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More Agent Orange Health Problems Recognized In Vietnam Veterans

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 12:45 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Vietnam War, Agent Orange, Herbicide, Chemicals, Environmental Health, Military, Defoliant

The federal government will recognize three additional diseases linked to Agent Orange use in Vietnam.
Operation Ranch Hand, Courtesy U.S. govt

Agent Orange's Aftermath 

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IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ Operation Ranch Hand cropdusting/ author: U.S. government


It has not been a timely decision.

40 years after the defoliant, Agent Orange was used in the Vietnam War, the Department of Veterans Affairs plans to add a group of three ailments to a list of diseases presumptively caused by exposure to the herbicide.

That means about 200,000 veterans may be able to seek benefits and disability coverage instead of the lengthy application, rejection, and prolonged appeals many have been forced to undergo.

While the new policy could apply to some 2.1 million Vietnam veterans, those in the Navy in deep-water ships will not be included.

Veterans can thank Eric Shinseki, secretary of veteran’s affairs and himself a Vietnam veteran.

His decision is a victory for groups such as Vietnam Veterans of America, which the New York Times reports has been pushing the department to add Parkinson’s disease, ischemic heart condition, and hairy-cell leukemia to a list of Agent Orange-caused maladies.

Ischemic heart disease causes irregular heartbeats and a deterioration of the heart muscle when blood flow is restricted to the heart. Parkinson’s is associated with a loss of dopamine, a brain chemical that allows for normal movement and Hairy-cell leukemia is a rare slow-growing cancer.

The U.S. already recognizes more than a dozen conditions that may have come from military exposure to Agent Orange. They include Hodgkin’s disease, prostate cancer, Type 2 diabetes, spina bifida in children conceived by exposed veterans, chloracne, and ALS, among others.

Mr. Shinseki’s decision follows the release of an Institute of Medicine report in July that found “limited or suggestive evidence” of an association between Agent Orange and these diseases. It also found “sufficient evidence” of an association between herbicides and hairy-cell leukemia though it stopped short of saying the findings represent “a firm conclusion.”

Critics say that some diseases linked to Agent Orange could just as likely come from the aging process. The youngest Vietnam veterans are now in their late 50s.

Agent Orange was the most common herbicide used in Vietnam to destroy crops and clear the jungle canopy to better see the enemy. Military planes released the chemical during Operation Ranch Hand from 1962 to 1971.

It contains one of the most toxic forms of dioxin, which has been linked to cancers. It was named because of an orange-colored bank painted on the drums that stored it.

“Secretary Shinseki, who served with distinction in Vietnam, has taken significant strides toward ‘doing the right thing’ by the veterans with whom he fought some 40 years ago,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America in a statement. #


9 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by VietnamVet69-70
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 4:18 PM EST

Critics say that the ailments could be caused by the natural aging process. How do they explain those of us who started suffering from them in our 30's and early 40's?

Anonymous User
Posted by Bob Goins
Thursday, October 15, 2009 1:34 PM EST

I have had many anuerysms, and a stroke, I would like to know if there are more Viet-Nam Veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange have suffered any of these conditions.

Sincerely,

Bob Goins

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, October 15, 2009 3:39 PM EST

Certainly heart disease is on the list of ailments by the Veterans Health Council.

See:

LINK

Posted by Wayne Parsons
Monday, October 19, 2009 3:41 PM EST

Jane: Another stellar effort on an important subject. Your articles always inform and are well written and researched.

Anonymous User
Posted by alvin e thomas
Sunday, October 25, 2009 5:59 PM EST

ACCORDING TO THE MINNEAPOLIS VETERANS HOSPITAL I SUFFERED 5-6 OF THESE ISCHEMIC STROKES AND WAS HOSPITALIZED FOR 5 WEEKS BECAUSE OF MEMORY LOST. I HAVE PERMANENT 60 PERCENT SHORT TERM LOST AND 40 PERCENT LONG TERM LOST. IT AROUSES MY ANOMOSITY THAT I AM NOT INCLUDED IN THE GROUP FOR THIS BECAUSE I WAS IN THE NAVY. I HAVE ALL OF THE SYMPTOMS FOR THE NEW ITEMS BEING LOOKED AT.

Posted by david l. woodard
Thursday, November 12, 2009 10:30 PM EST

i have high blood presure and heart problems also i have pantic attacts just thinking of viet nam and the things i saw and had to do or face i icourt martical or worse if i did not do as ordered i feel that the goverment of this country owes all viet nam vets cash payments to us for our service to this country. We deserve that much from this goverment for doing what they, goverment made us do and ruined our lives and the people of our country turned tneir backs on us and disowned us as sons of our country. And remember these words that our own country said to us when we started asking questions about agent orange "we, the goverment speaking now,didn't spray anything called agent orange on you."

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, November 12, 2009 11:01 PM EST

I am so sorry that so many years later you are dealing with this nightmare.

You are correct- the U.S. treated Vietnam vets poorly in terms of Agent Orange and denials about relted health problems for decades.

Are there services you can avail yourself of for the panic you still feel? I'd like to think the military has matured somewhat since Vietnam and recognizes the effects of PTSD and that it needs to be dealt with, even 40 years later. Keep us posted and thank you for writing.

Anonymous User
Posted by msgt foster, usaf, ret.
Thursday, November 19, 2009 4:54 PM EST

YES I have had 20 or more heart attacks and several strokes. I have the arteries of a man 150 yrs old. I have spinal stenosis, spondiolysis of the entire spine, sterility, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, edema, memory loss, immune deficiencies, blindness due to black spots from strokes, colon problems, fatty tumors, on set of peripherial neruopathy, numbenss in both legs, feet and arms and hands. I prepared, mixed and sprayed Agent Orange and Agent Blue on andersen afb guam and off base with an eye witness, medical presumptives and Airmans performance reports of vegetation control.

Anonymous User
Posted by Joan Petty
Thursday, November 26, 2009 10:58 AM EST

Good report on Agent Orange. For what it is worth.
I sent off to the Vietnam conflict as a young handsom, healthy man of 17 years. When he returned home he was twisted,injured and damaged with Agent Orange poison along with a truck rolling over him and spinal injury,head and broken bones 38 years ago. He is still waiting for compensation and medical evaluation for his pension and disability. 2 weeks ago he had his 7th heart attack and was in the VA hospital. They put 4 stints in his heart because he has a form of diabeties and loss of many sleepless nights because of the pain from the bone cancer. His records were lost, misplaced and put on the bottom of the list for 38 years while our government kept the classified information hidden and refused to release his medical records until 2 years ago then our government decided to de-classify the records and now he has proof of the injury and when,where and why it happened. transparancy opened up this and exposed the real truth. 38 years waiting for treatment because no one wanted to admit that his injury was real, Have you ever gone to a VA hospital to see the thousands of Vets that need treatment and care and have to wait till they die. We have written to the VA Administration, Congressmen, and a lot more. Recently while at the VA hospital he was told to file papers for his heart condition that is related to Agent Orange.When the VA admitted his injury and his back had been fractured when the truck threw him out and rolled over on him He had to wait for two years to get on the list to have his back surgery done.

Comments for this article are closed.

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