The fight is ongoing to get compensation to those exposed to Agent Orange on Guam. Today, one local man also exposed to the chemical during the Vietnam War is sharing how his long battle is finally over.
Putting on an Army uniform has become somewhat of a painful memory for Joey Cepeda. The retired GovGuam worker recalls his time in Korea between 1968 and 1970 during the Vietnam Conflict - the same time Agent Orange was being sprayed near the Korean DMZ. Cepeda told KUAM News, "The only thing that we noticed was the vegetation was down and it was kind of reddish."
It wasn't until decades later Cepeda says he learned about the negative effects from the chemical. - impacts that ultimately led to critical heart complications. He says he was forced to move to San Diego, California back in 2009 to get a heart transplant and for better healthcare.
"I didn't want to leave my home. I love my island and I want to go back home too, but unfortunately I can't because of the medications and there's no doctor that can help me," he stated. "And still they were refusing me saying, no, Agent Orange didn't cause my heart problems."
A battle others are all too familiar with, as many are fighting for their medical benefits after being exposed to Agent Orange on Guam, as well.
Earlier this month, Florida representative Dennis Ross introduced the Fighting for Orange Stricken Territories in Eastern Regions (FOSTER) Act. The measure, named after veteran Leroy Foster who confirmed he sprayed AO on Guam, would provide presumptive AO exposure status to Vietnam War-era veterans who served in our region so they get the benefits from the VA.