Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Veterans and Political Partisanship Just Don't Mix

Political partisanship in this country has descended to a level reserved for those who insist they are right, even when the facts speak against them. The result is that political debate has become political shouting matches, and the gift of the Internet means that any yahoo with an opinion will voice it.

What is particularly disturbing is the venomous and vituperative tone such opinions have taken on. One envisions an editor or a writer pounding the keyboard, while foaming spittle flies onto the monitor screen. It is not really opinion any more, it is screed.

And both sides are extremely guilty.

Inference and innuendo has now been replaced by outright accusations that result from Internet hearsay. In other words, somebody made a WAG [Wild A**ed Guess] about someone, and sent it whispering down the lane of the Internet.

Albert Einstein wrote, "It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs." He is correct. But the active word in play here is "validity". Owners and editors of Internet Sites are not News Reporters [though even that term has become something different these days], or News Editors. They write "opinion pieces" and make them out to be breaking news stories of terrible things done by members of the political opposition...and no argument is tolerated..."it's the truth about those hypocrites! It comes from reliable sources...inside sources!"

Actually the national news media does a fine job of sniffing out the foibles of our elected and appointed officials, thank you, further sliming is wholly unnecessary.

Besides, what is gained by such smearing on the part of the Internet writers? The reputation that they can dig deeper than the media can? To what end? A scandal is a scandal, and no matter what, the other party will get caught doing the same thing! Or worse!

But when this is done by an organization with the best interests of the Veteran supposedly at heart, something has gone horribly wrong.

The late, great American philosopher and humorist Will Rogers once called politics "applesauce." But he also wrote, "The more you read and observe about this politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that's out always looks the best." We think Rogers is dead on target. We also believe that when it comes to Veterans neither party stands on high ground. Indeed, both parties treatment of Veterans, and that is treatment by partisans of both parties in Presidential Administrations, Federal Court Appointees, and in Congress, is absolutely abysmal.

We have three Federal Holidays memorializing and Celebrating American Veterans and their accomplishments, yet not one single administration [with varied and few exceptions] has done anything to stop the degrading slide in governmental esteem toward the American Veteran. Harding, Coolidge, Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt made the Doughboys of WW I wait 18 years before they got their Veterans Bonus money, a hideously insulting tactic from which the current day "Delay, Deny until they die!" comes from. The Veterans waited fourteen years, marched on Washington DC and were brutalized by Army troops under the Command of General Douglas MacArthur. It took four more years before Franklin Roosevelt was given the opportunity to make things right, and give the men their bonuses. Despite please from his wife Eleanore, he still vetoed the legislation which Congress, then in an election year, overrode! For those keeping score that is three Republican Presidents, one Democratic President, and one Republican General.

Are you starting to get our drift here? On a more modern note, we note that President G. H. W. Bush advanced and signed the Agent Orange Act of 1991, one of the positive exceptions. It did not take a march on Washington to do this, but from the end of the Vietnam War era, to 1991, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan were in office...three Republicans and one Democrat who over a twenty year period, ignored the Agent Orange issue.

Then in 1993, The Clinton administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs began dismantling the Agent Orange Act of 1991 by declaring, without a shred of scientific evidence, that the Air Force was not eligible for presumptive exposure to herbicides because, hey, they flew over it, and therefore did "...not serve in Vietnam." Clinton, a Democrat, was followed by G. W. Bush, a Republican who implemented a Clinton VA Legal precedent that did the exact same thing to the Navy: "You did not serve IN Vietnam." Bush's successor, Barack Obama has not changed the policies or mindset of the Department of Veterans Affairs one inch to the positive. Indeed, shortly after Obama took office in January two policy clarifications were issued further restricting the Blue Water Navy Veterans from possible benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991, and currently that same Obama Department of veterans Affairs is fighting a disinformation war in Congress against HR 2254, the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009, which would undo the Clinton, Bush, and Obama changes and restore the benefits that were once paid to those Veterans.

Lacking so far in the exemplars is any discussion of Congress and the Courts. In the case of the Courts, the record is clear that they seldom rule against the government and for the Veterans. An exception is the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims that for the past few years has been fighting a pro-Veteran battle with limited scope, as defined by Congressional law.

As for Congress, their absence in all of this is deafening. They have sat idly by while the Administrations of both parties, and courts, have abused and misused Veterans laws to the point of an extremely adversarial attitude toward Veterans.

In case anyone missed it, the point here is that party simply does not matter when it comes to Veterans Affairs. What matters is not even whether Democrats or Republicans are in office, but simply who holds the power...that is, which individuals are in the White House, the Speaker's chair, and the floor and caucus leaders in the House and Senate. That is all that matters. Why? Because there is absolutely nothing partisan about treating Veterans the way they should be treated by the Government. And, conversely, there is absolutely nothing partisan in the way the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the US Government currently treats its Veterans. It transcends partisan politics. Party affiliation is, and always has been irrelevant when it comes to Veterans Issues, no matter what your Congressional, Senatorial, or Presidential candidate says.

And if the elected officials of our country are not careful, [and their history shows them to be careless about this] continued mistreatment will cause enlistments to dry up when young people see that Veterans more often than not do not get treated the way they should by the Government. Who then will fight the nation's wars? Draftees? That worked in WW I, and WW II, and in Korea, but it failed miserably in Vietnam...so miserably that the Pentagon went to an all-volunteer Army for the post-Vietnam Wars and actions.

We have said here repeatedly, ”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." Indeed, dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs is likely a cause and/or aggravating factor in Veterans PTSD illnesses. That is not a joke, it is a reality. The veteran faces a "hamster wheel" effect of denials, appeals, remands, denials, appeals and remands, etc. that can take as long as ten or more years to resolve. Imagine, a sick and dying Veteran being forced to go through the same arguments over and over while the DVA plays games with his claim. It is depressing, humiliating, frustrating, enraging, and when it happens repeatedly is a likely stressor for PTSD. And no, this is not an exception; it has become the norm, especially for cases that are not direct combat wounds. There are far too many "anecdotal stories" for the problem to be anecdotal.

The Department of Veterans Affairs mindset is a house built by both parties in a truly long term bi-partisan effort. Eschewing partisanship when talking Veterans Affairs is the honest thing to do, and raises the level of discourse above the level where we are now, which is wholly and totally ineffective. After all, do we not all pledge to leave no one behind? Then why ruin the reputation of an organization with constant partisan smearing and invective?

Do folks really think politicians don't read what the major Veterans websites say?

A friend once told me "The Veterans worst enemy is another Veteran." When we are sidetracked from the larger issues this comes into play. When egos are involved, this comes into play. When partisanship is involved, this comes into play. All Veterans should be focused on the issues, not the parties or even the individual shortcomings of those in office or, especially, those who are out of office.

Don't spit on the door step before you enter or you won't be welcomed.

Finally, a comment about general partisanship: partisan invective may not be intended to destroy a political party, but a consequence could be just that. Then guess what? The result is one party rule. Like German National Socialism in the 1930s to 1945. Like Soviet Communism almost all of the 20th Century, like we see now in Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, and China. That is one party rule. The destroyed party becomes simply, "the opposition," never getting voice in the government, or the press, never having a say in how the nation is governed. Are we really trying to change the President’s title to “Dear One”?

Anyone who favors that is not a Patriotic American. Any Veteran who desires that end shames not only his own service, but the service of all others who have gone before him.

There is no good reason for radical extremism in politics. Zealotry, and that is what it is, is self destructive to its own end. It is long past time to put away the invective and rhetoric and restore a semblance of decency to our national discourse. Let’s start with restoring civil discourse to Veterans affairs and issues. We can accomplish much more that way that is positive for Veterans, and therefore, for the nation.

VNVets

”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."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"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

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2009: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Fifth Year of service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where have you gone Willie and Joe?

When Willie and Joe came home from WW II and later from Korea, they came home to ticker tape parades and a hero’s welcome. They joined their local American Legion and VFW posts, went about enjoying the best GI Bill ever in the process of returning to civilian life.

For the past few decades, Willie and Joe rose in the ranks of their posts, then the state organizations, and finally into the national leadership of those two giant Veterans organizations. Willie and Joe are still there. Once in a while a Vietnam Veteran sneaks in.

Willie and Joe marched and crawled across North Africa and Europe, landed on island after island in the western Pacific, flew missions in daylight over German occupied territory, and sailed ships into harm's way on and under oceans around the world. Six years later they were called to arms again to fight communism in Korea. From the Frozen Chosin Reservoir, to the Pusan Peninsula, and back to Inchon, they fought with the same valor and selfless courage they showed in WW II.

We'll call them Eddie and Josh, the new war Veterans from Gulf War I and Iraq and Afghanistan. Eddie and Josh came home and found the Legion and the VFW, sitting at the bars in their posts. Old guys more like parents and grandparents than fellow Veterans. So they decided to start their own organization: The Veterans of Modern Warfare. And rightfully so.

Eddie and Josh won the first Gulf War in a little over a month, and did so with minimal casualties, while inflicting major losses on the Iraqis. They freed Kuwait and stopped. Eleven years later, many of the same soldiers went to war again in the Global War on Terror, now separated into the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War. Iraq now has some semblance of a Democratic Government, as does Afghanistan. Both have been mostly freed from despotic dictators or subversive forces. Residual combat is still going on.

Somewhere in between Willie and Joe and their modern counterparts, Eddie and Josh, are the nameless, faceless Vietnam Veterans. They fought for nine years, more or less, in hostile jungle, in aerial action in skies filled with SAM missiles, and on the waters in and around Vietnam. They fought in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. And they have since found that they also faced another enemy, unknown at the time, an enemy inflicted upon them by their own government. The 20 million gallons of dioxin laced herbicides sprayed in and around Vietnam were quite unlike the "bullet with your name on it." It all had all their names on it. For some reason or other, many managed to dodge it. At least for now. But far too many were unable to do so.

3.4 million served in Vietnam, including 512,000 in the waters off shore. The 2000 Census estimated there were only 1.012 million left alive in that year. At that rate, there are likely somewhere between 200,000 to 400,000 still living nine years later, likely nearer the lower amount. At the rate they are dying, they will be gone long before the last of the "Greatest Generation" and the Korean War Veterans.

One suspects the principle reason for this accelerated death rate among Vietnam Veterans to be the exposure to dioxins from the sprayed herbicides like Agent Orange.

This may be one reason why there are and have been so few Vietnam Veterans in the upper hierarchies of the American Legion and the VFW.

It also may be one reason the American Legion and the VFW have essentially given no more than lip service to the Vietnam Veterans.

It should have raised alarm bells instead.

In 1991, Congress passed the Agent Orange Act. It was to provide benefits and compensation for anyone who received the Vietnam Service Medal, or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Service in Vietnam, who also had a specific disease listed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be a result of exposure to the dioxin in herbicides that were sprayed in Vietnam.

From the start, the DVA denied those otherwise eligible Veterans who served in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia [TLC]. In 1993 the DVA changed their policy to remove the Air Force. In 2002 they changed their policy again, this time removing the Blue Water Navy from eligibility.

They did this without a shred of documentary, or scientific evidence to prove those Veterans were not exposed. They did this in violation of Federal Law that requires them to publish their proposed changes for public comment, by not bothering to do so. Their changes, therefore, were all illegal.

Where were Willie and Joe while this was going on? They were in their post bars, they were selling insurance to each other, they were recruiting new members, and conducting conventions. And at those conventions they were passing resolutions asking Congress to fix the Agent Orange Act of 1991 as it was intended. But worst of all, they were training their Veteran Service Officers, the folks you go to for help with your VA claim, to simply accept each change the DVA made and tell the Veterans not to bother filing a claim for Agent Orange exposure if they belonged to one of the three groups listed above.

The Legion and the VFW are the "biggies" in Veterans Organizations. They are the ones who supposedly carry the weight in Washington.

At the first sign of trouble with the 1991 Agent Orange Act, these two organizations should have demanded Congress conduct investigative hearings into the action of the DVA. They should have pressured Congress -- and they have the weight to do just that! -- to take whatever action required to stop the DVA's illegal actions and right the wrong they committed, and stop the DVA from doing other similar actions.

They should have taken drastic action in 1991, certainly no later than 1993! But instead, they continued to sell each other insurance, conduct annual conventions, issue statements usually backing conservative candidates, and recruiting new members.

This moral and ethical lapse by the American Legion and the VFW has lead to the early deaths of untold thousands of Veterans from the Vietnam War, the privations of their survivors, and the privations of still living Veterans in need of services but unable to afford them, and others unable to work, now without income, now losing their homes, their retirements, and their families in many cases. That is to say nothing of their dignity.

Occasionally one or both organizations would throw some money into the pot to fund a law suit, like the Haas case. On the whole however, the American Legion and the VFW have silently abdicated their responsibility, and their ethical and moral obligations to their own members, and constituencies.

Now, when given an opportunity to redeem their 18 years of moral turpitude, neither organization has lifted a finger to pressure Congress to pass HR 2254, the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009, which sits in the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. It lacks co-sponsors. It lacks a voice in the Senate to introduce it. It lacks a voice in the Capitol to fight the misinformation program being conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is spreading the lie that the bill will cost $27 Billion. In fact, the cost of the bill is less than $3 billion. The DVA inflates the numbers whenever it is convenient.

Willie and Joe fought two wars against injustice, inhumanity, and racism, fighting for the rights of free world peoples who sought their freedom from oppression and tyranny.

Where have you gone, Willie and Joe? You’re needed here at home.

VNVets

”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."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"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

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2009: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Fifth Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dioxin Follow on: Strategies for VA Claims

Recently we posted an article written by Chuck Graham and Susie Belanger titled Dioxin: What the U.S. Navy knew and didn’t [or wouldn’t!] tell us.

This is a follow on to that post with a suggested strategy on how Veterans can use the documents in the article to support their claims in the DVA's claims processing system.

Readers with VA Claims in various stages of denial by the VA are welcome to use all of this as additional evidence in the development of their claims. It is of limited use to those who's ships did not get close inshore, but for those who anchored in bays, harbors and estuaries and those who's ships worked in close on Market Time, Naval Gun Fire Support [NGFS], and associated duties should be able to present this, along with other evidence to advance their claims.

That said, this will likely not have an effect on claims at the Veterans Affairs Regional Office level [VARO, or simply RO], but the chances of using this evidence to support a claim as described above successfully increase the farther up the Department of Veterans Affairs [DVA] food chain one goes: Board of Veterans Appeals [BVA], and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims [CAVC]. It may take a while, but sooner or later, all this documentary and "scientific" evidence in support of granting presumptive exposure will overwhelm the scientific evidence that claims we could not have been exposed because we only served at sea -- of which there is absolutely none. The CAVC recently remanded the Haas claim back to the BVA with the warning that if they are going to deny a claim, they MUST have overwhelming evidence to do so, otherwise they must approve the claim. Simply repeating a line of policy [based on no scientific evidence] will not suffice.

The DVA has recently backed off the ports and harbors exclusion and is now granting claims if a ship tied up to a pier -- or at least they have SAID they would make that change.

With this evidence that the Navy, the Army, the Department of Defense [DoD], and the DVA knew as far back as 1969 of the dangers of dioxin in water supplies, there should be no problem getting a claim approved.

Warning, do not rely completely on the evidence from the documents listed as proof of exposure. Veterans must provide much more evidence, such as deck logs, charts showing ship's locations, letters, buddy statements, and/or official records of incidents leading to exposure.

What this evidence does is provide a high mountain of evidence that exposure MORE THAN LIKELY occurred, which, according to the recent Haas remand, requires the DVA to prove overwhelmingly that exposure did not occur. They cannot.

And suddenly, at least at the CAVC, the WORD of the DVA is no long good enough on its own.

Veterans with claims should also know that their true salvation concerning Agent Orange exposure is the timely enactment of HR 2254, and should therefore put all the pressure they can bring to bear on their Congressional Representatives and both their Senators to fully SUPPORT and FUND HR 2254. This MUST be accomplished soon. We find it impossible to believe that of all our readers and associates, none have any political connection, none worked on campaigns, none feel the power to tell an incumbent, "If you don't fully support this bill and its funding, and don't work to get it enacted, I will ensure that you have far fewer votes, especially among Veterans the next time you run."

Do not write letters unless you intend to fax them. If you get the canned response, telling you all about the bill and how the Congressman works hard on behalf of Veterans, and how he will keep your thoughts in mind should the bill reach the floor...," send back this response:

Thank you for your kind response to my request that you actively support and co-sponsor HR 2254. You response assures that I will keep your interest in mind when I next enter a polling booth with you on the ballot.
Then move on to your Senators.

We also now have resolutions under way in the Pennsylvania and Massachusetts General Assemblies, and perhaps the Illinois legislature as well. These resolutions call for their respective state Secretary of State to forward a request to the President of the United States, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, and each member of that state's Congressional Delegation to fully fund and support HR 2254, the Agent Orange Act of 2009.

VNVets

”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."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"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

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2009: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Fifth Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dioxin

What the U.S. Navy knew and didn’t [or wouldn’t!] tell us.
An OP-ED Paper by Chuck Graham, with Susie Belanger

I’m a U.S. Navy Vietnam Veteran and I have had a claim in place with the Department of Veterans Affairs [DVA] since 2003. Like so many of you I’ve been on the hamster wheel and suffered through the Haas appeal all to no avail. Over the years I’ve researched any available material that might help prove that the U.S. Navy had knowledge to support the findings of the Australian study, ENTOX, also called NRCET from 2002. This study involved the co-distillation of Dioxin through the fresh water evaporator systems commonly used aboard Royal Australian Naval Ships that were present in Vietnam. The same evaporator systems were commonly used by U.S. Navy Ships that were present in Vietnam, as the majority of the Australian Naval Ships were built at U.S. Naval Shipyards. It is my hope that the following information will shed some knowledge of what the U.S. Navy knew and had in their possession and if they knew then the Department of Defense [DOD] and more than likely the Veterans Administration [VA], now the Department of Veterans Affairs [DVA], also knew.

Click here to read the Australian Study

As far back as 1946 the U.S. Navy had knowledge of the dangers of distilling water for shipboard uses while in littoral waters or certain other locations. This was evidenced by the fact that while conducting atomic radiation testing at Bikini Atoll, 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 “Operation Crossroads” and 79 ships that were present during these tests, were salvaged and sent to Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco for decontamination. An acid wash had to be used to decontaminate the evaporators and water purification systems.

In the U.S. Army Technical Manual TM 5-813-8 from September 1986 on water Desalination chapter 5-1 paragraph C, states
"Some 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."

Click here to read the
U.S. Army Technical Manual TM 5-813-8, SEP 1986

Ok folks, let’s look at and re-read that statement!! Someone in the Army had to have done some tests to make that statement. How else would they have known, without testing the condensate, that this was so? That proves that the Military knew that dioxin/herbicides/pesticides would remain in distilled water.

The manual of Naval Preventive Medicine NAVMED P -5010-6 rev 1990, chapter 6: Water Supply Afloat, sec 6-3 states,
"Distillation of water from harbors or from polluted sea water is to be avoided except in emergencies. Sea water must be assumed polluted when ships are operated in close formation."

Click here to read
NAVMED P-5010-6 rev 1990

In the U.S. Navy’s Risk Analysis of Shipboard Drinking Water Chemical Contaminants, August 18, 2000, author Lieutenant Michael D. Cassady, Medical Service Corps, U.S. 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 twelve 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."

Click here to read
Risk Analysis of Shipboard Drinking Water Chemical Contaminants, August 18, 2000

Now while on the gun-line conducting Naval Gun Fire Support [NGFS] firing missions off the coast of Vietnam, we did not have time to pull off and run out 12 miles and make fresh water. We made water where we were -- 24/7.

Now to get to the heart of the matter and the reason for this paper: We have discovered several Naval Documents that we feel should shed some light on the knowledge that the U.S. Navy had over the years starting in 1963 with BUMED INSTRUCTION 6240.3B, 30 SEP 1963. Pay special attention to page 3 where it lists
Chemical Characteristics Limits. No where do you see the word Herbicides mentioned.

Click here to read BUMED INSTRUCTION 6240.3B 30 SEP 1963

Then in 1972 we see BUMED INSTRUCTION 6240.3C DEC 1972, Pay special attention to page 6 on Chemical Concentrations, where it now includes Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fungicides; and see footnote [2]. This is just a short period of 9 years from 1963 through 1972 that something brought to their attention that it would be desirable to remove Pesticides and Herbicides from our drinking water! In my humble opinion, scientific tests of some sort had to be conducted to verify this concern over Herbicides.

Click here to read BUMED INSTRUCTION 6240.3C, DEC 1972

Then in February 1987 we have this document from Naval Facilities Engineering Command:
Guide Performance Work Statement [GPWS] For Water Plants and System Operation and Maintenance. Prepared by Southern Division Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Charleston, South Carolina, it states, "The contractor shall produce and store treated water free of taste and or odor and that meets the minimum water quality standards described below:" see page 44 of he GWPS PDF Document where we see Herbicides are a concern again.

Click here to read
NAVFAC GUIDE FOR WATER PLANTS & SYSTEMS - FEB 1987

Finally, see the following study where Researchers in Vietnam in 1970 tested fish and crustaceans For the presence of TCDD {Dioxin}. These are the same researchers that were mentioned in the Australian ENTOX study and the fish tested were caught by local fishermen in Vietnam, both in fresh water as well as saltwater. This shows that dioxin’s were present in local fish in 1970 and If dioxin stopped at lands-end, as the DVA would have us believe, how did it pollute saltwater fish and crustaceans?

Click here to read
An Analytical Method for Detecting TCDD [Dioxin]: Levels of TCDD in Samples from Vietnam - SEP 1973

Thanks Chuck and thanks Susie! Outstanding research work here.

We will add the folowing to wrap this up:

Clearly, then, not only did the Army and Navy, and their respective offices overseeing potable water handling, the Department of Defense, and the Veterans Administration, all know of the presence of dioxin in the drinking water and the difficulties of getting rid of it [which was not solved until the introduction of reverse osmosis filtration, but the lengths to which they went to caution about its presence show the awareness of the danger of it in the potable water. There can be no doubt that thousands of sailors and embarked Marines were exposed to dioxins from their ship's potable water system: they drank, cooked, and showered with water contaminated by high concentrations of deadly toxic dioxins.

VNVets

”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."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"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

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2009: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Fifth Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Everyday Heroes

The great American humorist Will Rogers once said, "We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.”

Defining heroes is not as simple as it seems. One way to look at it is to say that everyday heroes are the folks who silently pick up the slack. They are ultimate team players, and in the end, team leaders. The guy who jumps on a grenade in combat to save the lives of the rest of his team is a hero. In the words of Jesus Christ, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." [John, 15:13, KJV]. This is the ultimate, the paragon, the epitome of heroism. This is the measure upon which all heroes are judged. And such are truly heroes.

But so is the guy who, on a long march, shoulders the pack of a guy who is struggling to keep up; and the guy in your berthing compartment who sees you've been on watch all night so he takes care of his morning job, and yours too: the morning sweepdown of the compartment. He doesn't ask, he doesn't tell you about it afterwards, he just takes up the slack.

So, we can have two types of heroes, the courageous ones who do heroic deeds -- and these are the ones we recognize with medals, and ceremonies, and we can have the everyday heroes, those who quietly go about taking up the slack, unobtrusively, seeking neither favor nor recognition. These are the people who Ronald Reagan was referring to in his first Inaugural address when he said, “We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look."

At the Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War, we have looked in the right place.

Steve Burns is a Yahoo specialist, owner of websites and Veterans support groups, who generously lends his expertise and support where and when it is needed. He joined VASVW several months ago, and has become a staple of the group, and recently was named VASVW Chaplain. For his efforts, he rates everyday hero status.

Aletta has done the same. She has been a steady voice of focus when discussions start to go farther afield than is productive. She has the knack of simply restating the subject in a way that brings everyone back to the problem at hand. If someone needs a document, she can usually find it. She is quiet, and unassuming, steady and reliable. For her efforts she rates everyday hero status.

Dave Sanderson, the first President of VASVW, is a steady hand, knowledgeable of people, who very quietly, behind the scenes, picks up the slack for others. For his service and his quiet leadership, he rates everyday hero status.

Tom LaLiberte has quietly created a wonderful website for VASVW [click here to view it], maintaining the pages, expanding the capabilities of the site, and adding much to the general information now available to all who are involved with the Blue Water Navy fight for Agent Orange Veterans benefits. Additionally, he has prevailed upon numerous congressmen to support the HR 2254 legislation, not just his own, but many others. For his dedication and hard work, he rates hero status.

Phil Elliott works hard behind the scenes to see that things work in VASVW. Whether it be a perceived misunderstanding between two members that he helps clear up, or showing folks how to use the Yahoo site extras, to occasionally breaking the seriousness of the discussion with some well timed humor, Phil does it, and does it well. For his quiet service he rates hero status.

Dennis Myers very quietly goes about the work that needs doing, providing suggestions and ideas, and shouldering heavy workloads of contact work. Dennis is unique in doing this, as he does so much, not for himself, but for others, and he does so quietly, behind the scenes, seeking neither thanks nor recognition, just results. In this way he rates hero status.

There are so many more who should be recognized but these six go above and beyond, serving not just VASVW but all Veterans in what they do, everyday, in their own way, quietly, picking up the slack.

Bernard Malamud wrote, “Without heroes, we are all plain people, and don't know how far we can go”. These six show us all the path to how far we can go. They are the ultimate team leaders. Follow them and you will, at some point, meet with success.

Finally, to all of our shipmates in VASVW and the Blue Water fight, here is some wisdom from the great American jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes:

“For I say unto you in all sadness of conviction that to think great thoughts you must be heroes as well as idealists. Only when you have worked alone -- when you have felt around you are a black gulf of solitude more isolating than that which surrounds the dying man, and in hope and despair have trusted to your own unshaken will -- then only can you gain the secret isolated joy of the thinker, who knows that a hundred years after he is dead and forgotten men who have never heard of him will be moving to the measure of his thought -- the subtle rapture of postponed power, which the world knows not because it has no external trappings, but which to his prophetic vision is more real than that which commands an army. And if this joy should not be yours, still it is only thus you can know that you have done what lay in you to do -- can say that you have lived, and be ready for the end."
Fortitudine vincimus.

VNVets

”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."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"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

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

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