The VA's latest betrayal of Vietnam veterans
President Trump just signed the Mission Act, which is supposed to help ailing US veterans get prompt care, including the ability to see a civilian doctor on Uncle Samâs tab.
Donât count on it.
The fine print shows that vets are guaranteed nothing. The Veterans Affairs secretary is simply empowered to make rules for who gets civilian care. Though Trump and his pick for secretary, Robert Wilkie, favor making it easy for vets, Wilkieâs rules could last only as long as Wilkie remains in office. Worse, they donât go into effect for two and a half years.
Thatâs too late for the hundreds of Vietnam vets, now in their 60s and early 70s, who are carrying a dangerous parasite picked up in Asia called liver fluke. Many donât know it, but itâs a ticking time bomb likely to kill them.
Scandalously, the VA is doing zip to identify and treat these infected vets, even though an ultraso und test can detect liver-fluke infection in minutes and medicine can slow its progression into lethal bile-duct cancer. If there were ever an example of vets needing to be in the driverâs seat about getting outside care, this is it. But the Mission Act requires them to get their VA doctorâs permission first.
Remember the nationâs shock in 2014 when 40 vets died on secret waitlists concocted by VA bureaucrats? That toll is miniscule compared with the deaths being caused right now by the VAâs neglect of vets with liver fluke.
In January, researchers at the Northport, NY, VA found that one out of every five vets tested who remembers eating raw fish in Vietnam â" a common practice when rations ran out â" is carrying the parasite. More than 100,000 vets could be infected. The parasite lingers in the body for decades, and then â" wham â" can suddenly cause deadly bile-duct cancer. Some 80-90 percent of them will develop the cancer if their infection goes untreat ed, according to New York physician Dr. John Cahill, an expert on parasites.
âItâs a huge number,â says Dr. Devi Nampiaparampil, associate professor at New York University Langone Medical Center.
Cahill says heâd like to see every vet who ate raw fish while in Vietnam contacted for an ultrasound.
Instead, the VA is serving up gibberish, claiming âthere is currently no evidence that vets have higher infection rates than the general population.â
Thatâs ridiculous. You canât get infected with liver fluke in the US. The parasite doesnât exist here. Cahill calls bile-duct cancer âextremely rareâ among the US population. The other highest-risk group is Asian-Americans who travel or once resided in Southeast Asia.
Hereâs another whopper. The VA is telling vets if they donât have jaundice or other symptoms, âthey donât need screening.â In fact, Nampiaparampil stresses that by the time those symptoms appear, the cancer has of ten progressed too far.
The VA claims thereâs âno definitive linkâ between the parasite and cancer. In truth, thereâs a pile of research linking the two. Researchers at Tulane and George Washington University proved the link in 2007 in an article âLiver Fluke Induces Cholangiocarcinoma.â So did findings in the journal Cancer Science in 2010, calling liver-fluke infection âthe strongest risk factorâ for cancer of the bile duct.
The VA double talk is typical. They did the same thing with service-linked ailments from the Gulf War. This time the VA is launching a âlarge-scale epidemiological studyâ that will be ready in about two years.
Pile up reports and do nothing. You could pave over Washington, DC, with the reports produced by the VA.
Meanwhile, Facebook and local newspapers are chronicling the deaths of Vietnam vets from liver-fluke-related cancer.
Time is running out. Vietnam vets need to be contacted, tested if they ate raw fish and treated if they have the infection. The Mission Act isnât going to save them or other sick vets, any more than previous VA âreformâ laws, all hailed by self-congratulating Washington pols when they were passed.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam