(U.S. Senate) – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today led a bipartisan letter calling on Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough to expedite a decision for Vietnam veterans suffering from Hypertension—a condition scientifically shown to have an association with exposure to Agent Orange.
In their letter, the Senators pushed VA Secretary McDonough to acknowledge two ongoing scientific studies initiated under the previous Administration to determine whether the studies’ findings are necessary in reaching a final decision on Hypertension’s association with the toxic defoliant.
“We were told by the previous Administration that a decision would be forthcoming following the results of two ongoing studies VA initiated that were supposed to have been finalized last year: the Vietnam Era Health Retrospective Observational Study and the Vietnam Era Mortality Study,” wrote the Senators. “We request that you determine whether these studies are necessary to reach a final decision. If you determine [the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine] review is not sufficient to act upon, we ask the additional studies’ results be made public and that a decision be made by you without further delay.”
A report published on November 15, 2018 from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine showed “sufficient evidence of an association” between Hypertension and Agent Orange exposure—placing Hypertension in a category that exceeds previous reviews of more than a dozen other conditions that are currently on VA’s presumptive list. However, VA failed to make a decision on the review’s findings.
They continued, “More than fifty years have passed since Vietnam veterans served and sacrificed for this nation, many of whom continue to suffer the damaging effects of their exposure to Agent Orange…there is no time for further delay, our veterans deserve transparent communication and decisive action.”
Read the Senators’ full letter to Secretary McDonough HERE.