Here’s an important tool in uncovering VA’s delay and deny subterfuge on Agent Orange. As most of you know, VA is fond of telling us we weren’t there in Vietnam. Failing that, we were transitory and really had no true exposure. The poor Blue Water Navy Vets are saddled with the proposition that aerially sprayed AO falls magically to the ground before exiting the landmass. Considering no one had “cut” orders to take a 3-day Rest and Relaxation (R&R) break at Vung Tau, many of you were actually there with no way of proving it now.
I would also add an important facet to this. Virtually everyone, including those who went to Thailand, most often stopped at Tan Son Nhut Airbase in Saigon where the World Airways 707s had to refuel. The flights from Travis also landed in Hickam AFB in Hawaii, then again at Anderson AFB in Guam to avoid flaming out for lack of fuel. Similarly, they were on bingo when they landed at TSN in Saigon. Everyone had to deplane there while they refueled to avoid the danger of a fire. Thus the majority, with few exceptions, were technically boots on the ground for about an hour. Oddly, this is the very qualifier for having “touched the Indochinese land mass of the Republic of Vietnam” as explained in the Haas v. Nicholson decision denying the presumption of exposure to herbicides to Navy/Marine personnel who served in the South China Sea.
I was asked to submit my recollections for this survey to increase the knowledge as so few of us remain from the estimated 2.9 million believed to have served or visited in country. I strongly urge any of you who did so also to promptly get this filled out before the VA and the US Government air brush us out of the history books. I trust the folks at Propublica to be more responsible. Here’s a podcast article about this you may find informative.
I know a lot of you signed nondisclosure agreements as I did about Project 404 and RUSTIC but I do not believe any information you divulge re herbicides will compromise your agreements. By now, GenYers are the only ones who can’t find Laos or Cambodia on a map. I expect I should include the new generation of GenThumbers who communicate entirely with their opposing fingers and never raise their eyes to see the world.
Eventually, after we’re all room temperature, some of our offspring will opine as to how (s)he came to have DM2, IHD or Parkinson’s and will consult their forebear’s medical/VA records to discover why.
I certainly don’t want to sound the George Santayana drumbeat about forgetting the past but I do not trust the VA to be objective historically given their abysmal record on Hepatitis C and it’s etiology.
One codicil. There were only 2.9 million of us technically in the RVN. There were a few more in Laos. I also know that over 10 million of you folks endorsed the box on the 2010 census saying you were boots on the ground. For the sake of a cogent, valid survey, if you were not physically there, in country between January 9th, 1961 and May 7th, 1975, please refrain from filling out this questionnaire. We want it as accurate as we can make it in order to assure its validity. I know that a lot of wannabe VFW folks really wished they’d gone in retrospect but wishing doesn’t qualify.
I won’t damage your ears with another “Welcome Home!” Suffice it to say I wish to thank any and all of you for being so selfless with your time if you served America in this contentious “conflict” as the VFW was fond of referring to it when they denied my membership in 1972. Our numbers dwindle daily and now stand at about 855,000. As I am fond of pointing out, we were winning when I left.
RVN, Thailand, Laos 1970-72