WASHINGTON — Vietnam War veteran Robert Lytle was diagnosed in 2009 with bladder cancer, a disease that he believes — and science now suggests — is linked to the chemical herbicide Agent Orange.
In the past nine years, Lytle has undergone three surgeries. Doctors removed eight malignant tumors from his bladder. The Department of Veterans Affairs has denied his requests for disability compensation three times.
“I volunteered to go to Vietnam in 1970,” said Lytle, now 70 and living in Metter, Ga. “That wasn’t the coolest thing. That didn’t get you a lot of dates. I just feel like… I just feel they owe me.”
The federal government is considering whether to add bladder cancer to a list of diseases presumed to be caused by Agent Orange, but veterans might wait another two years before a decision is reached.
VA leadership informed the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs last week that the government is waiting on results of two studies, the second of which isn’t expected to be complete until 2020, committee staff said.
For Lytle and other veterans and their families, it’s already been a long wait.