The monthly meeting of the Victor Valley Marine Corps League is Wednesday December 21st at 6.30 pm in the Education Room of St. Hilary’s Episcopal Church at 11305 Hesperia Road.. Some members enjoy adjourning to the Desert Barn Brewery for debriefing. Merry Christmas to the High Desert people and God speed. For inquiries call 760.550.8083
From: Wes Carter <email@example.com>
Sent: Sat, Oct 22, 2016 4:35 pm
Subject: Patches & the IOM C-123 Agent Orange Report – Oct 14 2016
note: our association’s work continues on the issue of retroactive disability awards and compensation, with legal representation from the firm of Fregre-Baker Daniels
“Patches & the IOM C-123 Agent Orange Report”Visiting the USAF Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB and home of “Patches,” our Agent Orange-contaminated C-123. 14 Oct 2016
To all post-Vietnam C-123 Veterans: if you haven’t already, contact VA and arrange your Agent Orange Registry physical. This is a free comprehensive exam looking for any possible Agent Orange exposure medical issues and it is vital whether you have any such illnesses or not. The first friend I talk into having the physical was found to have a life-threatening heart problem, and the physical perhaps saved his life. Call VA now!I’m holding the report from the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Sciences that convinced the VA our aircraft had been contaminated, we were exposed to Agent Orange, and we were harmed greatly by that exposure. Behind me is Patches, now decontaminated, of course.The report summary can be downloaded free at https://www.google.com/url…The archives at the museum revealed the evidence of testing back in 1979 and 1994 and 1996, and the evidence that USAF bioenvironmental scientists concluded the airplane was “heavily contaminated with dioxin on all test surfaces, STILL after its last spray missions in 1968 during the Vietnam War.We started flying Patches in 1972 and were exposed to the Agent Orange residue for the next decade. Although the CDC informed VA and USAF that the aircrews and maintainers had been exposed, officials at VA continued to insist otherwise and stated VA had “an overwhelming preponderance of evidence” against any harm being done.
In 2014 it became clear, based on the IOM study and the report I’m holding, that VA’s position was based solely on its policy decision to block additional Agent Orange claims like ours. Policy, not science. Policy, not law.
The US Senate agreed. Under leadership from Senator Burr of North Carolina and Senator Merkley of Oregon the Senate blocked all VA confirmations until the C-123 issue was resolved. The national commander of the VFW testified to Congress that that full benefits for C-123 vets must be authorized, All six major veterans organizations insisted VA act, with the Vietnam Veterans of America leading their joint efforts.
The media was behind us all the way. The first press coverage was in early 2011 in the Air Force Times where reporter Patricia Kime detailed our USAF Inspector General complaint wherein the service was asked, but refused, to notify our veterans of their potential exposures. Subsequent articles appeared in the Washington Post, Springfield Republican, American Legion Magazine, the Oregonian, Associated Press, CBS News, Pittsburgh Gazette, NPR All Things Considered, Boston Globe, Air Force Magazine, plus Military.Com and other Internet outlets. Air Force Times and the Springfield Republican both ran editorials insisting VA act in our behalf.
In 2009 Dr. Alvin Young, VA’s principal consultant on Agent Orange, had strongly recommended to the USAF the immediate destruction of all C-123s stored in a hazardous material quarantine section of Davis-Mothan Air Force Base because, among other reasons, our already exposed air crews and maintenance veterans might approach the VA seeking care for Agent Orange illnesses. Destruction of the aircraft would help prevent such claims, especially, as it was pointed out, if the aircraft disappeared without public attention. Preventing claims seems to of been awfully important to the VA and so many others. It seemed so important to Dr. Young because in 2011 he denigrated us as “trash haulers, freeloaders looking for a tax-free dollar from a sympathetic congressman.” The VA certainly found the right voice to help it oppose our claims – VA had found a man who holds us in contempt to help VA avoid treating our illnesses.
In 2013 Dr. Young was in the middle of his unique VA two year $600,000 no-bid sole source Agent Orange consulting contract. He urged Mr. James Sampsel at the VA Agent Orange desk to “hold the line” (his words) against our claims. For his part, Mr. Sampsel informed his VA colleagues and supervisors that all proof confirming our exposure submitted to VA by independent scientific authorities and other federal agencies (CDC, DOD, USPHS, NIH) was merely the real “problem” for VA – proof Mr. Sampsel and others in VBA would ignore despite VA regulation VAM21-1MR and despite the Veterans Claims Assistance Act.
Dr. Terry Walters at the VHA Post-Deployment Health Section, told the Associated Press that a line had to be drawn against our claims. Hold the line, indeed!
For too many years the VA “held their line” and denied every single claim submitted by our veterans of the post-Vietnam C-123 spray aircraft. While being paid by VA Dr. Young testified before the Institute of Medicine C-123 committee against our exposure claims. He even attacked the IOM report after its publication in January 2015 using arguments similar to ones used earlier when Dow and Monsanto sponsored him. But the committee saw through that. The committee also criticized VA and USAF for routinely dismissing, ignoring or minimizing proof of veterans’ exposures
In June 2015, the Institute of Medicine report I’m holding in the photo was acted upon by Secretary McDonald. He brought truth, science, law, and compassion into the process at last. The 2100 of us who volunteered to serve our country by flying and maintaining our aircraft willingly accepted the hazards of aviation service and now are acknowledged to have also endured hazardous toxin exposures for which the VA will now care.
As VA Secretary McDonald said to me at the White House, “We won.” He meant “We” the veteransand “We” the VA, No longer adversaries.
Let’s not let this happen again to other veterans facing toxic exposures.
I am posting this essay in it’s entirety. It is penned by a fellow Marine named Hal Arness. This Marine was all Recon and executed some of the most dangerous missions in the Vietnam War. A sensitive and extraordinary literate man who is a graduate of USC and played football for infamous John McCay. I was honored to have recently attended a Retreat for combat veterans with him at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Retreat center is known as the “Casa” and is curiously the location where I elected to not join the Franciscan Order in 1973. Suffice it to say, the weekend was packed with dual nostalgia.
. Also in attendance were my Sgt. from Vietnam, Bob Boytor and two other close friends who also served in the Vietnam War. Bill Black a former Army Officer who saw action with the Phoenix Program. Black is a published Western Cowboy writer and poet. My other Marine pal Ron Reibslager is a fellow Marine who was with a Phantom 4 Air Wing Unit. The five of us did indeed have a few tales to share and some healing to occur.
Facts without human intelligence is are of little value. Truth comes with a narrative, often one that takes years to surface. In war literature it is often said, “the first casualty of war is Truth.” The following personal narrative has some long held truth to share.
The experiences and places of battle that are stamped in our psyche remind me of a quote from Virginia Wolf…. these places and experiences are “shell like coverings our souls have excreted to house themselves.”
WE KNOW THE FACE OF PERFIDY by Hal Arness
We are the American soldiers of the 60’s. This means little to the people of our country and understandably less to others. That tragic time begs to fade away….but there are those of us who just can’t forget…we are perpetually angry …and we are still there. We don’t wear false faces of apology for our acerbic natures…or seek forgiveness that we do not really want. Instead we rail for honor and search for lost trust…diligent to be reasonable in our grouchy proclamations. Our demeanor is “sparky”….our content sound….our style often ugly and insulting. Those of us who have been pitched into the crucible of terror and deceit by the call of our country…..have returned warily caustic…prickly! We detest furtive angling and elitist secrecy among those who attain positions of authority over our well being and interests. We lash discourteously at those who spin their flaccid leadership proclaiming excellence and deft handling… when their weakness is ruefully obvious….and humbly confessing the need for support and consensus would have engendered our fiercest allegiance…our affection. We only understand protecting one another! We strive and die for that idea in history! We seethe with anger at those who disrespect opposing views or the greater good…especially when reasonable rules of conduct are firmly fixed to protect the common good…especially when those empowered/entrusted by their peers to enforce those firmly fixed rules of conduct…make excuses, claim ignorance…refuse indignantly to take any responsibility whatsoever! We are a sorry lot we damaged relics…we have been betrayed by those who vehemently proclaimed their savvy wisdom and profound respect for us. We know all too well…that cowardly face! We have been betrayed by American presidents and virtually every political office holder, by sexy/rich movie stars, by our nation’s “fair and impartial” professors, educators and news anchors, by know-it-all college students and snazzy zip code intellectuals…by “you’re in good hands” insurance companies, back-slapping lawyers, hollow speech-sters and by our own socially driven…”friends” and most wretchedly some spouses! We just don’t trust like we once did…or forgive in that vacuum of trust. Though our presentation has been mangled and rearranged by a difficult duty past…we are all the more dedicated to responsible interdependence…to the healthy preservation of community…transparency-in-all-leadership…and…rigorous fair play! If we have learned to recognize one thing by our traumatized lives…it’s that elitist whispering campaigns lobbying for like-minded allies breeds contempt, division and destruction…every time. We are grouchy! But we still KNOW to demand responsible accountable citizenship. We KNOW the reprobate liars and smug takers among us can be forced to confirm. We KNOW there is sufficient numbers, strength and unity among those who are accountable to each other and protect one another…to prevail over those…who are not. We are old and grumpy now…but we ever stand our watch over the right-thing-to-do. Author: Hal Arness Marine Combat Veteran of the Vietnam War
From the horror of the jungles of Vietnam to 21st Century chaos, it is possible that the Vietnam Veteran has arrived as not the neglected but the light at the end of the tunnel.