In the First tab titled SEARCH, put in this docket ID: VA-2007-VACO-0001-0213
(to minimize error, do a cut and paste)
Click on GO
That takes you to a page that says:
VA Adjudications Manual, M21-1; Rescission of Manual M21-1 Provisions Related To Exposure to Herbicides Based on Receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal;E7-22983
Click on SEND COMMENT OR SUGGESTION (which has a small yellow balloon next to it)
That opens the page where your comments can be entered. Fill out all the details of identification. In the Public Comment or Submission section in the box, you may enter your comments. You can pre-compose your comments and just cut and paste into this box.
If veterans wish to submit their own comments, we think that it would be useful to submit a statement such as the following:
I served on the U.S.S. ______ from [date] to [date]. I was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal for my service in the waters offshore of Vietnam. I would like to participate in the VA’s rulemaking regarding the proposed rescission of Manual M21-1 Provisions Related to Exposure to Herbicides Based on Receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal. However, I am unable to effectively participate without knowing what evidence the VA relies upon to conclude that veterans like me, who served in the waters offshore of Vietnam, but did not serve on land or on inland waterways in Vietnam, were “exceedingly unlikely to have been exposed to herbicides as a result of Vietnam service.” The notice of this proposed rescission fails to cite to any scientific studies or other scientific evidence demonstrating that veterans who served in the waters offshore of Vietnam were “exceedingly unlikely to have been exposed to herbicides.” This is particularly troubling in light a December 2002 report by the National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology in conjunction with the Queensland Health Scientific Services that determined that sailors assigned to ships of the Royal Australian Navy with service similar to mine were exposed to Agent Orange. See National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology and the Queensland Health Services, EXAMINATION OF THE POTENTIAL EXPOSURE OF ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY (RAN) PERSONNEL TO POLYCHLORINATED DIBENZODIOXINS AND POLYCHLORINATED DIBENZOFURANS VIA DRINKING WATER, Brisbane Queensland, Australia (2002).
This study noted Agent Orange entered the harbors and territorial waters of Vietnam. It found that ships in marine waters near the Vietnam shore collected waters that were contaminated with the runoff from areas sprayed with Agent Orange. The distilling plants aboard the ships, which converted the salt water into potable drinking water, according to the study, actually enhanced the effect of the Agent Orange. The study found that there was an elevation in cancer in veterans of the Royal Australian Navy which was higher than that of the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force. When I served on the U.S.S. _____, I drank water that was collected from the area offshore of Vietnam. It is my understanding that the water was distilled using the same method as the Australian ships.
The VA has cited no scientific evidence rebutting the Australian study or supporting their contention that veterans who served in the waters offshore Vietnam were “exceedingly unlikely to have been exposed to herbicides.”
Any veterans submitting a statement such as that above should feel free to include any other supporting information to beef up their statement. Information such as how close their ship was to shore, the type of distilling plant on their ship, or other information demonstrating that they were likely exposed to Agent Orange could be included.
Another thing that can be done is to go to that same "Advanced Document Search" page.
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