Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Agent Orange's lasting effects

I'm going to get on my soapbox for a minute and if I've written about this before, just skip this post.

About three years ago my husband went for a routine physical and got the bad, terrifying news that he was diabetic. Even though I have a sister who's diabetic and I thought I knew all there was to know, it turned out neither Bob nor I knew much of anything. He had no family history whatsoever. Overnight, it seemed, he lost quite a bit of weight because he was afraid to eat anything. The doctor told him no bread, potatoes, rice, or pasta and he gave it all up cold turkey. He manages pretty well now, thanks, but has a pretty good idea of what awaits him down the line.

Now here's the kicker. About a year after he was diagnosed, his brother was trolling the VA website and found information relating diabetes to Agent Orange. The bottom line is, if a soldier set foot in Vietnam and now has diabetes, the VA makes the presumption that Agent Orange is the cause. You don't have to prove anything other than show your DD214. Sure, they make you jump through hoops but if you have it, pass Go and collect your claim. And it's not just diabetes. If you know a Vietnam vet who's having health problems, please direct him or her to the VA website.

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