Wednesday, January 21, 2009

author of Vietnam’s Rain…Agents Orange, White and Blue (Weapons of Mass Destruction

This interview is long I know, please be patient. I am actually presenting this article as the first part of a three part series. I crave the comments of you my readers.

Harmon David Biehl
Veterans Affairs Examiner, Miami Office

Charles Kelley

Mr. Charles Kelley or Kelley as he goes by is a Veterans/Widows Advocate/Herbicide (AO) researcher, Battalion Historian, and author of Vietnam’s Rain…Agents Orange, White and Blue (Weapons of Mass Destruction)

Hello Mr. Kelley, May I call you Chuck? Please call me Harm.
This interview is going to be published on the Internet web site from the Miami Office.

I will ask the questions, as H and Chuck will answer as Kelley.

H Chuck, are you are a veteran? Please tell me a little about yourself.

Kelley - Yes, I am a Veteran of Vietnam. I served with a 175mm gun outfit in I Corps along the DMZ from 1967 to 1968. I came home with many medical issues and like many of us that wanted to get on with our lives we just passed it off as the hand we were dealt by nature and worked through it as young men. We had no idea as well as our doctors had no idea what was wrong with us created by the herbicides (plural) exposures. Primarily as I found out years later due to the information void created by our own government.

H Besides being a veteran, you are a Veterans Advocate. As an advocate do you have any first hand knowledge of interaction with the V.A.?

Kelley - Yes I have. I am presently at 50% disability with a BVA held two years ago in Atlanta. It was nothing but a joke. My wife went with me as well as my sister-in-law as witnesses. I thought after 5 years of fighting I would finally get a chance to present my case. I was wrong. I was not allowed to present my case to the judge. If any ten other people in the nation can present a well grounded case on the effects of Agent Orange and the issues that VA Atlanta did not rate me on to begin with I would be surprised. Yet, I was not allowed to present my well grounded case. My case now resides in VA DC appeals remand center where it has been for the last two years. I call and call and call and get the same answer. “It is in the file room waiting for someone to look at it.” One person on the phone told me she had no idea what was going on with my claim and would have to request overtime to work on it and call me back. She also said that if management did not approve the overtime then she could not even status it. Another person told me they use to have five units doing the claim remands and due to budget cuts they were down to one. Congress says they give VA all the money they need but I think this is an example of they did not or VA is creating its own bottleneck for yearly budget control on behalf of the Executive Branch while Veterans suffer in disgrace.
What is even more staggering is in 2007 a report indicated that over 50% of all regional VA claims that are denied are later on either overturned in entirety or remanded. Two centers, Atlanta and St Petersburg had over 63% of their denied claims overturned or remanded. Probably not something you want to put on a resume unless you work for Veterans Affairs. Of course they are just waiting for the Veteran/Widow to just die or just give up and go away using their very adversarial processes.
I hear the same story time after time from Veterans and Widows alike.

H I came back from Vietnam and had a lot of very bad experiences with the nightmares and not sleeping and breathing problems, etc... but mostly I have come to find out just recently that I suffer from PTSD. I am sure it is more than just stress related issues because even I can see that Vietnam Veterans are way different than all the rest of the vets I deal with. Have you noticed a pattern in the responses of the Government or the V.A. in terms of denial or flat out refusal to admit A.O. is directly involved with a whole array of mental problems like PTSD as an example?

Kelley – Yes there is an obvious aversion to even looking at such impacts even though we now know that many of these herbicides were neurotoxic. Neurotoxic with many outcomes such as:
Paranoia, memory loss, somatization, personality changes, suicide, etc. Physical signs of limb weakness or numbness, loss of short term memory, vision, and/or intellect, uncontrollable obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors, delusions, headache, cognitive and behavioral problems and sexual dysfunction. You must remember if this issue were to be brought forward it would explain why non-combatants have the same mental issues, it would explain the suicides, and it would certainly explain the exacerbated PTSD found in Vietnam Veterans. However, then the blame would not be on the enemy soldier but our own government. Even though more and more data points towards herbicide neuropsychological issues, many of which were known early on, it will never be brought forward in our lifetime. The government has minimized or covered up so much now just in cancers and other issues this would be just too damaging for them to face and admit. They prefer the stigma of the deranged Vietnam Veteran rather then the government brain compromised honorable warrior. Early on it was “Waiting for the Vietnam Veterans to die” but recently in some articles we are seeing “When will the U.S. Government Kill the Last Vietnam Veteran”.
The first rule of differential diagnostics in DSM-IV (PTSD and Mental Disorders) is if an outside source such as drugs, alcohol, and most importantly exposures to toxic chemicals is creating the problem. This is not being done nor is it even being considered.
If you are talking about your COPD breathing problems there is enough scientific and statistical evidence to sink a battleship as this group of disorders being ‘dioxin associated’ all of it is denied by Veterans Affairs by some subjective process that stakeholders are not privy. Sort of like Germany circa 1939. If you are talking about apnea that also should be associated.

Subject: Miami Veterans Affairs Examiner: Agent Orange, an interesting commentary

__._,_.___ Kelley on Agent Orange

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