Veterans' Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction Held First Public Meeting
September 21, 2005
BETHESDA, MD--The Veterans’ Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction (VBDR) held its first public meeting Aug 17-18 in Tampa, Fla., immediately following the National Association of Atomic Veterans annual convention. The two-day VBDR meeting included briefings on the current status and activities of the Nuclear Test Personnel Review (NTPR) dose reconstruction program for Veterans and a presentation on VA’s Ionizing Radiation Compensation Program. During the meeting, Veterans gave public testimony of cancers, birth defects and other debilitating illnesses they believe resulted from their participation in atmospheric nuclear testing and other radiation occupational exposures.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established the Board at the recommendation of the National Research Council report, entitled “Review of the Dose Reconstruction Program of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency,” and in response to a requirement in Public Law 108-183, the “Veterans Benefits Act of 2003.” The goal of the VBDR is to provide guidance and oversight of the dose reconstruction and claims compensation program for Veterans. In addition, the advisory board will assist VA and DTRA in communicating to Veterans’ information on the mission, procedures and requirements of the Board.
The Board will audit dose reconstruction and VA claims decisions for service connection of radiogenic diseases and improve communication with Veterans. These dose reconstructions are used by the VA to evaluate and decide claims by Veterans of the 1945-1946 occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan; Veterans who were prisoners of war in those regions when the atomic bombs were detonated; and Veterans of U.S.-sponsored atmospheric nuclear weapons tests from 1945-1962.
“We want to do better, we want to improve the oversight and processes of dose reconstruction claims and reduce the time it takes to process claims,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral James A. Zimble M.D., a former Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy and chairman of the Board. “What I want to do is listen to the Veterans, take their questions and present them to the right people and try to come up with good, substantive answers. I want to make sure Veterans get what Congress intended,” he said.
Board members were selected to fulfill the statutory requirements mandated by Congress in Section 601 of Public Law 108-183. The Board was appointed on June 3, 2005, and is comprised of 16 members. Members provide expertise in historical dose reconstruction, radiation health matters, risk communications, radiation epidemiology, medicine, quality management, decision analysis and ethics to appropriately enable the VBDR to represent and address Veterans' concerns. The Board is governed by the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, which sets forth standards for the formation and use of government advisory committees. The Board will meet up to six times per year.
Radiation dose reconstruction has been carried out by the Department of Defense under the NTPR program since the late 1970s. DTRA is the executive agent for the NTPR program, which provides participation data and actual or estimated radiation dose information to Veterans.
For more information, please visit the VBDR website at www.vbdr.org. For more information on the NTPR program, go to: http://www.dtra.mil/SpecialFocus/NTPR/NTPRHome.aspx.
VA offers a wide variety of links and information for Veterans and their families at: http://www.va.gov/