No. 021-00  
IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              May 4, 2000                         (301) 585-4000 Ext. 158 



Vietnam Veterans of America National President George C. Duggins expressed the consolidated opinion of Vietnam veterans across the nation in a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The opinion is veterans are being "slow-rolled" on the Secretary's declaring Hepatitis C as presumed to have been incurred during "in-country" Vietnam service. As a result, there has been an inadequate effort toward outreach concerning the need for Vietnam veterans to be tested and treated for Hepatitis C by the VA. Duggins' letter is intended to express these concerns and to exhort the Secretary to immediately execute his responsibilities.

"Symptoms of Hep C do not become evident for 25 or 30 years after infection.. For those infected, it may lead to liver disease, transplants, liver cancer and death if we do not act to test and treat as many veterans as possible now. The Secretary has been sitting on our formal legal request for regulations to allow for presumptive service connection for Hep C for more than 13 months. This is longer than the standard tour of duty in Vietnam, and ample time to prepare for action. Our members, all Vietnam era veterans, and their family members, who have subsequently been infected, have been patient...while many are sick and some are now dying," Duggins emphasized.

Duggins continued, "Those seeking treatment for the symptoms from VA facilities continue to be confronted by the "don't ask, don't test, don't treat" posture assumed by government health care providers. While VVA recognizes that the Veterans Health Administration has issued theoretically effective training and treatment protocols, actual implementation needs improvement. Much more needs to be done to provide outreach, testing and compensation for affected Vietnam veterans. We believe this is a consequence of the extremely high cost of treatment that local VA officials are reluctant to assume. This is further impacted by marginal budget requests for the department." "This hollow movement must be filled with substance. It is time to move forward with no delay in testing and treating Hepatitis C and other diseases acquired by Vietnam veterans due to the 'in-country effect' of having served in Vietnam," Duggins concluded.

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VVA's point of contact for additional information is Scott D. Campbell at (301) 585-4000 Ext. 158 


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."   


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