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Va Nte m am Mtv ,::::::%, d6 k s THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13 ::.s aIRWMAVtlf -`4″414″,, health problems. We have 156,000 veterans in Texas who served in Vietnam. From the experience of other states, about 15 percent of those will think they have been exposed,” Anderson says. “It’s going to take time before we can arrive at any conclusions. In the meantime, we just have to stay open-minded.” Both Anderson and Health Commissioner Robert Bernstein have longstanding ties with the military \(Bernstein was Gen. Creighton Abrams’ personal surVA, but they have been open to all sides so far. Although unwilling to commit themselves to having an advisory committee representing veterans’ needs, they have met with veterans from the Brotherhood of Vietnam Veterans to discuss the program. In the next two to three weeks, representatives from the University of Texas Medical System and Health Department officials will get together to begin designing the program. Anderson says he plans to send an article to state medical journals and veterans’ organizations in November to outline the program: Veterans will have to request that a doctor or hospital send a signed form to the State Health Department outlining their health problems. The Health Department will then send the veteran a lengthy questionnaire about his military service, exposure history and medical condition. From these questionnaires, veterans The Brotherhood of Vietnam Vets The Brotherhood is a Texasbased group of Vietnam War veterans and their families who have organized for mutual support in face of overwhelming war-related medical problems, an unresponsive Veterans Administration, and a public that has been too eager to forget the national trauma of Vietnam. The state office is in Austin, 441-9245. Chapters in various stages of formation are: Alta Loma 6405; Austin, 443-4830; Dallas, 224-9750; Houston, 728-4857; Midland, 684-3768. with a high exposure risk and multiple health problems will be selected for the clinical tests. The numbers of veterans to be tested and counseled, and the criteria for selection is yet to be determined. “We can’t make promises, but I think we have a good shot at developing something important. In November or December, we should have a public hearing on the program,” says Representative Shaw, who is actively involved in the progress of the legislation. By January 1982, the program is due to begin services for veterans. “I think we have an opportunity to do something significant in Texas,” Kilian says. “We must recognize that this issue is at the leading edge of human research. What happens now is that a veteran or anyone else who is exposed to dioxin and, developing multiple symptoms, goes to a physician and goes through the conventional tests, and then nothing is found. The patient is led to believe he doesn’t have any problem. That’s wrong. We’ve got to admit we don’t know. Conventional tests aren’t telling us. Unless somebody sticks their neck out and tries some new clinical studies, we’ll never know.” It is time. More than 20 years before Paul Reutershan’s death, Rachel Carson wrote about the toxicity of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. In 1963, an explosion at a DutCh chemical plant making 2,4,5-T left part of the building contaminated with dioxin. It was considered so dangerous that the plant was encased in concrete and buried at sea. In 1981, a new review done for the EPA concludes that effects are likely to occur from exposure to TCDD in the soil of a dump site. The effects include the possibility of cancer and fetal birth defects. In the meantime, veterans are organizing, testifying and pleading for answers. And some are dying. The answers they are looking for are answers that we all need. There may be too much coincidence to have it just coincidence.