News Releases

Effort follows recommendations from 2014 National Academy of Medicine report to VA regarding association between Agent Orange exposure and chronic illnesses such as bladder cancer, hyperthyroidism and Parkinson-like conditions

VA’s promised response to report’s recommendations has stalled over the last 19 months while veterans wait in urgent need of critical health care, other benefits

Sen. Murray, Senators: We urge VA to act on these recommendations for veterans suffering from these conditions

(Washington, D.C.) –  Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC), sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin to urge the VA to act on recommendations from the National Academy of Science (NAM) regarding the association between the Agent Orange exposure and chronic conditions such as bladder cancer, hyperthyroidism and Parkinson-like conditions. In the letter, also joined by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Murray and her colleagues criticized the Department’s delay to implement recommendations made by NAM’s Veterans and Agent Orange, Update 2014 report and urged the VA to extend care to cover veterans suffering from these conditions.

“As of this letter, a decision has not been made publically on these outstanding recommendations 19 months after NAM released their report,” the Senators wrote. “The care owed to our servicemembers should not be delayed and denied any longer. They fought for our country, were exposed to a toxic chemical while carrying out their daily duty, and in return, we are failing to provide medical care and disability compensation.”

“We urge VA to act on these recommendations and extend presumption for service connection for Bladder Cancer, Hyperthyroidism, and Parkinson-like conditions, in keeping with the recommendations made by NAM,” the Senators added.

Under the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA has been required to implement recommendations from NAM within 60 days. While that law has expired, the VA has delayed its response several times over the last 19 months.

Full text of the Senators’ letter can be found here and below:

The Honorable David J. Shulkin

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20420

 

Dear Secretary Shulkin,

We are writing you today to call on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide a response to the recommendations made by the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Veterans and Agent Orange, Update 2014, regarding the association between Agent Orange exposure and Bladder Cancer, Hyperthyroidism, and Parkinson-like conditions.

In March of 2016, the National Academy of Science released Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2014, and under PL 102-4 the Secretary was required to take action on NAME recommendations within 60 days of receiving the report. Even though VA is no longer required to act within that timeframe, then Secretary McDonald said a response from VA’s Agent Orange working group was imminent. The veterans suffering from these conditions are still in urgent need of critical health care and other benefits.

In November of 2016, VA once again stalled their response to the NAM recommendations leaving the final decision for proposing new rules and new presumptions to the incoming administration. In response to inquiries made by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs in February VA expressed that it completed internal reviews of the NAM recommendations and provided their own recommendations to the Secretary for review. When the Committee inquired again in June, VA said the decision was with the Secretary for review. As of this letter, a decision has not been made publically on these outstanding recommendations 19 months after NAM released their report. The care owed to our servicemembers should not be delayed and denied any longer. They fought for our country, were exposed to a toxic chemical while carrying out their daily duty, and in return, we are failing to provide medical care and disability compensation.

We urge VA to act on these recommendations and extend presumption for service connection for Bladder Cancer, Hyperthyroidism, and Parkinson-like conditions, in keeping with the recommendations made by NAM.

We thank you for your attention to this vital issue, and we look forward to working with you to resolve this matter promptly.

Sincerely,