Anti-Veterans Affairs

| March 14, 2013

Steven Coughlin, a formerly an epidemiologist for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs testified to members of Congress yesterday that the Office of Public Health “hides or obscures research findings on veterans exposed to environmental toxins and hazards going as far back as the Persian Gulf War” according to Bryant Jordan at;

“On the rare occasions when embarrassing study results are released, data are manipulated to make them unintelligible,” he told the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Coughlin said his former office never released findings of a $10 million study that produced data on 60,000 Iraq and Afghan war vets – of which up to 30 percent were Gulf War vets – that revealed exposures to pesticides, oil well fires and more.

He said the results of a congressionally mandated study on Gulf War veterans and their family members also was never released, and claims he was advised that “these results have been permanently lost.”

“Anything that supports the position that Gulf War illness is a neurological condition is unlikely to ever be published,” he said. One of Couglin’s former supervisors, Dr. Aaron Schneiderman, threatened retaliation against him after he balked at the idea of deliberately leaving out certain relevant data in a research project, Coughlin said.

Well, of course it can’t be neurological condition – the VA would rather hire psychiatrists than doctors;

Victoria Davey, chief of the VA’s public health and environmental hazards office, told lawmakers that the office follows strict guidelines in analyzing and publishing its work. However, but she never directly addressed Coughlin’s allegations.

In a statement released after the hearing on Wednesday, the VA said VA Secretary Erik Shinseki has ordered the VA’s Office of Research Oversight to review Coughlin’s claims, including the alleged threat.

Shinseki does an awful lot of closing barndoors after the horses are out. So his statement says that the agency doesn’t punish whistleblowers, but I’ve gotten email from DVA employees who have been critical of practices in the VA and have been told in no uncertain terms that their jobs might be in danger if they continued.

Category: Veterans' Affairs Department

Comments (10)

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  1. Green Thumb says:

    This is very prevelant within the VA out here.

  2. OWB says:

    Some of us will never forget the agonizing deaths of friends who suffered mightily while being denied acknowledgement that their maladies were related to their military service. Some of us suspect that at least some of the medical problems resulted from immunizations.

  3. Twist says:

    I wonder what crap I have in my system from living on Al Kindi and also going by the burning trash dump between Taji and Baghdad.

  4. crucible says:

    Re: 2

    Many of us got sick almost immediately when the “experimentals” we were ordered to take once in SWA (anthrax and nerve agent agent….I cannot remember thier proper names). So much so that we stopped taking them despite instructions to the contrary (our Doc’s agreed with us).

    I also remmember coughing up black lungers from the oil fires (and my boonie hat fromt he time still has black spots on it from oil “rain”).


  5. ohio says:

    Retired in ’94, was in Desert Storm. Went to the VA hospital in Cincinnati for tests. Was called back 3 time for neurological consults. For the third one they called and cancelled. Nothing further, so it will be like Agent Orange; deny, deny, they will die off.

  6. Mike says:

    I’m facing something like this right now. Retired after 22+ years on AD in April 2012. 9 months later (January 2013) I’m diagnosed with abdominal mesothelioma… after multiple physicals telling me I’m in excellent health (except for that one little thing, apparently).

    So… my oncologist tells me this kind of cancer takes years, maybe a decade or more to develop, and asks if I was exposed to asbestos along the way since that’s what causes it. Well… I lived in 40+ year old military housing, stayed in WWII-era barracks, took part in exercises that included the destruction of junk vehicles and structures with explosives and fire… take your pick.

    But… in order to file a change to my pre-cancer disability rating, I have to prove the cancer came from exposure as a result of military service. Do I have a piece of paper saying “yes, you were exposed to asbestos?” No.

    So… what now?

    I’d appreciate suggestions.

  7. S6R says:

    Mike – if you were diagnosed within a year of discharge your condition should be considered presumptively related to service. A service officer can help you with a claim with the VA free of charge. I am partial to The American Legion (full disclosure I am a member of the Legion and work for their staff) and would recommend them, but many of the accredited service officers for other organizations are also helpful. The point is, you want to find someone who deals with the intricacies of the claims process on a daily basis and can square away what you need to submit. It’s not an easy or fast process, but a service officer helps a TON in terms of avoiding needless delays.

    You can find a service officer in your area at the following link:

    Because it was spotted within a year after getting off active duty, you shouldn’t even need to prove exposure to asbestos in service. The onset time of the disease means it would have been developing while you were on active duty, therefore it’s considered a presumptive condition

    Hope that helps.

  8. S6R says:

    Note: the VA might not realize at first glance this falls within the presumptive period so mention to your service officer and make sure to state with your claim this falls within the one year presumptive period. That should at least make the person who handles the case ask their supervisor what you’re talking about and hopefully get it handled properly.

  9. Mike says:

    S6R: Thanks a bunch! I really appreciate it!

  10. Joe Williams says:

    Remember the VA’s denial of Agent and PTSD? How long and many years it took to recoganize and start these as service-related “?