Opinion by Sharon L. Perry, Founder & Danielle Reyes, co-founder
Agent Orange Legacy
Does the onslaught against our Vietnam veterans ever end?
Once again our Vietnam vets were attacked on Capitol Hill but this time, this attack, was a stab in the back. Senator Coburn (R-OK) submitted an amendment, S.AMDT.564 - to H. R. 2055 - To require evidence of causal relationships for presumptions by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of service connection for diseases associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents.
Senator Coburn gave no warning, didn't submit a bill or arrange for a hearing. Is this how our elected officials conduct themselves? No ethics on Captiol Hill? No oversight which defines ethical and/or unethical behavior? What kind of behavior is considered misconduct? Is there no recourse for our veteran community?
The Record shows that 30 of our U. S. Sentors voted nay to table Senator Coburn's amendment which would have stripped our veterans and their families of the service connected benefits they earned. Our Vietnam veterans and their families - struggle - to make ends meet and cope with permanently disabling & fatal/terminal conditions, not just to themselves but also their children and grandchildren, due to exposure to agent orange
**See Vietnam Veterans of America Press Release for more information about Senator Coburn's amendment.
Vietnam veterans and their families are on the brink!! So many of our families are trying to cope with death, dying, PTSD, chronic and terminal illnesses, loss of income along with our careers/livelihoods, and the loss of our home(s). Our children and grandchildren are sick, suffering and also are dying. We do not need to be side swiped by our elected officials who should be willing to help those who have served.
I personally had my career in town management cut short when my husband became ill in 1998. I devoted 8 years of my life to pursuing a college degree and earned a Masters in Public Administration. I am still struggling to heal from 27 years of coping with my husband's severe and chronic PTSD. My husband was sick for 6 years prior to his death (our oldest daughter has been sick all of her life). To be out of the work force that long, esp. at my age, is a detriment.
I was devastated upon my husband's death. I became very ill and nearly died from an infection in my left lung. As a caregiver to a veteran I received no support or compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Caregiver legislation has been passed and cargivers of Post 911 veterans now get compensation to care for our disabled veterans, however. Our Vietnam veterans and their families receive no such support.
All our veterans should be treated equally.
Why must we (the families of Vietnam veterans), when we are down and out, constantly cope with the horrors of a war long since over? Why do our children, who are disabled, have to live a life of poverty for a decision made long before they were born?
Why do we have to endure attacks from our fellow citizens and/or our elected representatives?
Why is it that a long held tradition of serving this nation is not coveted by the same elected officials who have the power to ship off our sons and daughters?
What will it take for our embattled Vietnam veterans to finally receive the respect they have earned?
I had hoped the time had finally arrived. Unfortunately, not soon enough for my deceased husband of 27 years. He didn't live to see this day. Maybe it's better that he did not. I don't think he could have taken another crack at his knees with that Congressional BAT which is reserved, or so it seems, for our Vietnam vets who are facing, and in some cases are still fighting, a slow and torturous death by agent orange.
My husband served his country well. He refused to apply for benefits, although he had health problems and suffered from PTSD, until he was flat on his back in 1999. He dutifully died in 2005 saving America's taxpayers 100s of thousands of dollars.
God Bless America.