The DVA has been fighting tooth and nail against this possibility since the first inclinations brought to the fore by Jonathan Haas (CMDR USN ret.) in the famous Haas vs. Nicholson/Peak suit.
As we seem to be moving toward that inevitable moment when the DVA's plans to exclude as many veterans as possible from access to their rights is once again foiled, watch out for and be on the look-out for as many underhanded, deceitful and possibly illegal attempts on the part of the DVA to foil any new legislation even before it hits the table. And, as the inevitability of its passage approaches and after it is passed, look for them to hurriedly implement distorted and illegal regulations to minimize the number of veterans such legislation might include.
Blue Water Navy (Navy, Coast Guard and Fleet Marines), be on the look-out for bogus "new rulings" that suddenly appear which significantly change any current guidelines in assigning the presumption of exposure to service personnel. Other ground and air-based personnel, be wary of new opinions and directives that come out of the woodwork and seep up through the murk from 'high level' DVA sources. For instance, there is not, nor was there ever, a rule requiring 24-hour visitation to Vietnam.
Another such batch of lies and deceit has already emerged, and it appears to be targeting the Armed Forces stationed in Thailand in the 1960s and 70s. When you read it, where is says "..it doesn't....", you can pretty well rest assured that "it does" and vise versa. But first, we may need a little background. An extremely sharp and tenacious individual, Kurt Preissman, was able to find the proper documentation to prove that Agent Orange, the same as that used in Vietnam, was used on air bases in Thailand. It took a lot of long hours and creative thinking, but all the proper documents were pulled out of boxes and off dusty shelves to recreate the attitude toward US bases being able to keep the heavy jungle growth back away from their fence line. And there was obvious reason for this: The Ranch Hand operations in Vietnam were undertaken to deprive the enemy of using heavy vegetation as places of concealment. What more obvious way was there to keep sappers and infiltrators back, away from the fence line, than to use that same material to eliminate the dense jungle growth of Thailand and create clear areas of vision along the perimeter fencing. In specifying these directives, the Rules of Engagement for our Air Bases in Thailand were developed.
Several claims for exposure to Agent Orange dioxin have been awarded in the early months of 2009 using this man's research because it can now be shown through official records and documentation that herbicides were used to open clear observation between the fence and the jungle and a set of protocols were put into place involving the American Embassy working with the highest of Thai authorities to allow this herbicide to be used. There was great hesitation on the part of the Thai's to let the U.S. begin application of the Agent Orange herbicide in their country.
And why was there such stringent oversight that required information exchange between the Thai Royal Military and our State Department Ambassador? Because the Rainbow Herbicides, especially Agent Orange, were obviously devastating the natural growth in Vietnam, and people were getting sick and possibly dying from it. It was only prudent management of their environment, which the Thai's take dead seriously. So it was shown that the presence of Agent Orange along the base perimeters was the reason for the death of the guard dogs and reason enough to presume the exposure to dioxin of the guards who also walked those lines. In fact, it is the dog handler and security guard that have shown a high rate of morbidity to AO contamination.
The information that was developed for Kurt's claim for Direct Exposure to Agent Orange was used by others suffering the identical disabilities listed on the presumption list. The argument is solid, well documented, and very reasonable. In other words, very probably true. There are links to these documents and conclusions at http://bluewaternavy.org/Thailand/thaibase.htm. How can anyone possibly disprove such a tight presentation of irrefutable fact? As has become the hallmark of DVA policy, the only good way to disarm the truth is through falsehood. And that is exactly what is happening.
In the early weeks of May, 2009, the DVA Office of Compensation put together a document that was distributed to the claim raters of all the Regional Offices. This official Memorandum for the Record, undated and unsigned, takes Kurt's argument, step by step, and refutes it with purposeful misinformation and untrue statements, giving an appearance of being an "official" document. It was sent around to the VA personnel who are nearly all unfamiliar with the background of this story. It was information provided them on Veterans Benefits Administration stationary and created de facto marching orders for claim raters to use in their quest to give to the veteran his earned benefits and withhold benefits from those who are undeserving.
So, how are they supposed to know which information contains the truth? Should they believe the information provided by the veteran or believe the information provided by their management, who not so coincidently are also the ones who provide their paychecks and give bonuses for their work? It seems pretty easy to determine which direction they'll follow, especially when they're kept busy enough to preclude digging into the details of the matter.
The document we are referring to is a two page "Memorandum for the Record, Subject: Herbicide use in Thailand during the Vietnam Era", with a third page providing 4 references, including relatively obscure papers from two of the individuals who have been liars living on blood money from not only the DVA, but from Monsanto, Dow Chemical Company, The Canadian Government, and others. It is my considered opinion that they will together burn in Hell for their sins and suffering they have put millions of people through. I don't intend that to be biblical statement nor do I intend it to be anything of a religious statement. I simply state it as an existential fact which they will need to contend with at the end of their trail.
The highlights of Kurt's argument, and the documentation he used, has been available on the bluewaternavy.org web site for several months, in support of any Thailand veterans who can possibly make good use of it.
The key points of the documentation and written explanations are simply this: Before the U.S. Armed Forces, who had operational bases in Thailand to support certain aspects of the US War in Vietnam, were allowed to use herbicide to clear jungle growth around their perimeters, they had to work out special arrangements with the Thai Government. What was worked out amounted to some very strict prohibition on herbicide use. Prior to the application of herbicides for the purpose of clearing jungle growth and literally sterilizing the soil to keep this growth in check, the Department of Defense, working through the American Embassy, had to be granted that permission by the Thai Government. There was no "blank check" written that allowed the US Military to spray and clear the jungle whenever it pleased. The reasons those restrictions were put into place was to keep tight control on the use of Agent Orange (and other members of the Rainbow Herbicides). Thailand had no intention of letting the Americans screw up their environment like they were doing to the ecological system of Vietnam.
If these herbicides were of the sort one could purchase from a garden shop on a commercial basis, there would never have been a need for these precautions. Such herbicides could have been in daily use around the Royal Palace grounds. So it is very apparent that what was being used that required strict control by the Thai Government were "tactical herbicides." Herbicides that were developed for the war in Vietnam which had the potential of contaminating everything that came into contact with it.
If there were any other product that could be used to attain a clearing of heavy jungle growth so that it deprived the enemy of a place to hide and remain concealed, that product would have been employed in Vietnam and elsewhere. In fact, there wasn't. Only the outrageously strong mixtures of the dioxin-bearing Agent Orange could accomplish that job. If there were any other product that could accomplish the objectives of the US Military, without subjecting all organisms that came into contact with it to an enormous, long-lasting health risk, it would have been employed, because it would have been cleaner and faster and easier to use. But the fact is, there wasn't such a commercial product. There was only the dioxin-bearing Agent Orange and the other poisonous members of the Rainbow Herbicide family.
Isn't it ironic to see now that the Thai Government could see then what we're only just now learning? That Agent Orange is an incredibly powerful poison and enemy of all life. There is heavy speculation that it WAS possible for the US and others to know the devastating power of Agent Orange, and many claim that they did know this, but continued to use it. But it seems that the Thai's did know, or at least suspect, and they essentially said: "No. Not in MY back yard. If you're going to use that stuff, you're going to follow some very strict guidelines to limit the damage it causes."
From an attitude like this, it is readily apparent that they are addressing the "tactical herbicides" used to defoliate large sections of Vietnam. They weren't at all referring to a commercial grade herbicide available at the Garden Shop. They did give the Americans occasional permission to use the tactical herbicide, especially along base perimeters.
But the first of these bogus directives has appeared, attempting to explain the use of herbicides on, in and around Thai air bases as just your garden variety weed killer - which didn't exist at the time.
Here is the Veterans Benefits Administration's "Memorandum for the Record, Subject: Herbicide use in Thailand during the Vietnam Era."
It may be a character flaw of mine, ....but I just get the warm fuzzies knowing there are people at VA Benefits who are loosing sleep over these kinds of issues.