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Veterans Denied Disability Insurance and Treatment May Appeal

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Oakland, CAA group of soldiers and war veterans claiming to have been guinea pigs for the testing of Agent Orange and other chemicals at the behest of the US government and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) decades ago did not get much of an improvement over the original July 2013 ruling when Chief US District Judge Claudia Wilken delivered her final decision in November. Plaintiffs claim, among other allegations, that the US government has denied disability insurance, death benefits and the potential for medical care outside of The VA (Veterans Affairs) system.

Judge Wilken is based in Oakland.

In July, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Judge Wilken had ruled that service members who were subjected to weapons tests - including Agent Orange - at the behest of the government did not qualify for medical care and other benefits beyond the services offered by, and within the capacity of, The VA. Plaintiffs claimed in the four-year-old lawsuit that VA services were woefully inadequate, and that the US Army should furnish medical care and other benefits.

According to the Chronicle, weapons testing began as early as 1922 and expanded during World War II, finally ending in the late 1970s. However, over that time, it has been reported that thousands of service personnel were exposed to agents such as mustard gas and the chemical lewisite. Testing continued during the Cold War and included experiments with psychiatric drugs.

The denied disability insurance lawsuit did not seek damages or challenge the testing. Rather, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit - including those hailing from California and thus hoping for a California Insurance Law victory from Judge Wilken - alleged that defendants including the CIA, The VA and the US Defense Department violated rules that required them to notify participants of their exposures to chemicals and the potential health effects.

The plaintiffs also sought adequate treatment over and above what The VA could provide. However Judge Wilken, in her final ruling November 19, 2013, agreed with the plaintiffs in their entitlement to up-to-date information with regard to the possible health risks they face. But she refused to order the US Army to provide medical care beyond that to which the plaintiffs are already entitled through The VA. The plaintiffs, about 8,000 strong, alleged a claim that is widely held by others - that The VA is so overburdened, it can’t possibly provide the treatment and services the plaintiffs need.

As a result of Wilken’s final ruling, the plaintiffs will not receive treatment outside of The VA. There is also the complaint over denied death benefits and long-term disability denied, which Wilken did not move forward in her ruling.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs suggest that they may appeal the final California insurance claim denied ruling of the Bay-area judge. A successful appeal may result in California insurance claim help for those plaintiffs living in California, as well as other plaintiffs hailing from various parts of the country.

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READER COMMENTS

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same for me, only i used the freedom of info. act, after years i asked for help from congress. Bingo- a letter from congress that was send by army /air force that i was sprayed at least twice a day everyday in panama canal zone in 1975-76. i have been waiting eight years for a appeals hearing. the VA will only pay disability for Vietnam, not panama so i dont respect to win. stupid law, i have proof from congress.

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