No. 050-00  
      IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      October 11, 2000                           (301) 585-4000


WASHINGTON, D.C. -"Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) applauds the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies' findings concerning a relationship between exposure to chemicals used during the Vietnam War and adult-onset diabetes mellitus (type 2)," said VVA National President George C. Duggins.  In a report issued earlier today, the IOM announced that its most recent scientific review disclosed "new 'limited or suggestive' evidence" of an association between exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides (including dioxin, a particularly toxic component of Agent Orange) and the development of adult-onset diabetes. Nevertheless, the IOM stopped short of concluding that there is a "clear link" between exposure and the subsequent development of the disease. Following previous investigations, the IOM determined that there was "inadequate" or "insufficient" evidence to determine whether such a relationship existed. "VVA maintains that the lack of conclusive evidence of a relationship between exposure and the later onset of diabetes is due to the absence of scientific studies of sufficient size and scope," Duggins said.  

Duggins continued, "veterans have been severely affected by this disease for years without both well-deserved compensation and desperately needed health care." In April, 2000, VVA petitioned the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to amend existing regulations to provide for presumptive service-connection (i.e., without independent medical evidence of a link between exposure and subsequent disease) for adult-onset diabetes as the result of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicidal agents. The IOM's findings pave the way for the VA to immediately issue regulations in this respect, as required by the Agent Orange Act of 1991. Duggins urged Acting VA Secretary Herschel Gober to act immediately to ensure the issuance of interim final regulations. Duggins added, "to honor our veterans' service to their country in this way demands no less, especially as we approach Veterans Day."

VVA also calls upon Congress and the Administration to foster government-funded independently conducted scientific research into all diseases, maladies and injuries sustained by veterans in the toxic battlefield of Vietnam, and for the VA to thoroughly screen all veterans who served in Vietnam (including those who do not currently receive VA healthcare) for diabetes and other diseases as described in VVA's April, 2000 petition to the Secretary concerning the "In-country Effect." 

VVA's point of contact for additional information is Mokie Porter at (301) 585-4000, Ext. 146.

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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."   



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