navy veterans came late to Agent Orange, filing more claims from the late 1990s until now. Now, Blue Water Navy Veterans are dying at a faster rate than their Army and Marine counterparts.
The Department of Veterans Affairs saw this trend coming and began maneuvering in the early 1990s, actually not too long after the passage of the Agent Orange legislation in 1991. In 1993, they took out Air Force veterans with a precedent issued by their DVA’s General Counsel. In 1997 they issued another precedent declaring Blue Water Navy Veterans ineligible because they never set foot on the ground in Vietnam. The DVA did not take action on the 1997 precedent until 2002, when it issued a change to their policy manual declaring Blue Water Navy Veterans ineligible. They cut off benefits to many Blue Water Navy Veterans who were already receiving Agent Orange benefits, and stopped approving new claims.
Thus the Department of Veterans Affairs created a whole new class of potential litigants when they stopped paying Agent Orange benefits to Blue Water Navy Veterans in 2002. The result is that the judge, or any judge for that matter, would be forced to either allow a new suit, or to reopen the old one, thus paving the way for a quick settlement from the chemical companies, but one that would in the end be ruinously expensive to at least some of the chemical companies who have barely recovered from the first suit.
Now, be clear on this please. The DVA created this new class of litigants in 2002 under then Secretary Anthony Principi, when they cut off benefits they had been paying for over a decade to Blue Water Navy Veterans. So this class of litigants is three years old now. What would provide this class with the cause of action necessary to file a class action lawsuit will not occur unless and until the VA restores presumptive eligibility status to the Blue Water Navy Veterans. That act validates the legal connection between Agent Orange and your disability. The prevention of that act, then, provides protection to the stockholders of the chemical companies. It has nothing to do with the DVA being understaffed, or under funded, as Secretary Nicholson has repeatedly claimed. The sole reason for denying Blue Water Navy eligibility is to protect those stockholders from a new or re-activated class action law suit.
Further, such a judgment would seriously affect the U.S. stock market, shaking confidence in some of our largest corporations.
The Institute of Medicine [IOM] is tasked to review scientific studies related to Agent Orange contamination and forward the results of those studies to the Department of Veterans Affairs for consideration in making policy changes. The Agent Orange Update: 2006, released at the end of July two weeks ago, forwarded the results of two studies that showed limited evidence of a link between Agent Orange contamination and both hypertension, and AL amyloidosis in Vietnam Veterans. The DVA will now consider this data for the possibility of making changes to the qualifying diseases included in benefits for Agent Orange contamination.
What is missing from the Agent Orange Update: 2006, and from previous reports, is any mention of the dozens of scientific studies linking Agent Orange contamination with Blue Water Navy Veterans. We do not know if the IOM panel that drafts the Agent Orange Update purposely ignores the overwhelming evidence of a direct link to Agent Orange contamination of Blue Water Navy Veterans, or whether the DVA pressures the IOM not to include said data, but either way, the result is that Blue Water Navy Veterans go without benefits, while the stockholders of the manufacturers of Agent Orange, and the other dioxins, continue reaping their stock dividends.
To all you Blue Water Veterans out there: you are being sacrificed on the altar of corporate stockholder protectionism!
We can wait, if you want. We can wait for months, or longer, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to issue a ruling on the DVA’s appeal of the Haas decision, and risk that they will also protect the chemical companies, for that would be the only reason for them to rule in favor of the DVA. The overwhelming evidence is against the DVA on this, but money talks.
Wait if you want. We can’t. Nor can we take the risk of an adverse ruling.
How many more have to die without benefits before we get justice?
Frankly, we don’t plan to be anybody’s sacrificial lamb. We plan to be an angry and avenging lion. We want Nicholson, and his predecessor Anthony Principi to go to prison for this, and anyone else who is complicit. And by prison, we do not mean some cushy Air Force base in Florida, we want them to do time in a Federal Penitentiary, and become some inmate’s wife for their term. These men consciously allowed graft and corruption to rule their decisions at great cost to the Blue Water Navy Veterans.
We believe that a great and ugly crime has been committed against us by Nicholson, Principi and the chemical companies. It includes conspiracy, official misconduct, collusion, at the very least. There may even be bribery involved.
Someone, either the DVA, or the IOM, or both, is suppressing scientific evidence that would validate Blue Water Navy claims under Agent Orange legislation. The arguments the DVA is making in the Haas case currently in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit are wholly and completely without merit in the face of the overwhelming evidence in studies done by the Australian government, the scientific community, and even by our own U.S. Navy! The 1990 Zumwalt Report was ignored almost in total by the DVA because it validates scientifically that Blue Water Navy Veterans serving on ships working close in shore were contaminated by Agent Orange and other dioxins sprayed near the coast. For the past few years the DVA [and the IOM] has ignored, suppressed, or otherwise avoided facing the scientific evidence that validates our claims.
There is no other reason for their doing this than to protect the stockholders of the chemical companies from potentially costly settlements should Blue Water Navy Veterans be officially validated for service connection to Agent Orange Exposure.
Shame on them all for being so greedy that they would sacrifice the lives of thousands of war veterans to protect a bunch of greedy stockholder profits. This misplaced sense of ethos deserves to be smacked down hard by any and all legal methods.
Now it is up to us to seek justice, and force the United States Government to right a grievous wrong.
We have tried to get the news media involved and they ignore us.
What will it take to get an investigation rolling?
Everyone knows someone. Call any and all reporters, editors, newspaper, radio, TV station owners, and get them to commit to this story. Call your Congressional Representative and your Senator. Complain, loudly and firmly!
The Vietnam War may have ended for the United States on April 30, 1975, but on August 10, 2007 it is still claiming thousands of victims. It is time for that to be recognized and dealt with fairly, honestly and openly by our Government, and our corporations.
"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." -- President Abraham Lincoln
"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious." --President George Washington
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