BY MAYNARD KADERLIK, CHAIR
Since my last column, some things have been moving along. The AO Committee had a Zoom meeting April 8 and discussed important issues for veterans and their children. We came up with three motions to submit to the VVA BOD in the form of letters to the VA Secretary from President Rowan.
Motion 1: For the VA Secretary to use his executive authority to bypass the lengthy regulatory writing and approval processes and direct that the three new presumptive diseases (bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s-like symptoms) in the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act be fast-tracked for implementation by the VBA. It appears that the VA Secretary is going to do that.
Motion 2: For the VA Secretary to report to VVA on how and if P.L. 114-315, the Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016, has been implemented in keeping with the specific intent and direction of the law. We have not yet received a response.
Motion 3: Deals with the VA Secretary appointing Thomas Murphy as Acting Undersecretary for Benefits, the position he was removed from several years ago. We want this position to be filled immediately with a permanent appointment who is not Murphy, and we want him out of his acting position before he does any more damage. We have not yet received a response.
The committee has done an outstanding job. Now it is up to the VA Secretary to do what’s right for veterans and their families. And it is up to veterans to call or write the Secretary about these issues. We will not give in, and we will work to the end (if there is an end).
It seems that the pandemic is winding down, and we look forward to holding more town hall meetings to keep educating veterans and their families on these issues. I want to thank the Agent Orange Committee for doing a great job, the grassroots who do so much to keep the issue alive, and the BOD, Officers, and the entire staff at VVA. We make a great team.