Friday, July 23, 2010

Join the Fight: Voices in the Wilderness Vs the V.A.

Ed Note:
This open letter came in the e-mail, this a.m. It directly addresses a post from VA Watchdog,, which I had just finished posting to FaceBook.  Ed Jackson is doing exactly what we all need to be doing, speaking out. Only we should begin to be doing it in an organized fashion…TOGETHER, as one voice, instead of in frustrated and angry individual outbursts.  As long as we are fighting and arguing among ourselves about political ideology or schoolbook philosophy, and continuing to exercise organizational chauvinism, rather than coalescing all of our knowledge, and all of our influence and resources in a concerted and unified campaign to confront and oust these tyrants on these issues specific to our experience as Veterans, they will continue to deny us that which we have, through our service in peace time and in time of war, earned.  Until then,’s pages are open to other voices in the wilderness wishing to speak out about the V.A.’s uncaring treatment of the very Veterans that the agency was created to serve.WH
Dept. of Veteran's Affairs 

A National Embarrassment  

Our nation faces a lot of issues today, from the failed economy, to jobs, to defense, to healthcare, to housing, to the out of control national debt.
Nearly every one of these problems have been self inflicted by the US Congress The Democrats have controlled the Congress for 4 years now and in that 4 years, the US has nearly imploded.  Republicans did not do much better when they controlled the Congress.  Congress has increased entitlement programs a staggering 50% in 4 years.  In FY-2006 theDepartment of Health and Human Services (HHS) was about $600 Billion, in FY-2010 it is $900 Billion.  HHS administers most entitlement programs.  HHS is scheduled to have a huge budget increase in the next few years, as it begins administrating ObamaCare.
In contrast the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) had a budget of about $90 Billion in FY-2006, and about $100 Billion in FY-2010, including a 9% increase in contracted attorneys this year.  Why does the VA need an increase in attorney costs?  Because it has some 3 million pending or appealed claims from veterans from WWII to today's Global Wars on Terrorism in Iraqand Afghanistan the VA is still fighting.  There are still some 800,000 claims from Vietnam Era veterans, most of which have claims or appeals for exposure to Agent Orange.  To settle these claims for Agent Orange exposure the VA has taken the official approach of "we are waiting for an Army to die".  The VA has refused to consider evidence submitted by veterans to support their claims or appeals.  The VA has refused to comply with the law that says if there are no government records found, and the veteran provides his/her own evidence then the "benefit of doubt" goes in favor of the veteran.
The VA current will not pay concurrent compensation if a veteran is retired from the military and collecting his/her earned retirement.  If these veterans have a VA disability rating of 50%, or less, the the retired veteran must give up a dollar for dollar amount of retired pays for his/her compensation.  In effect, the veteran is funding his own VA disabilities and the VA is not.  
I am one of those veterans, who gives up a portion of my USAF retirement pay to collect a 30% disability ($376 per month) "compensation".  That compensation is seperate from my claim of Agent Orange exposure.  I am one of some 800,000 veterans who served in Guam, the "Blue Water Navy", Thailand, Okinawa, and other places that directly support combat operations in Vietnam and was exposed to Agent Orange while performing service to our great nation.  We veterans served in the US Army, USN, USAF, USMC, and USCG.  We were mostly between 18 and 22 years old when we were exposed, although some were also then approaching retirement age back then, between 38 and 48.  About 200 Vietnam Era veterans are now dying each day.  Many others, including myself are in poor health, and are being denied health care and compensation from the VA.  Many of us can no longer work.  But, what hurts us more than being denied by the VA, is we are finding out our exposures to Agent Orange, which contains dioxin, back in the 1960s and 1970s is we have passed new health problems to our children and grandchildren.  The health effects of dioxin is truly multi-generational.  
Past Congresses have set this type of system up for disabled veterans to jump through the hoops at the VA.  The VA and Dept. of Defense (DOD) insist that records cannot be found for the storage, use, and disposal of Agent Orange on Guam, or shipment by USAF aircraft or USN ships, including chartered aircraft and shipping.  But that is like saying "we cannot confirm or deny.....", which has been a DOD standard statement since WWII.  
Just where do you think all of that Agent Orange went after its use was stopped in South Vietnam in 1970?  Well, it wasn't Kansas.   
Does the US Government even know that if the VA paid all 3 million claims and appeals pending at 100% disability compensation, under $3000 per month, it would cost about $9 billion per year, not including administrative costs.  That is less than 10% of the current VA budget of about $100 billion per year (FY-2010).  That is about the same amount of money the VA increased their budget to pay attorneys with (to fight the claims against the veterans).  In FY-2009, the US Congress spent some $3 billion of the "cash for clunkers" program.  They pay senior executives of Fannie-Mae and Freddie-Mac, about $90 million per year, and are about to give each another (up to) $150 billion.  The USAF is about to spend some $40 billion on a KC-X (the next generation tanker aircraft) to replace stored KC-135s that even they say are safely flyable until 2040 or longer, with new engines and upgrades (at a fraction of the cost of the KC-X).  

President Obama and the current Congress spent $787 billion in 2009 in a failed attempt to save jobs and the economy.  Unemployment has climbed from about 7% before that money was spent to as high as 10% since that money was spent.  Thank you Congress and Mr. President.  The President recently visited a battery plant Holland, MI (owned by a South Korean company) and gave them some $300 million to open a new plant in Holland for 300 workers, a cost of $500,000 per new job.  Yet, the government continues to ignore those of us who answered our nation's call when they needed us.  President Obama and the current Congress is no friend of the current troops now fighting for us, or past veterans who have.  Just last year he floated an idea he had to have current war veterans who were wounded, many with lost limbs, pay for their own health care and wounds or injuries incurred during their military war service. 
It is time we started supporting our current and former veterans, the VA will not, and this Congress will not.  All of us veterans who have been waiting for years for settlement of our claims will be voting this November.  I assure you, no candidate or incumbent can expect our support if they will not support the veterans, and correct the national disgrace the VA is.  
Ed Jackson,
Msgt. (RET), USAF

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Action Alert - Veterans' Sanctuary

Ed Note:  The following e-mail was sent to me by VVAW  Contact for Ithaca New York,  Jim Murphy, along with the note; "Please post, Willie...young vets looking for help from older vets..." For those of us who can't make it down to the demonstration for our fair share of abuse, here's an opportunity to deliver some meaningful blows against the empire, and to help to provide a soft landing back here at home for our returning OIF & OEF younger brothers and sisters...WH

        Veterans' Sanctuary, Inc 

 A non-profit organization that is creating a space for returning Iraq & Afghanistan war veterans.  We look forward to providing an innovative model to address a myriad of veteran health and reintegration issues. Once we have the ideal property, veterans will have access tpo peer support networks, holistic wellness programs, & artistic tools of self-expression while gaining skills through working with health practitioners, farming experience, and community living.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am soliciting donations and pledges for Veterans’ Sanctuary in Ithaca, NY. The vision for Veterans’ Sanctuary is that of Michael Blake, Nate Lewis and Eli Wright, all veterans of the Iraq War. The mission, taken directly from their blogspot…. ” The mission of the Veterans' Sanctuary is to create and sustain a peer-based, residential program to support Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as they transition from combat to civilian life. Our program seeks to provide the tools for transformation and a new path toward addressing veterans’ issues. The Veterans’ Sanctuary will cultivate a safe space in which participants can embrace and reject, deconstruct and then reassemble their military experiences. They will be empowered to share the burden of war with civilians and eventually the model can be replicated to serve returning veterans in other communities.”

Through the hard work of the team of young veterans, Andrea Levine (program executive director) and the many interns that she is supervising, the concept of a ‘peer-centered’ support program for those young veterans that are not being served by the traditional veterans agencies is now a reality. The negotiation for a residence in Ithaca is near completion and several of us are actively reviewing tracts of land for the rural retreat center.

So what can you do?.... I’m pledging $600 for a composting toilet and outhouse structure for the woodland retreat center. My conditions are simple… I want a nameplate by the entrance that simply states, “every day is a good day and tomorrow will be better… take care of your brothers and sisters”. It is sad to think that they will never learn how to burn their sh*t. I won $3,200 in a contest at MAC-V 19 in Quang Tri at Christmas 1967… it is a real skill.
Please donate what you can as this is a beautiful project. Combat Paper will create a paper wall tile in your honor to be placed in the entrance hall.

To make a tax deductible donation, please send checks to: Veterans' Sanctuary, Inc. 115 E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Ithaca, NY 14850

Check out these websites: 

Sincerely yours, 
Jim Murphy                                                                                                   
1st MOB ’66, 1972nd ’67-68, VVAW, VFP, IVFOR

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Agent Orange Flash Alert re Sec. Hillary Clinton Visit to Vietnam


Monday, July 12, 2010

Ed Note: This  in from Chuck Palazzo, our Agent Orange & Vietnam Affairs more opportunity to have our voices heard on the topic of clean-up of toxins in Vietnam, and monetray settlements and/or medical support for Vietnamese victims, and their families. Hope you'll join the national conversation...WH

----->ADVISORY for 1-2 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 15<----- 

 Audio News Briefing on Agent Orange in Vietnam Prior to Secretary Clinton's Visit There

WASHINGTON, July 12 (AScribe Newswire) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Vietnam the week of July 19 for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). During her trip she is expected to have meetings with Vietnamese government officials. The trip comes as the United States and Vietnam mark the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

The U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin, comprised of prominent citizens from both countries, has issued a Plan of Action recommending a 10-year effort to clean up "hot spots" of Agent Orange/dioxin at former U.S. military bases in Vietnam where the chemical was stored and handled during the war. Further, the Plan of Action urged policymakers to provide "humanitarian assistance" to Vietnam's 3 million disabled people, including at least 150,000 children, some of whom may have been affected by dioxin.

Such an effort would also promote exchange of best practices and information about dioxin's health effects so as to benefit the generations of affected U.S. veterans and their families.
The Agent Orange in Vietnam Information Initiative is sponsoring an audio press briefing to discuss Agent Orange/dioxin in Vietnam prior to Secretary Clinton's trip. Participating will be Bob Edgar, head of Common Cause and former head of the National Council of Churches, who recently led a delegation of U.S. clergy to Vietnam to inspect Agent Orange/dioxin hot spots; the delegation also looked at ways the Vietnam government is dealing with its disability population. Also participating will be David Devlin-Foltz, U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin.
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Audio News Briefing on Agent Orange/Dioxin In Vietnam

Bob Edgar, President and CEO of Common Cause
David Devlin-Foltz, U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin

When: Thursday, July 15, 1:00-2:00 p.m. (EDT)
How: Toll-Free Line: 800-344-6698, Pass Code: "Agent Orange"
To RSVP for the audio conference, contact Nancy Bennett at 800-834-1110
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CONTACT: Nancy Bennett, 800-834-1110
For a copy of the Dialogue Group's recommendations, go to: . In addition, fact sheets on Agent Orange in Vietnam can be obtained by going to