While managing a hotel directly across the street from the VA, I was able to talk to a lot of veterans with Agent Orange, along with their spouses, and less often their children, who also have Agent Orange. The inadequate care from the Temple, Texas VA, along with the Waco VA, since they would bounce the veterans between the two hospitals, was appalling. The wait times for their benefits, for their disabilities, etc, was horrid.
Sadly, I knew it was just a matter of time before word broke of what was going on with the VA’s waiting lists. Veterans would be scheduled for colonoscopies, surgeries, cardiac appointments, etc, and would drive the hours to get to the VA hospital just to be turned around the next day and informed that their appointment was changed, and the VA didn’t find it necessary to inform them of this.
The VA would also release stroke patients to find their own way home while they were still in a highly confused state, would allow seizure ridden patients to go on their own without any long term medical help, and would even call months after patients died to ask me if I knew of their whereabouts so they could check their pacemaker. The VA was informed of the pacemaker’s patient’s death, and would not inform the departments necessary. Being in an extended stay hotel, they would do this right in front of me. The patient with seizures had me come check on him, bandage his wounds, bring him supper so he wouldn’t allow himself to starve, and run his errands for him. The stroke patient came into my office. “Do you know who I am?” “Well, yes darlin, I do.” “Can you tell me that I have a wife?” “Well, yes darlin, I can.” “Can you take me to her?” “Of course I can sweetie.” She was livid; he wasn’t to leave the hospital alone, yet he did. They would also bring the severely drunken ones to my hotel, allowing them to fall all over the place, and then asking me to keep an eye on them so they wouldn’t have to.
The VA is aware of the effects of Agent Orange when the cancer hits. If you can imagine the first bout of cancer being like a firecracker sitting on the ground. When you light that firecracker, it travels and explodes, releasing hundreds of little lights. Agent Orange does exactly that, it travels and explodes, releasing numerous cancers throughout the body. Yet, the VA here in Temple sends chemotherapy patients to other hospitals for treatments, telling the patients they don’t have the capacity. They aren’t very pro-active either. I’ve seen vets with Agent Orange in one small organ die in a matter of weeks because it spread and went into vital organs. One sweetheart of a man had it block off his wind pipe, killing him in less than a week.
Some veterans refuse treatment. Their opinion is that if their government knew of the poisonous effects of what they were using in Vietnam, yet sprayed them regardless of the knowledge, they refuse to allow them to now treat the issues. These veterans would come over, explaining that they need to be a ghost, and letting you know the VA was going to try to force them back. The VA would, going as far as having their police department, which is essentially as useless as the security guard at Wal-Mart, call and threaten them to try to force their compliance.
Veterans, and some of their children, are eligible for Agent Orange benefits. The deal there is the most twisted I’ve ever seen in some of the VA’s eligibility department regulations. One wife came to me about it, literally crying her eyes out. Her husband had been fighting for several years for his AO compensation. They had two special needs children, and she was staying home to tend to him and their children. They were losing everything they owned while they waited, and he was now finally dying. If he died before being compensated, she and the children would not be entitled to a dollar.
Furthermore, the VA has agreed that the children of the veterans with Agent Orange exposure have Agent Orange themselves. When Agent Orange becomes multilateral, it appears as the same gene mutations the dioxin originally showed in the parent. For instance, I have my dad’s hidradenitis suppurativa in my thighs and armpit, periodontic disease, I have the same feet (some call it a lower grade form of jungle rot), contact dermatitis, constant skin dryness (to the point where it itches so bad, all you can do is cry), same heart issues, and identical chronic sinusitis. My teeth started shattering at the age of 21, despite the fact that I was healthy, drug free, and took good care of my teeth. I’ll never have the money needed for a full rebuild, so I will end up losing them all and quit eating. I have never had a child. The doctors believe my recent surgery may change that disposition, but it’s risky. When I was 24, I was informed I may not survive birthing. The fractured saclarization in my spine, and my scoliosis along with chronic pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, and arthritis, may make it impossible for my body to allow walking during and after. Yet, I don’t qualify for benefits. The VA is using antiquated studies to both hide the high cost of Vietnam and deny coverage to most of the children born with Agent Orange.
The studies were done during the “Ward and June Cleaver” era, where women were the birthers, so it was understood that babies would have Mom’s bad genes. Yes, in that day and age, a serial killer’s mother would be blamed due to “her” bad genes. Yet, there’s two DNA’s in every child, and the man’s bad genes have never mattered to the VA. If you’re a male veterans’ child, you have a high percentage of never seeing the light of day on benefits. If you’re a female veterans’ child, you have a slightly lower high percentage of never seeing benefits. I’ve personally never applied, for I know I’ll be denied because I know their stance. To see the antiquated rules for yourself, just click here.
Every time you praise a military cut, you are making it harder for those who were poisoned by their own country to receive benefits. Every time you sleep peacefully at night, a Vietnam Veteran or their child is in writhing pain. Sadly, the 3rd and 4th generations are also showing signs of Agent Orange, as the Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance has shown. The elected politicians have been inactive on helping those of us who were born poisoned by our own government. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the next scandal they’re forced to defend.
Do those unknowingly poisoned by a knowing government a huge favor, and make a phone call to your politician. They are up for re-election after all.