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Senate stands up on Agent Orange

Featured in Legislative Center
Senate stands up on Agent Orange
U.S. Army/Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. Collection

A day in which The American Legion called upon its membership to tell Congress to strike down an amendment to the MILCON/VA appropriations bill closed with the passage of the bill through the Senate without the controversial amendment. Senate Amendment 564 to H.R. 2055 was introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and would have radically changed the fundamental scientific threshold of evidence, making it nearly impossible for future disorders to be added to the presumptive disability list associated with Agent Orange, and possibly negatively affected other veterans suffering from exposures to Gulf War hazards and other exposures. By a vote of 69-30, with one senator not voting, Congress struck down the amendment and passed the clean bill subsequently with only two opposing votes.

The American Legion was extremely active yesterday in opposition to this amendment, writing critical analysis on the blog The Burn Pit, issuing a press release from National Commander Jimmie L. Foster and calling for action through the Legislative Action Center. The American Legion called and membership raised their voice to Congress to stop the change before it could cause great damage to the Agent Orange veterans.

Foster praised the defeat of the cost cutting measure, noting, "I'm pleased that common sense, compassion and fairness prevailed. We can't balance the budget on the backs of those who have already contributed so much."

The amendment stood to change the standard of scientific evidence needed to associate disorders with Agent Orange from a "positive association" which has been the standard since the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to the far more onerous "causal relationship." In medical research, establishing a causal relationship requires far more exhaustive study, yet most treatment techniques and health advice is based on positive associations, as the more intricate causal relationships can often be almost impossible to pin down.

Legionnaires are urged to contact their Senators and tell them not to balance the budget on the backs of America's veterans. Tell them to say no to Coburn's "Back in Black" and send it back.

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Janeth Coates Jr widow

August 5, 2011 - 2:26am

Jan had been on a CPAP machine since about 2003. They had his machine set at 15, which they said was very high. I feel sure it had to be that high because of the scar tissue in his lungs. When he was diagnosed with the pulmonary fibrosis just about 2 1/2 yrs. ago, he only had 50% lung capacity. I had been trying for several years to get him to go to specalist, but just couldn't get him to go. After 43 yrs. I miss him very much, and I will continue my fight for his benefits.

Janeth Coates Jr widow

August 5, 2011 - 2:21am

I am in the process of trying to get my widow's benefits. Between regular Army & SF Reserves Jan had 23+ yrs. He was receiving his retirement pay ok. 2 yrs. ago he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. He had had diabetes for around 8-10yrs. Dr. said his lungs looked like someone who had worked in a coal mine or around asbestos all their life. Also had heart problems because of lungs. He too had oxygen, etc. the last almost 2yrs. of his life. He passed away March8,2011.I am now in process of trying to get my share of his retirement. Was told I qualify for full benefits, but am still waiting for my share of retirement. Some say that since no cancer in lungs that I will not be able to get anything for lungs. Advocate said diabetes would qualify. They quick to take back his check when he passed, but in no hurry to pay out what is owed to me. I just keep plugging and sending papers over and over. He served 1yr. in Viet Nam. He was a LRRP Ranger-1stCav in 1968. Had 43 great yrs. together.

another vets wife

August 4, 2011 - 1:08pm

The republicans voted against the amendment which would make it harder to win a claim. The amendment wanted more proof that Agent Orange caused the cancer. The republicans voted this amendment down. Then the bill was passed without the bad amendment. Did you read the first paragraph of this article?

frog255

August 4, 2011 - 2:42am

I served in Vietnam with the U.S.M.C. and i was exposed to Agent Orange. I frist went to Miami VA Hospital to be examined for Agent Orange at that time i had Diabetes since then i have Perrifial Neuropathy in my legs and hands which put me in a Wheel Chair,Kidney Problems,Prostrate Problems,Coronary Artery Heart Disease,Lung Disease put me on oxygen,inhalers,Nebulizer,cpap so i can breathe at night when i sleep, i've had two lazer eye operations because of the diabetes the blood vessels break and my eye bleed inside and are making me go blind,i'm on boold thiners because i keep getting blood clots. With all this i'm olny rated at 60% disabled. I filed agian this week to upgrade my disabuility if this do'nt work i'll have to resort to a lawyer i guess. Semper Fi

matt fay

August 3, 2011 - 8:08pm

Read with great interest your story, and it echoed mine. I was stationed in Thailand from 1967-68,next to the RTAF Base and perimeter,which included numerous untraceable sorties. I took 25 or so photos, one of which bears a great similarity to the cover of this newsletter featuring the barrels of AO. My photo shows a wheel barrel, presumably containing AO. After receiving a NO from the Vets Affairs, as I too, wasn't there, (sorties), am in the process of appealing via an atty versed in this area.. Have Ischemic Heart Disease, Thrombocytosis, (low level Leukemia) and have recently developed Pulmonary problems. And the beat goes on... If there are any websites that can assist myself or other Vets, please feel free to comment.. Be well and just keep on truckin... MF

Philip Maurice Turner

July 25, 2011 - 7:23pm

It is so sad the effort it takes to get rated after being exsposed to agent orange.I started my paper work in 2003 and not till 2011 did we finally get any thing. There are so many family's in need of help with a suffering service member but so little help to push through the red tape. How many spouses know they can fight for help even when there service member has passed away, in debt up to there eye balls. Where our all those members helping other members out. It takes an act of congress to get any thing even when it has already been proven to be so. thank you for the article but now we need to help all those out there that can not do the paper work or understand all the red tape.

candosmith

July 25, 2011 - 12:32pm

If you were in country in Vietnam and you have your DD214 it will say that you were in a combat zone. I was in the Navy as a Seabee and served two and a half tours in country. After falling ill in 2001 I went to the VA to talk with a VSO first thing after asking me what branch I was in he told me it would be hard to push it though because the people that look at the paper work don't understand how a US Navy personnel would be on shore or in a combat area. But with that said I am 100% and the VA is taking care of me. You must fight for your rights never give up and get a VSO Veteran Service Officer that is know to do right by other Vet's.

Kerry Power

July 23, 2011 - 1:01pm

Senator Tom Coburn, Oklahoma, must be on Jane Fonda's Christmas card list!!!!!

DDuggar

July 23, 2011 - 7:03am

I read that some individuals are having trouble getting the compensation they feel they deserve and I do not understand. I am a Vietnam veteran and have diabetes, as well as some other ailments caused by Agent Orange. I had no problem with receiving VA compensation. The VA simply needs your DD214 (which states when and how long you were deployed in Nam) and complete medical history from your existing doctor. It may take a year and sometimes even more, but they will compensate you from the time they receive the request. Your best bet is to utilize a veteran advocate from AMVETS. They know all the tricks of pushing a claim through the VA. Patience is the key! Keep in mind, about 2.5 million men and women served during the Vietnam era, however, there are over 9 million that claim they were in Vietnam. Hence, the VA needs to verify your claim so as not to overburden the VA system and bankrupt it, then we would all be up the creek.

robinhoodd

July 23, 2011 - 12:58am

I was diagnosed with diabetes, possible from agent orange. I had been fighting the VA for 10 years and sent the paperwork in from the VA Dr and civilian Dr stating I had diabetes. I get paperwork back from the VA wanting me to prove I was in Vietnam and Prove I had diabetes. After 10 years of fighting with them for my disability they now want me to prove I was in Vietnam even though they sent paperwork to me in 2005 stating I was a doorgunner in Vietnam. After sending in two Dr reports they want me to prove I have diabetes. I sent a message back to them stating these facts and told them to quit screwing with me using different language. The VA had me locked up for extortion. Now, $17,500.00 later I have received NO help from the American Legion or any other outfit that says they are there to help Veterans. I did receive my 100% disability 2 months after I was arrested for the extortion but it is now 3 years later and still not finished in court and still no help from anyone.

Harvey Talbert

July 22, 2011 - 8:49pm

I too am a Viet Nam vet, and I was in country with the Danang Naval support activity for one year, and three tours off the coast, two of which were on tin cans that were close aboard and as subject to AO as were those ashore. I developed ischimic heart desease in 1984, recieved a "line-of-duty" statement from a military doctor in 1985, and still was turned down for treatment by the VA in 1986. The VA does not care any more about you than does any of the state department bureaucrats that spend 700 million dollars per year rebuilding muslim mosques in countries that hade America

UTSuli45

July 22, 2011 - 5:27pm

Previous poste has the names at this address: opencongress.org/vote/2011/s/114

another vets wife

August 4, 2011 - 1:11pm

The republicans voted against the amendment which would make it harder to win a claim. The amendment wanted more proof that Agent Orange caused the cancer. The republicans voted this amendment down. Then the bill was passed without the bad amendment. Did you read the first paragraph of this article?

another vets wife

August 4, 2011 - 1:13pm

Read the first paragraph of the article! They voted the bad amendment down.

Cwaynejack

July 22, 2011 - 4:20pm

I am a Vietnam Infantry Veternan. I have Hypertension associated with Diabetes Mellitus type 2. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, with Depression. I have applied several claim for Agent Orange exposure to herbicides agent and I keep getting the run around. My face,scalp,chest,hands peel. My arms breakout with 50 cent to quarter size welt on my arms as well as the swelling in my feet & legs. My wife and I lost our first child and my two daughter have severe scalp problem as well. I have had total right knee replacement and the left knee is going bad. Yet, they want you to just forget about it and sweep it under rug. To many Veternan have served for this country and this is the thanks we get.

Blackhorse68

July 22, 2011 - 3:14pm

I'm a Viet Nam Army Vet who is being treated for a soft tissue sarcoma on my small intestine. The VA is treating me with a new chemo drug which is keeping me alive. If this cancer was not on the presumptive list, I couldn't afford the unbelievably high cost of treatment and would have been tagged and bagged long before now. Sometimes it takes a long time before chemicals to manifest a disorder as mine didn't show until 35 years after DEROS.To close access to the presumptive list is to create more which should be called "died as a result". As a proud Legionnaire I thank God for their relentless fight for us. I encourage all vets to support and stand with them. Al Lotz PO Box 3724 Alliance, Ohio 44601

grhowe1

July 22, 2011 - 12:28pm

I am a 61 yr old VN vet who developed prostate cancer due to agent orange. I had surgery, then 3 yrs later it was back and I had 9 wks of radiation, and now about 3 years later, once again my PSA is up to 1.21 and rising. Don't tell me the war is over. It ain't. trying to 'get back in the black' on the backs of vets still fighting the war is as stupid as the president asking active duty troops to pay for thier health insurance. I had both of my treatmens on my private health insurance. Don't tell me about getting back in the black. I think I've done my share.

cmc

July 22, 2011 - 12:10pm

I was in the Air Force from Nov 1967 to Sep 1971.At the end of 1969 I was sent to CCK in Taiwan the to U-Tapao in Thiland. I also flew out of Thiland to Cambodia and Viet Nam,these were one day missions,I was a combo welder,aircraft and field maintenance. The point is I now have diabetes and no one in my family had diabetes.I have filled out the paper work for Agent Orange and was turned down because they said I could not prove I was there.I worked for two years searching for my paper work,I contacted the American Legion and six other government agencies and just got the run around,they would trasfer me from one agency to another.I finally found out that they did not cut orders out of Taiwan for those going to Thailand and Viet Nam, I found a site on line with others that were first stationed in Taiwan and sent to Thailand or Viet Nam and could not get proof because everything stoped in Taiwan.When I flew into Cambodia I was told there is no paper work because we were not there.

Thompsrp

July 22, 2011 - 10:47am

Dear Senator Coburn, I am writing as a 'Conservative' Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and author of the book: "Everything Happened In Vietnam: The Year of the Rat". What I find so inexplicable, when our country is in the throws of being spent into oblivion by Democrat & non-conservative Republican wasteful policies, that you would choose to make Agent Orange affected veterans a target of cost containment measures with this fiasco of an amendment. Alienating millions of veterans? That is what you did. A corps constituency of Conservative voters! Just incredible. Republican ‘leaders’ seem to be doing everything they can to lose the next election. I, as a long time Conservative, want this Country to survive and to flourish. You just made it that much more difficult for us to accomplish that. And what did you gain? Sincerely, Robert (Bob) P. Thompson USMC VN Veteran 1967-1969 13640 Elkwood Drive Apple Valley, MN 55124 651-406-1418 robert.p.thompson@usps.gov

rcdeger

July 22, 2011 - 10:22am

I will never vote for another republican on the federal or state level. Hypocrits, all of them.

another vets wife

August 4, 2011 - 1:09pm

The republicans voted against the amendment which would make it harder to win a claim. The amendment wanted more proof that Agent Orange caused the cancer. The republicans voted this amendment down. Then the bill was passed without the bad amendment. Did you read the first paragraph of this article?

another vets wife

August 4, 2011 - 1:10pm

Please read the article again!

raiders0092

July 22, 2011 - 9:50am

I am a two-time Air Force Viet Nam veteran. My second tour (1969) was at Plei-Ku Air Base. I was assigned to the air cargo unit which off-loaded all types of cargo that arrived at the base. This cargo included AO which came in 55 gal drums and four to a wooden skid. One certain time, while off-loading the AO, I got splashed on both feet and legs. It is in my medical records that i was treated for chemical burns to my feet. In October 2007, I had surgery on my right arm and I lost the lymph node from under my right arm for non-hodgkins lymphoma. In October 2009, I had another surgery on my face for what turned out to be non-hodgkins lymphoma. The VA has paid me for the second surgery; however, they refuse to back date it to the first surgery. I have been hospitalized on numerous occasions (VA in Dayton Ohio) for severe swelling of my feet and legs. I received a notice that my compensation will expire on 1 Oct 2011 (two year payment.) Something isn't right. Thanks

josac467

July 22, 2011 - 9:39am

I am a Vietnam veteran and have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Fortunately for me, it was caught early before it spread to the bone or surrounding tissue. My prostate was surgically removed and now I must be examined every three months. Prostate cancer is one of the conditions presumed to have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange. My point is I want to stress the importance of getting regular medical check-ups, especially for those veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Receiving meager disability checks does not replace living a long and healthy life.

2001fxdl

July 22, 2011 - 9:12am

AO exposure in Thailand The following Veterans may have been exposed to herbicides:  U.S. Air Force Veterans who served on Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) bases at U-Tapao, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, and Don Muang, near the air base perimeter anytime between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975.  U.S. Army Veterans who provided perimeter security on RTAF bases in Thailand anytime between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975.  U.S. Army Veterans who were stationed on some small Army installations in Thailand anytime between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975. However, the Army Veteran must have been a member of a military police (MP) unit or was assigned an MP military occupational specialty whose duty placed him/her at or near the base perimeter. If you have an AO related disease consider filing a claim.

RComeau

July 22, 2011 - 8:06am

The elections will be here before you know it. I urge all veterans and active duty soldiers to remember that the 30 votes for this amendment were ALL Republicans, again they were ALL Republicans. To see how the vote went go to opencongress.org/vote/2011/s/114

SgtBilko

July 22, 2011 - 4:15am

I really appreciate the effort the Legion has made for vets on this issue. I would like to know the names of the lawmakers who voted for passage of this amendment. Veterans in Oklahoma must remember Tom Coburn's actions when voting in the next election. The 30 senators who voted for this amendment have shown how they feel about veterans- they should expect severe repercussions at the polls. I wish the AL would publish on this website the names of the anti-veteran congressmen who voted with Coburn, so we can put them on the RIF list ASAP.

Blastjet

July 22, 2011 - 12:25am

My father, deceased in 2003, was the Sqdn Cmdr who took the 1st & 3rd group of C-123s to VN. These acft became the Ranch Hand, AO, sprayers. To say that he had a familiarity with AO would be an understatement: He literally BATHED in the stuff. At 84, he died from Non-Hodgekins Lymphoma, never admitting that AO was the cause of that disease, &, ultimately, his death. Since he lived to 84, beating the nat'l average, I'm unable to conclude that AO was at fault, but there was, & has been, no history of this in the family. But, then, there's no way of knowing how long he might have lived. So, was he, or am I, due anything because of his "exposure" to AO? If so, from who? It strikes me that that those who made AO should NOT be held finacially responsible: they were acting on a government contract. Had they not made the stuff, someone else would have done the deed. The presumption of responsiblility, then, can only fall on Uncle Sam. So, go for it BIG, Legion! Hold Sam's feet to the fire!

mkusuplos

July 22, 2011 - 12:17am

Wish that you would include the names of the members that cared more about the money than the Veteran.

spartacus

July 21, 2011 - 9:49pm

When my father was diagnosed with cancer caused by Agent Orange I did a fair amount of research on the subject. As I understand it -- just like with Asbestos -- the manufacturers have been sued or in some way have been made to pay some form of restitution. Whatever it is though, it is not enough. At less than $2,000/month in survivor's benefits the lives of American fighting men are cheap. Maybe if every time an American warrior who dies from Agent Orange or other toxins on the battlefield -- maybe if these fallen were given the publicity the way those who die in combat are ... maybe then people would demand more be done? There are about 50,000 names on The Wall in Washington DC. Not one name is there for those who died from Agent Orange. What is our actual death toll from Viet Nam when we factor in deaths caused by Agent Orange? Do Americans even want to know? Have vets just become a subclass to be ignored except when it makes Americans "feel good"?

tunerpete

July 21, 2011 - 9:47pm

Retired Navy Hospital Corpsman. I served with the FMF Marines in Vietnam 1969-70. I am also an Agent Orange Victim. It is my opinion that the Chemical Companies that made Agent Orange are the guilty parties and they should be paying the VA for the health care of "ALL AGENT ORANGE RELATED ILLINESSES". THEY SEEM TO OPERATE ON A BASIS OF POISON FOR PROFIT AND NOT CARING WHOM THEY KILL. HOW ABOUT THE AMERICAN LEGION STARTING A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT TO COMPENSATE THE VETERANS AND THE VA? HOW ABOUT IT AMERICAN LEGION. YOU ALWAYS SAY YOU ARE ON THE SIDE OF THE VETERAN! As the Marines call in time of crisis "CORPSMAN UP" how about "AMERICAN LEGION UP."

spartacus

July 21, 2011 - 9:40pm

My father left for Viet Nam when I was 4 months old. He was killed there -- but he did not die for another 38 years. He died from cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange. He was always proud that he managed to keep his entire Light Infantry Squad alive during their tour -- but all nine of them are now dead from Agent Orange. My dad was only 58 when he died. For his service and sacrifice, my disabled mother receives less than $2,000/month in survivor's benefits. In our family most men serve. I was in Desert Storm, I have three nephews in Afghanistan and Iraq now. My son is planning on enlisting next year. Infantry -- every single one of us. We don't expect special treatment -- but perhaps just maybe -- when a soldier's life costs more than $2,000/month -- perhaps maybe just then the people of this country and the leaders they elect, will give more thought before putting American grunts in harm's way. There are no names on The Wall for those killed by "friendly" poison

MRBIGSTU15

July 21, 2011 - 9:26pm

I have yet to understand exactly what qualifies a veteran as having been exposed to Agent Orange as far a a territorial thing, because when any agents are exposed to the atmosphere, it can easily travel from place to place, all it takes is for a strong wind to come along and shift the agent to a different airspace. What I'm really saying is that, just because you were not on the ground in Vietnam, you could still have been exposed by being in any of its bordering countries, this is not fair to veterans that may have been exposed through these means, It seems as if the system is trying to streamline the list of exposed veterans as to limit its responsibility to compensate or provide healthcare for these veterans. Lets do the right thing and recognize all the veterans that have been exposed and not just the ones that put their feet on the ground in but every veteran that was in that region. I am commenting on this because I was in Thailand during the Vietnam War era and has diabetes

RETAIRFORCEMAN

July 21, 2011 - 9:22pm

I am a U.S. Air Force retired senior NCO from the Vietnam War. I am writing to thank LEADERSHIP OF THE AMERICAN LEGION AND THE ENTIRE MEMBERSHIP for STANDING UP TODAY for those brave souls among us who are affected by agent orange and for all those brave souls who have past on from that exposure. DIOXIN is the most deadly substance on earth. The entire truth must be known where and when Agent Orange herbicides were used. Those in our government do NOT want the truth out. It is now time for ALL OF THE VETERANS SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS to demand FULL DISCLOSURE AND ACCOUNTABILITY ON THE ISSUE OF AGENT ORANGE HERBICIDES. It is time for a full JOINT SESSION OF THE VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE to bring ALL VETERANS WITH KNOWLEDGE of where it was used to this session with full disclosure and accountability. Our nations veterans will bring the TRUTH TO OUR NATION SO THIS ISSUE WILL BE DOCUMENTED FULLY. Earnest research and help for all of those veterans affected and the children,grandchildren.

jeffy

July 21, 2011 - 8:21pm

I am a Vietnam Vetran and I have been diagnosed with Aplatic Anemia,Glucoma, I dont think we should have to suffer for fighting for our country. All vetrans should have the right to get the help from what occurred to them while serving. I hope you keep researching it for all of the vetrans who will be needing help. Thank You, Jeffrey J. Eckholt P.O. Box 1202 Hot Springs,S.D.57747

bovine46

July 21, 2011 - 7:38pm

Why should our tax money be spent to help us veterans? Why doesn't the VA sue Monsanto and Dow Chemical to recoup the money the VA is having to fork out over this disaster? Did they not lie about the effects of A.O. and they kept on lying for twenty years until the gov't was forced to admit it. Monsanto and Dow Chemical are the perpertrators in this crime let them pay. Why should they get off easy?

mdamick64

July 21, 2011 - 7:35pm

As a veteran of OEF and OIF, I understand the problems that veterans have with the recognition of troop exposures. Burn pits, depleted uranium, left over nerve agents and all around toxic materials in the sand will take it's toll on this round of veterans. I applaud our protectors of the peace who served and were exposed to such toxic materials and I hope that foolish and cowardly legislators will not try to diminish their sacrifice with poor laws that will keep them from getting help when the effects of these toxins appear.

dmikulenka

July 21, 2011 - 7:17pm

I am a Vietnam Army Veteran, who presently suffers from Agent Orange with Diabetes, Perrifial Neuropathy and Glaucoma...I am paying a high price for my exposure and I do not know when this will end for me. No one should close or make it more difficult to add deseases of Agent Orange for Vietnam Veterans. This is not right to the Soldiers who endured so much for America. Thank you, Dennis Mikulenka 12414 Shadowmist Drive Houston, Texas 77082

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