When will Congress stand up for the Veteran?

Recent Events Give One Pause to Wonder The events of the last several weeks give one pause to wonder about some very wonderful and disturbing things.

The 9th Circuitís decided to allow Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans to sue the Department of Veterans Affairs only to be told by the governmentís lawyers that Veterans have no right to specific kinds of health care.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decided again to deny Vietnam Veterans and Vietnamese claimants the right to sue Dow Chemical and Monsanto for Agent Orange damages.

I applaud the plaintiffís plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, especially since the primary reasons the Nixon Administration ended itís use of herbicides was the United Nations adoption of the 1925 Geneva Convention protocols with inclusion of herbicides and the joint acknowledgement by the Secretaries of Health, Education and Welfare, the Interior, and the Agriculture which announced the immediate suspension of all use of 2, 4, 5-T. Crop destruction is not something used to preclude ambush; it is the use of herbicides for attacking the food supply of the enemy.

It appears to us that the role of the government is to deny Veterans fundamental rights of due process and redress, particularly when and if it doesnít permit the government the right to send us to our deaths, in combat or from lack of medical care due to the effects of combat.

The Department of Veterans Affairs submitted a woefully inadequate FY 2009 Budget Request. It testified before the House Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs concerning their continued mismanagement of the claims process which began by waffling about just how many hundreds of thousands of claims they are really backlogged.

Thousands of canisters of cremated Veterans were found stored in mortuary basements across this country and are there because the Department of Veterans Affairs denied them burial in national cemeteries.

It appears to us that the role of the government is to deny Veterans the fundamental rights to dignity, justice, fair compensation, and to renege on promises written in the laws of this great land.

Despite being embroiled in one case after another from every possible constituency imaginable, the Department of Veterans Affairs continued to marginalize widows and deny them basic rights of dependency and survivorship. So widows sued.

Did the Congress of the United States, in developing laws concerning an insurance program like the Survivorís Benefit Plan, which requires payment of premiums, intend for the Department of Veterans Affairs to adopt rules concerning offset of Section 644 Dependency and Indemnity Compensation which give widows next to nothing?

The Department ruled that Veterans diagnosed with PTSD are no longer required to submit a statement of stressor. Why you may ask? Could it be the Department of Veterans Affairs knew that the Department of the Army will not diagnose PTSD for in-service military, and that the DOA will claim they do not have sufficient qualified staff to make that diagnosis? So what changed? Are we to suppose that the Department of Veterans Affairs acted with their usual beneficence?

Despite awaiting a decision by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the Department of Veterans Affairs has the audacity to rule that seaman of the USS Ingersoll were exposed for two days of presumption for Agent Orange. Now should anyone consider that not only does this fly in the face of the law, but also that it flies in the face of scientific evidence concerning dioxin, and logic concerning ship operations? The US Navy, believing that there was no harm possible from dioxin, washed the ship down, cleansed every piece of equipment including desalination equipment, and what? What scientific study does the Department reference in deciding that dioxin dissipates in two days when it is in the ship's food and water?

Is there anyone with any common sense still out there? Is there anyone in the stratosphere of Veterans Administration elite, administrative, medical, or scientific that believes they have earned their salaries for a decision that is unbelievable at best? Every Senior Executive Schedule administrator, physician scientist, and lawyer involved in this decision should resign immediately.

But the most pertinent thing to wonder is when shall the Congress of the United States stand up for Veterans and provide to us those rights we defended in countless actions of heroism and sacrifice?

When will they see that by the actions in the Courts of this great country it means there is something terribly wrong and that immediate action to correct the problems caused by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense must be taken?

Posted: February 24, 2008.

Kurt Priessman, MSgt, USAF (Ret)
Vet Advocate/Researcher - http://tmai18.spaces.live.com

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