D.C. ) - Vietnam Veterans of America President John Rowan today called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to move immediately on issues raised by a just-released report by the Institute of Medicine. The report found evidence that exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides is associated with an increased chance of developing high blood pressure and AL amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder, among Vietnam veterans.
“VA Secretary Nicholson needs to take immediate action on this,” Rowan said. “We strongly urge him to add these two diseases to the long list of serious health problems associated with exposure to Agent Orange, thereby allowing veterans with those diseases to receive proper treatment and compensation.”
Rowan also called upon the VA to begin an immediate outreach program to veterans and the medical profession, advising them about the new Institute of Medicine findings. “This report underscores another failing of the VA,” Rowan said, “not paying proper attention to the elevated risks of a wide variety of medical conditions that veterans of Vietnam and all subsequent overseas conflicts face as a result of their service to the nation.”
Rowan pointed out that the VA also has failed to complete the congressionally mandated National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal (Readjustment) Study. “Congress called for this study in 2000,” Rowan said, “and we are still waiting for the finished result. We need to get this done so that we can have definitive evidence about the psychosocial, psychiatric, physical, and general well-being of Vietnam veterans.”