VA Bungles Public Relations Messaging to Vietnam Veterans.
Right before Veterans Day, the VA tells ailing veterans we can't decide whether to help you.
A decision linking four new diseases to Agent Orange exposure had been promised on November 1.
In a ProPublica article by Charles Ornstein, published days before Veterans Day, the Veterans Administration told Vietnam Vets who suffer from bladder cancer, thyroid disease, hypertension and Parkinson's like symptoms associated with exposure to Agent Orange to keep on waiting to find out whether they will be compensated for exposure to the deadly defoliant used throughout the protracted war in Southeast Asia.
Ornstein tells his readers that Vietnam Vets "...have been waiting eight months for a decision to compensate. Yet more than eight months later — and after his department promised a decision by Nov. 1 — the VA essentially punted, issuing a statement late Wednesday saying it would “further explore” the issue and pushing its decision to some undisclosed point in the future."
In an official statement, "The VA said the department would now work with others in the Trump administration to conduct a legal and regulatory review of conditions for awarding disability compensation to eligible veterans." according to ProPublica.
"Many veterans said they thought that was exactly the review that has been ongoing since March 2016, when the National Academy of Medicine, then known as the Institute of Medicine, said there is now evidence to suggest that Agent Orange exposure may be linked to bladder cancer and hypothyroidism. The National Academy also confirmed, as previous experts have said, that there is some evidence of an association with hypertension, stroke and various neurological ailments similar to Parkinson’s Disease," Ornstein continued
ProPublica quoted me in an article on the Veterans Administration’s latest stall on expanding benefits to Vietnam Vets who were exposed to Agent Orange. The VA was supposed to rule on linking hypertension, thyroid disease, bladder cancer and Parkinson’s-like symptoms to the deadly defoliant. That’s been kicked down the road.
Ornstein caught me by surprise when called with the bad news. My initial reaction: “'Son of a gun,'” said Dick Pirozzolo, 73, when he was informed of the VA’s decision to delay. Pirozzolo served as an information officer in the Air Force in Vietnam and has had bladder cancer and a thyroid condition called Graves’ disease. 'That sucks,'"
“The politicians all talk a good game about the VA, but then when it comes down to making a decision, they drag their heels.”
For the complete ProPublica Article
Pirozzolo is a Boston Communication consultant, media relations manager for the Michael Dukakis Institute and coauthor of "Escape from Saigon" a novel about the end of the war.