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The Pentagon conducted a series of secret chemical and biological weapons tests involving military personnel in the 1960s and 1970s. Veterans groups and members of Congress are demanding to know exactly what happened – and who has suffered.

The tests, known as Project 112 and SHAD (Shipboard Hazard and Defense) involved some 6,000 military personnel between 1962 and 1974, the Vietnam War era. Most served in the Navy and Army. The purpose was to identify any weaknesses to U.S. ships and troops and develop a response plan for a chemical attack.

The tests involved nerve agents like Sarin and Vx, and bacteria such as E. Coli. Sarin and Vx are both lethal. According to DOD documents, death can occur within 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to a fatal dose of Vx.

 

After exposure to a sufficient amount of Sarin, symptoms include, “difficulty breathing, dimness of vision, confusion, drowsiness, coma, and death.”

“Veterans were exposed to some of the most extreme and hazardous agents... and they now suffer from debilitating health care conditions,” said Ken Wiseman, senior vice commander of the Virginia branch of The Veterans of Foreign Wars, one of the nation’s largest veterans groups, at a press conference outside the Capitol Wednesday. They want to know more about the extent to which service personnel were exposed.

 

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Information about the tests first surfaced in 2000. At the request of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Pentagon released some limited data about the nature of the tests, including the locations and the agents used. Since then, the VA has sponsored studies by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2007 and 2016 to look at the tests’ effects.

While they found no significant difference in the health of veterans involved in the tests and those who were not, the authors acknowledged the difficulty of studying this issue.

“Our task was challenging because of the passage of time since the tests, and because many of the documents related to the tests remain classified,” last year’s report said. “Our requests for declassification of additional documents were not approved.”

A VA spokesperson did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Lawmakers from both parties are pushing the House to endorse their demand this week when it considers a defense policy bill.

Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., Don Young, R-Alaska, and Walter Jones, R-N.C. are trying to require the secretary of defense to declassify and disclose documents about the tests or tell Congress why he can’t.

“It’s been over 50 years since these tests were conducted and the DOD has yet to provide a complete accounting of what truly happened to our service members,” Thompson said. “Veterans can’t wait any longer.”

Veterans say they need answers to get the proper medical care.

“This amendment would help veterans exposed to chemical and biological agents get the access to care and benefits they’ve earned through their service,” said John J. Gennace, assistant director of the American Legion’s national legislative division.

In the Senate, Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, plans to push the veterans’ agenda.

“We have a duty to make certain our service members’ health is protected both in and out of service, and providing access to classified military records that may prove exposure to toxic substances is critical to veterans applying for VA benefits and service-connection,” Moran said in a statement.

 

You may contact VATVA for more information This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Landing Zone X-ray , Vietnam

November 11, 1965 

Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the Medevac helicopters to stop coming in. You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you're not getting out. Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again.

As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day. Then - over the machine gun noise - you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter. You look up to see an unarmed Huey. But ... it doesn't seem real because no Medevac markings are on it.  

Extraction from an extremely hot LZEd Freeman is coming for you. 

He's not Medevac so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway. Even after the Medevacs were ordered not to come. He's coming anyway. 

And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board.

Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.
And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!!
Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm.
He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.
 
Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman, United States Air Force, died on August 20, 2008 at the age of 80, in Boise, Idaho
May God Bless and Rest His Soul.

The Department of Veterans Affairsadministrator in charge of reducing the huge backlog of veterans benefits, who was a frequent target of critics, resigned on Friday despite a vast reduction in pending claims.

The administrator, Allison A. Hickey, became under secretary for benefits in 2011, overseeing 20,000 employees and benefits for more than 12 million veterans and their families. During her tenure, she emphasized a changeover from paper to digital claims, and the backlog in pending benefits claims declined from 611,000 in March 2013 to about 75,000 cases this week.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald praised her in a statement, calling her “an exceptional colleague and an even better friend,” and said he accepted the resignation with regret.

Ms. Hickey, a former Air Force brigadier general, had long been a contentious figure. The department’s own inspector general’s office questioned the reliability of reports of a shrinking backlog, and veterans groups had called for her removal. She was facing a new congressional inquiry this month into accusations that executives in her office used their positions to create plush jobs for themselves and bilk the government of thousands of dollars in moving expenses.

“She was not cut out for the job of V.A. under secretary for benefits,” Representative Jeff Miller, Republican of Florida and chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said in a statement, adding that department statistics showing the backlog shrank on her watch “must be taken with a healthy grain of salt.”

Ms. Hickey was the department’s only top official left who had weatheredthe scandal of backlogs and wait times that caused the resignation of Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and the early retirement of the agency’s under secretary of health, Dr. Robert Petzel. Both left in 2014.

The American Legion, one of the largest veterans’ organizations, supported her resignation, saying in a statement, “Now that the three senior officials that were in place at V.A. have left office, the American Legion is optimistic that Secretary McDonald can finally make the cultural changes that he needs.”

More than a year after a waiting-list scandal raised serious questions about veterans' care nationwide, federal prosecutors announced their first indictment in the case, targeting a manager of a Veterans Affairs medical center in Georgia.

 

 

The 50 charges against Cathedral Henderson allege that in February 2014, he ordered staffers at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta to close out some 2,700 unresolved requests for outside appointments by "falsely declaring" they were completed or refused by patients, when in fact the patients were still waiting for care, according to the indictment.

Justice Department officials said they could not comment on whether indictments are pending elsewhere. The Veterans Affairs Department said that the indictment was exclusive to Augusta so far and that no action was pending in Los Angeles.

 

Henderson denies all wrongdoing, according to his attorney, Keith B. Johnson.

“My client has always done his job to the best of his ability,” Johnson said. “In essence, he is a soldier and he’s always wanted to help soldiers.… He has had an impeccable working career as a soldier and at the VA since 1992, so we ask everyone to withhold judgment.”

The VA has terminated 1,755 employees and pursued disciplinary action against 187 more since VA Secretary Robert McDonald took over last July after the scandal, West said in a statement.

The VA’s Office of the Inspector General has completed its investigation into 50 of 99 VA facilities identified in an 2014 audit as having problems with scheduling patients, leading so far to disciplinary action at five facilities and continued investigation into 16 to identify what further action is warranted.

In April, a year after the scandal erupted, the Associated Press reported that the number of veterans facing long wait times at VA medical centers had not declined.

 

TAMPA — VATVA officials met with State Congressman David Jolly. Congressman Jolly responded very positive and help us gain access to our Representative in Washington, Congressman Bill Young with whom we demanded action. Young and Jolly in turn met with Florida Governor Rick Scott and the rest is history.

At the behest of Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration sued the Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday so its inspectors can gain access to Florida's veterans hospitals. 

The lawsuit accuses the VA of providing substandard medical care to two Tampa Bay veterans, the only patients named in the suit, whose treatment failed to meet the "minimum standards of patient safety."

The suit alleging poor VA medical care was filed despite AHCA officials never having seen or requesting the medical file of at least one of the two veterans, Roland "Dale" Dickerson, 60, of Largo, according to Dickerson and his wife.

Dickerson, who said the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in Seminole delayed his lifesaving heart surgery for two years, has a copy of his complete VA medical file, which he recently provided to VATVA.

Asked why the file was not reviewed, an ACHA spokeswoman said the veterans in the suit "are entitled to their privacy" and that the suit is not a medical malpractice action.

The second veteran named in the suit, Nancy Hall of Hillsborough County, could not be reached to comment. Hall was a patient at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa.

ACHA inspectors in recent months have been turned away from VA hospitals across the state, including Haley and the Young VA, when they appeared for unannounced inspections. The inspections, the state says, were attempted after complaints of poor care by veterans.

The VA, which says state officials have no jurisdiction over the federal agency, declined to comment about the suit.

The state's lawsuit said Hall and Dickerson, and other veterans like them, have been denied due process and equal protection rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

"The VA's refusal to permit any such inspection or respond to (the state's) public records requests, in the face of an ever-growing body of consumer complaint evidence, has led AHCA to be reasonably concerned that the VA is failing the very population it is charged by Congress with protecting — America's veterans and their families," says the suit, filed in Tampa's U.S. District Court.

"The VA is, in essence, left to hold itself accountable for its own duties. In this, it has failed," the suit says.

The suit also notes that state officials have received numerous complaints from veterans in Florida about long waiting lists, unsanitary conditions and improper medical care at the state's six VA hospitals.

The VA is under intense pressure nationally over allegations ranging from wrongful patient deaths to the manipulation of data showing how long patients wait to see doctors.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned last month.

Hall, the suit says, has faced difficulty getting treatment for shoulder pain and sleep apnea at Haley, especially at night and on weekends. The suit says Haley officials apologized to her after her husband, also a veteran, died of cancer in 2005 that the VA did not treat aggressively enough.

Dickerson said Young VA officials ignored a partial coronary blockage for two years despite tests pointing to severe heart problems. Dickerson said a heart stent might have been all he needed in the beginning.

By the time doctors responded, Dickerson said, he needed open-heart surgery, which he underwent successfully two years ago.

Both he and his wife support the state's lawsuit. State lawyers became aware of them after they wrote emails to Scott's office.

"The suit is not just about me, Dickerson said. "There are a lot of veterans like me. We all paid our dues. It's time to get a little respect for what we did."

So we encourage YOU to work in your local community with both state and federal politicians. They can and if you get in their face, probably will respond. But you have to act. Just sitting and hoping change will occur gets you nothing. Join us today, or please click on the donation button above an give a helping hand.