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The Case For Presumptive Disability For Tce Veterans

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Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:26 AM

To: Ney, Gerald A CIV

Subject: FW: The Case for Presumptive Disability for TCE Veterans

-----Original Message-----

From: Paul Sutton [mailto:ssgtusmc6169@yahoo.com]

Sent: Sunday, October 12, 2008 16:14

Subject: The Case for Presumptive Disability for TCE Veterans

Thanks to Carol O. (a Blue Water Navy veteran's widow) in Ellenville, NY for

this forward...


The Case for Presumptive Disability for TCE Veterans

VA policy puts the burden of proof on veterans to provide extensive

supporting documentation for disability compensation claims for TCE

exposure, even when veterans have been stationed at contaminated military

sites and the illness is linked to TCE exposure.

Government reports show that many military bases have elevated levels of

Trichloroethylene (TCE)-a toxic chemical linked to cancer and other serious


A 2003 Air Force Pentagon report estimated that there were 1,400

TCE-contaminated military sites. Former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro is

one of those bases.

At MCAS El Toro, EPA estimated that the source area of the TCE plume

spreading into Orange County had an estimated 8,000 pounds of TCE in the

soil and groundwater. No question that Marines working in this area were at

risk of exposure to TCE.

A major problem for sick veterans who were stationed at El Toro and other

military bases with TCE contamination is the VA requirement to obtain proof

that their disability was due to military service.

The VA denies disability claims of veterans without substantial supporting

documentation, including an opinion from a medical doctor that the illness

was "at least as likely as not" due to exposure to TCE in the military.

For many veterans this is a "catch twenty-two situation." The military base

they were stationed at has high levels of TCE. Their illness is one that can

be caused by exposure to TCE. They can't work because of their disability.

The VA requires "proof" that their disability including a medical opinion

that the illness was linked to military service.

The veteran now out of work because of the disability must obtain

substantial supporting documentation linking the disability to military

service (the VA calls this a "nexus" statement). If you bet the veteran does

not have the money to pay for the VA's proof requirements, the odds are in

your favor.

A call to a California medical doctor and toxicologist who specializes in

this area showed that a one page opinion letter would cost about $3,000,

assuming only a quick review of the medical documentation. The opinion

letter came without any guarantees.

There's a better way for veterans who are seriously ill from TCE exposure.

VA disability claims for veterans who have diseases linked with TCE exposure

can be resolved by given them "presumptive disability"


The VA's Presumptive Disability entitlement eliminates the need for an

expensive medical nexus statement. How does "presumptive entitlement"

work? If one of the medical conditions linked to TCE exposure is diagnosed

in a veteran and the veteran served in a location contaminated with TCE, the

VA presumes that the circumstances of his/her service caused the condition,

and disability compensation could be awarded.

The VA has four groups of veterans under the Presumptive Disability

category. These include former POWs, Vietnam veterans (exposed to Agent

Orange); atomic veterans (exposed to ionizing radiation); and Gulf War


There's medical support of the heath affects of TCE exposure (including the

EPA and the National Academy of Sciences). TCE was a widely used chemical by

the military for decades, many bases have documented TCE contamination, and

many veterans were exposed to this carcinogen and suffer the effects of


In 2001, EPA reported TCE exposure associated with neurotoxicity,

immunotoxicity, developmental toxicity, liver toxicity, kidney toxicity,

endocrine effects, and several forms of cancer.

Without presumptive disability entitlement, a disabled cancer veteran with

cancer who was exposed to TCE in the military at one of the 1,400

contaminated military sites needs to pay for a medical doctor's review and

opinion linking the cancer to military service, obtain copies of all medical

records, file a disability claim, wait months if not years for a decision,

and be prepared to appeal a denial. Assuming the veteran lives that long,

the cost can easily run into thousands of dollars. HMOs do not pay for VA

nexus statements.

Veterans, who are sick with cancer, can't work, and many with limited assets

do not have the means to pay for highly skilled medical professionals.

Failing to provide the nexus statement from an expert will cause the

disability claim to be denied. Sadly, that happens more often than not.

There's a better way to repay those who served our country.

I have no idea of total cost to the government for including TCE exposed

veterans under the presumptive disability category. As a stage 2/3 bladder

cancer survivor and El Toro Marine veteran, I have some idea of the cost to

a veteran of not doing this. I have medical coverage so all of my operations

and chemotherapy were paid for. Others are not so fortunate. I also have the

means and the skills to find an expert medical practitioner who can write a

nexus medical opinion to support a VA disability compensation claim. Others

are not so fortunate. I have the funds to pay several hundred dollars per

month for prescription drugs. Others are not so fortunate. I could go on and

on but you get the idea.

It's not feasible to wave a magic wand to remove all of the TCE contaminants

from military installations or to cure the health affects of exposure to

military personnel and in many cases their dependents.

Since we can't make a miracle happen, why not at least compensate those

affected by exposure by including them in the VA's Presumptive Entitlement

Disability category?

The VA is not going to wake-up tomorrow morning and realize the necessity of

approving Presumptive Disability for TCE exposure.

Congressional support is needed to make this change.

For example, at Camp Lejeune thousands of veterans were exposed to TCE

contaminated water for decades. Only two veterans filed successful VA

disability compensation cases and those were approved after appeals.

Why not take a few minutes to email your representative to ask that TCE

exposed veterans be included under the VA's Presumptive Disability category?

See http://www.visi. com/juan/ congress/

<http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/> .

Posted by Robert J. O'Dowd

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed

without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the

included information for research and educational purposes.

Reference: <http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml>

"Keep on, Keepin' on"

Dan Cedusky, Champaign IL "Colonel Dan"

See my web site at:


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