Beware of Senator Who Speaks With Forked Tongue/ VVA Press Release

ress Release September 23, 2010 No. RI-002

Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146

Beware the Senator Who Speaks With Forked Tongue

By John Weiss, Vietnam Veterans of America Rhode Island State Council

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the leading Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said yesterday, as reported by the Associated Press, that he has “concerns about a proposal to spend billions of dollars on disability compensation for Vietnam veterans who get heart disease and wants to make sure that science supports the expansion of benefits.”

The “proposal” Burr is referring to is a decision by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, based on the recent National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine committee report, “Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2008.

A little history is in order: From 1962 to 1971, the U.S. military used Agent Orange and other herbicides in Vietnam and elsewhere to defoliate the jungle canopy, to destroy crops, and to clear the perimeters of U.S. bases. These herbicides were sprayed from fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, trucks, and backpack sprayers. The drums that stored these chemicals were often recycled and put to various other uses, sometimes to collect rain water, to serve as barbecue grill, etc. Nearly three million veterans served in Southeast Asia.

Contained in these herbicides was dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-paradioxin—one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man.

On August 31, 2010, in the Federal Register, the Department of Veterans Affairs published the final rules amending the adjudication regulations concerning presumptive service connection, concluding that there was a positive association between exposure in Vietnam to certain herbicides and the subsequent development of three diseases: hairy cell leukemia & B-cell leukemias; Parkinson’s disease; and ischemic heart disease.

And for the first time in history, on September 23, Burr and his colleagues will call into question the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, as outlined in the Agent Orange Act of 1991.

Recognizing that Burr was voted into the House of Representatives in 1994, it is obvious that he was not involved with the passage of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 (Public Law 102-4), which passed the House and the Senate without a single nay vote. In fact, today, 19 years later, there are only 36 members of Congress still serving who voted for passage of this act in 1991.

The Agent Orange Act of 1991 acknowledges the culpability of toxic exposures in health conditions that manifested years after a veteran’s service. Included in the law is the authority for the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to, on a biannual basis, provide a review of all scientific studies and research on the association between dioxin and specific diseases; and include recommendations for future research.

The act further grants the Secretary of the VA the authority to determine if a presumption of service connection is warranted for any of the health conditions addressed in the report.

If Sen. Burr is uncomfortable with the Secretary’s determinations based on the National Academy of Sciences recommendations, perhaps he would be more comfortable with the finding of the U.S. Air Force Ranch Hand Study, conducted by the U.S. Air Force on those who participated in the aerial spraying program, as sited in the 1992 testimony of Dr. Barry L. Johnson, Assistant Surgeon General, before the House Subcommittee on Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations:

A recent study on the health status of Vietnam veterans who participated in Operation Ranch Hand did not find any signs of liver disease, but did report increased levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood (a second report does not support these increases). In addition, an increase in body fat, diabetes, and blood pressure were also noted. These effects were strongly associated with TCDD levels in the serum. Ranch Hand veterans also had changes in blood (increased white blood cells, platelet, IgA, and sedimentation rates) which suggest a chronic inflammatory response, although no immunologic system diseases were identified. These immune system changes were also strongly associated with serum TCDD levels. These results differ from those reported in previous analyses of the Ranch Hand group in 1982 and 1985. The earlier analyses did not include an assessment of serum TCDD levels. A physical examination of Ranch Hand veterans is currently under way.

There is no doubt, that Burr, though too young to have faced conscription during the Vietnam Conflict, views himself as a supporter of those who served.

In fact, seven months ago, it was Sen. Burr who introduced a resolution recognizing March 30 as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” Proclaimed Burr, “There’s no question that our troops served our country bravely and faithfully during the Vietnam War, and these veterans deserve our recognition and gratitude.  Unfortunately, when these service members returned home, they were caught in the crossfire of public debate about our nation’s involvement in the war.”

Today, Vietnam veterans are again caught in the “crossfire of public debate,” as Burr and others balk at the price of providing for the continuing cost of care for those whom he and others recognize “served our country bravely and faithfully during the Vietnam War.”

Words of praise and gratitude do not cost anything. Veterans’ compensation for service-related health conditions do. Sen. Burr, which is it?

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

11 thoughts on “Beware of Senator Who Speaks With Forked Tongue/ VVA Press Release”

  1. Serving in the Military is very dangerous to your health, not even counting the bullets and bombs. Almost every military base that has been closed is on the EPA superfund cleanup list. Military members are exposed to all kinds of toxic chemicals on a daily basis..and congress, including Member Senator Burr ignores those facts. He has no problem spending money on equipment and contractors, especially if they are from his district or from his campaign fund contributors, or pays for his junkets. BUT he can’t seem to find the money for the troops. Oh I know..he proclaims loudly at every campaign stop and speech how he supports the troops..well that is BS. Veterans come home, get sick and die, and we find out years later what toxic chemicals they were exposed to, or we fight the VA for years, lose our familys, our health, our homes, while Sen Burr joins Nero in fidling while Rome burns. Vote him out.From: Dan Cedusky, Champaign IL, Col, AUS, Ret,Life member Legion, DAV, AMVETS, MOAA, USDR, NGAUS 

  2. Ahhhh… the edifying part of blogging. There are always folks out there in the cyberspace that have a fund of knowledge for all of us to adopt. Thanks Dan.
    My wife’s first husband died of TCE, the crap that Hughes Aircraft dumped in the ground. He was in his early 30’s. Big lawsuit in Tucson years ago. Funny thing though, the problem persists. I feel certain the local media has been censored from any further coverage.  Many locals point to an item of  “go away trivia,” being that the Tucson Airport is one of the few in the nation to not be owned by the local municipality. Rumor has the reason being that it is still, “dirty,” and if the City owned it,being self insured, it would draw law suits. The shield from this is that the Tucson Airport Authority has no real assets to sue.
    Ike was right, and right times 10. The Military Industrial Complex is both complex and acts with impunity.  And we’re worried about socialism? Child stuff.

  3. Dak To was a wonderful place in ’69!   All vegetation dead, our signal sites vegetation dead, etc, etc, etc,.  Artillery pouring in. Troops living like moles.  Old Dick Burr has snowed the military in NC.  Too bad re-election is just around the corner.   Any other time he would have passed on the triviality of spending $67 Billion on sick troops and approved millions for  building mosques in selected Islamic countries. 

  4. Bill, both you and Colonel Dan make this site have the value that it was intended for in its inception.  I wished I had the skill to find the “techie” ways to promulgate the conversation with the men who know war, not just speak of it.  While we are relatively well visited, the opportunity to have an ongoing dialogue with veterans of war is limited by my lack of skill to shove this out to bigger audiences.  Do you know how?

  5. Webb, you and Burr looked like yo0u two were holding hands, or bumping knees at the Veterans Committee for Agent Orange.  Webb, you should be aswhamed of yourself for dooning the coat of a person who is genuinely concerned with the best interest of the country, by doing what you are doing you have dishonored all those brave souls who went to Vietnam to serve our country, when our country ask for help we were there, now that we need it, you say it costs to much.  HOW MANY WOUNDED DID YOU LEAVE ON THE BATTLE FIELD, YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER.  I hope you and your little buddy are treated with the same respect you showed us.  VETERANS VOTE, TOO or is that something you guys didn’t consider in your bad decision to not do what is right .  I HOPE BOTH OF YOU, GET SENT HOME AFTER NOVEMBER, WE DON’T NEED YOUR KIND OF POLITICS, BAD POLITICS, IS FAR WORSE THAN NO POLITICS.  VIETVET/CORPSMAN 67/68

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