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Jefcoat Letter

Expanded benefits, coverage may be available for Panola Vietnam vets, widows

 As of Oct 13, three “new” diseases have been added to the “presumptive” list of diseases caused from exposure to Agent Orange. The new ones added are Parkinson’s Disease,  B Cell Leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemias, and Ischemic Heart Disease.

Relying on an independent study by the Institute of Medicine, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki decided to establish a service-connection for Vietnam Veterans with these three specific illnesses based on the latest evidence of an association with the herbicides referred to as Agent Orange. Between 1965 and April 1970, an estimated 2.6 million military personnel who served in Vietnam were potentially exposed to sprayed Agent Orange.

These veterans who have one of the “presumed” illnesses don’t have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service. The Secretary’s decision brings to 15 the number of presumed illnesses recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Other illnesses previously recognized under VA’s “presumption” rule as being caused by exposure to herbicides during the Vietnam War include Acute and Subacute Transient Peripheral Neuropathy, AL Amyloidosis, Chloracne, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2) , Hodgkin’s Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, soft tissue sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or Mesothelioma).

All the information on these latest added diseases and the previously added diseases can be found on the VA’s web site www1.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=1796.

If you, as a Panola County Vietnam vet, (or the widow of a Panola County Vietnam vet who died from one of these diseases), or even if you know of someone suffering from one of these diseases, please contact your Veterans Service Officer for help in filing a claim with the VA.

In Panola County, contact Veterans Service Officer James Webb, Monday and Friday, office hours 8 am – 11 a.m.  at the Sardis Courthouse, 487-2072. You could also contact the local VFW Commander Bobby Hudson at 63-7144 or the local American Legion Commander Charlie Overton, 563-3762, for information on how to file a claim.

Vietnam veterans had NO control over the spraying of Agent Orange and personally, as a Vietnam combat veteran, these diseases are always on my mind, not knowing when one may strike. The war ended in 1975 and according to the VA, we are still just now finding out how toxic Agent Orange really was.

I personally believe that the truth is: the Military KNEW how toxic it was before they even actually sprayed it on our military personnel and in areas where these veterans were doing their duties in Vietnam. See this website: www.thanhniennews.comfeatures/?catid+10&newsid=5187.

 See a YouTube video on the effects of Agent Orange —www.youtube.com/watch?v=Glxb7Cy13uc.

Warning, it is graphic, for adults only, please.

I know this is political, but it has and does affect some veterans in Panola County. Even though the benefits will NEVER repair the damage done, if you are affected, contact someone for help.

/s/ Bobby Jefcoat

(Editor’s note: Bobby Jefcoat is a frequent contributor on issues concerning veterans.)