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In This Issue February 13, 2012 Latest News

Special Notice: If you are a veteran in emotional crisis and need help RIGHT NOW, call this toll-free number 1-800-273-8255, available 24/7, and tell them you are a veteran. All calls are confidential.

VA Caregiver Hotline

The VVA National Office will be closed on President's Day, February 20, 2012

VA Announcement

New Addition to List of Presumptive Service-Connected Diseases Based on Herbicide Exposure

On Wednesday, February 8, 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced the addition of AL amyloidosis (Primary amyloidosis) as one of the presumptive service-connected diseases based on herbicide exposure. This final rule is effective March 9, 2012. AL amyloidosis is not part of the group of diseases under the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma classification, but, rather, a disorder of the bone marrow characterized by the accumulation and deposition of abnormal, insoluble proteins called light chain amyloid proteins in any organ of the body, interfering with the structure and function of the organ.

VVA Press Release

VVA Attorneys File for Class Certification
In Chemical-Biological Weapons Testing Case

(Washington, D.C.)–"Tens of thousands of service personnel participated in chemical, biological, and radiological experiments," said John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America. "Years later, many of these veterans are afflicted with health conditions that may have originated from exposures during these tests.

"Efforts to prove the connection between past exposures and current health conditions have been stymied by the very agencies of government that ought to be advocating for these veterans rather than taking an adversarial stance against them.

"VVA is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit we hope will shed light on what has been secret for far too long," Rowan said. "Morrison & Foerster LLP has filed a petition for class certification for these veterans and their survivors."

[ read complete press release here ]

VVA Lawsuit

Still Seeking Chem-Bio Testing "Volunteers"

Vietnam Veterans of America is a plaintiff in a lawsuit investigating any long-term harm done to service members who "volunteered" for testing of chemical and biological agents at Edgewood Arsenal, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and other sites from the 1940s through the 1970s. Testing was done at several other locations, including Fort Detrick, also in Maryland; Dugway Proving Ground, Utah; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Ord, California; and San Jose Island.

VVA is seeking to identify additional VVA members who participated in programs of human experimentation, including the dates they were involved in the testing programs and the specific drugs, chemicals, gases, biological substances, and other substances (e.g., LSD, BZ, Sarin, mustard gas, and nerve agents), if known, that were tested on them.

Any VVA member who participated in this testing who has not already contacted VVA is asked to contact Bernie Edelman, VVA Deputy Director for Policy and Government Affairs, toll-free, at
1-800-882-1316, ext. 118, or by email at bedelman@vva.org.

VVA's Maverick General

Gen. Charles P. Stone

One year ago, I wrote a piece for The VVA Veteran about Charlie Stone, "VVA's Maverick General." When I interviewed him, he was just plain Charlie, an old man in the twilight of his life, his memory often cloudy, living in the big old comfortable house he bought in 1952, surrounded by the artifacts from his travels and assignments in the Army.

Back in 1968, he was Major General Stone, when he commanded the 4th Infantry Division in the Central Highlands. He was known not only as a maverick – and an acerbic one at that – but by many of his troops as a soldiers' general, who was always concerned with the welfare of his troops.

He fought the war "the way he wanted to." A gifted tactician, he was, for the most part, successful. He believed in what he called the "fantastic mobility" of U.S. forces which, coupled with top-shelf communications, enabled him to know "everything that happened in my area five minutes after it happened [and] I could react to it at once." During the Tet Offensive, it was reported that the 4th Infantry registered the highest kill ratio of any American unit.

Charlie Stone died on February 6, 2012. He was 96. He will be interred at Arlington on March 15th, at 3:00 PM.

To read more about Gen. Stone, you can access the aforementioned The VVA Veteran article at http://digitaledition.qwinc.com/publication/?i=59332

VAD Skating Event

Veterans Against Drugs Hosts 1st Annual
Silver Spring Community Day
"All Skate Free"

includes skate rental
(Under 13 must be accompanied by an adult)

Veterans Against Drugs is an anti-drug & violence program and is a program of the Vietnam Veterans of America, A Not-For-Profit Veterans Service Organization.

[ download the flyer here ]

VA Press Release

VA Budget Request Tops $140 Billion for Veterans Programs

WASHINGTON – With more than 1 million active-duty personnel scheduled to join the ranks of America's 22 million Veterans during the next five years, the President has proposed a $140.3 billion budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

"As our newest Veterans return home, we must give them the care, the benefits, the job opportunities and the respect they have earned, while honoring our commitments to Veterans of previous eras," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

Shinseki said the budget proposal, which must be approved by Congress, would fund services for newly discharged Veterans, continue the drive to end homelessness among Veterans, improve access to benefits and services, reduce the disability claims backlog, improve the Department's collaboration with the Defense Department and strengthen its information-technology program that is vital for delivering services to Veterans.

"As we turn the page on a decade of war, we are poised at an historic moment for our Nation's armed forces," Shinseki said. "The President has charged VA to keep faith with those who served when they rejoin civilian life."

The budget request includes $64 billion in discretionary funds, mostly for medical care, and $76 billion for mandatory funds, mostly for disability compensation and pensions.

If approved by Congress, the new spending levels would support a health care system with 8.8 million enrollees and growing benefits programs serving nearly 12 million Servicemembers, Veterans, family members and survivors, including the eighth largest life insurance program in the nation; education benefits for more than 1 million Americans; home loan guarantees for more than 1.5 million Veterans and survivors; plus the largest national cemetery system in the country.

[ Read the entire release & highlights from the President's 2013 budget request for VA ]

New Benefits Handbooks

Veterans Health Benefits Handbooks

VA is sending new Health Benefits Handbooks to Veterans enrolled in VA health care starting this month. The handbooks are personalized with details on VA health services each Veteran may be eligible to receive.

[ Learn more ]


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