Monday, May 26, 2014

No Vet Left Behind

A little something I wrote a few years back at that's still relevant for this Memorial Day.
Jul 11, 2007

As the health care debate in America continues, so does the suffering of Vietnam veterans and citizens due to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange used in the war. The substance has been linked to everything from cancer, to birth defects of children whos parents were exposed. Gary D. Moore, SSgt USAF 1968-1972 has compiled an alphabetical index of the many diseases related to the effects of herbicide exposure, as well as medical and scientific terms used when reading about it.

Despite what any of us think about the wars our soldiers fight in, I think we can all agree our vets deserve nothing but the best health care available. Especially when one considers that many of their medical woes come as a direct result of their own Governments actions.

Wikipedia article on the subject states that...

"At the time Agent Orange was sold to the U.S. government for use in Vietnam, internal memos of its manufacturers reveal it was known that a dioxin,
2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin (TCDD), is produced as a byproduct of the manufacture of 2,4,5-T, and was thus present in any of the herbicides that used it."

In other words they knew the risks! In 1984 a $180 million settlement resulted in one time lump sums of $1,200 being paid out to affected veterans. I am sure many affected veterans never saw a dime of this money. For the ones that did, I am sure that $1,200 did not go far!

The US has
refused to compensate Vietnam's Agent Orange victims and canceled a study looking into it's affects in the country.

It is also of interest to note that a April 17, 2003 study found that
Agent Orange Use Was Underestimated. It has also been exposed that the American army tested Agent Orange in Canada.My friend Karen Stillwell has been fighting an uphill battle with the Department of Veterans Affairs. She has recently written the agency a letter detailing her struggles and pleading for help. Here is the intro to that letter...

"I am writing with regards to my husband, James Maurice Stillwell. Honorably discharged from the Army, on January 15 th, 1971, who applied for benefits through the local veterans administration, back in the first part of February 2007. James was diagnosed with agent orange in his lungs, only half of his liver is working, and getting worse daily. His spleen is enlarged, the gallbladder has already been taken and his digestive track and large and small intestines are rotting away, again, due to agent orange, environmental issues, and herbicides via the police action in Viet Nam. He is going on the list for a liver transplant if the next medicine he starts taking doesn't work. That will be probably after the month of July. He has to see the doctors again in Nashville ,TN. at the Veterans Hospital in a couple of weeks for another appointment.
We have not heard from nor have we seen any type of benefits as of this date, July 11 th/2007."

I strongly suggest you read the whole letter

Their struggle detailed in the letter is amazing. At every corner they have been met with apathy and contempt. The sad thing about it is similar struggles have been taking place for decades now. Vets have been fighting for what is owed them to no avail.

Even more shocking is the fact that things of this nature still continue with our Military today.

The makers of the documentary film 
Beyond Treason which covers topics such as Gulf War Illness and the current use of Depleted Uranium  state in their film description...

"What you don't know about your government could kill you... Department of Defense documents obtained through the Freedom of Information
Act expose the horrific underworld of the disposable army mentality and the government funded experimentation upon US citizens conducted without their knowledge or consent" 

So it's a new war and basically the same old crap! Watch the trailer HERE.
We have to fight for justice for the veterans and citizens of Vietnam while remembering that history is repeating itself as we speak. The following links are some activist websites and petitions to get you started.