More and more often I am meeting Viet Nam veterans who are now experiencing the effects of Agent Orange exposure some forty years later. These old soldiers have neuro-degenerative disorders, various types of cancer, neuropathy and kidney failure. Nearly all are now suffering from virulent forms of diabetes. Slowly but surely the chemicals that make up Agent Orange attack and degrade the body’s organs. The first is usually the pancreas. A bout of pancreatitis may be the first indicator that there is a problem. From there it is a domino effect involving the kidney, lungs and even the brain.
Many of these veterans are now in their late sixties. They have become dependent on their spouses and assistance from others. Some I have spoken to did not think there was a connection with their condition to their time in the service. From speaking to other veterans and through support groups they realized that their diseases are in fact related to Agent Orange exposure. Agent Orange is so toxic that just by moving through an area that was treated with the defoliant was enough to expose these men to a lifetime of crippling symptoms and disease.
The only silver lining is that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)recognizes Agent Orange exposure as a service related disability. As such, veterans are entitled to many healthcare benefits including non-medical home care and respite assistance for their loved ones. Synergy HomeCare is a registered VA provider and is there to give the assistance needed via our staff of professional caregivers.
If you are or know of a Viet Nam veteran who is experiencing the issues described get them registered in the VA Health System if they are not already. From there the VA will make a determination based on your experiences in-country whether or not you have been exposed to Agent Orange. Help is available and these brave men deserve to get it now when they need it the most. Find out more information at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/. Or call VA Health Care at 800-749-8387 ext. 3, menu selection 3 then press 0 to speak to a counselor.