Salem-News.com (Jul-03-2013 14:23)
Children of Vietnam Veterans Bring Healthcare Issues to Forefront
Kelly Derricks Salem-News.com
Agent Orange Institute of Medicine Official COVVHA Testimony
(IRVINE, CA) - There is a renewed push for the Institute of Medicine to take seriously the claims made by the Children of Vietnam Veterans and their families about the birth defects and illnesses they are suffering from. The adverse affects of the dioxin laden herbicide sprayed over the jungles of Vietnam, AKA Agent Orange, have been well known since the government first admitted in 1991 to cause illnesses in Vietnam Veterans. For years, the veterans and their families have been saying birth defects and rare illnesses have affected their children’s health. These anomalies and illnesses are not only happening in the children of Vietnam Veterans (2nd generation), but now are showing up in alarming numbers in the grandchildren (3rd Generation) of Vietnam Veterans as well.
On January 16, 2013, (COVVHA) Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC. participated, in the public hearings for the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Committee to Review on the Health Effects in Vietnam Veterans Exposure to Herbicides (Ninth Biennial Update) in Irvine, California. Tanya Mack, COVVHA Core Chairperson, and California resident, gave testimony on behalf of COVVHA to the committee. Tanya Mack is the Daughter of a recently, deceased Vietnam Veteran who succumbed service connected Agent Orange illnesses. She was born with severe hip dysplasia and has developed several rare aggressive cancers in her thirties which she is currently still fighting.
“The Institute of Medicine is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public (From the IOM website).” They have been commissioned to review biannually, the most current data available about herbicides and the health effects on our Veterans. In the past, the IOM have been responsible for getting new illnesses added to the presumptive list for our ailing Vietnam Veterans. Like On October 13, 2009, when, the Veterans Affairs added three new medical conditions for Vietnam Veterans presumptively associated with exposure to herbicides; hairy cell and other B-cell leukemia’s, Parkinson’s disease, and ischemic heart disease, to the list of covered illnesses.
Included in COVVHA’s report to the committee, were the number and types of illnesses and congenital anomalies found in the second and third generation members of COVVHA. This includes the ailments that mirror the Vietnam Veterans and the congenital anomalies found on the list of birth defects covered in the children of women Vietnam Veterans. Tanya Mack, shared several studies from the early eighties including Ranch Hand studies and a current epigenetic study from Washington State that show a correlation to trans-generational exposures to dioxin, with the committee for them to consider. Several recommendations were made as to the next actions to help the children of Vietnam Veterans in the most practical ways.
Three of COVVHA recommendations included approving the currently covered eighteen plus, birth defects for children of female Vietnam Veterans for the children of male Vietnam Veterans. The second recommendation included the request for free DNA and Epigenetic testing for the biological children of Vietnam Veterans as needed, and an official Agent Orange Registry for Children of Vietnam Veterans. COVVHA made several other recommendations that were included in their submitted testimony.
Highlights of other participant’s testimony:
Ken Holybee, Director at Large, of Vietnam Veterans of America. Ken pointed out in the Veterans and Agent Orange 2008 Update, the IOM Committee concluded that it was plausible exposure to herbicides that could cause paternally mediated effects in offspring as a result of epigenetic changes, and that such changes would most likely be attributable to the TCDD contaminants in Agent Orange. He urged the committee to follow up on their 2008 recommendations. Due to the continued suffering the VVA sees in the families who attend their Agent Orange Town Hall Meetings.
Debra Kraus, widow of a Vietnam Veteran, Activist and Artist, shared a slideshow presentation of her art that is based on her experience through her husband’s dealings with the V.A. and health issues.
Elayne Mackey, National Health Committee co-chair for the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America (AVVA). AVVA recommends the creation of Centers of Excellence to provide for research, treatment, and social services for the offspring of veterans of all eras who have been exposed to toxins while in service to our country.
Wesley T. Carter, Chair of the C-123 Veterans Association, asked for two possibilities, the Department of Defense designates the contaminated -123 aircraft, by specific tail number, as Agent Orange exposure sites. The other for the VA to accept claims from veterans able to provide evidence of service aboard the aircraft known to have been contaminated.
Andy Olshan, PhD, Chair of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina and Kim Boekelheide, MD, PhD, Professor of Medical Science, Brown University phoned into the meeting. The Doctors gave their opinion on the likelihood of Paternal Transmission of Dioxin through Sperm. The Doctors stated that paternal transmission is relatively small because the male system is made to minimize the transmission of issues and that there is not enough evidence to support the theory that Dioxin is transmitted through sperm.
COVVHA is committed to serving as a voice for the children of Vietnam Veterans including second and third generation victims of Agent Orange and Dioxin Exposures worldwide. We believe in empowering each other to hold the companies and governments responsible for causing so much devastation and suffering to our generations. We fight for justice globally. We hope the IOM will make the responsible recommendations to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Please, see the full testimony submitted to the Institute of Medicine attached which also includes Tanya Mack’s personal health struggle with Agent Orange related birth defects and cancers.
Committee to Review the Health Effects in Vietnam Veterans of Exposure to Herbicides Ninth Biennial Update... by Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance