Monday, October 10, 2011
Vet claims exposure to Agent Orange on Guam
by Nick Delgado
Guam - Veterans and their families who were on Guam during the Vietnam War and were exposed to Agent Orange have launched a petition drive, calling on the Obama Administration to launch a full investigation into the matter. One such veteran hopes the White House will listen and learn from his story.
"I'm Master Sergeant Leroy Foster," the man said, introducing himself. "I'm retired from the U.S. Air Force. I came over to Guam during the Vietnam War 412 with the 99th Air Force Base and I was assigned to at that time it was the 3960th Combat Support Group. I think it was the 819th Support Squadron converted to the 43rd Supply Squadron."
According to Foster, he arrived to Guam in September 1968. "I was assigned to the Fuel Division and I worked on fuel tank farms refueling aircrafts, B-52s. They had me spraying Agent Orange herbicides."
Foster is one of many veterans who say they were exposed to Agent Orange on Guam during the Vietnam War and have signed a petition calling on President Barack Obama to launch an investigation. Foster says it wasn't too long after working in the fuel tank farms on Guam his health began to deteriorate and just got worse through his military career and into retirement. "Sometime in 1978, not realizing that it was all connected to Agent Orange, I ended up having some severe health problems right up ‘til I retired from active duty. But they discovered I had spongeolosis. I was denied employment after I retired from active duty because I'm paralyzed from my waist down."
He added, "[I] had strokes and heart attacks not knowing what happened to me, and then in July 2009, the Agent Orange Commission released Agent Orange Update and I realized then what was happening to me and it was from those herbicides that I sprayed over there in Guam from and on Andersen AFB and off-base."
A total of 5,000 signatures are needed in order to get the White House's attention. Currently there are only 126 people who have signed the petition.
If you would like to read the petition you can read it on http://www.whitehouse.gov/. The deadline to get the required number of signatures is October 22. Meanwhile, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo supports the initiative, telling KUAM News that individuals who may have been exposed to these chemicals deserve to have this matter investigated fully.