No. 019-00  
IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              April 28, 2000                       (202) 628-2700 Ext. 158 
    

VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA PETITION THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS


Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) National President George C. Duggins joined Senator James Jeffords (R-VT) to announce he has delivered to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs two formal legal requests to enact administrative regulations to implement direct assistance to Vietnam veterans who suffer from multiple health conditions resulting from their service in Southeast Asia.  These conditions constitute, what is termed, the “in-country effect”.

President Duggins stated, “After 25 years, it is time to heal the wounds war.  We know from data gathered in the Ranch Hand Study and other scientific evidence that veterans have elevated risks to disease due to their working and living environments while in Southeast Asia, beyond the obvious hazard of hostile fire.  These veterans are aging faster than the general population in the same age group and some of the elevated incidence of diseases they exhibit, such as cancers, myocardial problems, Hepatitis C, and diabetes mellitis, have taken years to develop after exposure in Southeast Asia.  Therefore, VVA believes the Secretary has the moral and legal responsibility to expedite testing, treating and compensating these veterans.  For too long the VA’s focus has been on the veterans’ proving evidence for each individual condition.  If adopted, the in-country effect approach, which takes into account all medical conditions that a veteran might exhibit, will simplify and expedite medical care and the disability compensation process.”

Duggins continued, “The process comes to a complete stop when the veterans cannot provide evidence of service connection for each condition, which is sometimes impossible due to the lack of government documentation in their service records, OR because VA simply does not now recognize that particular disease or illness as being presumptively connected to military service, no matter how compelling the scientific or medical evidence submitted by the individual veteran. For example, out of the 99,000 plus applications for treatment and compensation for exposure to dioxin from Agent Orange exposure, only about 7,500 have been granted because VBA will just not recognize any disease or condition that is not currently on the presumptive list.  With the concept of “in-country effect,” the approach is simplified: if a Vietnam era veteran has a disease, and the disease is listed as one that could have been contracted in Southeast Asia, then the veteran is automatically tested, treated and compensated.”

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 abandon another."   

 
 

E-mail us at communications@vva.org

 

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