Friday, September 07, 2007

A Letter to the DVA from a Sick Sailor

Our shipmates over at BlueWaterNavy on Yahoo Groups often have terrific things to say about our plight. Frequently there are gems of information that, when compiled from all sources, will be helpful to us. One shipmate shared the following letter written to the DVA in 2005:


A Letter To The Department Of Veterans Affairs

Reference: Blue Water Navy and The Co-Distillation of Dioxin [ Agent Orange ]

To Whom it May Concern :
I’m submitting information on my herbicide [agent orange ] exposure while I was in the theater of operations off the coast of Vietnam while serving in the U.S. Navy. Though It is common knowledge that the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t recognize compensation claims filed for AO exposure from members of the United States Navy who were on duty in the coastal waters just off Vietnam, I would like to offer the following for your consideration. My reason for doing so is partly because of an article I read recently where it was proposed by members of staff of the Department of Veterans Affairs that they rewrite sections of 38 U.S.C. SEC. 5.262 [A][1] to more clearly state the limits of the presumption of exposure and the presumption of service connection based on exposure to certain herbicide agents. The author states, “We are not aware of any valid scientific evidence showing that individuals who served in the waters Offshore of the republic of Vietnam or in other locations, were subject to the same risk of herbicide exposure as those who served WITHIN the GEOGRAPHIC LAND BOUNDARIES of the Republic of Vietnam,” [for however short a period of time, such as flying into Saigon, getting off the plane and lunching at the officer’s club, then flying on to some other country, etc.].

The Scientific Evidence is what I want to address !!

#1 It is my belief and conviction that the U.S. Navy knew of the dangers and concerns of Distilling water for shipboard uses while in littoral waters or certain other locations. This is evidenced by the fact that while conducting Atomic radiation testing at Bikini Atoll in 1946 they were warned not to utilize any seawater aboard ships in the area, for fear of contamination by the radiation which had contaminated the coastal waters. [THIS WAS IN 1946!!] The ships that were salvaged from operation crossroads were sent to Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco for decontamination. A total of 79 ships were sent there. An acid wash was used to decontaminate the evaporators and water purification systems.

If the U.S. Navy had no scientific knowledge of dangers of contamination, why, then, were they worried about distilling seawater at Bikini Atoll?

#2 The U.S. Army Technical Manual, TM 5-813-8, was issued in September, 1986. Chapter 5-1, paragraph C addresses the fact that dissolved organic materials will carry across a distillation/condensation process with the water. Pesticides and industrial organic chemicals may be difficult to remove by distillation/condensation.

WHERE DID THEY GET THIS SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE? This is the Army, who should know less about water desalination than the Navy.

#3 The Manual of Naval Preventive Medicine, NAVMED P-5010-6, [Rev 1990 ], Chapter 6 Water Supply Afloat sec 6-3, states that water in harbors or off-shore from habitations, when operating in fleet strength, MUST be considered POLLUTED and UNFIT for uses other than in fire and flushing systems and must not be used for other purposes. If it is necessary in an emergency situation to produce water from contaminated sources, the Medical Department must insure that increased surveillance of the system is instituted. Operational checks of distillation plants afloat, inspection, and approval of watering points ashore furnish only a part of the PRECAUTIONS NECESSARY to assure a safe water supply.


#4 The U.S. Navy’s Risk Analysis of Shipboard Drinking Water Chemical Contaminants, [August 18, 2000] by Lieutenant Michael D. Cassady, Medical Service Corps, United States Navy, states,
“An important aspect of the drinking water produced onboard ships and submarines is its source. Ships and submarines routinely do not produce water unless they are at least 12 miles from the shoreline. However, the operational environment for ships and submarines is changing and more missions are requiring operations in littoral waters for extended lengths of time. Littoral waters are more likely to be at risk for primary and secondary contaminates."

#5 In an article from the Navy Epidemiology Board Request for Action Paper [EPI-RAP 98-009 ] May 21,1998 titled, Assessing Chemical Content of Potable Water Produced on United States Navy Ships, the question is asked, “Does potable water produced on U.S. Navy ships contain chemicals that have been associated with adverse health effects in experimental animals and humans exposed through working conditions?" Potable water systems onboard U.S. Navy New construction ships may receive a chemical analysis depending on the construction yard, but this is not a requirement. Lack of routine potable water chemical analysis is a concern because shipboard water quality is affected by many environmental factors including GEOGRAPHY and system maintenance.

Based on the above information I would ask the Department of Veterans Affairs to request from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, and the Department Of Defense to provide information on any scientific studies performed by any college, university, or department of government on shipboard distillation that would shed light on this scientific knowledge, and when they were in possession of it. I certainly believe they knew of dangers on co-distillation of dioxin long before the Vietnam War, or they should have.

Thank you,



Thanks Sailor! These are very salient issues that at first blush raise serious doubts as to the Department of Veterans Affairs credibility, and after further inspection, raise questions not only of the ethics of the DVA, but of the legality of what they have done in reference to Blue Water Navy Veterans of Vietnam. Hopefully, if enough of this is presented to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, they'll get the point and descend on the DVA, Anthony Principi, and James Nicholson with the jawbone of an ass.

That is long overdue.

The DVA, in issuing a policy change in 2002 that denied benefits to Blue Water Sailors, exceeded their authority by attempting to change the Agent Orange Act that Congress passed in 1991, without any changes by Congress. As their own court scolded them in the Haas case, the DVA is not authorized to make or change the law, only Congress and the Courts have that authority.

When Haas is ultimately upheld, all Haas claims should, therefore, extend back to the date of first claim, regardless of whether a denial was appealed or not. Any Blue Water NAvy Veterans who were cut off from benefits in 2002 should have those claims restored retroactive to their cutoff date, medical claims reimbursed, and interest paid on the benefits illegally withheld by the DVA. Nicholson and Principi should be charged and tried for malfeasance in office, criminal malicious negligence, and conspiracy to deny the civil rights of an entire class of Veterans to sue the chemical companies in civil court. For what those two men have done to their fellow Veterans, they should rot in prison for the rest of their lives and rot in Hell for all eternity.

That would be a just and fitting conclusion to this sad and sordid affair.


"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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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous21:19

    Hidden within Da Nang Harbor is "AN" estuary that consists of the Cu De and the Han River. The focal point of the two rivers is the Anchorage Area within the geographical boundaries of Vietnam within Da Nang Harbor. The Anchorage Area is surrounded by 3 shorelines within Da Nang Harbor... WELL SHELTERED from the open sea.The anchorage area within "THE ESTUARY" is the recipient of deforestation,erosion,dead plants to dead plant leafs / leaves, chemical to herbicide polutants,to raw sewage,ETC ! All shipos that anchored in Da Nang Harbor should have the same presumption of exposure to herbicides(etc.) as the crews of The Brown Water Navy Ships that operated on RIVERS, DELTAS, and ESTUARIES. Have your claim(s) re-adjudicated to the Nehmer Training Guide Feb. 2011 Revised;l Also use Congressional Research Services Statutory Presumptives by law clerk Nichols Oct. 2010.