March 30, 2000
(202) 628-2700 Ext. 158
VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA REACT TO AIR FORCE RANCH HAND
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) National President George C. Duggins
welcomed the long overdue release of evidence supporting a statistical
association between exposure to Agent Orange and the risk of diabetes. This
report, released by the Air Force, means that the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs should no longer delay in declaring adult-onset diabetes type II as a
service-connected presumptive condition for veterans.
Duggins said, "With this news comes the responsibility to declare
presumptive connection immediately. There now is a great deal more proof and
sufficient evidence. The long-delayed announcement is disappointing since the
data was analyzed in 1997 and, at that time, suggested that adult-onset
diabetes and herbicide exposure were related. Today’s admission should be
promptly acted upon."
"The study has cost more than $100 million. The cost of the research
is not justified by the minimal amount of data released to affected veterans
and their families. These delays deprived them from getting the medical
assistance and attention they justly deserve," Duggins concluded.
VVA would like the data gathered from the Ranch Hand Study to be
independently transferred to CD ROM and made available to the research
community. The transfer and sharing of the information would allow researchers
not only to speed up the process, but also to accommodate the timely release
of information to benefit those exposed to multiple herbicides in Vietnam.
VVA contends that the relation between Agent Orange and diabetes would not
have been revealed were it not for the GAO report (GAO/NSIAD-00-31, Dec. 99)
requested by Congressman Lane Evans and the efforts of Chairman Christopher
Shays of the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and
International Relations of the House Committee on Government Reform and his
colleague, Congressman Bernie Sanders. Only pressure from these leaders in the
Congress caused the release of this long-awaited data.
VVA’s point of contact for additional information is Scott D. Campbell at
(202) 628-2700 ext. 158.
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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's
only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated
solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's
founding principle is "Never again will one generation of veterans