Sunday, May 04, 2008

Making Comments on Proposed Definition of Service in Vietnam

We wonder just what is going on with the public comments on the proposed rule change to 38 CFR 3.307(a)(6)(iii). We have made and gotten receipts for our comment four times since last Thursday. We have yet to see our comment appear on the list of comments. The list is surprisingly light. Only 10 comments appear so far. Is the VA censoring the public comments????

[Note: to see the comments, and the proposed change click here [comments].

To make a comment, go to the last entry which is the proposed change and the VA's [arrogant] justification. When that comes up look for the title: AM74 - Proposed Rule - Definition of Service in the Republic of Vietnam, and just under that title is the link to send a comment or submission. Click on that, fill in what you wish to fill in, keeping in mind it will become a public document so fill in what personal information you feel comfortable putting out there. Then put your comment into the comment box.

We suggest you first read the other comments, some of which are better than others. You need to refute what the VA is claiming, not give your personal story.

We also suggest that after reading the other comments, you put your own comments into a text document, and then go into the website to make your comment by pasting it into the comment box. This will avoid the failure of a time out. If you spend too much time generating your comment online, the site will time out and you'll lose everything.]
Here is the complete text of our comment:

"Comment on AM 74 Proposed Rule

To continue this rule as written is an affront to all Veterans who ever served. The DVA has no legitimate basis to issue such a narrow ruling.

The DVA asks for scientific papers and studies.

Why not go back to the VA Commissioned paper produced by Admiral Elmo Zumwalt from 1990? Admiral Zumwalt provided information about wind drift of aerially sprayed defoliants directing attention to the likelihood of drift carrying as far as 29 kilometers, with the general direction of the winds blowing from land to the sea.

If the DVA will not recognize a scientific study by one of our staunchest allies, the Australians, then why not allow the Institute of Medicine to examine and comment on the Australian study which dealt with runoff of dioxin contaminated water into the sea where it was processed by their ship's evaporators...and those ships were built in the USA as Charles F. Adams Class Destroyers, so they used the same evaporation systems.

Why not ask the Institute of Medicine to do a mortality study on Blue Water Navy Veterans over the past ten years and see what the results are? Perhaps that would provide evidence of exposure.

If the DVA pays benefits to Blue Water Navy Veterans suffering from Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, why would that disease be any different than the others on the list. Blue Water Navy Veterans suffer from all the "Agent Orange" diseases.

Obviously the DVA dislikes the intent of the CAVC, yet the CAVC was only speaking to include ships within the territorial waters of Vietnam, which would preclude a great number of ships from inclusion in presumptive eligibility. When considering this, perhaps the DVA should go back to the initial passage of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 after the DVA had written the regulations which they then translated into their internal manuals, and granted benefits to anyone who had been awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY SERVED, and continued to do so until 2002. That's eleven years of precedence that goes against this proposed rule.

Finally, since the DVA has refused to entertain any scientific evidence that proves against this rule, perhaps they should refer to the 38 United States Code section of the original law, which ends with the words:

"For purposes of establishing service connection for a disability or death resulting from exposure to a herbicide agent, including a presumption of service-connection under this section, a veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, shall be presumed to have been exposed during such service to an herbicide agent containing dioxin or 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, and may be presumed to have been exposed during such service to any other chemical compound in an herbicide agent, unless there is affirmative evidence to establish that the veteran was not exposed to any such agent during that service."

"...unless there is affirmative evidence to establish that the veteran was not exposed to any such agent during that service."

The Department of Veterans Affairs, in all its gyrations to block a group of honest Veterans from their due, has failed to show affirmative evidence that the Blue Water Navy Veterans were "not exposed to any such agent during that service."

Obviously, the Department of Veterans Affairs has failed to do due diligence in preparing this proposed rule change. I recommend the Department withdraw this proposed change and re-think its position. Such action would be in the best interests of the Department, and even more important, the best interests of the nation it serves."

We believe these are the primary areas of weakness in the DVA's case. One other area is the confusion between the two current CFR definitions where the difference was a comma and the words and/or. The DVA wrote those definitions and any claims that when they did it was with a mind to exclude the Blue Water Navy are absolute lies.

Again, we do not believe for one second that the DVA is acting in the best interests of the country, or its Veterans. We believe this entire effort is based on administration attempts to protect the chemical companies, and the US Government from a second class action lawsuit. Granting Blue Water Navy Veterans presumptive Agent Orange Benefits would create a new class of potential litigants. And we have seen testimony transcripts in Federal court cases that indicate the Chemical Companies will not go it alone this time, allowing the Federal Government off the hook as they did on the class action lawsuit of the late 1990s. They will insist that the Federal Government share the burden of responsibility for Agent Orange exposure to US forces in Vietnam and on the waters offshore.

It's time to pay the piper.


"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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