It amazes me sometimes how comfortable people are with me with their most intimate subjects. I am a young female who has no problem asking the most respected mature men of our nation the hard questions. I am the Nancy Grace of the VA. “So, you’re here for a leaky blister on your ass, Mister?” Yesterday’s big topic was after effects of prostate cancer. I felt rather honored that these complete strangers left their most intimate problems in my hands. WAIT! WHAT?!!! Oh yeah, I went there!!!!
So as I sat in Release of Information yesterday trying to negotiate my way to the front of the line, I overheard two men talking about their exposures during the Vietnam Era. Damn! That did not sound right! They did not expose themselves they were exposed to Agent Orange. I put my negotiations on hold for a minute to interrupt their conversation because I had to know if they were getting everything they deserved. It was not the first time that I have heard that men have been awarded only TEMPORARY 100% Permanent and Total Disability for prostate cancer they obtained as an after effect of Agent Orange exposure. Also was not the first time I voiced my opinions on such matters, fair warning… This won’t be my last.
During the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1972, the US military used a mixture of Herbicide Orange and Agent LNX as part of Operation Ranch Hand, a chemical warfare program. During Operation Ranch Hand nearly 20 million US gallons of chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel was sprayed in Vietnam, eastern Laos, and parts of Cambodia. The goal of the program was to kill the forestation keeping the guerrillas from having cover and to wipe out the food supply forcing them to move to US dominated cities.
In 1965 US Congress was told that the most important thing was to destroy crops but where the public was concerned emphasis was to remain on jungle defoliation. The soldiers were told they were destroying the crops that were being used to feed the guerillas. Later, they found out they were destroying crops that were for the general public. In some areas over 85% of the crops were destroyed in one year alone. How could that have been believed to only be feeding the guerillas? The US was charged with violating the 1925 Geneva protocol which regulates the use of chemical and biological weapons.
US. Veterans to this day suffer the effects of Agent Orange. The US Department of Veteran’s Affairs has determined that there are many conditions that veterans from the Vietnam era suffer are directly related to Agent Orange exposure and are eligible for treatment and compensation.
Diseases Associated with Agent Orange:
- AL Amyloidosis
- Chronic B-Cell Leukemias
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Hodgkin’s Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Peripheral Neuropathy, Acute and Subacute
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
- Prostate Cancer
- Respiratory Cancer
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas
To be eligible you must have served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975. This can include visits ashore or service aboard a ship that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam
In or near Korean demilitarization zone anytime between April 1, 1968 and August 31. 1971.
If you you fall in either category you do not have to prove you exposed to Agent Orange to be eligible for disability compensation. The diseases are presumed to be associated.
You may also still be eligible for benefits if you did not fall into the above two categories but still were exposed to herbicides in the military and you believe it led to the onset of a disease.
- Veterans who served on or near the perimeters of military basis in Thailand during the Vietnam Era
- Veterans who served where herbicides were tested and stored outside of Vietnam
- Veterans who were crew members on C-123 planes flown after the Vietnam war
- Veterans associated with DoD projects that tested, disposed, or stored herbicides in the US.
The VA also presumes that certain birth defects in biological children of women Vietnam Veterans were caused by military service. The diseases are not tied to herbicide exposure but to the mother’s service in Vietnam. The Birth Defects that are covered by the VA include but are not limited to:
- Cleft lip and palate
- Congenital Heart Disease
- Congenital talipes equinovarus
- Esophageal and intestinal atresia
- Poland syndrome
- Pyloric Stenosis
- Hallerman-Streiff Syndrome
- Hip Dysplasia
- Imperforate Anus
- Neural Tube Defects
- Hydrocephalus Due to Aqueductal Stenosis
- Tracheoesophageal fistula
- Syndactyly (fused digits)
- Williams syndrome
- Undescended testicle
- Hirschprung’s disease (congenital megacolon)
Conditions related to known family disorders or birth injuries are not covered.
There are also benefits available for children with spina bifida of veterans that served in the afore mentioned times and places .
While the US troops were in Vietnam they were assured that the chemical was harmless to them. Suspicions amongst the troops began to arise when there was an increase in poor health amongst those that served in Vietnam and miscarriages or children born with birth defects. By 1993 the VA was only compensating approximately 486 victims even though they have received claims from almost 40,000 soldiers that were exposed to Agent Orange. Veterans began to file class action lawsuits again manufacturers who claimed they weren’t to blame, but then settled before a jury could even be selected.
In 1991, Congress enacted the Agent Orange Act, which gave the US Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to allow certain condition to be declared presumptive, treatable, and compensable. The list grows by the year. More conditions were added in 2010. “Highly placed individuals in government” argue that some of these conditions shouldn’t have been added to the list.
I am sure those same officials feel that they don’t owe restitution to the Vietnamese people, who have also filed suits against the American people for damages done.
Really tired of Government secrets and being used as pawns for their dirty work and left to suffer and die without compensation. We are their people. It shouldn’t surprise me what they do to others when I see what they do to their own.
I am sure many will disagree with me and maybe I am wrong. I am a highly sensitive person to the needs and concerns of others. But I thought that in war, we are to protect the civilians and only engage those that are lawful combatant targets. The US Soldiers in Vietnam were blatantly lied to, reassured of their safety and well-being and completely misled and not only did they wipe out communities of unarmed, helpless civilians they also sacrificed themselves to the knowledge of Congress, who painted an unrealistic picture to everyone including the public who supported the war.
I feel these innocent people are owed. Just like those American Veterans that suffer from the effects of Agent Orange today. I don’t think they should be only compensated temporarily. I mean the emotional and psychological impact some of these illness’ have on a person can last a life time, affecting relationships and lifestyles. A dollar amount can’t justly be put on that. A person can never be fully compensated.
I feel for these men who have suffered prostate cancer. Their sexual performance will never be the same. How they view themselves as men forever be changed. Some of these men see themselves as devalued. I see them as the same man they were before but it isn’t my point of view that matters. It is one’s own self value that ultimately matters.
These men that have suffered prostate cancer due to Agent Orange exposure are only awarded temporary Permanent and total disability. They receive treatment and after a period of time, when they are found to be cancer free they lose their compensation for their prostate cancer. But the effects of the disease are not all cured with chemo therapy. Studies show that many suffer with erectile dysfunction years after treatment, urinary incontinence, leakage, or bowel accidents. They suffer from depression and relationship strain, menopausal symptoms, stress, anger, and embarrassment. Does chemo therapy heal those things? Are the effects of Prostate Cancer only temporarily erased with treatment? Isn’t it true that the cancer can return? Don’t you feel that these people are entitled to a lifetime of compensation? I scratch my head while I ponder over these thoughts. I can do that in public. Men please don’t…It disgusts me when y’all do that!!!