The men and women who have service-connected disabilities as the result of their service in South Vietnam have not been forgotten by a grateful nation. Public laws and a number of regulations by the Department of Veterans Affairs are intended to ensure that these persons receive priority medical service at VA hospitals, or financial compensation, or both.
Vietnam veterans are now in their late sixties or early seventies and, as might be expected, many have medical problems that are associated merely with advancing age. These are conditions that are best treated by private physicians under Medicare or other private medical insurance programs. A percentage of these veterans, however, have medical problems that are directly traceable to their military service in South Vietnam.
In the ten-year period from 1961 to 1971, U. S. forces in Vietnam used a powerful herbicide defoliant called Agent Orange in the mistaken belief that it would reveal Viet Cong forest sanctuaries. Areas in and around Vietnam's northern I Corps--patrolled almost exclusively by U. S. Marines--received more of this defoliant than any other area in the country.
The military commanders who authorized the use of Agent Orange did not know that it was a carcinogen that, in time, would adversely affect U. S. forces. That is the problem that Americans must now deal with. For example, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran who develops Hodgkin's disease may correctly assume that the medical condition is the result of his military service.
The Department of Veterans Affairs now makes a "presumption of service connection" if a Vietnam veteran develops any of the following: Parkinson's disease, ischemic heart disease, B-cell leukemia, type-II diabetes, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, prostate cancer, respiratory cancer or soft-tissue sarcoma. The presumption is in favor of the veteran, and it greatly simplifies his or her application for benefits.
Any veteran who served in South Vietnam between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975, and who has been diagnosed with any of the above conditions, should immediately contact the Department of Veterans Affairs and apply for benefits. The veteran can also call 1-800-749-8387 for additional information on how to apply.
See also: http://www.americanveterans.yolasite.com
The author has a B.S. degree from the University of Illinois and an M.B.A. degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
He was a career U. S. Marine officer for 20+ years, and then the CEO of a successful corporation in northern Virginia until 1997. From then until 2004 he was an adjunct professor of management at both 2-year and 4-year universities in Virginia.
He has written on a variety of topics for The Washington Post and The Potomac News.
Author's URL: http://garyjacobsen.yolasite.com