posted on Aug, 31 2007 @ 06:14 AM
Let me preface this by telling you the condensed story of my father. We'll start where Vietnam becomes involved.
In 1967, my dad was drafted into the Marine Corps and, like so many others, sent to fight for this country (supposedly) in Vietnam. While there, he
was exposed dozens (if not hundreds) of times to the chemical Agent Orange manufactured (the majority) by the Dow Chemical Company.
Skip ahead awhile, and you find my dad returning home in 1972 with 6 purple hearts and an undying love for his country.
He suffered shrapnel damage to his back, face, arms, legs and most importantly his digestive system. I say most importantly because this damage
effected him his entire life while the others simply left scars. However, each and every time he elected to be sent back to combat and and was sent
home in '72 with an honorable discharge from the marine corps, though with no benefits.
Who cares right? Not my dad, that's for sure. Even though he personally was against the war in Vietnam (after he got over there and saw what it was
all about), he still felt he did the right thing as he was a citizen of the United States and therefore, when drafted, it was his duty to fight for
his country and do as he was told while there.
Now, when my dad returned home, there had been some very noticeable changes in him as a result of wading through the muck of Agent Orange that had
adhered itself to any place it had been sprayed. (As a matter of fact, he had, on several occasions, been sprayed directly with the chemical from
planes overhead as had his whole platoon)
The most noticeable was, he had no hair anywhere on his body other than his head. Unbeknownst to him at the time, this would last the rest of his
life. Also, his skin had taken on a very dry and almost scaly look which also would last the rest of his life. But hey, worse things could have
Let's skip ahead to 1982. I was about to be 2 years old and my dad had just found out that he was a severe diabetic. Naturally, he had heard the
fervor that was going on around Agent Orange and the dioxins that were causing many veterans to die way-to-early deaths as a result of various
illnesses either caused or helped along by the exposure.
Let's skip ahead again (in the interest of not making this post 5 pages long), this time to the year 1999.
As of 1999, here is a list of illnesses that were recognized as Service-connected as a result of exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.
2. non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
3. Soft tissue sarcoma
4. Hodgkin's disease
5. Porphyria cutanea tarda
6. Multiple Myeloma
7. Respiratory and Oral cancers (including cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and
8. Prostrate cancer
9. Peripheral neuropathy (acute or subacute)
10. Diabetes Type II
11. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia - CLL
As of late 1999, my dad had Chloracne, Type II Diabetes and had just been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Of these, his Diabetes had effected him the
worst. His mood was probably the most severely effected part of him. My dad was a very happy go lucky kinda guy. He didn't drink, didn't smoke and
didn't take in any other substances that he was not given by the VA to help him with his problems. However, my dad could be getting ice out of the
ice tray one minute and then punching his fists through the wall the next because he dropped an ice cube. Why? Because his blood sugar had suddenly
spiked so high that it would not register. Also, since the early 80's his weight fluxuated extremely. He would go from 260 lbs, to 180, to 220, to
130 and repeat. He followed all of his treatments, visited the doctor as told and controlled his diet. However, his life was literally a living hell
because nothing he did would help him with his health problems as a result of the diabetes.
In early 2000, after years of burning legs and fingers and a steady drop in strength in his limbs, my dad was diagnosed with Neuropathy. For those of
you that don't know, it's a condition where the nerves in almost every part of your body gradually deteriorate. Now, my dad was still AMAZINGLY
strong. I have seen days where he would go out back and pick his 16 foot john boat up at the middle and put it in the back of his truck. I have also
seen him pick up a 400 lb roll of copper wire as if it were nothing and move it around the warehouse where he worked. However, something so simple as
holding onto a drinking glass became a chore. Why? Because the nerves in his fingers were gone and he could not actually feel the glass in his hand.
Not to mention, his vision was almost shot and he had nights of CONSTANT leg pain to the point that he would cry and try to rub them to ease them only
to have the rubbing of his legs (because of the tenderness) make him cry harder.
In mid 2000, Neuropathy was also added to the list of service connected illnesses related to AO exposure.
Now, since I forgot to include this part, let me explain this to you. As a result of my dad's condition, there were many jobs he could not do.
However, he was a hell of a salesman and that kept him, myself and mom living throughout my life. Both of my parents worked full time and still barely
had enough money to scrape by. Since 1983, my dad received benefits for being 30% service connected disabled. These benefits arrived in the form of a
check for 110 bucks every month. 110 dollars, think about how much that helps......it didn't even start to cover his medication that wasn't a gift
of the VA hospital. Okay, now skip back again.
Mid 2000, my dad FINALLY receives his 100% disability after having, over the course of 20 years, lost 3 of his fingers, almost complete vision,
feeling in his extremities and 2 toes as a result of his time in Vietnam. (more so the Agent Orange)
He finally gets a bit of pleasure out of his life by not having to worry about money any more as he is receiving almost 3000 dollars a month and no
longer has to struggle while working. He actually gets to put some focus on some TONY things like working in the yard (as he can) and restoring old
cars as well as his one TRUE passion, fishing.
You see, my dad was a fishing NUT. All my life I knew he to go fishing almost daily after work. And now, he was finally getting the chance to really
He and my mom made plans to travel all over the country in their free time and finally get some COUPLE time. Until...
[edit on 31-8-2007 by SimiusDei]