Garden Grove, CA – March 16, 2010 — As a member of Veterans-For-Change, an advocacy group for Veterans rights, benefits, and treatment, my co-members and I would like to bring to your attention the ever-increasing serious problems affecting veterans and their families every day.
President Barack Obama addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention held in Phoenix, Arizona on August 17, 2009. He stated, “Whether you left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned. That’s why I’ve pledged to build nothing less than a 21st-century VA.”
Perhaps you are not aware of the problems affiliated with the VA and Veterans Benefits. Veterans-For-Change would like to address the following problems/issues.
Blue Water Navy & Agent Orange:
Every day, thousands of veterans who served on land and in the waters in Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and CONUS are denied benefits they are entitled to for exposure to dioxin from Agent Orange and other defoliants.
In both S.E. Asia and CONUS Agent Orange was used at least from 1963 through 1975 although there have been reports of use and disposal activities as late as 1978 in Korea as a defoliant. In S.E. Asia, the chemicals were used to protect our troops and prevent the enemy from hiding in the foliage to kill many more of our fighting men and women.
In the CONUS, they were used to keep surroundings of various military buildings free from unwanted vegetation growth and keep it clean and neat looking.
Veterans who served not just in Korea since 1962 but also on the DMZ are denied benefits due to erroneous reports about where these chemicals were deployed and that there is a “residual life” of Agent Orange Dioxin which if this was true, then why are we in Vietnam helping the Vietnamese government to clean up the land that was contaminated some 40 years ago.
According to the reliable website, http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/ “October 13, 2009 Secretary Shinseki decided to establish service-connection for Vietnam Veterans with B cell leukemia, such as hairy cell leukemia; Parkinson’s disease; and ischemic heart disease. This is based on an independent study by the Institute of Medicine showing an association with exposure to Agent Orange. Vietnam veterans with these diseases may be eligible for disability compensation and health care benefits”, however, Secretary Shinseki failed to acknowledge the recommendation for presumption of exposure for the Blue Water Navy.
Veterans-For-Change believes exposure to Agent Orange is truly exposure to a deadly chemical, regardless of the location where it was deployed. One of the chemicals in the Agent Orange herbicide combination contained contaminating traces of TCDD (dioxin). Dioxin has been shown to cause a variety of illnesses in laboratory animals. Studies also suggest that the chemical may be related to a number of cancers and other health effects in humans. http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/health_effects.asp The research data speaks for itself – Agent Orange was and is a deadly, toxic chemical, destroying the health and lives of many Veterans, including those who served in Korea and on the DMZ.
Many of these Veterans are continuously denied as the missions they served on were, and still to this day remain, classified by the DoD even though former President Bush signed executive order 13292 on March 28, 2003 directing classified missions beyond 25 years be declassified.
Now President Obama has signed Executive Order 13526 to declassify mission orders based on the 25 year rule.
Veterans-For-Change, as an advocacy group, has as its mission to broadcast and inform all veterans about their rights concerning Agent Orange, regardless of when and where the military veteran was exposed. You, the legislators of our proud and courageous country owe a debt of not just gratitude, but benefits and care to our veterans. Please take a stand and help us to provide the best care for our veterans. Take action today
TCE/PCE Contamination, Illnesses CONUS:
For over a year now there have been media outlets such as CNN, Salem News, Veterans Today and countless local newspapers in each region of our nation telling stories of active duty military, veterans and their families all being diagnosed with many unexplained illnesses.
Studies have shown, and evidence presented by several sources showing TCE (chemical degreaser) and PCE (chemical dry cleaning solution) have been used on most, if not all military bases throughout the Continental United States dating back to the mid 1950’s and disposed of by simply dumping waste into the ground. Both chemicals are known carcinogens.
Most recently TCE has been heavily addressed surrounding the Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune, North Carolina where there was a Male Breast Cancer Cluster. According to a recent report, Camp LeJeune is where at least 40 men reported a cancer cluster in this location, all related to exposure at Camp LeJeune, according to the St. Petersburg Times. According to the report published, “A Marine Corps spokesman declined to comment on the cancer cluster, saying epidemiologists were better qualified, but the spokesman noted the Marine Corps had spent approximately 14.5 million on research initiatives regarding health issues…” Perhaps it would be of interest to you to get to the bottom of this so our military will be better protected, able to fight wars, and our Veterans will live a healthier life, proud of their military service and the actions they took to preserve and protect the freedom of American citizens, such as yourself.
Tests have proven the drinking water not only on this base, but other bases as well were contaminated, thus contaminating military personnel and their families as well as civilian personnel who worked on the bases. And let us not forget that TCE/PCE was used on board all ships as well and that cleaning clothing, showering washing hands all put this chemical into their water purification system, also contaminating all those who work and lived on board our ships!
Clear Cell Carcinoma, liver & kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, breast cancer in men and women, children with Leukemia and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are just some of the illnesses veterans and their families suffer from exposure to these contaminants. Many of these cancers, such as esophageal cancer are terminal, with only a 5% survival rate!
Veterans-For-Change has drafted a bill and we are actively gathering petition signatures to get any member of Congress to sign and present to the floor for a vote and passage to give the benefits to these families who are so desperately in need of medical treatment, healthcare and funding!
Veterans-For-Change would like to know, will you be the one who steps up to the plate and will sign and present this bill?
Contracted Medical Care:
When VA Medical Centers are not readily available, or aren’t able to provide services and care needed in that region, private facilities are contracted.
Less veterans are properly and adequately served and the costs to the taxpayer is several times higher than if the VA would simply add on to a facility to meet the need and/or build a VA Medical Center where needed most to meet the veteran community needs.
Most contracted facilities aren’t even up to par with the standard of health care, charge more and offer less and there are no controls nor is there any over-sight.
A shining example of need are the 100,000 veterans of the Rio Grande Valley who are expected to drive 250 miles each way to the nearest VA Medical Center, and are only provided a very small contracted clinic which is nothing more than an industrial injury clinic, nowhere near able to handle and or understand veterans who suffer illnesses caused by Dioxins, TCE, PCE, Burn Pit fumes, PTSD, etc.
Veterans-For-Change expects members of Congress to uphold the promises of decades to care for those who fought to defend our Country, and to practice what was established by the Continental Congress in 1776 — “the United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans for any nation in the world.” Now, in the Twenty First Century, it is time to draft, sign, and present legislation to correct wrongs from centuries ago. It is time to practice what was created and promised to motivate, service and care for our veterans – ‘nothing less than a 21st-century VA.’
President Obama has said: “We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America, a commitment that begins with enlistment and must never end.”
If our nation rescinds its promises and ignores its obligation to those who have fought to preserve freedom throughout the world, we compromise the right to ask our men and women to serve and defend our national principals. The choice is yours. With the election of 2010 in mind, please take action to defend and service our country and our proud and deserving veterans today!
Veterans-For-Change has been crying out to all 535 members of Congress going on four years this April 2010, as President Wilson said, a leader’s ears must ring with the voices of the people! Veteran’s voices will be ringing in the polling places come November! Do you hear us?
Jim Davis is the son of USMC MGySgt. Lesley Davis (Ret.) who passed away on April 24, 2006, from ALS caused by Agent Orange. His dad’s mission before he passed on was to ensure all veterans, spouses, children, and widows all received the benefits, medical care and attention, and proper facilities from the VA.
Because of the promise made to his dad to carry on the mission, in May 2006 Davis began as a one-man show sending out 535 letters every single week to all members of Congress requesting and politely demanding the fulfill their promises made over the past decades to care for life those who wore the uniform and their families.
Veterans-For-Change was born in August 2006 with a very small membership of 25 people composed of veterans, spouses, widows, family members, and friends and to date continues to grow.