Friday, September 17, 2010

Veterans object to article on Agent Orange

Veterans object to article on Agent Orange

To the Editor:

In reading the article in The Republican-Herald printed on Aug. 30, titled "Diabetes now tops Vietnam vets claims," I was angry and dismayed with the way the writer, Mike Baker from the AP, reported this subject.

But being a Vietnam vet has made me much stronger over the years, so I regrouped and decided to address his less than accurate claims. This typical diatribe, filled with inaccuracies, accompanied by his feckless reporting, mirrors the same stereotyping that plagues Vietnam vets since the war ended in 1975.

If people like Mr. Baker cannot attack our honor, our service or our courage, they will try their utmost to write inflammatory articles aimed at undermining the public's sentiment and hence, undermine the important and well-deserved support vets earn.

Recently, the VA passed a regulation that will pay deserving Vietnam veterans compensation for the years of sickness brought about by the effects of exposure to Agent Orange. And now, during times of national economic distress facing this country, some feel it is an opportunity to try and stop these deserving payments by writing inflammatory articles that are baseless in fact, such as Mr. Bakers'.

A fellow Vietnam vet and brother suffering from the effects of Agent Orange recently wrote the following in reply to Mr. Baker's article:

"There have been pros and cons on this war since the '60s and we Vietnam vets don't really care. These are the things we do know. We went to Vietnam and we did our job. We came home. Some of us got sick with these presumptive diseases at an early age. The government has said there is a chance that our poor health may have been caused by Agent Orange.

"They also say they want to pay us for our disabilities. We didn't ask for any of this. We didn't ask to go to Vietnam; we didn't ask to get sick. We didn't blame our sicknesses on AO, and we didn't beg for money because of it. We didn't make the rules that sent us there; we just played by their rules. That's what we will do now, we will play by the rules. For those of you in the world who think the rules are wrong, then change them. The one thing we as Vietnam veterans want to say to the naysayers is just leave us alone. We didn't make any of these decisions; they are made by the government, not us.

"Mr. Baker and the rest of the anti-veteran establishment, how about getting off our backs and after 40-plus years just say 'THANK YOU' and 'WELCOME HOME.' "

I echo the words of my fellow vet. When you or Mr. Baker see one of us Vietnam vets, just say "Thank you" and "Welcome home."

Stu Richards


Vietnam veteran

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