Agent Orange & Dioxin Committee Update September/October 2020

I hope all VVA members and staff and their families are well during these uncertain times. Recently I received an email from a veteran who wanted to know when the VA is going to start the research mandated by PL 114-315 as his child has problems from his exposure to Agent Orange during his service to the country. The VA responded that its Intergenerational Effects of Military Exposures Work Group started working on the research more than six months ago. From the composition of the members of the working group, it appears that the outcome of that report will be: “Further research will be necessary.”

That’s why I formed an ad hoc group to discuss this and three other issues. I felt we needed to move forward as soon as possible. The ad hoc group includes very knowledgeable people who have worked on this legislation for many years. Our agenda includes working on four issues: 1) PL 114-315, which was not being followed; 2) Agent Orange items being sold and information on AO issued by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund; 3) The four future presumptives that we have been waiting for; and 4) The Ranch Hand specimens. We conducted a meeting via Zoom.

The first issue was discussed at length. I needed a motion to take to the BOD to file a lawsuit against the VA for not following the law as stated. So we wrote a motion and sent it to VVA National for the BOD. The second issue was discussed, and it was decided that Communications Director Mokie Porter will contact Jim Knotts at VVFM and give him information and material on the Agent Orange issue. The third issue–on future presumptives–was discussed, and everyone felt that soon, with support from both sides, they will be added to the fourteen already on the list. The final issue—the Ranch Hand specimens—was addressed by Linda Schwartz. She recommended allowing the Air Force to keep them. The Air Force has maintained these specimens in sub-zero freezers for many years. Keeping them there will allow them to be analyzed in the future.

This was the gist of the meeting. The proposed Board motion was submitted through the Government Affairs Committee. I also have noticed movement on S322, The Agent Orange Act of 2019, which the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed and sent to the Senate. I have been very busy calling and emailing veterans and their families on issues with Agent Orange. Once this virus subsides we will begin again to organize Agent Orange town halls.

I thank the entire membership, the staff, and everyone at VVA for their hard work on this important issue. We are a “we” team.

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