Sep 30 2015
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, this week urged the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pursue research regarding veterans’ exposure to toxic substances, such as Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. He also asked about the VA’s actions to support legislation authorizing scientific studies on behalf of veterans and family members who were exposed.
The exchange between Sen. Moran and VA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Disability Assistance, Veterans Benefits Administration David McLenachen highlights the VA’s continued opposition to research, despite acknowledging that additional research would help substantiate potential toxic exposure impacts on family members and claims that could lead to proper benefits.
Sen. Moran and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the Toxic Exposure Research Act (S. 901) to give the VA the authority to address the painful, residual wounds of war that may impact service members’ families long after the military operation is over – wounds that may not be evident until decades later when passed on to children and generations to follow.
Highlights from Sen. Moran’s exchange with Mr. McLenachen may be found below, along with links to the audio download:
Sen. Moran – (0:03-1:02): “Let me express my concern for family members of those veterans and for the veteran who encountered that toxic exposure…I can’t imagine that any one of those men or women expected that their service would result in health care concerns for their children or their grandchildren…I think this is an issue that is…deserving of the VA’s attention and certainly of Congress’ attention.
Sen. Moran – (1:03-1:31) “The VA believes…there is insufficient evidence to tie the conditions that we find in children and grandchildren of veterans to the exposure of their mothers, fathers, grandmothers or grandfathers. And so if it’s true…that the VA can’t find the connection, scientific evidence then…the VA ought to be terribly interested in making that determination…”
Mr. McLenachen – (1:46-1:54) “One of the issues here is the extent of our current authority. Congress has given us authority in limited situations...”
Sen. Moran – (2:11-2:27) “So would the VA support the authority to do exactly that? What this bill does is…sets the parameters by which that conclusion could be reached. So then I assume you that you would endorse the idea that those benefits should be paid if that scientific evidence…is prevalent?”
Mr. McLenachen – (2:28-2:38) “If Congress determines that that’s what the government should be doing and asks VA for its views on that, senator, I feel very confident we would provide our views and let you know what they are.”
Sen. Moran – (2:59-3:06) “My point is you oppose the bill that’s designed to give us the [under]standing in which we have the credibility to give you the authority…”
Mr. McLenachen – (3:12-3:15) “I understand what you’re saying, it would be helpful to have the research before you decide whether that’s a benefit that should be provided.”
To watch the full hearing, click here.