Friday, July 17, 2015

Can The Agent Orange Act Help Veterans Exposed To Mustard Gas?
To understand the predicament of World War II veterans exposed to mustard gas, take a look at what happened to another set of American veterans who were exposed to a different toxic chemical.
Last month, NPR reported that some of those World War II vets are still fighting for disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs because the agency says they don't have enough proof to substantiate their claims.
Alan Oates says that's the same response Vietnam War veterans started receiving from the VA in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
As a young Army private during the war, Oates was providing security for an engineering outfit in the jungle when he first noticed three planes flying overhead spraying something.
"I asked the engineers: What are they doing?" Oates says. "And [one] said: They're spraying herbicides to kill the vegetation, so that the enemy couldn't hide in it."
The herbicide was Agent Orange, and Oates says he assumed it was harmless to humans. But years after coming home, he noticed a tremor in his left hand.
"I had one finger that just one morning started moving back and forth," he says.
Oates made an appointment with his doctor and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He's one of thousands of Vietnam veterans who came down with similar diseases — such as type II diabetes, skin disorders and rare cancers — after returning from the war.
But when veterans first began reporting their illnesses, the VA said they didn't have enough evidence to qualify them for service-related compensation.

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