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For The Subcommittee On Disability Assistance And Memorial Affairs (HVAC) Regarding "Rating The Rating Schedule - The State Of VA Disability Ratings In The 21st Century"
Chairman Runyan, Ranking Member McNerney and Members of the Committee, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) thanks you for the opportunity to present our statement for the records on "Rating the Rating Schedule - The State of VA Disability Ratings in the 21st Century." We would also like to thank you for your overall concern about the VA Rating System that is impacting our troops and veterans, especially the current generation of war fighters returning home today who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
We are deeply concerned with the state of our VA Disability Rating System, and share many of the same concerns as our fellow Veteran Service Organizations regarding the need to compensate disabled veterans for their loss of "Quality of Life" and other economic losses in addition to compensating for "average impairments of earning capacity." Rather than repeating what has already been said, we would like to focus our comments on the problems with the VA Disability Rating System when the VA rates claims for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Vietnam Veterans of America to EPA:
Release the Dioxin Document Now
(Washington, D.C.) Adding Vietnam Veterans of America's voice to the chorus clamoring for the long-delayed release of the non-cancer segment of the Dioxin Reassessment document by the Environmental Protection Agency, John Rowan, National President of VVA, made VVA's position crystal clear.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Rowan wrote, "Any further delay would constitute an injustice to the American people, who have a right to know the truth about dioxin.
"I never put two and two together," Joe Ingino said.
It took a long time before he could do the math, and even after the metaphorical numbers in his Agent Orange equation added up, he still had difficulty talking about it. He does to this day.
"Talking about it now, you just get choked up," he said. "Sometimes you want to punch something, you know? You just keep blaming yourself. I went to two Agent Orange town hall meetings and listened to other fathers talking about their children, and it just gets very emotional. It's very difficult to listen to them and then to speak about your own children. It's very hard."
Joe served with the First Infantry Division in 1969-70. In 1971, he met the woman who was to be his wife. In 1972, they married. His wife would suffer through several miscarriages, but eventually they had six children, one of whom lived for only a brief time.
Effective Date for Claims Involving Exposure to Agent Orange
Effective Date for Claims Involving Exposure to Agent Orange with Thailand Base Perimeter Duty
Compensation Service acknowledges exposure to tactical herbicides, such as Agent Orange, on a direct, occupational, or fact-found basis for Veterans with duty on military base perimeters in Thailand during the Vietnam era. As a result, these Veterans are eligible for presumptive service connection for the diseases associated with tactical herbicide exposure listed at 38 CFR 3.309(e). The Compensation Service Bulletins for August 2009 and May 2010 contain the details of this policy.
38 CFR 3.156(c) states a denied claim may be reconsidered based on receipt of "service records that are related to a claimed in-service event, injury, or disease." Any award based on such records "is effective on the date entitlement arose or the date VA received the previously decided claim, whichever is later." Our obligation is to apply this regulation from this point forward to any claim a Veteran reopens or any previous relevant denial we discover when reviewing the Veteran's claims file.
The "service records" Compensation Service based their decision on included information from a declassified 1973 Department of Defense document titled "Project CHECO Southeast Asia Report: Base Defense in Thailand." Within this 91-page report are several references to significant herbicide use on the fenced-in perimeters of Thailand airbases. The report was acquired after some of these Veterans were denied service connection based on the lack of evidence of tactical herbicide exposure, in accordance with the policy in effect at that time.
For example, a Veteran with Thailand perimeter duty was denied service connection for type 2 diabetes in 2006 and reopens his claim in 2011. The effective date will go back to the date the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) received the previously denied claim in 2006, as long as the disease was present at that time.
CVE Verification Survey
Small Business and "Verification" of businesses owned and controlled by veterans/service disabled veterans.
The Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force (VET-Force) has sent out a questionnaire to veteran business owners to find out some statistical information about the Center for Verification & Evaluation (CVE) at VA. The CVE has turned down many of what we know to be legitimate veteran owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses for what we consider to be specious reasons. This has jeopardized many such businesses unfairly and has literally destroyed the business of some veterans.
Though VVA, VET-Force, and others have tried to reason with VA officials (up to and including the Deputy Secretary of VA), the ugly destruction of legitimate, veteran owned businesses continues unabated. VA spokespersons say they will not deal with any criticism based on "anecdotal information," which has become their excuse for not taking corrective action. Since they will not release any meaningful statistics, and they are the only ones who have access to the data, we had to take action to collect and compile information about the experiences of veteran business owners with CVE, whether that experience is good, bad, or so-so.
The National VVA Economic Opportunities Committee has voted unanimously to endorse this effort, and asked for a "VVA only" breakout of the compiled results.
At our request, the Survey Monkey site is set up as a separate "collector" for VVA responses, so VVA can use both "VVA only" as well as aggregate results after the compilation and analysis is finished. In the reporting section, the "normal" report is to consolidate all responses. The reporting allows filtering by "collector" so that we can segregate VVA responses from others.
MEA Magazine is hosting the U.S.- Africa Trade & Investment Conference 2012 on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency in Washington, DC. The purpose of this event is to engage in an active exchange with experts and foster trade and investment alliances between the U.S. and Africa.
Embassy officials from South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Gabon, etc., will be in attendance. This event is open to business leaders interested or already doing international business. Time is from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Exhibit space is available.
Also during the conference, there will be an awards luncheon recognizing 50 Women of Power In Business, theme "Celebrating Global Leadership & Excellence." For criteria information call (703) 730-4091. You can also forward your photo and bio to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. All honorees will be featured in MEA Magazine.