FACES OF AGENT ORANGE TOWN HALL MEETING SCHEDULE
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Vietnam Demons & John Wheeler The former Pentagon official was seen hours before his death disoriented and disheveled.
Vietnam Demons & John Wheeler
The former Pentagon official was seen hours before his death disoriented and disheveled.
While Wheeler’s disorientation could have been caused by heart disease or stroke, Wheeler’s friends and long-time associates are beginning to quietly wonder whether something much more common and tragic for a Vietnam vet like Wheeler is partly to blame: the culmination of a long history of mental-health issues that have plagued him most of his adult life. Friends say Wheeler has acknowledged having bipolar disorder as well as Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism that sometimes caused him to misread social cues and situations.
He also told friends that he sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that he was convinced that some of his problems were related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. While Wheeler was never a combat soldier, (he was a member of the general staff at the U.S. Army’s headquarters in Long Binh, Vietnam from 1969 to 1970), friends say that someone as sensitive as Wheeler may have been particularly vulnerable to a war zone’s after-effects. “I think some of his problems were genetic but were exacerbated by his wartime service,” one friend said.
As one friend put it, “I think he should be considered the latest casualty of Vietnam. So much of his life was consumed by that war.”