Deny, Deny Until They Die: Agent Orange and the VA’s Response

by Diane Dimond on June 29, 2015


The Veteran’s Administration – Long Mired in Delays

So, the U.S. government has finally decided to help some 2,000 Air Force personnel exposed to Agent Orange residue left over in airplanes used during the Vietnam War. They are now eligible for disability, medical and survivor benefits.

“Opening up eligibility for this deserving group of Air Force veterans and reservists is the right thing to do,” VA Secretary Bob McDonald announced.

Really? Then why didn’t the VA take this step long ago? These new recipients flew in Fairchild C-123 aircraft from 1969 to 1986. That’s between 46 and 29 years ago!

And if it’s the “right thing to do” for those folks then what about the countless other Vietnam era military personnel who’s cries for help have been ignored even though they suffer from some or many of the 14 diseases needed to claim Agent Orange benefits?

Vietnam Vets Get a Statue But Still Struggle for Promised AO Benefits

Vietnam Vets Get a Statue But Still Struggle for Promised AO Benefits

The long standing rule says if a veteran had boots on-the-ground in Vietnam they are automatically accepted for special benefits. All others making Agent Orange disability claims have to prove they handled the toxic chemical or worked near it.

Over the decades I have spoken to dozens of vets who suffer from an “approved” disease. Among them: Hodgkin’s, Parkinson’s , prostate or respiratory cancers, soft tissue sarcoma, diabetes mellitus (Type 2), chronic B-cell leukemia, ischemic heart disease and debilitating chloracne. Many fear they have passed their ill health on to their children and grandchildren.

These veterans are ignored, according to the few lawyers willing to challenge the VA on their behalf, because the Defense Department claims they can find no records proving they were in proximity to Agent Orange. Records were poorly kept, lost and, in at least one case, destroyed by fire.

If ever there was a deserving group of citizens with a reason to sue for redress this is it.  But, oh yeah, the U.S. government is conveniently immune from lawsuits.

Foster Feels Tremendous Guilt For Spraying AO on Guam

Foster Feels Tremendous Guilt For Spraying AO on Guam

These men and women who loyally served their country are convinced that the government’s strategy has been to, “Deny, deny, until they die,” since Agent Orange benefits already account for one out of six disability checks issued by the VA.

Take the case of Air Force Master Sergeant LeRoy Foster who spent 10 years (from 1968 to 1978) assigned to the 43rd Supply Squadron at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam. His duties included spraying herbicides around the base to get rid of weeds.

In sworn testimony to the U.S. Congress, and in several affidavits to the VA, Foster swore that Agent Orange—which contains deadly TCDD dioxin—was among the defoliants he regularly loaded into his 750 gallon trailer-mounted sprayer and dispersed base-wide. Other military personnel on Guam at the time – like Sgt. Ralph Stanton – confirm the account and reported they were “routinely soaked” by Foster’s spray.

They gave me personal photographs from their days at Anderson AFB showing stacks of chemical barrels they swore carried the telltale Agent Orange markings. Other photos showed G.I.’s cooking on b-b-q grills fashioned out of the empty drums.

Photos From Anderson AFB, Guam, Circa 1970

Photos From Anderson AFB, Guam, Circa 1970

A U.S. government analysis of the island’s soil confirmed the presence of Agent Orange toxins. Guam currently has an extraordinarily high cancer rate.  Yet, to this day the DOD maintains it has no records proving the military ever transported Agent Orange to that strategically important Vietnam era island.

The Pentagon also denies Agent Orange was ever present on Okinawa, another location U.S. vets maintain was an AO hot spot where they first began to experience major health issues.

Checking in this week with Foster and Stanton I discovered both men were still alive but deathly ill. Foster is battling devastating rectal cancer.

“I am down to 150 (pounds) now,” Foster wrote. “The weight is falling off of me. I believe there is no reversing it.” Foster was ultimately awarded Agent Orange coverage. Sgt. Stanton never got it.

Foster Says He Has Now Lost 100#'s

Foster, With Granddaughter, Has Now Lost 100 pounds

Hundreds of Guam and Okinawa based veterans have filed VA claims citing exposure to Agent Orange as the cause of their health problems but the vast majority were rejected. And none of the 200,000 so-called “Blue Water” vets who say they were exposed to Agent Orange while serving aboard deep-water naval vessels stationed off Vietnam’s coast has been awarded special benefits.

Who can’t be happy for the 2,000 Air Force vets who were recently added to the Agent Orange rolls? But excuse me if I don’t applaud the VA’s massively delinquent action.

Our government did a terrible thing when it continued to spray millions of gallons of deadly Agent Orange long after it was clear it caused devastating health problems. But what’s worse is its obstinate refusal over the years to take full responsibility for all sick and dying veterans.

Deny, deny until they die. Shameful.




Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:29 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Bruce K.Tomlinson~ USN writes:

“Ms. Dimond- Greetings! I’ll hope that you happen to remember me? I am a Guam AO Vet that meets the claim requirements to the letter (my MOS was fuel/chemical distribution!), thus after being stationed on Guam I am currently suffering from AO exposure living in Albuquerque N.M. I wrote to you requesting a referral to a competent VA lawyer (K. Eagle @ San Diego) to represent me with my claim and I thought after seeing your second wonderful article- U.S. Too Late To Little W/AO Benefits, that I just HAD to write you.
An update and question- first off after submission of my denied claim that hasn’t progressed in 3 years, even with both legal and political representation and intervention here in NM. I’m having a difficult time trying to comprehend why on gods earth it is taking so long to process my claim? Social Security Disability claim was granted right away, I’m now “medically broke” and on Medicaid that was awarded expeditiously (Thank God!), one can get a tax refund from the IRS (and we all know how screwed up they are!) in weeks, a college grant awarded in months, but a VA claim thru? I have a hard time believing that the VA here in Albq. is just so inundated with claims that they have to take 3 years to process a vets (“entitled”) claim? I signed up, enlisted at 17 yrs. old during a “national time of conflict” which was a huge deal to quit school to join our war effort in SE Asia at that time. And NOW I’m “dying on the vine” where as just to be acknowledged and notified that my claim is even in process wouldn’t be to much to ask I wouldn’t think? When I ask my attorney every other month the status of her correspondence and or my claim status w/the VA she tells me the same thing that I herd in boot camp, hurry up and just wait, and that there isn’t anything that she can do to move my claim along, and IF/when awarded I have to give her 20%! This a transitivity, just plain so wrong “across the board”. Can you (please) make an inquiry as to just WHY a “legitimate” CLAIM takes so damn long here in Albq. (for that matter around the entire country) as there are a huge number of other vets just being told to “wait” here in Albq. , forget the doctor visit wait times, I’ve gone to the UNM cancer center instead of the VA so that I would live to fight the VA for what they have offered me and others??!?!? Can you look into this? Maybe shake a few trees, ask some constituents their thoughts and maybe put the VA “in the light” on THIS side of VA claims?

Thank You For Allowing Me to “Vent”… Signed, a another pissed off veteran.
Bruce K.Tomlinson~ USN

Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Rod Kontny Colonel USAF (ret) writes:


Then a Major in the USAF, I was assigned to the San Antonio Logistics Center (now closed) in 1977 and volunteered to destroy 40,000 55 gallon barrels of Agent Orange stored at Gulfport, MS, and Johnston Atoll (800 miles SW of Hawaii). At Gulfport I had about 110 men who de-drummed the toxic herbicide and then sucked it into train cars to be taken to a Dutch ship at the port to be burned at sea. Although we had protective gear, the men often tore their rubber gloves or otherwise was exposed to the herbicide. I wrote a letter, unfortunately undated, to the deputy director of the Veterans Administration, Mr Donald J. Rosenbaum. asking him to identify those men and test them.

I was unsuccessful in this effort and often wondered if any of those men contacted any of “approved” diseases. I was tested and never have had any problems.

Perhaps if YOU made an inquiry to the Agent Orange Point of Contact at the USAF Hqs, they may attempt to identify these men and include them in the pool.

I have a copy of the letter if you are interested.
Rod Kontny
Colonel USAF (ret)

Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Noozhawk Reader LeRoy Foster (subject in the column) writes:

“We are desperately running out of time. I pray to God you will hear our pleas for mercy and to help us and our family members who are also suffering from the affects of Agent Orange herbicides. I can no longer care for my self and my condition grows worse everyday. I beg you to speak up for us please. I have hurt so many innocent lives with AO. PLEASE HELP OUR WOUNDED VETERANS OF AO PLEASE.”

Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:52 pm

Facebook friend Beth Rooney writes:


Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Facebook Friend Carmen Matthews writes:

“Because it’s easier to deny this, and to drown those veterans in paper work to attempt to resolve this.”

Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:54 pm

Facebook Friend Drew Rutberg writes:

“Pretty simple answer. They would have to provide care and the VA isn’t very good at that. Even back than it appears their moto was nothing I’d to good for our vets and nothing is what they get.”

Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:55 pm

Facebook Friend Joan Stepp Smith writes:

“It really comes down to “being cheaper dead than alive”… The VA system is an abomination. I know this from experience given the way they treated my father. // I have never experienced rage and anger at such extremes than when dealing with the VA’s ignorance, laziness, cruelty and disdain they foisted on my father. Literally, nearly every appointment came with an actionable offense. Loathsome what is going on…”

Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Facebook Friend Virginia Compton writes:

“My brother-in-law, Lt. Col. John B. King, was a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War and was exposed to Agent Orange. It took him on December 22, 2006. The Air Force refused to acknowledge the cause of death as being from Agent Orange. His death certificate states he died from complications from pneumonia. RIP …”

Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:58 pm

Facebook Friend Frank Woods writes:

“When it was determined that I needed a serious, potentially life saving operation that was urgent, the VA sent me outside the system as no one at my local VA was qualified for such surgery. However, without consulting me or informing me, the VA canceled my care on the eve of my operation… originally stating they wanted to explore “alternatives” to my operation, but later stating that the outside caregiver didn’t follow VA procedures when getting approval for the operation. After a month of calling to find out what was going on (not a single person at the VA ever talked to me or would return my calls about any of this), a doctor I didn’t know finally called and hinted that it was a matter of money. It seems the VA was shopping around the country to find someone in the system who might be marginally qualified for my operation… all because they don’t want to spend the money on my outside care. He also hinted that I may end up hundreds or perhaps a thousand miles from home for my surgery. Meanwhile… I wait. It has now been two months since I was told my surgery was “extremely urgent” and nothing has been done. What saddens me is that there are vets whose situations are even worse than mine.”

Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:59 pm

Facebook Friend Chrisy Meares writes:

“Outrageous behavior !”

Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 6:59 pm

Facebook Friend Joseph P Gonzalez writes:

“Know a couple of people personally who died from agent orange. One was in the 80’s and they still don’t acknowledge it.”

Diane Dimond June 29, 2015 at 7:10 pm

Twitter Pal Schlaff73 writes:

“@DiDimond Why do we send billions of dollars to country’s who burn our flag etc , but we turn our backs on the guys who risked their lives?”

Diane Dimond June 30, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Facebook Friend Elaina Deva Proffitt writes:

“Many of our Vets have strange afflictions from where they were stationed what they were doing many of my Viet Nam Vets that I counsel have issues with their blood and organs from God knows what they were handling or exposed to..They Don’t want to spend the money IS Correct..they make our Vets wait forever to be treated also who knows why except if they die then they have saved money…”

Diane Dimond June 30, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Facebook Friend Greg MacAleese”

“This is a disgrace.”

Diane Dimond June 30, 2015 at 9:53 pm

Noozhawk Reader Michael Cook writes:

“Thank you for writing the story on Agent Orange in Noozhawk.
So much of what men and women experience in combat is suppressed by them, ignored by society and concealed by the Veterans administration.
The promise when you go into combat that if wounded, the V.A. will take care of you when you leave the military. I have not heard much in the way of complaints from Purple Heart recipients about care in military hospitals, but I have heard wails of outrage about how they are treated in the V.A. system. Dealing with the V.A. for most of us is a debilitating experience, we are treated as a bother to them getting on with their real business of conducting meetings and feinting work.

A friend in my Purple Heart chapter is a practicing doctor, he feels the whole of the V.A. should be scrapped and he interned in V.A. hospitals. A local psychologist who for decades has been tending to combat traumatized veterans agrees.

My affiliation is with SGT Michael A. DiRaimondo, Chapter 750 Military Order of the Purple Heart, part of a national organization. We are an IRS recognized charity and we’re all about vets helping vets and their families. National California Local

Diane Dimond July 1, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Facebook Friend Ginnie Oleskewicz Schwartz writes:

“Agent Orange killed my Beloved Husband… sons are suffering from 2nd generation affects of Agent Orange………The VA is no help at all…..”

Diane Dimond July 1, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Facebook Friend Ronnie Kaminski Latimer writes:

“I agree Dianne! The VA system makes it almost impossible for these heroes to get any kind of care or disability. My Dad was a Vietnam vet so I know first hand.”

Burl Barer July 28, 2015 at 11:08 pm

A friend of mine participated in a top secret Navy program where he and 35 other young men were exposed to high amounts of nuclear radiation — all but 9 died immediately — those remaining alive were studied for the degeneration of their bodies, It was finally decided that participants were entitled to compensation for their suffering — one catch: in order to receive compensation, you had to prove that you were part of this experiment! How the hell was he supposed to do that? He died before any of this was resolved.

MSGT LEROY G FOSTER USAF.RET December 29, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Disparities in Infant Mortality Due to Congenital Anomalies
on Guam
Jonathan K. Noel MPH; Sara Namazi MS; and Robert L. Haddock DVM, MPH
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, there were large inter-village disparities in infant
mortality due to congenital anomalies on Guam. A village-level analysis was
conducted to determine if these disparities can be explained by behavioral
(ie, median age of village females, village fertility ratio), structural (ie, popula-
tion density, persons per household, single mother households per village,
married females per village), and environmental (ie, living in a village where
Agent Orange (AO) spraying was conducted) factors. Village-level data for
live births and infant mortality due to congenital anomalies (1970-1989)
was collected from Guam’s Office of Vital Statistics. Data on median age
of village females, village fertility ratio, population density, persons per
household, single mother households, and married females were obtained
from the 1980 US Census. Estimates of village-level AO use were provided
through personal communications, and villages were dichotomized into AO
and non-AO spray areas. Village location was classified by usual residence
of the mother. Linear regression was used to determine associations between
infant mortality due to congenital anomalies and the behavioral, structural,
and environmental factors. The association between AO spray area and infant
mortality due to congenital anomalies was statistically significant under univari-
able (B[95%CI] = 1.88 [0.64,3.11], P= .005) and multivariable conditions (B
[95%CI] = 2.02 [0.08,3.96], P= .042). These results suggest that infants born
to mothers whose usual residence was in an AO spray area on Guam are at
an increased risk of mortality due to congenital anomalies. Further studies
using individual-level data are needed to validate these results.
Agent Orange, Guam, Infant, Mortality
Guam is a United States (US) territory located in the Western
Pacific Ocean. It is the southernmost island of the Mariana
Archipelago and is the largest and most populous island in the
Micronesian region.1
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Guam expe-
rienced large disparities in infant mortality due to congenital
anomalies that have gone unexplained. While some villages
reported no infant deaths due to congenital anomalies, others
reported cause-specific infant death rates as high as 5.62 deaths
per 1,000 live births, a figure that was two times greater than
the overall cause-specific death rate on Guam (2.43 deaths per
1,000 live births) and in the US (2.5 deaths per 1,000 live births).2
There are several possible behavioral, structural, and envi-
ronmental explanations for these differences. At the behavioral
level, mothers in high-risk villages may give birth at older ages
compared to mothers in other villages. Several studies have
identified advanced maternal age as a significant risk factor for
genetic anomalies and stillbirth.3,4 In a review of 142 studies,
advanced maternal age was associated with a 2.31-5.46 greater
odds of stillbirth, and the odds of stillbirth due to congenital
anomalies was found to be 7.5 (OR [95%CI] = 7.50 [3.2, 17.4]).5
Mothers in high risk villages may also have more children than
mothers in low risk villages. Statistically significant associations
between high fertility rates and child mortality were found in
a study of 47 low and middle income countries, although the
authors were unable to explain the mechanism that drives this
Structurally, community and family dynamics may explain
differences in infant mortality due to congenital anomalies.
Urban environments have been associated with significant
increases in congenital anomalies and infant mortality in Asia
and Europe.7-10 For example, congenital anomalies decreased
significantly in rural areas of Henan Province in China between
1997 and 2011 (P<.001) but increased significantly in urban
locations (P=.003).9
Family dynamics may encompass both
the number of individuals living in a household or single par-
ent households. The Particulate Matter and Perinatal Events
Research (PAMPER) study discovered that both infant mortal-
ity and family size decreased between 1961 and 1992,11 and
in a separate study of 28,647 children conducted in Nigeria,
small family size was associated with decreased under-5 mor-
tality.12 Moreover, a study of approximately 49,000 children
in Cameroon, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the
Congo determined that under-5 mortality was significantly, or
marginally significantly, higher in children of non-widowed
single mothers.13
Certain environmental exposures, such as herbicides, may
also be associated with infant death due to congenital anomalies.
In 2005 and again in 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) concluded that herbicides, particularly Agent Orange (AO),
were used on Guam from 1968 to 1970.14,15 AO is a mixture of
two herbicides: 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) and
2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D),16 and has been linked
to numerous health effects, primarily caused by contamination
of 2,5,4-T with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD).
TCDD has been classified as carcinogenic to humans by the
International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable
human carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA).17,18 There is also evidence suggesting that AO exposure
is associated with ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease,
and respiratory cancers.19
Infant and fetal AO exposure can occur through paternal and
maternal mechanisms, with recent evidence showing breast milk
as an important AO vector.20 The potential effects of AO on
offspring have been known since 1969 when offspring of mice
exposed to contaminated 2,4,5-T were shown to be at an increased
risk of developing congenital anomalies.16 A meta-analysis on
human AO exposure concluded that AO significantly increased
the risk of birth defects, although significant between-study

MSGT LEROY G FOSTER USAF.RET December 29, 2015 at 5:36 pm

I have survived cancer surgery at Hamot Medical Center in Erie PA. Done on December 9, 2015. I was misdiagnosed by the ERIE VAMC FOR 12 YEARS being treated for internal and external HEMMEROIDS but actually had stage 4 colon rectal cancer. I under went 28 radiation treatments and 56 chemo treatments ending on September 11, 2015. I had my rectum, colon and massive tumor removed. I am now cancer free. Dr. Robert Haddock just released his 50 year study on AO CONTAMINATION ON GUAM and has proven without question the horrific damage done to the environment on Guam because of my duties spraying AO ON GUAM 1968 TO 1978. I killed thousands of unborn and killed tens of thousands of Veterans and their children . I am so very sorry. I suffer with 31 AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES I am dying from them..

Victor R. Sellers April 22, 2016 at 7:24 pm

Dear Diane,
To say what I need to say would take volumes, so this will be extremely short to save room for other deserving vets.
In Vietnam, I was exposed to something that hospitalized me for a disease manifested on the skin as urticaria. I was hospitalized there three weeks before being medivac’d to Japan. Before leaving Vietnam I was issued a P3 Permanent Profile for defects developed in the heart; respiratory system; gastrointestinal system, genitourinary system; nervous systems, allergic, endocrine, metabolic and nutritional diseases; diseases of the blood and blood forming tissues; dental and other organic defects that do not fall under other specific factors of the PULHES serial system. The “P” in PULHES stands for “physical capacity an stamina” on DA 3349. P4 being the worse. With that said…………I was issued a P3 Permanent Profile and evacuated from the 24th Evacuation Hospital, Long Binh, Vietnam on June 7, 1971 and spent another week in Yokota Airbase Japan, and Naval Hospital, Chicago, and sent “HOME AWAITING ORDERS”.
The “home awaiting orders” status is reserved for members that are to be medically discharged or released from active duty when nothing else can be done for them. THAT WAS ME, EXACTLY, however, orders were changed and I was sent 800 miles or more away to have another medical board, “instead of having one locally”, and knew nothing of another MEB coming, had no representation, and no follow up physical. Four medical officers in Vietnam signed the P3 profile for my physical status, and added extra contentions making me non-deployable to more than half the world, yet I was retained.
I developed all those conditions listed under the defects, while still on active duty, and in the line of active, but they could not or did not have the ability or knowledge to treat me, and they allowed my conditions to clearly worsen and deteriorate. I am almost sure they knew, but avoided the true diagnosis, “HERBICIDE EXPOSURE “.
To top it all off, 20 or more FOIA REQUESTS STILL GET NO RESULTS. I don’t know my medical history or treatments received for this skin disease.. I filed a claim in 1983, for systemic Agent Orange residuals and of course it was immediately denied, without even viewing my treatment records, just automatically denied. Today, 45 years of waiting and all medical treatment denied, all medicine denied, all medical treatment records withheld, all service connection denied, and all C&P denied for 44 years was denied. I had a stroke 6+ years ago, 100% blocked in left carotid artery (non operable), calcium score testing 1000+, 24 polyps removed (FAP TESTS NEGATIVE), degenerative bone disease, enlarged prostate (at 19 years old and after Vietnam), CAD, atherosclerosis, hypertension, peripheral neuropathy, to name a few, and all documented. Many others not even mentioned, but directly related to the herbicides used in Vietnam, so the VA will only see me “one time a year”. Their way of saying “well I’ll be. We didn’t know a thing”.
Many of these conditions are documented in the service treatment records that I have, like the enlarged painful prostate, respiratory and pulmonary conditions, hypertension, blood diseases, chronic fevers, swallowing problems, skin conditions, infections, but the VA has been dragging this out and practically proving that it is deny until they die sort of thing. It seems to me that an attorney is the only option. I can’t get the treatment records, and another 310 day average actually means much longer, DAV has lied to me completely misleading me over and over, so I will be looking for a lawyer, for several reasons. Is it not illegal to withhold medical records? I am sure it is a criminal act to purposely withhold evidence that the claimant was exposed to deadly chemicals which caused their deteriorating health. The last thing to consider is that my treatment records from 4 different hospitals, in 3 different countries, and 5 different treatment facilities ARE ALL MISSING from my C file. I have military records from those places, but no medical records. The MEDICAL TREATMENT RECORDS WERE METHODICALLY COLLECTED AND REMOVED.
What do you think?

Diane Dimond April 22, 2016 at 7:37 pm

I think something stinks to high heaven and I hope you have sent a copy ofthis letter to your United States senator and representative. It is disgusting to think that a veteran does not get proper medical care in the United States of America. Please know that I and millions of others thank you for your service…and I will not stop writing about this in dignity done to those servicemen and women exposed to agent orange. Yours is not an atypical story – – exposure, medical exams, missing medical records. Shameful ! Shame on the Veterans Administration and while you’re at it you should send this letter to the head of the VA as well. He has promised to help Agent Orange victims. God bless ! Shame on the veterans administration and while you’re at it you should send this letter to the head of the VA as well. DD

Victor R. Sellers April 24, 2016 at 1:36 am

Thank you for responding Diane! Yes, I have sent similar letters to the VARO at St. Louis, but they must not have meant much at all if anything. and they have told me there is an average wait of 310 days, and it always longer. This last year I finally DID get service connected at 10% for CAD and 30% PTSD, a total of 40%, and last November I did get service connected at 30/30% for a total of 50%, and after 2 reconsiderations, I am still employable in their eyes, but I am medically totally disabled. That 50% pays for my secondary insurance premium now, which I have paid for the last 30 plus years myself, so I am finally am getting something in return, but it is too little, too late. That only pays my secondary ins and Medicare, but my wife needs ins too, so we get none of that 50% in reality. I feel that award was something to shut me up, knowing an appeal would put me through a lengthy appeals process, which is 2-3 years, or more maybe. In Vietnam and Japan the doctors told me “I was going home”, because they did not know what caused the disease, or how to treat it, and “they hoped I would get well”. That doesn’t sound like I was still going to be working on active duty, when Still being diseased internally. Military physicians are NOT allowed to say “you will be discharged” or “you will receive disability C&P”, because that would violate regulations, but every regulation was pretty much violated concerning my case. I’ve never been given access to my military medical records, and don’t know if I passed something down to my kids or not, because the VA won’t let me know what caused my conditions.
I feel completely deceived, lied to for decades, and with the last reconsideration resulting in nothing changed, that it’s still a cover up, still being hidden. The St Louis VARO and DAV seem more interested in stopping me from writing them, than they are at actually understanding why I keep writing. They see it as a pain in the ass, another letter that they have to read, rather than “hey, this guy was diseased to the point he had to be evacuated out of Vietnam in 1971, and continuously deteriorated the rest of his active duty, which is documented, and we (the VA) did nothing. We should look into this because it has been over 40 years and he is still having issues from 1971. It really pi**es me off that the VA can deny ALL of my service connection for 44 out of the 45 years, except 2 things that were only just recently approved this last year. My claim in 1983 is never mentioned, and everytime I talk to the VA, they want to read a statement changing the effective dates of my claims to that day or something to screw me out of any past benefits.
The facts are, the VA is still making Vietnam Veterans go to the back of the line for consideration, and DAV told me that it is a first come first serve basis, and there is no expediting Vietnam Veterans claims. DAV is a liar if they dispute that fact, and I will gladly call them a liar in court. Just like they said they have no record of me making any requests for any medical records. Who in their right mind would NOT request their medical records when making medical related claims?? I have at least 3 DAV individuals that witnessed the requests, and a couple VA employees, local and in St Louis, that know the truth.
The Army and the VA in 1971 (supposedly) did not know of the residual effects of Herbicide Exposure, but by 1983, I had suffered with the residuals for 12 years, and when I had heard about it making some Vietnam veterans sick, I knew immediately that was the cause of all my illnesses, and filed for its residuals.
I have documents showing that the VA acknowledged my exposure to Agent Orange, but in the same sentence, denied it caused any damage. A year ago the VA reopened my claims because “even they knew I was low balled in the decision”, but no real attempt at making this right has happened. It really is deny deny until they die, and we are being waited out, just like the 40 vets in Az. My claims especially because I should have been medically discharged and compensated after successful treatment for ??? (708.9 unspecified)! There was no treatment, so I was entitled to full benefits and compensation in 1971, because I had over eight months active duty. I am lucky to still be here, but it is not good.
Thank you for the encouragement and support, and for exposing the truth of the hardships and burdens placed on the veterans. We are supposed to be given the benefit of the doubt, but even the Army’s own medical doctors statements and testimonies, a permanent profile with four medical officers signatures that they issued, the hospitalization treatment records, the documented continuous deterioration records at last duty station do not appear to be good enough to prove service connection. The VA is disputing it’s own proof and is going to stretch this out as long as it can, it appears. I called Bob McDonald’s cell phone twice, left messages, but never heard back. I have received several calls from other states telling me to drop some of the claims, to get some or any compensation at all, but at this point, the truth needs to come out publically. I may need some legal advice, because I don’t know if it’s possible to be treated honestly and correctly, especially considering the past stalling, denials, and not getting any medical treatment records. I should send those letters to others I guess, besides St Louis, because they make no difference there it seems. Thank you for this site, and your help and encouragement Diane. You are doing more good than you know and all veterans do appreciate you getting our stories out. Bless you!

Michael H. Jacques May 20, 2016 at 6:03 am

I served in the USAF for four years. I went TDY with ArcLight to Andersen AFB, Guam, from 01-67 to 06-67. I was security police and had approx 6 months exposure to the AO toxins due to my duties. I developed a heart condition that apparently the USAF minimized as I have learned about it during my appeal for the rare, aggressive soft tissue sarcoma(spindle cell)that I was diagnosed with in 2009. Both the Ischemia/Sarcoma are on the VA’s presumptive list. Sarcoma surgery saved my life. I have been denied and am awaiting a video conference with the VA. The VA acknowledges my duties on Guam yet denied me. I have little other documentation other than their admission, medical records, and photos of my tour. I am discouraged and expect another denial. Good luck to all with the VA.

Lyle Anderson September 23, 2016 at 11:47 pm

If you were at Chanute AFB u more than likely got a dose of Agent Orange.

Micheal Stai September 25, 2016 at 7:39 pm

I have a lot of the same thing these others have prostrate cancer, GERD, tumor lung & kidney, slow heart scares the Doctors, joint disease & other items I was in Guam 66 to 67 back in 68 TDY and Okinawa 66 was in munitions even sent photo to VA where they sprayed on a new Bomb cite (captured this long ago by mistake) I started having problems long ago enlarged prostrate 70’s GERD during that time later hip and joint problem got so bad I was discharged from my Job on disability 1999 after 28 years they don’t actually know what’s wrong, in pain every day to some degree they placed me on a AO list some years ago nothing, filled a claim in 2016 after someone told me to look all this up, so I must have been like many others right now they believed the lies and are sick or have died not knowing. I filled a claim for AO and denied. To think how many Vets we could have helped with the billions we gave to the people that hate us!

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