AGENT ORANGE

 

Agent Orange is one of several herbicides used in Vietnam to defoliate the jungle. The purpose of defoliation was to eliminate hiding places for the enemy. I have listed some excellent sites which go into detail about the effects of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam. I suggest that all 1st Cav troopers who served in III Corps to be well-informed about the effects of Agent Orange exposure, as III Corps was the heaviest area that was sprayed in South Vietnam.  In 1969 Operation Ranch Hand had reached it's peak with 29 planes for spraying chemical defoliants in South Vietnam.

My own personal experience of being exposed to a chemical defoliant was in the summer of 1969. My company (Bravo Co. 1st Bn. 8th Cav) was airlifted into an area which had a white powdery substance on the foliage. This substance caused burning skin, tearing eyes, and sneezing. Captain Hottell notified Battalion who advised that the area had been sprayed by a chemical defoliant. We proceeded on through the defoliant sprayed area with the powdery substance transferring from the foliage to our skin, clothing, and packs. We did not have a shower or a change of clothing for over two weeks. 

In 1989 during my Agent Orange screening with the VA, I related the above information to the examining physician.  He took no notes regarding the above incident. This lack of documentation seemed strange to me.  If you obtained knowledge of approximately 100 men who were exposed to a chemical defoliant, had not showered nor changed their clothing for a prolonged period of time, wouldn’t these men make for a potentially good case study on the effects of prolonged exposure to a chemical defoliant?   Because this was an Agent Orange screening, this should have least been noteworthy to the VA.  It is in my opinion, that the VA already had their answers and were just going through the motions to placate the public.

In 1978, I was involved in a car accident which resulted in a torn meniscus in my knee.  To make a long story short I ended up with severe nerve damage to the knee. I had a very hard time accepting that this injury would cripple me for the rest of my life.

During my readings about Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants, I learned that after exposure to these defoliants, some of the toxins from the defoliants, were stored in the body fats. One article that I read in the Miami Herald (unknown date) gave an example which I paraphrased below:

If you had sufficient weight loss (40 or more pounds) in a short period of time, this sudden weight loss could trigger the release of the toxins stored in your body fat resulting in peripheral neuropathy.

After reading this information, I began to wonder… After a serious injury, would the body release these same toxins while releasing the endorphins and other chemicals from the body fat needed for the healing process?

In 1992 a proposal was made by the VA’s research committee that peripheral neuropathy was deemed service-connected under certain circumstances. The amendment stipulated that two requirements must be met:

1.  Peripheral neuropathy must appear within 10 years of exposure.

2.  Factors that must be ruled out: aging, alcohol abuse, trauma, diseases known to be associated with peripheral neuropathy and exposure to substances other than dioxin that are known to cause peripheral neuropathy.

In 1992, I submitted my claim as soon as I became aware that peripheral neuropathy may be added to the approved list. My claim was denied because the VA had not taken formal action on the Committee’s recommendation to add peripheral neuropathy to their approved list.

Finally in 1996, when the VA had added peripheral neuropathy to their approved list, they had reduced the time limit for manifestation from 10 years after exposure to one year after exposure. 

There must have been a significant number of veterans out there suffering from peripheral neuropathy for the VA to cut the manifestation time period down to one year.

Did the VA reduce the time limit for manifestation so to limit the Government’s liability to the Veterans? Remember, the President ordered that the Veterans should be given the benefit of the doubt in claims regarding Agent Orange.

Enough rambling from this disillusioned Veteran and remember one thing…..One does not have to look very far to find someone else who is worse off than themselves. I hope you will find the below listed sites of some help.

On November 8, 2006, I was diagnosed with advanced Renal Cancer.  The cancer has also spread to my lungs.  I still have received nothing from the V.A. except turn down letters.  I am now in the process of reapplying for V.A. benefits 

Agent Orange - Renal (Kidney) Cancer

Vietnam Veterans of Florida - Agent Orange

American Legion Agent Orange

Operation Ranch Hand

VA

 

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