Tuesday, December 29, 2009




By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

A reader was challenging my use of the figure 58,000 killed in Vietnam. I consider the figure very conservative, but since I was asked, I verified that 58,209 died, over 47,000 in direct combat from wounds. In the process, I ended up in the VA casualty and pension website and am now confused, more than that, like my hero Chuck Norris, "I am flabbergasted."

OK. One war was around ten years and the other 4 days. One war had 47000 combat deaths, the other had 147. However, there are 1.1 million Vietnam veterans on disability pensions and, according to the DVA, nearly 900,000 Gulf War I vets on pension. Lets play some games with these numbers and see if we can stimulate some thinking. In the gulf war, for every combat death there were over 6000 disabled veterans. In Vietnam, for every combat KIA, there are 21 disabled veterans. This means that Gulf War vets are 300 times as likely to be found disabled by the VA, based on combat death figures, than Vietnam vets. 300 to 1. What the hell is this?

Statistics can be a game like any other. OK. Lets take 96 hours of combat. This means we have nearly 10,000 disabled veterans for each hour of combat. These figures almost match the number of awards John McCain got for each hour he spent flying an airplane. Thus, none of this makes any sense.

Ok, lets go from battle deaths to wounds. Gulf War I. For every wounded soldier, non fatal, there are 1848 disabled veterans. The figure this gets you going the other way is 5.411255411255411e-4 or a ratio of .00005 (5 in 10,000). You could say this. If you are a disabled Gulf War vet, there is a .00054 chance you were disabled from a wound.

We are now using figures that apply to random strikes by meteors.

Taking this over to Vietnam, 15% of disabled vets would have had direct combat wounds. (153,000 wounded) The comparison looks like this: .15 Vietnam .00054 Gulf War.

This means, using the "wounded in action" figure, you are 278 times more likely to be found "disabled" if you are a Gulf War vet than a Vietnam vet. Another way of looking at it, if you are comparing Vietnam vets and their ability to get thru the disability process with Gulf War vets, Vietnam vets lose by astounding figures.

For every 100 Gulf War vets (using our WIA figure as a base) who is found disabled, you get about 1/3rd of a Vietnam vet who manages to get thru the same process.

Figure that Vietnam vets had 15 more years to work on it and we get extra crazy.

What we don't have is any rational system of analysis as to the human cost of either war. We know we are losing many Gulf War vets. The figures are being tracked by individual units, but we know they are high.

We also know that we have lost, not tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans but now, hundreds of thousands, maybe a million or more, maybe 2 million depending on whose figures you use.

What do we know? We know that two armies were poisoned, one with GWI, Gulf War Illness and the other with Agent Orange. We don't know which is worse, there are no comparisons.

We do know, however, that a Vietnam veteran is much less likely to be found disabled by the VA than he is to win over 10 mil in the lottery.

Check the odds.

I have spent the last 2 hours reviewing the medical records of an Agent Orange victim named Temple. He is severely ill with brain cancer directly tied to Agent Orange along with other AO related problems. He was denied any compensation though, perhaps the one of the most famous doctors on earth wrote a 38 page report castigating the VA for malpractice beyond human measure.

With the client/patients authorization, I have received his medical and legal records and VA findings. They read like a damned horror story. Imagine showing up with brain cancer, giving the LPN, yes, not a Registered Nurse or Nurse Practicioner, no, not a doctor, not a Neurologist, not an Oncologist, but an LPN the symptoms of brain cancer as your complaint.

Imagine then being sent to a smoking cessation class and being given anti-depressants. Before a real but highly unqualified doctor sees you, your minor brain tumor, slow growing, is now malignant and the size of a baseball or larger.

Reading the charts and the medical reports along with the lawyers appeal, I can't help but conclude that the driving force behind failing to diagnose and treat a patient, a patient the VA couldn't have done more to murder if they thru him under a truck, was to avoid paying him disability compensation for several extremely obvious agent orange related diseases of the most serious type imaginable.

There is no other possible conclusion.

Is this gross negligence? Of course. Is it willful negligence? Of course. Will it or has it caused GBH, "great bodily harm" and likely death? Of course.

Is this the crime of murder in most of the United States according to laws currently on the books? Of course.

Are we being told that killing Vietnam veterans and maybe thousands of Gulf War veterans also, as more reports I receive tell me, is a pattern of misconduct at the VA? Of course.

Are there documents to support this from highly qualified authorities? Of course.

Thus, we come back to the numbers. In the Gulf War we managed to make nearly a million people sick. We have that many "in the system." We don't know how much compensation they are receiving nor do we know the quality of medical care they get. As a matter of fact, we know the VA spends almost nothing at all on medical research related to this 1 million patients.

Should Gulf War victims be thankful, even if they are dying, just because they are being treated better than Vietnam veterans, so much better that the difference, the mathematical difference anyway, is "astronomicial?"

Are Gulf War vets being cared for or have we learned to apply the old addage, "deny deny deny until they die" while, at least, keeping some tabs on the sick?

Tabs. What is "tabs." Showing up once in awhile while a nurse charts your decline to death. This is "tabs."

Vietnam was different. Vets from Vietnam didn't even get "tabs." Math, its all in the math.

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