I arrived at the building at 3:30 and parked in the handicap spot right in front of the building, there were more police cars there than people it seemed. My wife and I went in the front door and they helped us get me and my walker down the stairs to the basement area where the meeting was to take place. I talked with some of the vets that lived there, and we were told the President was running about an hour late, so we grabbed some coffee and went to the smoking area and spent time telling war stories. Over the next half hour some well dressed people, other members of the Steering Committee a few of them introduced themselves to my wife and I.
The veterans and I spent a lot of the time discussing filing claims with the Veterans Administration Regional Office (VARO) and the problems that are inherent in the process. Normally veterans need to select a Service Officer from one of the many accredited service organizations, like the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), The American Legion (AL) The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) these are just a few.
There are many more out there that can and do handle claims, the one thing they all have in common, is over worked Service Officers, they do not have time to track down each piece of evidence a veteran will need to get a "win" on their claim award, so the veteran needs to spend time tracking down the papers needed to justify the favorable rating. The best advocate for a compensation claim is the veterans themselves, it is their claim. The Service Officers (SO) are juggling hundreds of open claims at any given time. Your file is not the most important thing to them, as it is to you. The VA measures time in months and years, in the meantime many veterans end up losing their cars, their homes and their families, due to financial problems.
As if the stress from the medical problems are not enough, add some months with no pay checks into the mix, and you have a disaster developing. Veterans waiting on VA Compensation claims to be adjudicated have led to more than one divorce.
About 4:30 the Director of the center asked all the people from the steering committee to go back upstairs as the police were bringing the police dogs thru doing the bomb search, also they wanted the "political types" separated from the veterans that the President was coming to meet and Thank them for their service to the nation.
I tried explaining I was supposed to be with the "political types" and the Director told me not to worry about it, I was a disabled veteran and he wanted me to stay with the vets and meet President Clinton with them. I quickly learned why, the President spent 3-5 minutes speaking with each of us, there was a lot of laughter and plenty of pictures.
I asked him to autograph my book about the Edgewood experiments written by DR James Ketchum, Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten that I had purchased from Dr. Ketchum and he had signed it.
I just thought it was appropriate for the President that had finally acknowledged the immoral experiments and had publicly apologized for them should also autograph it. The apology can be viewed here" title="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTiONdJJRcw">here">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTiONdJJRcw">here it is about 30 seconds
“She’s the best I ever saw at making people know she can make them better off than they were previously,” the former president said. In Columbia, he met with homeless veterans at the Alston Wilkes Society where he listened to the stories of several Vietnam veterans and toured the facility. Hillary Clinton, by most polls, is in a tight race for her party’s nomination in South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire, the critical early voting states. Bill Clinton is being dispatched in those states to help Hillary Clinton maintain shrinking leads that once looked insurmountable. Bill Clinton, introduced at one stop as the most popular and powerful Democrat in America, wooed voters here.“Nobody knows what’s going to happen in any election,” Bill Clinton told about 100 people at Orangeburg Technical College. “But I tell you this, if she does (win), you're going to be glad you were a part of it.
Most of my regular readers know my wife is Republican (hey no marriage is perfect) but after meeting with Bill Clinton and watching him interact with me, and his offer to help with the Veterans Administration, followed up by his aide giving me his business card with an e mail address to contact them with the evidence and how they can help. She was very impressed, with him, which is to say a lot. She evens admitted as how she might even have to vote for Hillary, she feels if Hillary is even half the person Bill is then the nation will be far better off than in the hands of another republican.
President Clinton's aide gave us a business card with an e mail address for contacting the former President about the situation I find myself in. It has now been more than 12 years since the President made the public apology for the Cold War experiments that happened long before he took office, but could have only happened with his predecessors approval, the highest levels of the government had to approve the funding for many of these expensive programs, and all of them were classified at the highest levels, many unknown outside the National Security Council level, other than by the people working the projects.
To me it is amazing the people that were in government while these experiments were being conducted, some of them on the NSC, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Cheney and at the least did not object to human experimentation, if they did not fully support it. They now find themselves in a position to help correct some of the mistakes of the past and help the people or the military veterans involved in these "classified programs" such as the Nuclear tests, the biological tests at Fort Detrick, the chemical weapons and drug experiments conducted at Edgewood Arsenal, the Operation 112/SHAD experiments of the 60s and early 70s.
They can have the Secretary of the Veterans Administration designate these men into a Category 6 level of eligibility for medical care, regardless of their present income levels, for treatment of all their medical problems. Many of the experiments these veterans were exposed to decades ago, have no tests available to see if there any direct links to the exposures then to medical issues now. The government should give these men the benefit of the doubt and since they were used in these immoral experiments, the government should keep the "Promise" and take care of them medically now. The VA Secretary has the power to make this happen.
I indicated this in my communication to President Clinton:
Mr. President, the other veterans I am in contact with are like me, no one expects the government to tell all the details of the experiments, yes a lot of the data is still classified we understand that, we do not understand why they refuse to address the environmental issues, what happened to the benefit of the doubt? At the very least all the veterans used in the experiments, SHAD, Edgewood, Nuclear and Fort Detricks Operation Whitecoat should be given a level 6 ID Card for the VA so they can obtain medical care from the VA, regardless of their income levels.
Their are many widows of the volunteers that have never been told their husbands were used in the experiments due to National Security acts we could not tell our parents, our spouses, doctor's, anyone about the experiments, We all signed the agreements and we were promised 25 years in Leavenworth if we violated them. In the September 2006 notification letters from the VA/DOD informing us that we had been identified as test subjects we were reminded by the Pentagon that we could still not discuss the experiments and the national security agreements we signed. Congress has investigated this CBS news did a 60 minutes piece on it in Jan 1991 while I was gone to Desert Storm. The experiments are not secret anymore and the Pentagon is idiotic in trying to "put that genie back into the bottle now".
The last health study did because you forced DOD to do it based on the Sarin exposures at Kamisayah Iraq in March 1991 used the Edgewood veterans as the study group after all we were the only men the nation had that had been exposed to Sarin by the Edgewood doctors, they found that 40% of the men were dead on FY 2000, 2098 men could not be found using IRS VA and SS databases, men aged 45-65 are paying taxes, drawing benefits either from the VA or SS, they don;t just disappear.