Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sign a Farewell Letter to Nicholson

Our good friend John "JR' Rossie from the Blue Water Navy website has expressed himself in an open letter to Jim Nicholson, the soon to be departed Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Here is JR's letter, and instructions for adding your signature to the letter at the bottom:
Dear Jim,

Well, you've had your day in the sun. You've played with the Big Boys, which is something you've wanted to do for a long time, isn't it!

Rest assured that you will not be remembered by anyone but an angry crowd of veterans who will mutter your name in utter disdain. You sold them out for the price of having your easily forgotten, temporarily stenciled name on an office door.

A few of us actually realize that you didn't create the bulk of the problems that plague the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those were created by other incompetent lackeys that preceded you, but you did add a few kinks that have caused significant heartache and legal turmoil, which the veteran community definitely didn't need.

What you didn't do was solve any of the existing problems. In the two short years you so faithfully represented everyone but your sworn-to constituency, you managed to set veteran causes back several years in their quest for equality and justice under the law. We'll gain that back in the long run. But we'll also bring to light the true extent of your involvement in any questionable dealings you may have been involved in.

You claimed pride in your work with land acquisition in Denver that was actually finished before you ever took office. Or did you perhaps play some role in those dealings at an earlier time? We're looking into that, and we'll sort it out.

You're putting up for sale some of the sacred land of veteran cemeteries, and we'll also look into that. And when there are any questions that arise, we promise to bring you back out into the spotlight in a heart beat. You may escape jail time, but you won't escape our scrutiny and a public pillorying. You'll actually be forgotten all the sooner proportionate to the depth of the hole you dug for yourself in what's left of the moral fabric of America.

I sometimes have read press releases that said you did something or other. But from here on the street, I can honestly confirm that those announcements were nothing but a ruse -- a smoke screen thrown up to cover your ineptitude.

The most significant problem with your time in office, Jim, was that you knew you were being used and you were willing to let that happen in your mindless and spineless commitment to a fleeting moment of pseudo-glory. It is people who commit such cowardly acts that history quickly relegates to where they belong; to the rubbish heap of public abuse and dishonesty. You were, quite simply, a clueless, uncaring, indifferent and selfish public servant. I consider that description to be a very kind summary of the best of your term.

You never gave a thought to donning the mantle of responsibility your office required. You seemed to concentrate more on ways to duck the responsibilities of your alleged position of authority. All that missing data didn't help much, although you still kept your head down, which was exactly the wrong response.

You served your time as Secretary of Veterans Affairs in a truly meretricious manner. Such is the price of politics. You've paved your own way to unnameable misery with your Faustian Deal. Don't ever expect any veteran to come to your aid in this life or any other.

As you put another phony career behind you, rest assured that the only hard to deal with effects you've left behind are with the printers who need to typeset a new name on the DVA letterhead and the scraping sound of the painter removing your name from the door.

- John Rossie, Littleton, CO, USNR

To which we heartily concur.

Please feel free to add your signature using the "Comments" link below this post. It is simple:

Please make sure you post your full name, hometown and state, and branch of service. We'll eventually harvest these for a single list.

We'll go first. comments, just your Name, Branch and Hometown/state. Thank you.

We also have a link to this post at the top of the sidebar so you can always go right to it.


W. G. Davis, USN, Gettysburg, PA

H.J. Spencer USN, Swansboro, NC

Jose Omar Saenz, USN, Mission, TX

James E. Doran, USN, Huntsville, AL


Drew T. LeGrand, USN, Maggie Valley, NC

Tom W. Proctor, USN, Scappoose, OR

Richard W. Appling, USN, Miami, FL

Chuck Wilson, USN, Hayden, ID

D.W. Williams, USN, San Mateo. CA

William "Skip" O'Donnell, USN, Greenwood Lake, NY

Ray Berilla, USN, North Port, FL

George Lawson, USN, Wilmington, NC

Kurt Priessman, MSgt, USAF (Ret), TX

Sam White USNR, Weiser, ID

Robert Bottona, USN, Islamorada, FL


David Sanderson, FTG1, USN, Huntsville, AL

Joseph T Druther, USN, Apex, NC

Terry Daluge, USN, Garland, TX

Ray Padilla, USN, El Paso TX

Robert Barbee, USN, Glendale, AZ

Chuck Graham, USN, Franklin, GA

Perry Stalnaker,USN, N.Myrtle Beach, SC

Gerald Gretsch, BTC, USN RET

M. Venuto, U.S. Army

Dale Bishop- USAF

Paul Sutton, SSGT, USMC

William Herrin, USN, Ajijic, Jal. Mexico

Dale Williamson, USN, Fresno, CA


Dale Howard, USN, WA

S.M. Musgrave, USN, Canton , OH

Robert B. Houchen, USNR, Simi Valley, CA

Thomas J. Laliberte, PH3 USN, Plymouth, MA

Bill Taylor, USN, MS

Joseph L. Covington, USN, TX

"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

Copyright © 2005-2007: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

ExIntrepid: How to write an effective letter to a politician

Our friend ExIntrepid over at the Blue Water Navy discussion board on Yahoo Groups came up with this, and it is a gem of good sense and great strategy.
Here then is his post:
What to Write:
When writing a politician the first time, for just about any reason, keep it short - about 3 or 4 paragraphs - or at most one or two pages. In our case, keep to just the one subject; "Blue Water" Navy vets. Don't be tempted to throw in you opinions on illegal immigration, taxes, abortion, or eminent domain laws. If you must write about them, do so in a separate letter.

You can use a template letter, but make sure to put each point IN YOUR OWN WORDS! I can't emphasize how important this is. Think about it; if you're working for a politician, reading mail, and you get 50 letters that are all identical, are you going to pay attention to who sent it? Or will you just begin counting them?

You can be as terse, or as chatty, as your own personality requires. A letter that isn't a cookie-cutter copy of 10 others has to be read and acknowledged to make sure they understand what it is about. The whole point of writing letters about "Blue Water" Navy Vietnam veterans and the Haas vs. Nicholson case is to get that politician or his staff to read and pay attention to it. If you have 50 letters from 50 different people worded individually, I think the politician's staff are going to sit up and take notice of them a lot more than 50 identical letters, with just a signature.

Somewhere in the letter, in no particular order, make sure to do the following:
  • Describe who you or the veteran are and dates/unit/ship served aboard.
  • Describe what you are writing about - in this case "Hass vs. Nicholson"
  • Describe what you want the politician to do. (lean on VA, Nicholson; pass new legislation on "Blue Water" Navy, etc.)
  • Describe the good/bad things that could happen if he helps/ignores the situation. (political consequences)
Remember, don't write anything you wouldn't want to see with your name in the newspaper. Be polite, reasonable, courteous, and most of all, persuasive. Your goal should be to start a dialogue with the politician or his people if at all possible. Further down the line, your voice can be important in improving the DVA for all veterans.

Last, if I have to say it:
  • DO include your name, return address, home phone number, and your personal e-mail address if you have one. Letters that don't have a name and address are likely to be round-filed immediately.
  • DON'T include your social security number, your VA file number, or use a company e-mail account. Company accounts have access to your e-mails, and the politician's office will send you a form if they need your personal information. After you fill it out and sign it they are legally responsible for securing your information.
How to Write:
Hand-written letters:
Hand written letters, even after the Anthrax scare, have always carried the most weight and received the most individual attention. Politicians pay the most attention to voters who feel strongly enough about an issue to actually hand write a letter. Of course, it is important to make sure the politician can read it, so if you don't have good, clear handwriting, it may be better to print or type a letter. You should be aware that since the Anthrax thing, letters may take more than two weeks to get to the politician's office.

Typed or computer printed letters:
If you're like me, it's probably better to use a typewriter or computer to compose and print a letter. A computer, particularly, allows you go back and edit and re-edit until your letter is clear and concise. Just make sure to sign the letter clearly.

I strongly recommend that if you write a letter, you should mail it as opposed to faxing, if possible. Considering how many faxes a politician gets, I think it's quite possible that an individual letter might get lost.

You can use google, or another search engine to find the contact page of all House and Senate members, and they will have a contact form. Make sure to ask for a reply, and make sure to include your personal e-mail account. Avoid using blind accounts (like hotmail), for obvious reasons. You want him to reply to you, so that you can get a direct address to use further down the line. You should also avoid sending templates on websites to communicate, because after his office sees a number of them they'll stop reading them and just count them, if that.

Since the Anthrax scare, e-mails are actually more likely than before to be read and acted on as opposed to just being counted. (The federal government finally discovers the joys of electronic filing and the "paperless office") On the other hand, because of the ease and low cost of using e-mail, politicians get a lot more of it than any other method. I've found it much more effective to get in touch by snail-mail or by phone, and have a person's name as a point of contact. Then you will be able to correspond with the person who has responsibility for your particular case or opinion instead of just e-mailing 'in the blind'.

Who you should write:
Your Local Congressman:
Of course, the very best method of asking questions, getting help, or giving opinions is to actually make an appointment with the politician's office near you. If you are the veteran yourself, and you have an Agent Orange claim denied, pending, or deferred, you should phone, write, or make an appointment with your local congressman. (You know, the one you voted for, right? If you voted against him, maybe he can change your mind. If you're not a registered voter, become one!) It is his JOB to help you deal with the Department of Veteran's Affairs. I'm always amazed at the number of veterans I've spoken to who have not contacted their Congressman for help.

Make an appointment with the person who handles Veteran's problems with the DVA in that office, and go see them. You should bring all of the paperwork by you and from the DVA; your original claim letter, your DD-214, your service records (if you have a copy), and every piece of paper sent by the DVA to you.

As I said before, your representative in the House has the responsibility and the power of the budget. They are the ones who originate the legislation that funds the DVA. Even if your representative is not on one of the House committees responsible for Veterans or the Military spending, he knows someone who is. So, aside from direct help with the DVA, persuading him in the rightness of our cause will help influence legislation to correct our problem with the DVA, one way or another.

Your US Senators:
Like your representative, one or both of your US Senators have people working for them who's primary responsibility is to help veterans with the DVA. Even if you are already getting help from your representative, you can also get help from your Senator(s) office dealing with the DVA. I wouldn't even mention one to the other, just on a 'more is better' principal.

While they do not control spending like the House, the Senate also makes laws, and persuading one or both of your Senators to sponsor legislation to correct or amend the Agent Orange Act to specifically include "Blue Water" Navy Vietnam veterans is a definite goal.

Also as I mentioned somewhere before, besides legislation, the Senate has oversight through their standing committees, of Departments in the Executive branch of the government, to especially include the Department of Veteran's Affairs. An inquiry from a Senator into the wisdom of defying the Court of Appeals for Veteran's Claims can make even Secretary Nicholson pause to think. If we can get a number of Senators from both parties to look into Nicholson's politically negative decisions, he might be persuaded to drop the appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

Furthermore, the Senate has a constitutional duty to "advise and consent" the President on how he runs the executive branch. Consider the effect of a bi-partisan group of Senators "advising" the President that his Secretary of Veteran's Affairs is "interpreting" law to save spending on the backs of war veterans. Perhaps they would "advise" the President that Nicholson's decisions will result in negative political consequences that both parties would really rather not have to deal with later.

Finally, while less likely to get reply, writing Senators on the various Veteran's or Military committees might generate enough interest as to get a response from these committees that will be useful to us. All it costs is a stamp, and it could make a difference. Why not?

Your President:
Writing a Letter to the President has the virtue of being simple, it just takes one letter. On the other hand, it's unlikely you will get the same kind of response that you might get from your congresscritters. On the third hand, Secretary Nicholson works directly for the President, and if enough complaints come in directed at him the president might be persuaded to take steps to rein Nicholson in. Again, it's unlikely, but it is possible, and worth making the effort to contact him with our complaints. Again, all it can cost is a stamp, and every bit helps.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals:
To repeat what I've said elsewhere, unless some of us know a Professor of Constitutional Law, or someone who can file a 'Friend of the Court' brief in the Haas vs. Nicholson case, there isn't much we can do to effect the court case. On the other hand, if you DO know a Law Professor or an interest group who could file such a brief, then by all means use all of your powers of persuasion to convince them to do so!

Writing other interested parties:
After you have written your Congressman, your Senator(s), and possibly the President, consider who else might be persuaded to help us:
  • The Republican National Committee AND the Democratic National Committee. After all, I think we want to generate bi-partisan support, don't you think? Like elected politicians, they will have an online contact form you can google.
  • The Presidential Campaign Headquarters for EACH candidate in BOTH parties. Again, google is your friend, and you're actually quite likely to get a response. Plus, if enough of us do so, the candidates may even bring it up in their campaign!
  • Post information and comments on internet Blogs and Forums like FreeRepublic, DemocraticUnderground, Daily Kos, National Review Online, The Captain's Quarters, LittleGreenFootballs, Michelle Malkin, Slate, etc., etc. The more, the merrier.
The goal here is to get the facts of our case out into the public eye, and perhaps if it shows up in enough places, we will begin to draw enough attention to effect the outcome. It may not always be in our favor, but the more we can present our arguments, I can't help but think the more likely we will prevail.
Thank you sir! This is an outstanding piece of work. Have at it, Readers! Get those letters, emails, faxes, etc. going, and keep the pressure up!


"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

Copyright © 2005-2007: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Chuck Graham: The Case Against Mary Lou Keener

Chuck Graham sends this piece of information and analysis, and we think it worthy of your time and interest. There are things in here that you likely won’t find elsewhere. It may serve to explain some of the workings of the VA, and the people who make the decisions. Dear readers, I give you Chuck Graham:

VAOPGCPREC 7-93, and VAOPGCPREC 27-97 are both authored by the same person, that being Mary Lou Keener, who was the General Counsel with the Department of Veterans Affairs at the time both opinions were handed down. It will be my intention to examine both opinions and offer my own opinion as to why these decisions were made and possible motive as to why the latter [27-97] was made.

Lets look at 7-93. It deals with the question from the Board of Veterans Appeals in reference to a veteran who flew high altitude flights over Vietnam but never actually landed in Vietnam. The veteran was applying for presumption of service connection under 38 C.F.R. 3.313 for lymphocytic lymphoma on the basis of service in Vietnam as that term is used in 38 C.F.R. 3.313. 38 C.F.R. 3.313 basically deals with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma [NHL]and establishment of service connection based on “service in Vietnam” during the Vietnam era.

Sec.3.313[b] defines service in Vietnam as including service in the waters offshore, OR service in other locations if the conditions of service involved duty or visitation in Vietnam. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs decision was based on a study released on March 29,1990, commonly know to all as the Selected Cancers Study, by the Centers for Disease Control [CDC]. A case controlled study begun in 1983, “to examine the association between several rare cancers, Agent Orange exposure, and military service in Vietnam.” Results of this study strongly suggest that Vietnam veterans have a roughly 50% increased risk of developing NHL about 15-25 years after military service in Vietnam. The results do not show a similar increased risk in vets who served in other locations during the Vietnam era. Thus the reason for denying the applying veteran.

The Selected Cancers Study focused on vets who were stationed in Vietnam. That phrase was defined as including those vets who were stationed in Vietnam OR off the coast of Vietnam. For the study, vets who reported that they served in Vietnam were categorized by military regions in which they served or by naval assignments, i.e., Blue Water [ocean going vessels], Brown Water [smaller vessels patrolling near shore or along rivers],and On Shore.

The preamble to the final regulation did state that the Secretary in making his decision, and the Selected Cancers Study, both noted an increased risk of NHL based on service in Vietnam, rather than exposure to herbicides containing dioxin. It’s funny that NHL is now on the list of presumptive diseases for AO exposure, and has been for some time.

Maybe Mrs. Keener should have read further into the Selected Cancers Study where she would have found that NHL was higher among men in the sea-based Navy than among other veterans. [WHY ?]

The study on risk of testicular cancer associated with AO exposure among Vietnam veterans on the AO registry found that only US Navy veterans had a statistically increased risk of testicular cancer and that there was no significantly increased risk for ground troops. Again I ask[ Why ?]

I believe that the CDC found that if they went any further in their study it would have shown that U.S Navy personnel were among the highest exposed to AO [dioxin] in the Vietnam theater, and therefore, they concluded their study and didn’t send it on to Washington for various reasons, monetary most likely.

To date, to my knowledge, the VA nor the Institute of Medicine [IOM] have conducted or asked for a study to evaluate the possible exposure of U.S. Navy personnel to herbicides [or dioxin ] that were used in Vietnam during the Vietnam era. Only the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs has seen fit to carry on such a study. [WHY NOT OUR GOVT.?]

Ok, so now we know that VAOPGCPREC 7-93 deals with high altitude flights over Vietnam and NHL, but as late as July 1,2004 the VA is still referring to VAOPGCPREC 7-93 in the M21-1 Part III Change 122, and I quote paragraph e:

Verifying Vietnam Service for Claims Involving Exposure to Herbicide Agents.
[1] It may be necessary to determine if a veteran had service in Vietnam in connection with claims based on exposure to herbicide agents. A veteran must have actually served on land within the Republic of Vietnam [RVN] to qualify for the presumption of exposure to herbicides. 38 CFR Sec.3.307[a][6]. The fact that a veteran has been awarded the Vietnam Service Medal does not prove that he or she was “in country.” Service members who were stationed on ships off shore, or who flew missions over Vietnam, but never set foot in- country, were sometimes awarded the Vietnam Service Medal. To verify service in RVN, you should review the veteran’s DD-214 to determine if it shows such service [e.g., Foreign Service: Republic of Vietnam]. If not, you may need to obtain and review the veteran’s other personnel records [e.g., Department of the Army Form 20 or equivalent].

Ok where in 7-93 does it mention Vietnam Service Medal and what happened to 7-93’s definition of Stationed in Vietnam, which included service off the coast of Vietnam. One further comment on 7-93 Mrs. Keener defines Duty as service under orders. I believe all of us veterans were Under Orders or we would not have been there !

In this opinion Mrs. Keener was asked to advise the Director of Compensation and Pension Service whether service on a naval vessel in the waters off shore of Vietnam constitutes service in the Republic of Vietnam for purposes of 38 U.S.C. sec. 101 [29] [A], which defines the Vietnam era as the period beginning on February 28, 1961 and ending on May 7, 1975, in the case of a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. The question in the claim was if a veteran serving on an aircraft carrier during the period of November 1961 through June 1962 and the carrier spent some of that time off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam, whether such service may be considered wartime service for purposes of determining eligibility for IMPROVED PENSION!! [NOTE: to qualify for a improved pension you must have served at least 90 days of active military service and at least one of those days was during a war time period. ]

This was not a question about eligibility of presumptive herbicide exposure but a question dealing with wartime service for pension. Mrs. Keener’s opinion 27-97 was dated July 23, 1997 but section 505 of the Veterans’ Benefits Improvements Act was amended in 1996 [Pub. Law No. 104-275] to change the definition of Vietnam era in section 101 [29] of title 38, to the period beginning February 28,1961 and ending on May 7,1975, for vets who served in the RVN during that period, and August 5,1964 through May 7,1975 for all other cases, the later period is used on AO claims. I believe that Mrs. Keener could have answered the question in the pending claim at this point as yes this was a War Time Period, and that the veteran had at least 1 day of active military service during a war time period. I believe that Mrs. Keener is confusing the term used by Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Alan K. Simpson when he referenced the fact that “U.S. troops were subjected to the real perils of ground combat as early as February 28,1961.” When reading the early history of the Vietnam conflict we see where the U.S. Navy as early as 1959, had troops on the ground and were training and accompanying their Vietnamese counterparts in building the Vietnamese Navy and were in fact fired on by Viet Cong units using small arms as well as larger weapons. The carrier task force was flying air cover for U.S. forces and Vietnamese forces. I believe Sen. Simpson was including all military forces [even Navy] when he made this statement. Mrs. Keener continues on in her Opinion using phrases such as does not conclusively resolve, “We will examine: the statute’s Legislative history, [and] the Intent of Congress.”

Again, this has nothing to do with determining herbicide exposure for AO claims just wartime service for improved pension, but it has been used to DENY countless AO claims made by U.S. Navy veterans since 2002.

Since Mrs. Keener seems so fixated with Legislative History and Congressional Intent, I reviewed some of the 102d Congressional bills offered by members of Congress and Senate to see what their intent was, if it could be determined by a layman such as myself.

For example, Congressman Kanjorski introduced H.R. 121 which also was dealing with changing the Vietnam era dates to March 1, 1961 through August 4, 1964 and his language was as follows: “in the case of a veteran who served on active duty in the Armed Forces in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand , the former Democratic Republic of Vietnam [north Vietnam] the Republic of Vietnam [South Vietnam] or the WATERS adjacent to the countries.” Senate bill 127 introduced by Senator Alan Cranston with 15 co-sponsors, has language such as, “in the case of a Vietnam veteran who, during Vietnam service, was exposed to an herbicide agent containing dioxin etc., and under definitions – “[1] The term Vietnam veteran means a veteran who performed Vietnam service, and “[2] The term Vietnam service means active military, naval, or air service in Vietnam during the Vietnam era. H.R. bill 321 introduced by Cong. Lane Evans with at least 86 co-sponsors and went on to become The Agent Orange Act 1991 uses the same language and definitions as Senate bill 127 [ as above].

I believe Active Naval service could be safely defined as following orders and responding to what ever and where ever you’re needed whether that might be on shore, up rivers or off the coast and if we [the Navy] were not in the Republic of Vietnam, just who was shooting at us, the Canadians!?!?

Since there have been no published U.S. or VA studies on the health effects of herbicide exposure to naval personnel in Vietnam how can Mrs. Keener or the VA say conclusively that we were not exposed?

Mrs. Keener started working for VA in April 1993 and was appointed General Counsel in May 1993. Mrs. Keener is also a veteran navy nurse with service on the hospital ship USS Repose while stationed off Vietnam. While at VA, Keener also worked with Hershel W. Gober who was appointed Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Feb 4, 1993 by President Bill Clinton. Gober became acting Sec. of VA during 1997 through 1998. Gober was nominated by Clinton to be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 1997 but Clinton withdrew his nomination when the Senate confirmation committee intended to look into Gober’s exoneration on a 1993 charge of sexual misconduct. According to an article in The New York Times Mrs. Keener, department counsel, referred the complaint to a staff lawyer who found the charge meritless. Mrs. Keener
later married Gober in January 1996.

In a House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing in 1997 [on sexual harassment in the VA] Congressman Steve Buyer stated “what I have today is to announce something that I’m not very pleased to announce, and that is I’m going to send a letter over to Arlen Specter, and what I’m going to ask the chairman is that I have very serious reservations over the nomination of Hershel Gober as the position of Secretary of the Veterans Affairs, and I’m going to send him over my reservations that he should not be named as Secretary of the VA. Mr. Gober, as the former Deputy Secretary of the VA presided as second in command over a structure whose mismanagement is only now coming fully into scope. His complacency as Deputy Secretary, and more importantly, the failure to bring these mismanagement issues to light, leaves me limited room for confidence in his fitness for Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Second, the gross mismanagement of the Secretariat is about to be eclipsed by all these recent revelations on sexual harassment that have shown signs of permeating the VA management structure to include the culture. It’s a cancer that seems to be eating away at the infrastructure of the country’s second-largest agency. Finally, to exacerbate these conditions, it is truly very concerning to me, and that is that the most influential oversight medium available to the agency, was the Office of the General Counsel, that was headed then by the Acting Secretary’s Spouse, [Mrs. Keener]. It has been very disturbing to me that many of the allegations of sexual misconduct, that it was the agency themselves that took the victims of sexual harassment and further victimized them. And so when you had the Office of General Counsel there that should have stepped forward, instead of protecting the victims who are subject to the hostile working environment, they, in turn, became victimized because she sought to protect the agency herself, and that being her husband and the former Secretariat.”

I find it not too hard to believe, and again this is just my opinion, that Mrs. Keener could have been looking for ways to make her husband look good so that he may possibly be appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs, by saving money in the VA’s budget by issuing VAOPGCPREC 27-97 which, in effect, would deny compensation claims to US Navy Vietnam veterans. Mrs. Keeners father was a WWII navy vet and suffered from asbestos related mesothelioma and died as a result in 2001.

In quoting Mrs. Keener from a statement she gave to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act, January 11, 2005, she stated, “My dad was lucky to have a daughter who is a nurse, a lawyer, and a veteran to help him and my mom navigate all the health, regulatory, and legal systems we had to deal with. After his death, I was able to help my mom receive Dependent Indemnity Compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for a service connected death.”

With all due to respect to Mrs. Keener’s father, a veteran, I wonder just how hard it was for her to get the DIC from VA with her past employment with VA and the fact that her husband Hershel Gober was again Acting Secretary of VA [July 25, 2000 through January 2002.]

It is for the above reasons that I feel that Mrs. Keener should have recused herself from making the 27-97 decision.


Chuck Graham
Thank you Chuck. This will take some time to digest. I don’t know that it will make a difference in how we Blue Water types are treated, but it may make it easier for some to understand why we are treated this way.

Chuck’s piece fits in with our premise that we are being barred from collecting benefits because to acknowledge those of us who are affected by Agent Orange would be to provide a new class of potential litigants against the chemical companies that knowingly poisoned US military personnel during the Vietnam War. The law suit against the Chemical companies was closed in the late 1990s after a settlement, but with the sudden onslaught of Blue Water Veterans getting Agent Orange related diseases and dying from them at a faster rate than our land based Army and Marine Corps brothers, the chemical companies fear such a new class of potential litigants, and the Department of Veterans Affairs is denying us our rights in order to protect them.

This is something that needs to be brought before the attorney General of the United States, and Congress. Sadly, the Press/Media will not heed our pleas. But Nicholson and Keener, and Nicholson’s predecessors need to be taken to Civil Court on Civil Rights violations. It’s up to us now, the Blue Water Veterans who have been singled out by the DVA to die without recourse to the benefits our Congress intended. Our rights to due process have been oppressed by the DVA and by the original Judge in the Civil Court case against the chemical companies.


"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

Copyright © 2005-2007: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.