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home : blogs_old : butch’s brew February 5, 2016

Butch’s Brew
By Butch Meriwether
The subjects of this blog will be diversified, sometimes cute or funny and hopefully, will address interesting subjects. However, there may be times when I believe a particular subject needs to be “championed” and addressed. I hope my blogs will inform, inspire emotion and to cause people to think. If you want to contact me other than through comments to my blogs, I can be reached by emailing me at butchsbrew@frontier.com.
Saturday, July 27, 2013

Agent Orange still causing problems more than 43 years after the spraying was discontinued

 Butch Meriwether

A C-123 aircraft sprays Agent Orange onto the jungles of South Vietnam.

You might ask yourself what this virtual "who's who" of diseases, such as AL Amyloidosis, Chronic B-cell Leukemia, Chloracne, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin's Disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Parkinson's Disease, Peripheral Neuropathy, Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers and Soft Tissue Sarcomas, have in common.

The answer is simple; they are the many illnesses the U.S. government has admitted are associated with the exposure to Agent Orange. Hopefully with time, our government will admit there are other diseases caused by their spraying of herbicides and defoliants than they originally admitted to.

Some may ask what Agent Orange is and, believe it or not, more and younger people have never heard of that term even though it has caused illnesses and deaths of thousands of people.

I was at a doctor's office not too long ago and a medical assistant asked me what Agent Orange was when I mentioned that it had caused most of my medical conditions.

The term Agent Orange is derived from the combination of code names for Herbicide Orange (HO) and Agent LNX. Agent Orange was one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its chemical warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam Conflict from 1961 through 1971. And besides that, the 55-gallon drums the deadly toxins were shipped in had a big orange strip around it.

During the Vietnam War, the United States military sprayed millions of gallons of deadly material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand. According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the program's goal was, "...to defoliate forested and rural land, depriving guerrillas of cover and to induce forced draft urbanization, destroying the ability of peasants to support themselves in the countryside, and forcing them to flee to the U.S. dominated cities, thus depriving the guerrillas of their rural support and food supply..."

Many are unaware the U.S. government also sprayed Agent Orange in Korea.

Many of these people exposed to Agent Orange, and I'll call them poor souls, didn't find out the true reason for their debilitating illnesses until later in life. And some never found out what caused their illnesses before they died. Another interesting fact: Some Vietnam veterans who have had or now have diseases brought on by exposure to Agent Orange Dioxin are not alone -many of their children are also infected by Agent Orange. These children are the second generation of people suffering from Agent Orange exposure and many wonder if there will there be a third or fourth generation.

The U.S. Government has continued an attempt to downplay the effects of exposure to Agent Orange. The Red Cross of Vietnam estimates that up to one million Vietnamese people are disabled or have health problems due to Agent Orange, but the U.S. government has dismissed these figures as unreliable and unrealistically high.

Many Americans are currently suffering or have died from the consequences of Agent Orange exposure without ever receiving medical care of monetary compensation. Conservative estimates are that more than 2.4 million Americans (in addition to allied forces and the Vietnamese people) were exposed to the deadly brew of pesticides and defoliants.

I guess I'm one of the more lucky ones who now receive medical care and monetary compensation from my illnesses due to my exposure to Agent Orange (for information purposes, I had two tours of duty in Vietnam, spanning the years 1967 through 1970). Just think, I left Vietnam in 1970, but the government didn't admit my illnesses were associated to Agent Orange until about 42 years later.

The money is great, but the debilitating effects I suffer from my exposure to Agent Orange continues and each day, I learn more, some of past illnesses and some from ones that are now surfacing. Here is my what's what of illnesses I have either suffered or currently now suffer:

• Heart attack and quadruple bypass operation (yep I was cracked open like a walnut) in 2003;

• Congestive Heart Failure;

• Ischemic Heart Disease;

• Diabetes;

• High blood pressure;

• I'm now told I may be now showing signs of having Neuropathy; and

• I may be in line to have a pacemaker implanted in me.

I am also suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as COPD, but the U.S. government hasn't yet admitted it is caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an Agent Orange Settlement Fund was created by the resolution of the Agent Orange Product Liability Litigation - a class action lawsuit brought by Vietnam Veterans and their families regarding injuries allegedly incurred as a result of the exposure of Vietnam veterans to chemical herbicides used during the Vietnam Conflict (remember they never designated it as a war). The suit was brought against the major manufacturers of these herbicides. The class action case was settled out-of-court in 1984 for $180 million dollars, reportedly the largest settlement of its kind at that time.

The Settlement Fund was distributed to class members in accordance with a distribution plan established by United States District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein, who presided over the litigation and the settlement. Because the plaintiff class was so large (an estimated 10 million people), the Fund was distributed to class members in the United States through two separate programs designed to provide maximum benefits to Vietnam Veterans and their families most in need of assistance:

• A Payment Program, which provided cash compensation to totally disabled Veterans and survivors of deceased Veterans; and

• A Class Assistance Program, which provided funds for social services organizations and networks for the purpose of establishing and maintaining programs for the benefit of the class as a whole.

Applications for the payment program had to be submitted prior to Dec. 31, 1994 and a total of $197 million in cash payments was distributed to members of the class action in the United States. Of the 105,000 claims received by the Payment Program, approximately 52,000 Vietnam Veterans or their survivors received cash payments which averaged about $3,800 each (not much for their suffering and/or death). On Sept. 27, 1997, the District Court ordered the Fund closed, its assets having been fully distributed.

The Supreme Court put the proverbial skids on thousands of Americans who faithfully served their county during the Vietnam War and Korea, and who were exposed to the Agent Orange, with a ruling in 2009. The Supreme Court let stand a lower court rulings that the companies were not responsible for the implications of military use of Agent Orange because the war materials were supplied at the direction of the U.S. government. That decision basically made it impossible for individuals exposed to Agent Orange to be able to sue Dow Chemical and Monsanto.

South Korea's highest court upheld a ruling during July 2013, ordering two U.S. Agent Orange makers to compensate 39 Vietnam War veterans in one of the country's most prominent lawsuits.

The Supreme Court recognized the epidemiological correlation between the toxic defoliant Agent Orange and skin diseases for the first time, saying the 39 victims should receive a total of 466 million won (HK$3.21 million) from Dow Chemical and Monsanto.

It isn't too late for those U.S. military veterans and their families to receive care assistance and financial aid.

The Veterans Administration continues to attempt to help those military personnel and their families suffering from various illnesses brought on by their exposure to deadly toxin, but they can only do so much.

Spouses and dependent children of living veterans also may be eligible for health care and other VA benefits and surviving spouses, dependent children and dependent parents of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service and died as the result of diseases related to the exposure may be eligible for survivors' benefits.

If a military veteran, dependent of a veteran or a parent of a veteran believes their illnesses were caused by exposure to Agent Orange, they should contact their nearest veteran's service officer, fraternal veteran's service organization or Department of Veterans Affairs in order to learn more about applying for disability through the VA.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: Tongue In Cheek

And asbestos is still causing cancers in workers 125 years after the first scientific report noting it's deadly effect on human lungs. I could name a dozen other chemicals that are legally used in foods and other products we consume that cause similar damage. What's to be done?

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: TB Bellamy

i was in Vietnam June 1969 to June 1970
i have file claim after claim and been denied . St Pete regional office cut my ptsd payment from 50% to 30% because they my ptsd had got better.i had bleeding ulcer in 1983 had operation that claim was denied .2006 I had tumor on my pancreas had a major operation that claim was denied. i am a diabetes mellitus type II both of my legs and ankle swell cant walk far , with all these symptom i am still unable to get a 100% from ST Pete Fl Regional . I also have a pace maker the Doctor at James Hanley call the symptom ,symptomatic bradycardia/sinus syndrome it a heart disease but claim denided so doctors at va know how to word something to keep vet from getting a claim. all my family very healthy . it nothing but agent orange causing these problem ..thank you T.B. Bellamy

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Article comment by: MaryAnn Brooks-Mueller, PhD

It would also be extremely useful for Vietnam veterans who never actually went to SE Asia to know that many of the did not have to leave the USA to be exposed to Agent Orange. The defoliant was tested in many, many sites right here at home. My late husband, who died from Lymphoma and Heart Failure (known AO caused diseases) served in the Army out in Mohave Desert on manueveurs... 3 hours south in Brawley,CA, was a test site. Want to go in on this research and blow some whistles?

Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Article comment by: Nick Schmidt

ABC weapons are atomic, biological and chemical. Nerve gas and Agent Orange are both chemical. When on 1 day out of 730 the death toll is 1% of the total of 2 years - 1000 of 100.000 - Rep hardliners cry for bombs on
Syria. How much chemical warfare
is still stored around the country
in 2013 ? How many VA hospitals
do we support in Vietnam ?

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: DENISE BENSUSAN

You are so right Butch! Its a shame.......

Posted: Saturday, August 3, 2013
Article comment by: Phyllis Day

Yes, Agent Orange continues into the generations after. It damages the genes of those exposed. I am now speaking for the Vietnamese who were not the enemy, the good people, the farmers, the people the USA went there to, protect? The people whose exposure was ever so much longer and worse than that of our wonderful soldiers who lived there long enough to be exposed, but also lived long enough to leave. After years of exposure to Agent Orange, too many of these Vietnamese had children who are so physically and mentally handicapped, most have not survived unless they have sponsors. And when they do survive? Blind, deaf, bones that cannot support their bodies. I don't know about our soldiers and their generations after, but, I do know that we need to hear the truth, and that these wonderful soldiers deserve the help from the country that sent them to this country, and then poisoned them.

Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013
Article comment by: desert dweller

I was a blue water sailor, stationed on a carrier at yankee station...we were sending planes into Vietnam...I have no doubt agent orange was on those planes...at least some of them...point is....I have diabetes and am the "only" one in the family that does...I have no question that I was somehow contaminated on the ship, but how do you prove that....so I am stuck, as are tens of thousands of others that served not expecting to pay a high price 50,60 years later!

Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2013
Article comment by: Gary Spindlow

I am pleased with the VA. Not that I have received any compensation yet, but it does look promising. The VA hospital in Nashville, Tennessee has focused on my health issues, and have followed up every step of the way. I believe they try very hard to help every veteran, but there is only so much they can do. I have developed Parkinson's, Peripheral Neuropathy, Type II Diabetes, Skin eruptions all over the face, ED, and several other Agent Orange illnesses. Today, I can't walk due to foot pain, but they have me under podiatry care and general observation and are ordering some equipment to assist me with getting around. I have nothing but the kindest words to say about the Nashville VA--especially Dr. See my primary physician.

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Article comment by: mr. parker

This is a website that may help any veterans who served in RVN.
http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/38/3.307 Be sure to open hyperlinks on that topic, especially the list of presumptive disorders.

@joseph pojmanski:http://vets.yuku.com/reply/636683/Re-Renal-Cell-Carcinoma-and-Agent-Orange. I don't know if this is what your dealing with but it might help you to realize you're not alone.

Thank God, I was a few years younger than most of you.

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Article comment by: Stephanie Wilson

My father was diagnosed with AL Amyloidosis just a couple of months after the VA added it to it's list of diseases assumed to be connected with Agent Orange exposure. He died about seven months later, not able to enjoy the (early) retirement he had worked practically all of his life for. It breaks my heart to think about all the healthy, very young people that were exposed to this garbage and the problems it is still causing. Ugh.

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Article comment by: Pu Pupuhi

On patrol in 'Nam. Loud thunderous noise coming from above over head. Five USAF, boxcars flying directly above us. And, seems like its raining, better than this blazing heat. At least its cooler. Years later, I've got prostate cancer, other fellas in my team have passed. VA screw the VA, bunch of BS. They mingle around your VA claim for years for your compensation. And, find all kinds of ways to lower your Disability Compensation. Besides Social security, wife and living on a shoestring, Thanks for nothing VA. They lowered my disability comp.

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Article comment by: Today the Chemical is called


Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Article comment by: Phyllis Day

My beloved oldest brother spent 13 months in Viet Nam in the late 60's, and, he was exposed to Agent Orange. He was an excellent Marine, gave The Corps 22 years of his life. After leaving the Marines, he found a good job as a civilian and worked very hard, enjoying being with his wife and family. He seemed to be in good health, took care of himself, exercised, ran every day. Until he started to feel pain in his joints that stopped his running. In 2001 he was diagnosed with prostate and bone cancer. Both were determined to be a direct result of having been exposed to Agent Orange. He fought long and hard, true Marine that he was, but, we lost him in February of 2008. He did not go easy, lived over a year longer than expected, a true Marine to his core, he would not let go, but fought for his life to the end. My heart was (is) broken, and yes the anger came. Agent Orange was still killing these wonderful American soldiers 40 years after? I will miss him forever, or until we meet again. It was not the enemy who released Agent Orange on these brave people, who were fighting a war that they were sent to fight. These brave soldiers fought for the United States of America. And far too many of them died, and continue to die, needlessly.

Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Article comment by: joseph pojmanski

i too am haunted by the effects of Agent Orange from Vietnam and have been on the National Register since 1981 and my body is also held together by bubble gum, bailing wire and duct tape..I would like to encourage ALL VETERANS who were exposed to Agent Orange to have their kidney's checked for cancerous renal masses..Mine was discovered by my Heart Doctor during a routine exam..I had a cryoablation to remove it , but it has returned...This is kind of a "hidden bomb" so get a check up on it...PS I retired from the Army in 1976 after spending 22 years on active duty..HEED MY WORDS AND CHECK IT OUT ON THE INTERNET "Renal Masses on Kidney..TAKE CARE TO ALL VETS ESPECIALLY THE VIETNAM VETS that are ill from Agent Orange

Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

I have long suspected some of my lung/breathing problems can be attributed to Agent Orange exposure while stationed in SE Asia, but have never actively pursued action based on it. Some lung scaring has been attributed to Valley Fever (having lived in the Valley de Sweat), but who knows.

My problems are minuscule in comparison to my fellow warriors I have seen suffering over the years from Agent Orange exposure and now a age 70 I will not be bothering to pursue any personal action.

However, our treatment for the men (and women) who suffered irreparable damage from the use of this chemical cocktail is, sadly, typical of what happens to our veterans as the wars they fought move further back in time. I expect by 2040 those who are currently dealing with the bodily horrors inflicted by The Criminals wars will be equally treated with disdain and their needs ignored.

That is part of our nation’s shame when it comes to caring for our warriors that we send off to battle in senseless wars and conflicts.

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: Larry Imus

Agent Orange goes farther than that. It is my belief that it effects even the second generation from the veteran and may even go farther and cause damage to a third or fourth generation. Agent Orange is one of the deadliest actions the US Government has even taken and they still refuse to admit it. I thank God that I don't have the problems many of my fellow vets have, but I see them suffer every day from our governments actions.

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