Shinseki to Defend New Agent Orange Rules

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Agent Orange Update

Honorable DVA Sec Eric K. Shinseki

Veterans groups praised the Department of Veterans Affairs last year when officials announced they would add three new diseases to the list of “presumptive illnesses” connected to the use of the Vietnam-era defoliant Agent Orange. But senators concerned about the cost and precedent of such a change put a 60-day hold on money related to the change, and have asked the VA for more information on why Agent Orange claims should be expanded.

On Tuesday, in a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said he’s happy to defend the decision. “It was the right decision, and the President and I are proud to finally provide this group of Veterans the care and benefits they have long deserved.”

The rules regarding the new recognized illnesses — Parkinson’s Disease, Hairy Cell and other types of chronic, b-cell leukemia, and Ischemic Heart Disease — could open up veterans benefits to 250,000 more Vietnam-era veterans and cost the VA another $13.4 billion over the next 18 months. 

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., has publicly questioned whether scientific research supports including the three new diseases with other Agent Orange exposure conditions, and if the VA is unnecessarily committing billions in compensation payments for problems that are often simply the result of aging.

But Shinseki said he’s “happy” to explain the rationale behind the move, and confident lawmakers will support the change. The hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee is set for Sept. 23.

Veterans-For-Change will continue to monitor closely the situation and report any new developments and we strongly urge you to call your Senators and Congressman toll free at 866-272-6622 and politely insist they support Secretary Shinseki’s decision and allow the rule to be finalized immediately.

If you’re able to make the call, please send an E-Mail to:  jim.davis@veterans-for-change.com and let us know their response

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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.