The name, Sargent Jerry Ensminger, will be familiar to veterans following the Camp Lejeune tragedy through the film, or the Janey Ensminger Act, which honors his deceased child.
On January 21, 2017, he participated in the public CAMP LEJEUNE COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE PANEL (CAP) MEETING (link). The verbatim transcript (126 pages) allows us to listen in on reps from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) , Dept of Navy, National Cancer Institute, Department of Veterans Affairs Compensation Service.Office of Disability and Medical Assessment with VHA, chief consultant for health services, Veterans’ Affairs, VA program manager for the family member program for Camp Lejeune and the public.
It gets heated. Here are a few misc. quotes we can all relate to because the C & P certified examiners for Lejeune are called Subject Matter Experts (SME) after four days of VA training and reading homework. A scam and a disgrace.
MR. ENSMINGER: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t mind you guys coming up with something like a subject matter expert program, but for God’s sake, if you’re going to call them subject matter experts hire subject matter experts, because the evidence that we’ve got, these people are anything but subject matter experts, the lion’s share of them. Hardly any of them are trained in environmental exposures. They didn’t even major in that, and they’re not certified for that. Most of them are family practitioners. And when you’ve got people that say that they have reviewed all the meta- analysis for two decades’ worth of well-conducted scientific studies and can find no evidence that TCE causes any kind of cancer, let alone kidney cancer, and denies two kidney cancer claims, with that rhetoric in it — he didn’t deny them, but that was his opinion, and the SME was never overruled by any claim reviewer I’ve seen. And that was in 2015. TCE was re-evaluated to be a known human carcinogen in 2011 and, by IARC and the EPA. And the strongest evidence for reclassifying it as a known human carcinogen was for renal cell carcinoma. Kidney cancer, for God’s sake.
MR. ENSMINGER: Yeah, but we’ve got veterans who are submitting doctors — from their oncologist to the VA in support of their claims, and the subject matter experts are overruling them, and the guy has his — is certified as a family practitioner.
MR. PARTAIN: Not only are they overruling them, they’re actually challenging and writing these doctors to have them explain why they wrote their letter in the first place.
MR. ENSMINGER: It’s like I said when I started. I don’t have a problem with you having a subject matter expert but I don’t want Ernest T. Bass being an expert.
MR. ENSMINGER: Well, and I got a question for you. Rather than calling these people subject matter experts — when you tell me that you’re having the whole training sessions while these people have been anointed as so-called subject matter experts, if you’re training them, they’re not subject matter experts in anything. You know, he —
MS. FRESHWATER: Jerry, can I — I don’t want my question to get lost. Can we just go back to the transparency issue? Can you directly address how —
MR. ENSMINGER: What the hell?
MS. FRESHWATER: — any changes you’ve made about transparency? Because I didn’t hear any of that.
DR. DINESMAN: What do you mean by transparency? What are you looking for?
MS. FRESHWATER: Well, people should have a right to know who the —
MR. ENSMINGER: Who these guys are.
MS. FRESHWATER: — subject matter expert is. People should have a right to know what went into these decisions.
MR. TEMPLETON: … To Dr. Dinesman, as far as SME names, they’re not on the reports that get sent out to the veteran. Instead — about the only place that you can find them, there’s two ways, if you request a C-file, there in the case file, if you do a 19 FOIA for that, you’ll get the notes, ’cause they’re in there;…
Well, so much here…if you want transparency too, these demands are a good model.
As the Lancet wrote (April 2012)
There is one thing of which there is no doubt: the water at the Camp Lejeune Marine base in North Carolina, USA, was contaminated. It was poisoned from 1957 to 1987; perhaps a million people were exposed to it. …The water contained more than 20 times the safe levels of tetrachloroethylene and a scarcely credible 280 times the safe level of trichloroethylene, both of which are carcinogenic.
pdf. CAP transcript_1_17_508 (1) Thirty-sixth meeting.