Skip to comments.Veterans' Diseases Associated with Agent Orange
Posted on 07/30/2018 12:30:37 PM PDT by rexthecat
Reminder all Vietnam vets! The Veterans Administration has a list of illnesses that they presume were caused by Agent Orange exposure. If you have Type II Diabetes, Parkinson's or any of the other ailments listed you do not have to prove anything. You just need to show you served in Vietnam. This includes many vets who served in the Navy in waters off of Vietnam. You may be eligible for $$ disability payments and medical care if you want it.
There are about 15 diseases related to Agent Orange. Any Veteran can receive medical treatment. If you are low income it is free. If you have other insurance VA will pay the deductible. You can get help at county outreach offices and such. You can find information at
A buddy of mine had most of these syndromes and diseases and finally got disability rated and his new widow got all the back pay. At least he left her with a paid off house and car and a lump of money. He had spent three years in Vietnam handling that stuff. He was a truck driver until he physically couldn’t do it any more because he couldn’t feel his feet (diabetic necropathy). He died at 55 in 2001.
I once flew a Huey mission dispersing Agent Orange around a mountaintop. OK so far but I hope every vet with symptoms gets treatment.
Only condition I brought back from RVN is the urge to live until Jane Fonda gets what she deserves.
I had extensive Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam and am now in Stage 4 Melanoma, but the VA doesn’t recognize Melanoma as an Agent Orange related disease, so no VA benefits are forthcoming.
Here are my memories of Agent Orange and, if you’re interested, I will share them with you now:
It took several years for the U.S. Air Forces Operation Ranch Hand to defoliate a large swath between the Cambodian Border and Saigon, and my Recon AO was now located in a part of this swath. During the time Ranch Hand was defoliating this swath through Tay Ninh, Bin Long, and Phuoc Long Provinces, I had been out numerous times on combat operations in these areas, and I eventually became somewhat at ease with defoliation occurrences, but my first experiences with Agent Orange were a bit disconcerting.
As a herbicide, Agent Orange was most effective during the dry season when this part of Vietnam would go for months without any appreciable rainfall and plant life had been stressed to the maximum. In addition to that, Ranch Hand would run their defoliation flights during mid-day when the days heat was at its highest and plant life was especially stressed. During this intense heat of mid-day, I would halt my Montagnard Company, form a defensive perimeter and not move until the sun dropped toward the horizon and the temperature dropped with it. The Montagnards called this noontime break Pak and believed it to be unhealthy to move during this period of extreme heat, and it probably was. During the intense heat of Pak, everyone, even the Viet Cong, would find shade, halt, lie down, and fall into a semiconscious stupor (it wasnt really sleep) until the intense heat of mid-day had subsided. Only American combat units moved in the noonday sun, reminiscent of an old East Indian proverb, Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.
It was during one of these Pak time halts when my first experience with Agent Orange occurred. In the distance, we heard the rumble of a low-level approach of what we had thought to be an approaching flight of A1-E Sky Raider bombers because of the sound of the aircrafts reciprocating engines and their propellers. As Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) flew these bombers and considered our AO to be a Free Fire Zone, they were liable to drop their bombs whenever and wherever they pleased, so the sound of their approach claimed our undivided attention. When the sound of what we thought were approaching bombers drew nearer, we could hear they were coming in very low, just as they would if they were on a bombing run, and I could see the look of apprehension on my Montagnard troops faces. A flight of A1-Es could do a lot of damage and we could tell from the sound they would soon be right on top of us. About that time, what we had thought to be A1-Es would pass directly overhead just above the treetops, and we would smell a faint chemical odor. We then knew these aircraft were not single engine A1-E bombers but were twin-engine C-123s of Ranch Hand, and we were in the midst of a defoliation operation. We had been told Agent Orange was completely harmless to human beings and I had believed it, but what happened next gave me second thoughts about the chemicals safety.
Within minutes of the aircraft passing overhead, leaves would begin to fall from the trees. Thousands of gigantic trees that had stood there probably since before the time of Christ were now dying after receiving a single dusting of what had to be the most poisonous substance on the planet. What started as a rustling of the falling of a few leafs soon increased in volume to become a loud hiss as millions of leaves began to fall from thousands of trees until it sounded as if the forest was exhaling its dying breath in a final, loud, continuous sigh. The birds and the monkeys in the tops of these giant trees would begin to scream and fly or jump about in mindless panic, and a few monkeys would become so panic-stricken they would lose their grip and fall to their deaths on the forest floor, causing my Mountagnards to think the monkeys had been killed by the defoliant. I never understood what had caused these animals to become so panic stricken when they were caught in an Agent Orange defoliation, and I wondered if they had possibly known something I didnt know, or could they have sensed something I was unable to detect? Could the birds and animals have sensed the agony of thousands of trees, as these living beings died a slow, horrible death? Could they have understood that their home, their world, and their life as it had been was now gone forever?
As my Montagnards were as much a part of this forest as were the birds, animals, and the trees, they were also near panic over what was happening around them, and they looked to me to see how I reacted. I knew if I showed the least bit of apprehension, concern, or fear, a mindless panic would quickly spread through the Montagnard Company like wildfire, just as it had through the birds and animals. To show them I was not the least bit concerned and was sure my country would never do anything to hurt me, I lit a cigarette, slowly smoked it and calmly watched the world die around me. When I finished my cigarette, I pretended I didnt even notice we were all being buried under a blanket of falling leaves, and I closed my eyes and pretended I was asleep. I wanted my troops to believe nothing was wrong and this was just a normal everyday occurrence in my world, but I knew deep inside something was badly wrong; I just didnt know what it was. Each time I was caught up in an Agent Orange defoliation operation, I would have a deep feeling of foreboding that something very evil had just passed my way, and the world around me would never again be the same.
In the months and years following these Agent Orange defoliations, Montagnards frequently came to me and told me they believed these defoliation operations were causing their pigs, chickens and their wives to give birth to either stillborn or deformed offspring. Each time this happened, I told them, and I believed it at the time, Agent Orange was harmless to anything but vegetation, they were only repeating communist propaganda, and they must stop spreading those lies. But, somehow, I dont think I ever convinced them I was correct in my evaluation of Agent Orange.
Bladder cancer, eh?
It would not hurt to call a VA clinic and get a VA ID card anyway.
I hauled a load 55 gal drums of AO from Muscatine, IA to Seattle once for shipment to SE Asia, which may have been AO.
AO was incinerated 12 miles out in international waters.
Worked at a VA in the 80’s, lot of questions about Agent Orange.
Wow. Now I know why. Lordy.
Ive never seen Vietnam, but I worked on the ranges at Eglin AFB in the late 80s-early 90s and the AO test ranges were still denuded decades later. The government set its operating procedures toward veterans with the nuclear vetslet the cases lie until most are gone. Agent orange, Gulf War syndrome, depleted uranium, stealth coatings, Anthraxall of them denied nexus as long as possible.
The rates of disease are too far out of norms, but itll be decades until most are settled. Disability is damned hard to handle when youre used to working hard and its damned hard to see your family lose the little security you thought your service would provide.
Some veterans organizations are prepared better than others to help you. One such is the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) who are well-equipped with the knowledge. Across the country, their full-time National Service Officers (NSO) are dedicated and able to help, and have a new excitement and energy because of President Trump's reversal of the VA policies that have blocked individual unassisted applications.
If you have the slightest inkling of a persisting service-related disabling health, hearing, or mental problem, get an appointment with your local DAV NSO. Click on this link too find out where:
Your Local DAV National Service Officer (NSO) will help you file a claim and stick with you all through the process, because no veteran should have to go at it alone. All services provided by DAV NSOs are free of charge.
Military members separating from active duty should talk to a Transition Service Officer. Find your nearest TSO here.
DAV also offers Mobile Service Offices, to reach those veterans with mobility problems, or who simply live a distance from the nearest office. Find an MSO schedule here.
If you have any problem with transportation, DAV will see that you get it, free. This link shows how you can become a member of the DAV for a very nominal initial fee of $40 that accrue in quarterly payments to make up your cost of membership. Also, that cost decreases depending on age at time of application. If you are 80, membership is free.
Here's what the printable membership application form looks like:
DAV is an organization of veterans helping veterans. We receive no government funding and look out for our members 100% of the time because we have been in their shoes. We are proud of our 90+ year history of helping our countrys veterans, proud of our record of fighting for your rights and proud of working alongside so many other non-profits and advocacy organizations to make sure that we fulfill our promises to the men and women who have served. Most of all, we are proud to serve our countrys veterans as you so steadfastly served us.
That whole attitude has changed under Trump's leadership, and there are resource people from service organizations like the Marine Corps League (MCL) and DAV who you should see FIRST before submitting a claim to the VA. I have met the DAV NSO here, and he is a fine lawyer who will help you get all your ducks lined up so that the VA cannot after a long period of evaluating (1) find faults in your claim, then (2) delay an award yet another year until that aspect is cleaned up.
Since meeting the NSO in lsate May at the yearly election of DAV officers, I have already made contact with an AO sufferer, directed him to the NSO, and through the NSO's help his claim will be processed immediately and successfully with full attention of the VA, whereas in years past it has been denied. THIS APPROACH WORKS!
Thanks for your advice and your service.
I was almost medically discharged last year, but Im trying to hold off on disability as long as possible. I figure I only have a few years left, so Im trying to work as hard as possible while I can. Once I cant really work, then Ill pursue a VA claim. I have everything documented, but Ill certainly look for some help before I file. Ive seen too many people spend years going back and forth. Glad to hear its getting better.
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