Ailing Navy Vets Race Against Time To Prove They Should Get Agent Orange Compensation During the Vietnam War, hundreds of U.S. Navy ships crossed into Vietnam’s rivers or sent crew members ashore, possibly exposing their sailors to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange. But more than 40 years after the war’s end, the U.S. government doesn’t have a full accounting of which ships traveled where, adding hurdles and delays for sick Navy veterans seeking compensation. He reviewed the daily deck logs to find the latitude and longitude recordings and read officers’ descriptions of the ship’s movements. He found a listing for Dec. 26, 1966, when the ship entered Qui Nhon Bay Harbor to pick up comedian Bob Hope and his troupe for an onboard Christmas show. “Now I had the proof,” he said. He submitted it to the VA, waited a year and received an email on Dec. 31 notifying him the Bennington had been added to the VA’s list. That makes about 2,800 crew members aboard the ship on those two days eligible for benefits if they have illnesses associated with Agent Orange.
Military Burn Pits: The New Agent Orange? A friend recently commented that her brother, who served several years in the military in Afghanistan, seemed to always have a cough and nasal congestion when they spoke on the phone. “Oh, they’re always burning something here,” was his explanation. What he didn’t realize was that a serious environmental hazard may have been smouldering as well. It’s no secret that US military operations can be harmful to the environment. US military presence and interventions often leave environmental health problems for both soldiers and the local population. Prominent examples are pollution from the plutonium at Hanford used for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, dioxin in the herbicides used in Vietnam, and polluted drinking water in Guam. But these problems are not limited to past military adventures. In recent years, burn pits–a disposal method used for waste generated by military bases and personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan–have been under scrutiny for their appalling effects on human health and the environment. Picture huge open-air or shallow pits filled with every type of trash a military base has to dispose of: electronics, weapons and munitions, biological waste from combat and medical care, plastics from many sources, human waste, and rubber tires – with jet fuel often used as an accelerant.
VA Eases Method For Paying Choice Doctors; Senators Remain Skeptical Veterans Affairs officials announced changes this week to the reimbursement requirements for the Veterans Choice program, modifications they say will help speed payments to physicians, but they also urged Congress to support legislation that would let VA have greater flexibility to fix the troubled health program. VA said Tuesday it has dropped a requirement that physicians participating in the Veterans Choice program submit a copy of a veteran’s medical record in order to receive reimbursement from VA. According to VA, doctors still will be required to furnish the medical information to ensure that the VA knows what services were provided, but submission will no longer be tied to payment. “This administrative step just makes sense,” VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin said of eliminating the medical records requirement for payment. “It ensures veteran access, timely payments and strengthens our partnerships with our Choice providers.”
Panel: Finding New Ways To Manage Pain Will Cut Down Veterans’ Opioid Abuse CONCORD, N.H. —Local VA hospitals are on the cutting edge of tackling how opioids are used to manage pain and their approaches could be a model that spreads nationwide. Finding new and innovative ways to manage pain for veterans and those being treated at the VA will help cut down on the problem of opioid abuse. That’s what a panel of VA officials and other experts told a House veteran’s affairs subcommittee holding a field hearing on Friday in Concord. “Too often it appears that the kind of first line of treatment is give them drugs,” said Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado. Officials said that about half of the veterans getting treatment from the VA suffer from some type of chronic pain. Opiods are often prescribed, but they may not be the answer. At the veterans’ hospitals in White River Junction, Vermont, and in Manchester, programs have been introduced to manage pain through chiropractic treatment, low-powered laser therapy and acupuncture.