BWNVVA Takes a Stand on NHL

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association (BWNVVA) has been deeply involved in the analyzing and contribution of information regarding the inconsistent and limited nature with which the VA deals with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. In addition to the web page covering many facets of the lymphoma question, we have been looking at an abundant set of contradictions, inconsistencies and illogical rules and regulations that surround the issue of non-Hodgkins lymphoma as addressed in 38 CFR 3.313

On the VA's My Health-e-Vet web site, the VA provides a nearly up-to-date list of internationally recognized types of NHL, which number about 30. The list includes CLL or chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which accounts for about 1/4 of all lymphomatic diseases.

But in this letter received by one of our members, the VA states that although they acknowledge the scientific progress in identifying types of NHL, they use a list developed by the CDC even prior to the 1994 version of the list used by the World Health Organization (WHO). CLL did not exist on the WHO list until 1999. And since neither list existed in 1990 when the CDC concluded its Selective Cancer Study, the VA chooses to use the original version of the CDC's "Working Formulation Classification System" list, which didn't contain much of any classification. They don't mention that CLL or CLL/SLL is a predominant NHL type among sailors who are covered by 38 CFR 3.313, and that it represents a significant amount of money in benefits they are saving by not paying compensation for CLL.

And although they do mention "Vietnam veterans were found to be at increased relative risk of developing NHL," they don't mention that offshore, sea-based veterans contracted NHL at about 50% greater than other veterans. And then there's this whole business about who is really properly called a "Vietnam veteran" as it pertains to questions of herbicide contamination, which is the sole cause, by presumption, of NHL and CLL in all land-based personnel.

I fail to see the rationale in choosing one list that existed when the law was written to apply to the offshore veterans, yet using the most updated list of NHL classifications when applied to land-based personnel, who use the entire WHO list in their diagnosis of NHL cancer, which results in much better care and a guaranteed rating of service-connection. Since indications are that the more prevalent form of NHL that was probably detected by the CDC study was CLL/SLL, the VA choose the list to apply to the Blue Water Navy that doesn't mention any form of the CLL or SLL cancer. So not only are they failing in their application of medical knowledge in support of the veteran, they fail the course in logic as well, to say nothing of their total lack of compassion for the Blue Water Navy or out-and-out discrimination against a class of federal employees that is literally lethal.

I suspect several more entries will be added to this subject before all is said and done. One thing will be the distribution of a letter I wrote in response to some communication I had with the Assistant General Counsel of the DVA.
Rossie Letter to the General Counsel's office, January 30. 2009