Jefcoat Letter

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Vet urges others to get Agent Orange exams

Since many of the diseases accepted by the Department of Veterans Affairs as being related to the exposure of Agent Orange and other chemicals used in Vietnam are sometimes treatable and can be controlled with treatment, now is the time for Vietnam vets to be tested for symptoms of these diseases.

The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more likely one can be treated. I have personally known of three  Vietnam vets of age 60 or younger who died in the past year or so from leukemia, which is a presumptive disease of Agent Orange exposure. Three more have died of complications from diabetes and/or lung cancer, also presumptive diseases. I know several with prostate cancer which is being treated.

The Department of Defense has admitted to spraying over 20 million gallons of Agent Orange in Vietnam containing the deadliest toxins known to man. Most of the spraying was done in 1968-1969, the years I was there, and more was sprayed in areas where I served than any other areas.

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It is of great concern to me, but I have frequent checkups, which I urge others to do.  The VA offers treatment and compensation benefits for Vietnam veterans suffering from the following 11 diseases: Chloracne; Hodgkin’s disease; Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Multiple Myeloma; Porphyria Cutanea Tarda; Respiratory cancers (Lung, Bronchus, Larynx and Trachea); Soft-Tissue Sarcoma; acute and subacute Peripheral Neuropathy; prostate cancer; diabetes Mellitus (Type 2 diabetes); and Cronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, and recently ALS was added with a possibility of Cardio-Vascular Disease being added in the future.

The Agent Orange Exam is a way for a veteran to get a good history and physical exam. It is a general check-up that is focused on looking to see if the veteran has any of the presumptive Agent Orange conditions or symptoms.

A question Vietnam vets need to ask themselves, how does someone die of alleged Agent Orange damage if they’d never been tested? Call 1-800-632-8262 to schedule an exam today. Be assured there will be waiting times, but it could mean life or death.

/s/ Bobby Jefcoat

(Editor’s note: Bobby Jefcoat is a veteran’s advocate and frequent contributor regarding issues affecting veterans.)