According to regulations any Vietnam veteran who feels they were exposed to Agent Orange; or, any Atomic veterans exposed to ionizing radiation is entitled to VA healthcare with no co-payment. After several years of discussion the VAMC decided to waive the co-payment on the prescriptions of conditions the veteran acquired as a result of their exposure to the herbicides. The director posted the notice on the e-mail system used in the VAMC of the policy.
Wow, "putting veterans first!"
I appreciate all of the hard work and effort the VAMC personnel in Chillicothe have contributed to the Agent Orange issue. I wish all VAMC personnel had their attitude.
Since arriving as AMVETS Accredited representative et al. I have believed this is the best place in the system and I still do. I believe people in the Central Office are always looking for loop holes to inflict as much cost, on the veteran, as they possibly can. It is an old attitude of mine that I try to suppress but flares up now and then.
The current issues also referred to those not in Korea or Vietnam. If the veteran was not around Agent Orange I certainly agree 100%, that Agent Orange exposure is much less likely UNLESS the person was in an area shipping the material; or handling the material as in loading it on C-130's at the AFB in Guam; or cleaning a C-130 in Thailand.
We all need to use common sense in the issue. I know for a fact that the VA conceded exposure to all veterans who served in-country from 1965 to 1972. Agent orange was used from 2-13-1961 to the end of 1971. If a veteran is asked by a VAMC employee if he or she were exposed they are leading that veteran to possible incorrect assumptions. The VA conceded exposure to all in-country Vietnam veterans. That question should not be asked! Any person who is a veterans service officer should know that question is out of line. I hope we will permanently resolve this issue soon.
How much exposure?
The VA doesn't concern itself with how much concentration of Agent Orange was used in a certain area. The VA conceded many years ago that if you were in-country from 1965 to 71 you were exposed. The fact is if you were in Long Binh during that period you had a higher exposure than most veterans. The information came from Duty Officers Logs I obtained back in 1983 when I was writing a series of articles on Agent Orange. Most of them are in the book you have on your computer.
The problem we have with conditions is the VA agreed to abide with the findings of the National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine. Their reports are slow coming out and every two years (or so) a report is issued. The VA complicates it by asking for rare (most don't have) conditions to be developed first. This does two things.
First it shows progress. Second the progress will be less costly, as it goes to the minimal amount of veterans. An example is the birth defects. The study recognizes spina bifida (SB), but not cerebral palsy (CP). There is a higher rate of incidence on CP than SB but many more children with CP. The VA has shown they are doing something. However it is for far less people than they could.
So we have the age old problem of we all know the situation; but, those in power only do what is required and the politicians go on their merry way reaping all they can and leaving the veteran outside looking in.