In the anti-veteran roll-out campaign leading up to Sen. Jim Webb and Sen. Daniel Akaka's September 23, 2010 Veterans Affairs Hearing [on Disability Compensation: Presumptive Agent Orange Disability Decision-Making], neocons are smearing Agent Orange victims, saying how easy it is already for veterans to get disability compensation. That's news to Vietnam War veterans.
Writes Mike Baker in a national AP piece intended to smear Agent Orange victims and cast doubt on widespread Agent Orange exposure:
RALEIGH, N.C. – By his own reckoning, a Navy electrician spent just eight hours in Vietnam, during a layover on his flight back to the U.S. in 1966. He bought some cigarettes and snapped a few photos.VA Secretary Shinseki is fighting these neocon asses like Baker, in Congress, in thinktanks and more than few cowering democrats like Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA).
The jaunt didn't make for much of a war story, and there is no record it ever happened. But the man successfully argued that he may have been exposed to Agent Orange during his stopover and that it might have caused his diabetes — even though decades of research into the defoliant have failed to find more than a possibility that it causes the disease.
Because of worries about Agent Orange, about 270,000 Vietnam veterans — more than one-quarter of the 1 million receiving disability checks — are getting compensation for diabetes, according to Department of Veterans Affairs records obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act.
Baker writes in a follow-up piece:
Paul Sullivan, executive director for the advocacy group Veterans for Common Sense, said it would be unreasonable for veterans to have to prove on a case-by-case basis that their illness came from Agent Orange. He believes the science supports the decision by VA to grant presumptive benefits.From two Army and Marine combat Vietnam War veterans speaking on anonymity because of their current sensitive positions:
'The presumptive law is absolutely essential,' Sullivan said. 'Money should not be an issue,' emphasizing veterans file claims with VBA in order to obtain urgently needed and endlessly delayed VHA medical care.
One of my guys came in to the Marines at the end of VN. He was only there off shore. He became an aircraft maintenance guy. He said the belly pans of the C-130 planes were full of dried Agent Orange for years. The airframe techs would have to hose it out of the planes before they could work on them. The fucking shit was everywhere. Guys on the Aircraft Carriers said they had to hose it off the aircraft that had flown through the area just sprayed with it.