As Veterans Die, Does VA Burn Pit Registry Hold Out False Hope?

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burn pits registry

Air Force veteran Jennifer Kepner died from pancreatic cancer following exposure to burn pits during the Iraq War last week.

Kepner, a 39-year-old wife, and mother of two, lost her fight against pancreatic and was laid to rest on Sunday. She was exposed to toxins from burn pits during her tour at Balad AB. In those burn pits, the US Military burned anything from garbage to human remains using JP-8.

Kepner underwent surgery on her pancreas and chemotherapy, but cancer had already spread to her liver. She ultimately died. She is the second Air Force veteran who died from pancreatic cancer this year that I have written about on this site.

Another Air Force Veteran Dies From Pancreatic Cancer

Amie Muller, a 36-year-old wife, and mother of 3, died this February from her pancreatic cancer. Similarly, Muller underwent a rigorous chemo regimen with the hope of becoming a candidate for surgery. By the time she became a candidate cancer spread to her liver.

Senator Amy Klobuchar proposed legislation in response to Muller’s case to help fund more research into burn pits. I have no doubt the initiative will fall flat like other similar maneuvers to fund programs to help veterans suffering from burn pits.

Burn Pit Registry Of Little Value

One clear example is the farce of a burn pit registry VA was required to set up following similar moves by Congress in 2013.

That legislation forced VA to set up a burn pit registry. The agency tells all burn pit victims to register with the hollow claim that more data in the registry will help them and future veterans get service connection.

Right now, veterans struggle to get service connection for conditions like pancreatic cancer because VA asserts exposure to the toxic smoke from burn pits does not cause long-term illnesses or injuries.

RELATED: New Study Could Prove Gulf War Illness

VA claims the data gathered from the burn pits was inconclusive. To gather enough evidence, VA needs the burn pit registry to create a correlation argument instead of causation argument. At least, that is the story VA tells.

We just do not have enough data yet.

VA is actively misleading the veteran community about its burn pit registry.

The Institute of Medicine issued a report at the beginning of this year the day after Muller was buried that revealed the burn pit registry is useless for helping create a corollary argument in support of service connection, just like previous registries were also of little value.

Instead, IOM says the registry is merely useful for collecting the names of veterans and family members interested in learning more about burn pits. Lame.

IOM Burn Pit Registry Report Summary

Registries are a relatively quick and inexpensive means of collecting and maintaining data on a group of people with a shared health condition or exposure. However, those that rely on voluntary participation and self-reported data have several intrinsic limitations. These include potential biases in the collected data that result from selective participation, misclassification of exposures or diseases, faulty recall, and other sources of inaccuracy. Such issues make them an intrinsically poor source of information on exposures, health outcomes, and possible associations among these events.

The questionnaire that VA developed to collect information from AH&OBP registrants is subject to these limitations, which are exacerbated by flaws in the registry’s structure and operation as well as in the questions that are asked and the way they are asked. The cumulative effect of the flaws is evidenced by the high percentage (about 40 percent) of respondents who initiated but did not complete the questionnaire and the number of questions that had large nonresponse rates. It’s important to understand, though, that even a well-designed and executed registry would have little value as a scientific tool for health-effects research compared to a well-designed epidemiologic study.

Source: http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2017/Burn-Pits-highlights.pdf

VA Rigging Game

Meanwhile, VA and related institutions are rigging the game.

Before 1997, VA, IOM and DOD used animal research including canine research to help create causality arguments in support of service connection. This was useful for Agent Orange veterans.

In 1997, these institutions stopped using animal research to help, which basically precludes causality research because the only remaining source of new research would be to use humans, which is illegal. Again, that is the official story.

Last week, one of my readers here uncovered a wrinkle in this story that may create a new vein of data VA likely wishes we would forget.

You see, another tactic VA uses is that no baseline exists between the conditions before deployment and the present to help compare possible exposure levels in the blood.

That is apparently false.

In 2003, VA engaged in a propaganda campaign promising they took steps to prevent mystery ailments or mystery causes of ailments similar to what happened during the Persian Gulf War.

RELATED: In search Of A Gulf War With No Gulf War Illness

The propaganda was apparently so good, we totally forgot it happened. Here are some excerpts from NY Times circa 2003:

VA Promised Answers For Toxic Exposures

How much did DOD and VA spend to create the pre-deployment database and why is this data not being used to help veterans prove they were exposed to harmful levels of dioxin?

”We didn’t have the base line information we needed,” said Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. ”We didn’t have good capture of events in the theater, and there wasn’t a systematic capture of information when they came out.” Until then, he said, such data were not viewed as important. ”It was never viewed as a critical thing to do for the service member,” he said.

That will not happen this time.

”People will come back with symptoms, of course, and they will believe they are related to the gulf,” said Anthony J. Principi, secretary of veterans affairs. ”But I believe we will be able to find answers: Was it the vaccine? Was it low levels of exposure to chemical or biological agents?” (He added that it would be immediately clear if troops were exposed to high levels of chemical or biological agents because they would get sick.)

Finding the answers to those questions was the goal repeatedly stressed by expert committees that investigated the illnesses reported by veterans of the previous gulf war.

”One of our recommendations from the first report was that the military collect the data that might be useful” in investigating the illnesses, said Dr. John C. Bailar III, who was chairman of an Institute of Medicine committee that published its report in 1996. ”Even if the ultimate result is to rule out any exposure, that is worth noting.”

Was Monitoring Better?

Supposedly, the federal government used taxpayer dollars to create a new database to help understand what veterans were exposed to. When will veterans have access to that data?

Another Institute of Medicine committee gave the same advice in 2000. ”We were calling for better monitoring,” said Dr. Harold Sox, the editor of The Annals of Internal Medicine and the committee’s chairman.

The new effort to build a research database involves careful health assessments of troops before and after the war, including information that is essential for research on health effects. Doctors will use a structured set of questions and exams so that the clinical data will be comparable.

”Part of the problem we had with the Persian Gulf war is that V.A. physicians were not familiar with the exposures the troops had had, and they could not relate to vets coming back and saying things like they took these pills and didn’t know what they were,” Dr. Roswell said. ”Some vets complained that the doctors were not familiar with the issues of gulf war deployment.”

DOD Knew It Needed To Monitor Air, Water and Soil – What Happened?

DOD was supposed to closely assess the air, water and soil to keep track of who was exposed to what. That sounds great. Seven years after the war started, DOD failed to assess the extent of exposure to toxins at most bases including Balad AB.

The Defense Department is also assessing the air, water and soil wherever troops are deployed and keeping records of who was exposed to what. And it is telling service members exactly what vaccines and drugs they are getting to prevent or treat diseases and those records too are being kept in a central database.

In the last gulf war, Dr. Winkenwerder said, ”we just sent teams forward to vaccinate.”

”There was not good record keeping,” he added, ”and different people got different amounts of shots.” Many worried about what they had received and whether they had been given experimental vaccines or drugs that might have made them ill.

Where Is The Data, VA?

VA supposedly worked closely with DOD to create data points from blood samples to evaluate before and after exposure to toxins. Where’s the data?

In addition, the Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments are working together for the first time to compile data, Mr. Principi said. The agencies will have blood samples from the troops before and after deployment that will allow researchers to search for exposure to toxins.

Details on troop locations and potentially dangerous substances encountered will also be available.

Medics and doctors in the gulf are also carrying personal digital assistants to collect information on every medical complaint or illness. The data will be useful if any of the troops report symptoms later. But the data could also be crucial in surveillance for biological or chemical attacks.

Source: http://www.kesq.com/news/local-veteran-to-be-laid-to-rest-after-losing-battle-with-cancer/647805135

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CorpsmanUp!
CorpsmanUp!
The same should hold true to the VA. We should maintain data on ourselves to see if we have been exposed to the VA. Before knowing about the malfeasance uncovered at the VA everthing was cool and you were like Tinkerbell at Disney in a tu tu, high as Garfield in a catnip meringue pie. Now knowing everything going on at VA , it is like “Ice Cube style” fuck yous all day long ! Classic symptoms of VIP aka VA Induced Psychosis That is clearly a 100 % rating alone. VA Tourettes Note to the Secretary and the OIG… Read more »
Dennis
Dennis
Ben used three words that have absolutely no meaning. What I am saying is that when words are used that can historically mean absolutely anything according to the whim of the moment, then they have no meaning. “…because VA asserts…” It is like saying that, “…inmates honestly believed…”, or “…Ted Bundy prayed daily…”, or “…IRS cares about people…”. I could give a SHIT about what VA asserts at any given moment because it has no context in any discussion about human compassion, dignity, or truth. I suppose it angers me because as a free man and part of “We The… Read more »
Peter Kreutzfeldt
Peter Kreutzfeldt

Dennis, you must have had a run in with the VA at some time to harbor such feelings for the fine institute like the VA.

Dennis
Dennis
I don’t harbor feelings because I vent. The therapist who the VA paid to help me understand PTSD said that constructive venting was fine. My definitition of “constructive venting” is consistent with a world view typically held by PTSD patients regarding their fellow man whom dwell within VA walls. The VA folks simply presented themselves as a target to one of my symptomatic responses. They pissed me off. PTSD patients like me take a LONG TIME to “get over it”… However, I have noted that the behavior of the notorious VA Disruptive Behavior Committee is nearly identical to mine and… Read more »
va shit inc

memo to all vets va dc hq says to vets bend over va is going give it to vets a litttle harder @ va wanrts a colgate smile from all vets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peter Kreutzfeldt
Peter Kreutzfeldt

“burn pit registry” are as useless as Agent Orange registries. All they are doing is wait for some malady to manifest its self after which they just eliminate you’re number from their register.

Dennis
Dennis

“burn pit registry” = “check is in the mail”

Peter Kreutzfeldt
Peter Kreutzfeldt

and I will respect you in the morning

T
T
Or like….”we are here to help you.” Must have been a mantra around here in every clinic I had to visit. Heard the same shit over and over again. “What do you need, we are here to help.” Oh, we don’t agree with those treatments, not on our pharmaceutical list, oh that was what we offered to do yesterday, we can’t offer those treatments/surgeries for you today. Things change. Supposed to be about ‘honoring the vets.’ Ha. “http://www.mywabashvalley.com/news/wine-in-the-woods/842443375” The entire lefty community and it’s cliques, groups, and those in the link above censor us, attack us, neglect us, make us… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor

Satan himself has an exhaustive burn pit registry and a special wing of hell was created just for DOD and VA bean-counters that insist the color green of $$$ prevails over the lives of all Veterans that served to protect our USA. That wing is Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring Of Fire’, it’s the perianal area of Satan’s asshole. Rat Bastards!

namnibor
namnibor
“Ring Of Fire”, by June & Johnny Cash and befitting for Hallows Eve & blog: “Love is a burnin’ thing And it makes a fiery ring Bound by wild desire I fell into a ring of fire I fell into a burnin’ ring of fire I went down, down, down And the flames went higher And it burns, burns, burns The ring of fire, the ring of fire I fell into a burnin’ ring of fire I went down, down, down And the flames went higher And it burns, burns, burns The ring of fire, the ring of fire The… Read more »
WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

The answer is simple.

Wait for the work day to commence at the local VA fuck shop.

Chain all doors closed from the outside.

Torch said fuck shop.

All fuck shop employees in the building will have aprox 3-4 hrs to conduct particulate research as they gasp and choke.

Repeat as necessary at other fuck shops until the fuck shop leadership pulls it’s collective heads out of it’s asses and starts doing right by vets. Or until there are no more fuck shops and fuck shop employees to burn.

namnibor
namnibor
Off-Topic and unfortunately true on this Halloween: (yes, the DOD involved) “http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/special-report-in-warehouse-of-horrors-body-broker-stacked-human-heads/ar-AAuguse?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=ientp” The customers include the U.S. government. As Reuters reported in December, the Army used heads, arms and legs from more than 20 bodies in blast experiments in 2012 and 2013, even though donors had not given permission. In one of the most egregious examples, the military used the body of an Army veteran who signed a donor form two months before he died of cancer in 2013. The man was so angry about the poor health care provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that he checked… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor

^THAT is so FUCKED-UP! (that was only an excerpt I quoted from article since it had the info about the Army Veteran, invite to read entire story because the asshole that was the ‘body collector and leaser or parts’ has eluded justice as well as a VA SES’er…and will not be surprised if the VA hires him after all this to be in-charge of VA Morgues…wait for it.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I would not be surprised if some AFGE thug is not already making money on the side doing this.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I read an article about this which skimmed the DOD using parts in blast tests.

I immediately thought whatever findings the military came up with…would not be for the benefit of vets…or it would be the very last thing on their minds.

namnibor
namnibor

Pentagon Test Results: They blow-up into little bits just like real living soldiers! More data and of course $$$ for further contracted studies are needed. **cookiejar clunk**

Lem
Lem

The registry is set up to dilute the pool and provide deniability. Should follow in reverse. Look at the duties of those with the diseases, the clusters. Agent orange registry drew people who were minimally exposed into the pool with those who were sprayed and poisoned.

A person with one trip to the burn pit or half a mile away that smelled is not the same as the person who stoked it with the garbage.

namnibor
namnibor

Correct to a point, however, it’s not so cut and dry when you are speaking of environmental toxins and particulates with the nudge of Mother Nature’s weather patterns and more importantly, the unique environment of a desert in which there is absolutely no “natural” filters in landscape…only more fucking sand…and camels.

namnibor
namnibor

I mention that because many toxins can and do continue to have chemical changes when talking about heat, smoke, and mixed with accelerant and whatever else was in the pit…then there’s the entire question of just *what* did the Russians leave down in that chemical weapons depot that the pit was built upon in first place? Downwind secondhand cigarette smoke has been found to be equally toxic and even more because of chemical changes further brewing in particulates…

91Veteran
91Veteran
I had similar thoughts when I posted my first comment, but it was a long comment already. No Registry exam will take into account variables such as you point out, or variables that would increase the chance of illness. How many claims will be denied if a veteran admits that they smoke cigarettes alone? Much like the Gulf War Registry did not account for any soldier traveling away from wherever their unit was located. But every bit of data might some day be pulled out to deny a veteran’s illness is service connected. They did it with Gulf War vets… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor

That “data” is readily available and stored right in same stack as Agent Orange, Depleted Uranium, superfund cleanup sites as soon as an air base is closed under guise of “saving $$” when it’s army of contractors are ready with steam and traincars to ship-out metric tons of soild…and it’s in same stack as radiation and chemical testing done on Vets under the guise of exercises or field studies…that stack is right next to the VA Sec.’s golden toilet where the golden turds are kept locked-up tight.

Yep, in a mood tonight.

91Veteran
91Veteran

What’s always interesting is that even though that data is stacked up, the VA pleads ignorance. Interesting when compared with what other agencies might think of the same exposures, and what health problems could result. Agencies like the ATSDR.

namnibor
namnibor

*Somewhere* @ some VAMC’s am thinking there was an episode of “Halloween Hungry, Hungry Hippos” while Veteran patients were neglected while mandatory psychic reading$ take place all while Veterans were left in the therapeutic very hot whirlpool bath in the basement…next to the morgue…a drain in floor between the two, no fuss, no mess. Drip. Drip… Be careful out there and Happy Halloween!

91Veteran
91Veteran
I was disgusted when I heard the VA was creating a Burn Pit Registry. Why? Because I knew it would turn out like the Gulf War Registry, and the Agent Orange Registry before that. In fact, if I didn’t already know this article was about the Burn Pit Registry, I would think I was reading about what the IOM said about the failings or shortcomings of the Gulf War Registry. The exact same things are repeated about biases, self selection, faulty recall, hell, even the call for an epidemiological study. I think the VA did an epidemiological study years after… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Ben, to add to my comment above, if you do try find out about VA policy and whether any protocol is used for Burn Pit Registry exams, you should also ask whether Burn Pit Registry coordinators are supposed to be assigned at each VA hospital.

Gulf War Registry coordinators were supposed to be assigned at each VA, and several had them, but unless a veteran was aware they existed, the VA rarely advertised they existed. Many were simply named as a coordinator and didn’t know shit about what they were coordinating.

Mike
Mike

I just can’t take the VA much longer, I really don’t understand how stupid people get hired for positions their brain could ever grasp.

T
T
I had my breaking point with the VA in 2015 and just left. Sadly, very sadly, civilian care is not much better in today’s society or culture of things. Hospital heads, doctors, others are even writing books about all the problems and corruption, greed, lack of concern for patients, but they are getting much attention or breaking ground in their own professions. Making plenty of enemies for themselves while speaking out about it all. I’ve encountered the very same issues with civilian care or dealing with medical boards, to the damned activist, feminist who we men aren’t to dare question… Read more »
Mike
Mike
Before moving to Denver and using the shit ass hospital, I lived in CT. Night and day! The CT VA was 2 miles from my house packed with Yale doctors teaching kids from the Yale School of Medicine. There was no way in hell the hospital played games like Denver. Yale calls the shots at the VA, no way they would let anything tarnish their name or their student’s education. If need to go outside for treatment, went to Yale Hospital and like flying 1st class. Had to move because when I couldn’t work, couldn’t afford to live. Property taxes… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Welcome to Colorado. Come over the mountain to Grand Junction and you will find similar conditions at the VA. I think much of it has to do with the lousy VISN “leadership”.

T
T
First off. BEN, or someone if he isn’t reading this pass this along. Please watch RT news around the 8th to 10th about burn pits. They are having a special about burn pits and veterans. “https://www.rt.com/shows/documentary/399506-american-soldiers-war-afghanistan/” Some really shocking videos and info!!!!! Also part of the reason why stinking American mainstream media wants to see RT shut down since they expose things our media refuses to even mention. Mike, The local medical colleges here just care about their image and propaganda…. and profits. Local hospitals are raging about their exploding profits/earnings. Freaking colleges with all the activist in those institutions… Read more »
ThisVet2017
ThisVet2017

Why do I have a feeling that our fellow service members were being used as human subjects to expose to these illnesses so big pharma and medical industry can make a quick buck on treatment?

Either using us as test subjects or wanting to deny compensation are the only two reasons I can see for the VA’s cover up of the obvious

91Veteran
91Veteran

Ask yourself why contractors were not used to operate the Burn Pits. There were contractors crawling all over Iraq, why not for this? Did contractors haul the trash but refuse to burn it? Or was even hauling it strictly military?

Contractors ran mess halls, showers, etc., why not this?

Or was someone looking at the bottom line and decided they would just gather it and burn it and not spend the money?

Nic Mach HM (FMF)
Nic Mach HM (FMF)
This is click bait and fear mongering. Your heading wrote: “Air Force veteran Jennifer Kepner died from pancreatic cancer following exposure to burn pits during the Iraq War last week.” You then went on to say, for more information, read the original story. The original story does not contain any information that demonstrates nay link between, Burn pits in the country of Iraq or Jennifer Kepner or Pancreatic cancer. The reason she developed pancreatic cancer could be for literally thousands of reasons, and one of them could be from exposure to burn pits in Iraq. It could be from a… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran
This Mayo Clinic article is actually fairly good on Pancreatic Cancer. “https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pancreatic-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20355421” You can call that click bait if you want. Under the section of risk factors: Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) Diabetes Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome Family history of pancreatic cancer Smoking Obesity Older age, as most people are diagnosed after age 65 Could inhaling toxic smoke from Burn Pits be worse than smoking? Could those in the military be considered healthy before deploying? I am a little… Read more »
CorpsmanUp!
CorpsmanUp!

Your attention to detail is outstanding. The risk factor of burn pit exposure puts the normal risk factor of age front and center.

91Veteran
91Veteran

To add about pancreatic cancer:

“Pancreatic cancer rarely occurs before the age of 40, and more than half of cases of pancreatic adenocarcinoma occur in those over 70.[2] Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include tobacco smoking, obesity, diabetes, and certain rare genetic conditions.[2] About 25% of cases are linked to smoking,[3] and 5–10% are linked to inherited genes.[2”

What is the prevalence in the normal population? What is the prevalence among vets who served? What is the prevalence among vets directly involved with Burn Pits?

Armyvet
Armyvet
As a vet that had to fight almost 4 years with the VA about my Respiratory Illness being Service Connected from the Burn Pits, yes the registry is a joke. You fill it out but VA Primary Care docs don’t care. I had to fight my PCM to send me to a Pulmonary Doctor because my “PFTs show there is nothing wrong with my lungs”. The Cincinnati VA Pulmonary Doctor I was finally sent to, was knowledgeable about the Burn Pits, follows Dr. Robert Miller (Vanderbuilt Univversity) and Dr. Cecile Rose (Denver National Jewish Health Center’s Deployment Related Lung Disease… Read more »
ron nesler
ron nesler
VA has had an A/O registry for DECADES. That hasn’t stopped them from completely ignoring, and even denying A/O residuals. Just as a side note on the A/O registry, when I went to the El Paso, Texas VAMC to get my name put on the VA A/O registry, they put me through a half assed physical exam, which mostly consisted of questions and finger pokes. One of the doctors told me, I had a SERIOUS hernia, and they would schedule me an appointment to figure out how to deal with it, and contact me by letter. That was in 1994,… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Ron, do you know if the A/O Registry had any specific test or exam requirements or any kind of protocol to follow?

ron nesler
ron nesler

I heard about it from another vet, so I made an appointment and went in to get on the “A/O registry.” That one appointment/exam, in the 1990’s, which was very cursory, was the last I ever heard of it. I have to assume, some VA parasite wiped their ass on the info I gave them

91Veteran
91Veteran
That sounds much the same as how the Gulf War Registry was handled. For a very long time after the GW Registry was started, the VA would make various public claims about what that registry data was showing or not showing, and I believe they funded research projects that looked at the Registry data for various health issues. It pissed off many vets who knew how bad that registry data was based on how bad the exams were because the VA refused to enforce their own policies and protocols for testing. Unless the VA uses a very specific protocol for… Read more »
Armyvet
Armyvet

The Burn Pit Registry is all online. And at the end of it it states if you start to show any symptoms to see your Primary Care Doctor. I did both the HE registry and the Burn pit registry, because Iraq and Afghanistan vets fall under the Gulf War era also.

91Veteran
91Veteran

So they don’t even do an exam? Just a questionnaire online?

What cheap bastards!

james gallegos
VA Promised ! How many times has the VA Promised to do something and never did it. What happened to the stats, I don’t know that happened before I was hired. Well who was responsible ? I told you I don’t know that happened before we were in charge. The stats are probably in the same place as my Burnt or destroyed official military records were ! Sitting on the shelf ! They may have held information that proved burn pits effected hundreds of veterans and they do or did not want to have to pay those claims, because it… Read more »
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