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Press Release

February 24, 2012

No. 12-06

Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146

VVA to VA: Make Agent Orange Aircraft Crews
Eligible for Care and Disability Compensation

(Washington, D.C.)—"Vietnam Veterans of America holds true that crews who flew the C-123K aircraft contaminated with Agent Orange should be acknowledged by your department to have been exposed to this herbicide, and that those crew members who are afflicted with any of the maladies the VA considers presumptive to service connection ought to be eligible for health care and, when warranted, disability compensation," wrote John Rowan, National President of VVA, to General Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Citing the strong language from Dr. Thomas Sinks, Deputy Director of the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, in acknowledging the contamination and the crews' exposure, Rowan noted, "This directly challenges the VA's contention that, although the aircraft 'may' have been contaminated by dioxin, there was little likelihood of any harmful exposure."

Acknowledging that, far too often, the VA has taken an adversarial stance concerning invisible wounds of war suffered by too many of our veterans, rather than acting as an advocate on behalf of these men and women, Rowan stated, "It is time for the VA to acknowledge what the U.S. Air Force has already certified, that there is enough evidence these aircraft were, in fact, heavily contaminated, and that those crew members afflicted with illnesses the VA recognizes as service-connected presumptive ought to be eligible for health care as well as disability compensation."

"We bring this to your attention," stated Rowan in his letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, "because we hope your good offices might ask for a reevaluation of your department's stance in this matter."

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated 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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