Monday, November 30, 2020




AOZ will continue to post important and relevant information relating to Agent Orange/Dioxin, and other chemical contamination issues affecting veterans and their families.

The staff here at AOZ regrets this sudden change in our practices, but repeated conflicts with numerous bulk mail services has lead to this decision.

It has been our pleasure to provide this service to you since the inception of AOZ in July 2009.

Thank you for your support and continue to check AOZ for important updates and feel free to share it with your personal distribution network. 

National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien Announces $20 Million to Clean Up Agent Orange Contamination


National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien announced this week that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed an additional $20 million toward the remediation of dioxin at the Biên Hòa Airbase Area, the primary site for the storage and handling of Agent Orange during the U.S.-Vietnam War and the largest remaining dioxin hotspot in Vietnam.

This announcement increases USAID’s funding to date for the clean-up of Biên Hòa to over $110 million. This joint effort between USAID and the Government of Vietnam’s Air Force-Air Defence Command (ADAFC) is expected to take a total of 10 years to complete. Trigon Associates, LLC, a woman-owned small business based in New Orleans, Louisiana, is providing the master plan for the multi-year clean-up project.

USAID’s work to improve the lives of those in and around Biên Hòa follows the successful conclusion in 2018 of a similar project between USAID and the Government of Vietnam to remediate contamination caused by dioxin at Đà Nẵng Airport.


CATHIE DRAINE When it comes to pesticides, do your homework


There are seven types of pesticides: insecticides kill insects, herbicides kill plants, rodenticides kill rodents, bactericides kill bacteria, fungicides kill fungi and larvicides kill larvae.

One of the three most common pesticides, the chemical dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, known to gardeners as 2,4-D was developed at Rothamsted Experimental Station in England and was in widespread use by the late 1940s. Some authors suggest it was part of a program to discover a product that would destroy food crops in Germany and Japan, or equally possible, to increase crop yields of the Allies by suppressing weeds.

2,4-D kills plants by causing the cells in the tissues that carry water and nutrients to divide and grow without stopping. We recognize plants affected by 2,4-D by their elongated, grossly twisted stems. Herbicides that act this way are called auxin-type herbicides.

It is difficult to state specifically when public concern was first raised about the presence and the amount of 2,4-D in our gardens and fields. An article available on line, “Agent Orange in Your Backyard” by Gina Solomon in the February 2012 edition of The Atlantic magazine, discussed concerns, now common, of 2,4-D (tracking it into the house, its presence on the feet of pets) and also listed common over-the-shelf products that list on the label, in very small print, 2,4-D mixed with other pesticides that can cause havoc in the garden and the compost pile. The author cited Bayer Advanced All in One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass killer (2,4-D, Dicamba and others); Ortho Weed B Gon Max (2,4-D, Dicamba, Quinclorac and others); and Sta-Green Weed and Feed (2,4-D, Dicamba and others). To know exactly what is in the products you use, Google: ‘list of ingredients in (name of product).’


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

The AOZ Staff is grateful for everything we have, especially our health. We offer you our best wishes for a safe holiday.

Research Delays Push Back VA Decision on New Agent Orange Conditions


The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the results of two research studies that Veterans Affairs officials say are needed to determine whether new health conditions should be added to the list of Agent Orange-connected diseases.

A VA spokeswoman said Tuesday that results of the two studies -- the Vietnam Era Health Retrospective Observational Study, or VE-HEROeS, and the Vietnam Era Mortality Study -- aren't expected until at least next year, and in the case of the mortality study, until "mid-2021."

"There has been a shift in the schedule for [VE-HEROes] ... because the team members responsible for handling these duties are supporting VA's response to the COVID-19 national emergency," VA spokeswoman Christina Noel said in a statement to

"The Vietnam Mortality study,” she added, “is expected to be submitted for peer review and publication starting in mid-2021.”

VA officials had said they were waiting for the results to be analyzed, reviewed and readied for publication before they would make a decision on adding bladder cancer, Parkinsonism, hypothyroidism or hypertension to the list of Agent Orange presumptive conditions.

Some 34,000 Vietnam-era veterans were exposed to herbicides during the war and later diagnosed with bladder cancer, Parkinsonism or hypothyroidism. More than 156,000 veterans who served and were exposed have been diagnosed with hypertension, or high blood pressure.


VA and Army collaborate in response to COVID-19


VA is collaborating with William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) to open a 16-bed mobile intensive care unit (ICU) on the campus of WBAMC and the El Paso VA Health Care System.

“VA’s mobile ICU hospital offers unique capabilities and affords Veterans the same high standard of care in a state-of-the-art environment. It also allows the William Beaumont Army Medical Center to free up bed space,” said Paul D. Kim. Kim is the VA Office of Emergency Management executive director.

VA transported the mobile ICU from Florida to El Paso for El Paso VA and the Army to use in response to the recent increase in the area’s coronavirus cases.

The units arrive on tractor trailers and then open and extend on two sides. Then each unit can join the next. The mobile ICU is assembled in the parking lot.

“El Paso is very fortunate to have this type of deployable resource to assist during this unprecedented time,” said Jamie Park. Park is the El Paso VA associate director. “The arrival of the mobile ICU is the result of proactive, strategic planning. We want to ensure we are able to serve Veterans in the midst of any situation or circumstance.”


Buyer Beware

US documents on toxic substances in Okinawa 

This is a brazen attempt to sell a $24.95 book. The link at the bottom of the article does not work. A search of takes you to Roman Publishers which markets the book by the same title. The article tells us nothing we don't already know, and have for 30+ years.

Paul Sutton

Paul Sutton is an old friend of AOZ who has forgotten more about Agent Orange/Dioxin than most people know.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Vietnam, US agree to further cooperation in handling common challenges


NDO/VNA - Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien on November 21 agreed that Vietnam and the US will continue cooperating in order to cope with common challenges, thus significantly contributing to peace, stability, prosperity and cooperation in the region and the world.

At a reception for O'Brien in Hanoi, PM Phuc said he was happy at the developments in the Vietnam-US ties, especially at a time when the two countries are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic relations.

The relationship has made comprehensive and practical strides forward, significantly contributing to regional and global security, peace, cooperation and development, he said.

He spoke highly of the close and timely cooperation between the two countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and thanked the US President and Government for extending sympathies and assistance to help Vietnam deal with flood consequences in the central region over the past time.

The PM particularly appreciated the US Congress’s approval of US$20 million to fund the dioxin remediation project at Bien Hoa airbase during the upcoming fiscal year.

The US’s commitment to supporting Vietnam in war aftermath settlement, such as decontaminating dioxin hotspots, assisting Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin victims, clearing bombs and mines, and identifying remains of Vietnamese fallen soldiers, as well as Vietnam’s efforts to help with the search for missing-in-action US servicemen have contributed to enhancing mutual trust and creating a foundation for the bilateral relations to grow further, he said.


VA digs in, says more data is needed on toxic exposure before providing health care to more veterans


WASHINGTON — A Department of Veterans Affairs official on Wednesday drew the ire of some House lawmakers during a hearing over the agency’s continued resistance to

providing health care to more service members and veterans for toxic exposure, stating more data is needed to conclude exposure leads to illnesses such as cancer.

“More scientific investigation is needed to enable VA and [the Defense Department] to perform a reliable assessment of the possible or known long-term adverse health effects,” said Dr. Patricia Hastings, chief consultant for post-deployment health services at the VA.

But recently declassified Defense Department documents show the Pentagon knew troops were exposed to multiple toxins and hazards that have led to hundreds of cancer cases and dozens of dead veterans after deploying to the Karshi-Khanabad Air Base, known as K2, in Uzbekistan in the early days of the War on Terror.

Some lawmakers responded harshly to the VA’s stance during the hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpanel on national security.


Parkinson’s Foundation, VA Team Up to Help Vets Manage Disease


Of the roughly 1 million U.S. residents with Parkinson’s disease, some 110,000 are veterans. To improve this population’s health, well-being, and quality of life, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has formed a partnership with the Parkinson’s Foundation.

The intent of the collaboration is to ensure that veterans diagnosed with Parkinson’s have the information and resources needed to effectively manage their condition, which has an economic burden of Parkinson’s of nearly $52 billion annually, according to a recent study published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation with support from the Parkinson’s Foundation and others.

“We’ve found that veterans are not always aware of the Parkinson’s-related resources and services available through the VA, which leads to them being underserved in terms of healthcare access,” Veronica “Ronnie” Todaro, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Parkinson’s Foundation, said in a press release.

“Our partnership with the VA is designed to improve our understanding of priorities so we can fill those gaps. We want to make sure Parkinson’s is identified early so that people can engage with providers who have experience with the disease, as well as have the information they need to best manage their PD,” said Todaro.

About half of veterans are at least age 65, putting them at greater risk for Parkinson’s, which usually manifests in patients 50 and older. In addition, many veterans have sustained traumatic head injury or have been exposed to environmental hazards, both of which are associated with Parkinson’s development. In particular, those who served from 1962 to 1975 are at an increased risk of the progressive disease due to the military’s tactical use of the herbicide Agent Orange.


NPRC Delays Due to COVID-19

From: Provost, Lawrence A.  

Sent: Friday, November 20, 2020 9:01 AM
Subject: NPRC Delays Due to COVID-19

Good Morning,

Please see the below, important announcement regarding delays at the National Personnel Records Center in obtaining military documents for eligibility determinations due to Covid-19. 

Our very best thoughts and wishes are with you, your loved ones, and the Veterans you serve now and always. 


Delays in Obtaining Military Documents for Eligibility Determinations


The federal government’s primary repository for military personnel records, the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), has been closed to the public since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, due to numerous and increasing COVID-19 exposures at the facility, NPRC recently informed Veterans Affairs (VA), they have shut down most of their remaining operations for the foreseeable future.

While NPRC continues to provide military records to determine eligibility for burial in national cemeteries, NCA has found NPRC’s minimal staffing has resulted in delays in obtaining these records  At this time, NPRC is working with NCA to identify records related to casketed interment requests.  Once NPRC can resume normal operations, NCA will then request records for cremated interments.  (NCA can establish eligibility for burial without NPRC coordination in the great majority of cases - approximately 13.5% of burial requests required documents from NPRC in FY2020.)

VA has asked our stakeholders, including funeral home directors, to inform family members of this issue and ask them to search for any additional military documents which may be in their possession.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

VA Won't Fight Court Ruling Awarding Payments to 'Blue Water Navy' Vietnam Vets


The Department of Veterans Affairs has no plans to challenge a court ruling last week ordering it to make retroactive payments to a small class of "Blue Water Navy" Vietnam veterans and their survivors who were wrongly denied benefits for exposure to Agent Orange, the head of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) said Wednesday.

The Justice Department has not indicated whether the Nov. 5 ruling by federal District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco will be appealed, but Paul Lawrence, VA under secretary and VBA chief, said the The VA had prepared for the possibility that Alsup would rule against it, Lawrence said in an interview with

"So we tagged certain claims so that we could go back, were that ruling to happen," he explained. "I think we have to go back and find the estates of those who could have potentially filed claims. We have history around this; we are prepared."

The case involves a 1991 consent decree in which the VA agreed to pay death and disability benefits to Blue Water veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam, along with those who served on land, for exposure to Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used widely during the war.


Residents near dump fire on alert after council's dioxin notice


Authorities have advised pregnant and breastfeeding women to temporarily shift away from an underground fire burning at a landfill near Pukemiro and Glen Afton.

Waikato Regional Council's preliminary health assessment over the weekend, based on a report from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research, referenced a similar event overseas. It indicated there was potential for increased levels of dioxins as a result of the landfill fire.

The council said the presence of dioxins was yet to be confirmed with local tests, which would require specialist equipment to arrive from overseas.

Dump owner John Campbell refused to talk about the alert to RNZ; last week he ridiculed locals' health fears as made up and bordering on "hysteria".


Friday, November 13, 2020

Lawmakers Investigate Cancer Cluster of Veterans Who Served at 'K2' Base


A House committee is investigating cancer diagnoses in more than 400 veterans who served in Uzbekistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The House Oversight and Reform National Security Subcommittee plans to hold a hearing Nov. 18 to determine whether the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense are taking the health concerns of these former service members seriously.

"The courageous Americans who served at [Karshi-Khanabad, or K2] were among the first boots on the ground after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Today, many of them face devastating health conditions potentially tied to their service. They are looking for answers -- answers our government has denied them for years," Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., said in a release Wednesday.

He added that a bipartisan committee has found "clear evidence that K2 veterans were exposed to toxic and environmental hazards."

"Yet the VA has refused to provide the full range of treatments and benefits these veterans deserve. I remain committed to advocating on behalf of our K2 heroes and look forward to hearing the VA and DoD's plans to right this injustice," Lynch said.


Braniff Airways Foundation Announces Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Initiative on Veterans Day


DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Braniff Airways Foundation announces its initiative to assist Vietnam Veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange during their time in service. Many of these soldiers traveled aboard Braniff aircraft to and from their service region.

The Foundation has assisted Vietnam Veterans by providing them with access to Braniff Military Airlift Command flight records to help prove their exposure to Agent Orange. Every Veteran that the Foundation has written to the Veterans Administration on their behalf has successfully received their Government mandated settlements and disability payments after only the initial request for benefits.

The Foundation provides this service without charge and does not receive remuneration from the US Veterans Administration or any Veteran we assist. Braniff gives to our Veterans because they gave so much to all of us. If you feel you were exposed to Agent Orange during service in Vietnam and need assistance with proving your exposure please click the link below:

Braniff International, the former international airline, is a leading global historic airline branding and marketing, online retail and historic airliner tour firm, which was originally formed in 1928. Braniff manages over 770 licensing agreements worldwide and continues to offer the licensing of the Braniff brand for new projects. The company today operates its lucrative Braniff Boutique Online Retail store that sells to 123 countries worldwide along with three brick and mortar stores. Braniff also administers its original Employee Airline Pass Program, which offers current and former employees discount travel on partner airlines and travel companies.


Court orders VA to redecide thousands of Vietnam era 'blue water navy' veterans claims


WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in favor of thousands of so-called Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans and their survivors Nov. 5.

The ruling was in response to a motion filed by attorneys from the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) to enforce the 29-Year Old Class Action Consent Decree in Nehmer v. U.S. Department of Veterans Administration. The Court ordered the VA to automatically readjudicate thousands of benefits claims that the Court found had been wrongly denied under the Consent Decree. The Court also ordered the VA to pay retroactive compensation if it finds the veteran served in the territorial seas of Vietnam.

“We applaud the Court’s recognition that Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans and their survivors have been wrongly denied retroactive disability and death benefits ever since 2002, when VA reversed its prior position and denied the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to veterans who served in the territorial seas of Vietnam,” said National Veterans Legal Services Program Executive Director Bart Stichman. “These veterans and their surviving family members have already been waiting years for benefits to which they are entitled under the Consent Decree simply because they did not set foot in the land mass of Vietnam.”


Gillibrand calls for expanded health benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange


(WRGB) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is calling on fellow lawmakers to include expanded health care and benefits for veterans suffering from Agent Orange-related illnesses to the final Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

She is calling on House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders to maintain the amendment, to establish a presumption of service connection for veterans exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, who are then diagnosed with bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism.

More than 240,000 Vietnam-era veterans live in New York, and thousands of them have received those diagnoses.

While the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has long established a link between these conditions and exposure to Agent Orange, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs continues to deny veterans desperately needed care and benefits for these conditions.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Monday, November 9, 2020

U.S. Military Responsible For Widespread Pfas Pollution In Japan


WHILE COMMUNITIES ACROSS the U.S. have been struggling with massive pollution from the military’s use of firefighting foam that contains PFAS, Japan has awoken to its own environmental crisis from the industrial chemicals in the foam. The growing awareness of the issue in Japan is largely due to one reporter: Jon Mitchell, a British investigative journalist based in Tokyo, who has spent years chronicling environmental contamination in the Asia-Pacific region.

His most recent book, “Poisoning the Pacific: The U.S. Military’s Dumping of Plutonium, Chemical Weapons, and Agent Orange,” is based on thousands of pages of documents he obtained from the U.S. military through the Freedom of Information Act; they detail the widespread contamination of bases and the areas surrounding them with PFAS and other hazardous substances, including chemical weapons, Agent Orange, jet fuel, and PCBs.


VA Must Pay Retroactive Benefits to Blue Water Vietnam Vets


SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The U.S. Veterans Administration must honor the terms of a 1991 settlement and pay retroactive benefits to thousands of Navy veterans who served on ships off Vietnam’s coast for Agent Orange-related health problems, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

“It makes a huge difference to veterans and their families,” plaintiffs’ attorney Stephen Kinnaird of the firm Paul Hastings said in a phone interview.

The VA had argued that despite a recent law and court ruling entitling so-called Blue Water Navy vets to benefits, it never intended to include them in a deal it signed three decades ago. In that consent decree, the VA vowed to automatically reconsider past denials of benefits for conditions that it later found were tied to Agent Orange and to grant retroactive benefits.

Used ubiquitously by the U.S. military to clear forested areas in Vietnam, the toxic contaminant dioxin in Agent Orange has been linked to a slew of health problems, including leukemia, lymphoma, throat cancer and many other diseases.

A few months before the consent decree was signed in 1991, Congress passed the Agent Orange Act, which requires the VA to assume all veterans who “served in the Republic of Vietnam” from 1962 to 1975 were exposed to Agent Orange.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup rejected arguments that the settlement was never meant to include Blue Water Vietnam Navy vets who served on ships in Vietnam’s territorial waters but never set foot on the country’s soil or entered its inland waterways.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Agent Orange and Us

Fred A. Wilcox,author, Waiting for an Army to Die: The Tragedy of Agent Orange

October is Agent Orange month, a time to remember tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans, and a million or more Vietnamese who have died from their exposure to toxic herbicides.

The United States military used Agent Orange in Vietnam to drive the enemy out of its hiding places and to starve peasants off their land.

Food crops and water supplies were inundated with Dioxin, a carcinogenic and mutagenic chemical in Agent Orange. Women exposed to Agent Orange gave birth to babies missing arms and legs and brains. Vietnamese farmers developed skin rashes, their animals and their elderly died. American soldiers also suffered from skin rashes, nausea and severe headaches.

Soldiers did not know that the water they drank and the food they consumed in-country were contaminated with deadly chemicals. When they got sick, when their children were born with deformities and their fellow soldiers started to die, they sought help from the government they’d served. Only to be told their problems were psychological. They were accused of being malingerers, after money; told they were suffering from shell shock, later called PTSD.

Chemical companies that profited from manufacturing herbicides for use in Vietnam refuse to help veterans, nor have they offered to compensate Vietnamese victims of chemical warfare. There is no evidence, insist Dow, Monsanto,, that Dioxin harms human beings.

Veterans know this is a big lie. They watched triple canopy jungles die after being doused with Agent Orange. Mangrove forests sprayed with defoliants withered away. Monkeys fell from trees, fish floated to the surface of waters. The military dropped leaflets, telling the Vietnamese not to worry, herbicides were harmless to humans and animals.

Decades later, we thank veterans for their service. But are we willing to listen when they talk about Agent Orange? After all, the United States is not a war zone. Agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency are in place to protect us from harm. Multinational corporations are not allowed to use our environment for their own toxic waste dump.

Agent Orange is about the cancer epidemic that is killing our friends, neighbors, friends and family. We like to think that scientists are about to find a cure for cancer. We eat organic food, drink purified water, and take lots of vitamins, hoping to avoid getting cancer.

Unfortunately, these survival strategies aren’t working. With friends in high places, the polluters know they can kill their fellow Americans with impunity. Sending tens of thousands of veterans to early graves did not diminish corporate profits. No need to stop dumping carcinogens into our water, poisoning our food, and filling hospitals with sick and dying children.

Vietnam and the United States are now friends. One day Vietnam’s defoliated forests may grow back, women will no longer give birth to deformed babies, children will grow up in a clean environment.

There must never be another tragedy like Agent Orange.

America's Poisoning of the Pacific


Since WW2, US military operations have contaminated the Pacific regions with toxic substances, from chemical weapons to radioactive material. Investigative journalist Jon Mitchell estimates that hundreds of thousands of service members, their families and residents of Okinawa, Japan, Guam, Saipan and Johnston Island have been exposed, however the United States has refused to help victims, and sought to cover up the damage.


VA Says It Has Already Awarded More Than Half a Billion in 'Blue Water Navy' Claims


Nearly half of the more than 69,000 claims for "Blue Water Navy" Agent Orange benefits have been processed, and about 71% of those have thus far been approved for more than $664 million in retroactive benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday.

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act signed into law by President Donald Trump in June 2019 extended Agent Orange benefits already in effect for veterans who served on land or the inland waterways of Vietnam to veterans who served on ships that came within 12 nautical miles of the Vietnam coast.

"As of Sept. 30, VA has processed 34,415 [48%] of 69,570 claims received, of which 24,328 [71%] have been granted -- awarding more than $664 million in retroactive benefits to eligible veterans and families," officials said in the Monday release.

Those whose claims have not been granted can resubmit them with added documentation or can ask for a review of the initial claim, said Chris Slawinski, executive director of the Fleet Reserve Association.

He said the main reasons for a claim not being granted would be a lack of documentation on the sailor's service record or lack of medical records.


VA Plans to Outsource all C&P Exams


WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs is eliminating its in-house compensation and pension exam program and will outsource all of the exams, which are crucial to determining whether veterans are eligible for VA benefits.

In a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Tuesday, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., said the plan was developed with no notice to Congress. She’s concerned the move could slow work to reduce a backlog of compensation and pension exams, commonly referred to as C&P exams, and she’s worried about the VA’s ability to oversee the contractors. Luria also criticized the department for cutting federal jobs during a pandemic.

“For many veterans, thorough and accurate C&P examinations are crucial to securing service-connected benefits,” Luria wrote. “VA’s quiet decision to carry out a major reorganization of its C&P program without a plan to make key improvements, reduce backlog, or retain employees is unlikely to deliver the high-quality results we expect.”

Luria leads the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, part of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. During a hearing she led last year, the VA said it would contract with more outside medical providers to perform C&P exams. Lawmakers were led to believe the contracted examiners merely supplemented the existing program, primarily to help rural veterans and those veterans facing long wait times, Luria said.


Vietnam Veterans’ Income in Retirement


Most Vietnam-era veterans are now retired. In 2018, their average income, including the disability compensation that some receive, was roughly comparable with the income of nonveterans their age.

Vietnam veteran receives US citizenship 53 years after returning from war


ELSA, Texas (KVEO) – For one RGV Vietnam veteran, the path to citizenship was a 53-year long journey.

Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame induction ceremony honors area Vietnam veteran

When Ruben Sanchez was called to serve, he complied. He quotes, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” from John F. Kennedy’s 1961 Inaugural Address. 

“LB Johnson took over and he started drafting the people, the young guys like myself. I was just 20 then,” said Sanchez. 

His sense of humor hides what being in Vietnam was like, joking that he went to have a picnic. 

“Fui a tener un picnic, por eso,” he laughs. But the Purple Heart he received will give you an idea of the terror he faced in Vietnam. 

However, one thing he didn’t receive upon returning: his U.S. Citizenship.

He recalls a Vietnam War-era agreement where a U.S. Citizenship was promised to him and many others.

“They promised, if they go to fight, they were gonna get their citizenship and they lied to them,” said Sanchez as he explained that he had heard of veterans from Mexico that were deported after coming back from the war. 

Local military supporter and veterans advocate Mario Ybarra says there may have not been enough support for veterans like Sanchez in getting the process going.

“The process can be quite intimidating, as perhaps a lot of people see it that way, but that in itself shouldn’t be a hinderance because it’s basically just a matter of following good instruction and paying attention to details and having the needed documents for processing,” said Ybarra. 

53 years after returning from Vietnam, Sanchez can finally call himself an American citizen. 

Sanchez took his oath of allegiance in the city of Harlingen at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Field Office, where he once again swore to support and defend.