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IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 30, 2000
VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA REACT TO AIR FORCE RANCH HAND
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) National President George C. Duggins welcomed the long overdue release of evidence supporting a statistical association between exposure to Agent Orange and the risk of diabetes. This report, released by the Air Force, means that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should no longer delay in declaring adult-onset diabetes type II as a service-connected presumptive condition for veterans.
Duggins said, "With this news comes the responsibility to declare presumptive connection immediately. There now is a great deal more proof and sufficient evidence. The long-delayed announcement is disappointing since the data was analyzed in 1997 and, at that time, suggested that adult-onset diabetes and herbicide exposure were related. Today's admission should be promptly acted upon."
"The study has cost more than $100 million. The cost of the research is not justified by the minimal amount of data released to affected veterans and their families. These delays deprived them from getting the medical assistance and attention they justly deserve," Duggins concluded.
VVA would like the data gathered from the Ranch Hand Study to be independently transferred to CD ROM and made available to the research community. The transfer and sharing of the information would allow researchers not only to speed up the process, but also to accommodate the timely release of information to benefit those exposed to multiple herbicides in Vietnam.
VVA contends that the relation between Agent Orange and diabetes would not have been revealed were it not for the GAO report (GAO/NSIAD-00-31, Dec. 99) requested by Congressman Lane Evans and the efforts of Chairman Christopher Shays of the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations of the House Committee on Government Reform and his
colleague, Congressman Bernie Sanders. Only pressure from these leaders in the Congress caused the release of this long-awaited data.
VVA's point of contact for additional information is Scott D. Campbell at (202) 628-2700 ext. 158. Visit VVA's website at www.vva.org