I am a Vietan Vet. This was a totally senseless war against a country that was zero threat to the US. The US used tactics far worse than Syria on North Vietnam. Millions of mines, carpet bombing, naplam but worst of all chemical warfare in Agent Orange.
I am a former USAF pilot who served the US without complaint. I did 4 tours out of U-Tapeo RTAFB. I was at U-Tapeo from 1970 to 1973 on temporary duty. I missed most Christmas' with my family during those years.
Soon after I returned from my last trip at the end of Jan 1973, the severe itching that had been bothering for a couple of years, got much worse. By May, I was going insane it itched so bad. I also begain having my hands sweat profusely. Twice I went to the base ER back at Ellsworth AFB for help.There was little they could do but give me some creams. About that time, I found I was being transferred from SD to Minot ND. I am from FL and decided to resign and move back home.
I was released from active duty on 8/1/73. By then the hands had worsened and had a rash. I had to find a job and remember on interviews how sweaty my hands were on the handshakes. Wet handshakes, I assume gave the other person the idea I was a nervous wreck. I had just returned from flying combat missions but remember how I wished I did not have to shake hands.
By late 1973, the rash got worse and was on my face and feet. I go to a dermatologist and within seconds he told me I had been exposed to toxic industrial chemicals. When he asked my background, he suggested I contact the VA. They told me to file a claim and I did. A few months passed and I was notified that I had been awarded a service conected disability of 10% for various skin issues. They backdated the claim to the day after I was officially out of the USAF.
The issues continued to get worse. The rash had now spread, I had a job as an insurance agent and could not worry as it is tough work, Then the rash became blisters and open leisons. They spread to my face, neck, chest, back and all extremities. I went back to the dermatologist and gave me more creams and sent me back to the VA. They examined me and soon raised my service connected disability to 30%. There records that I finally received more than 40 years later. Reflect all kinds of terms including leisons, plaque, discoloration and medical terms I have no idea of what the mean. The Dr noted the areas covered that I listed above. In the summary he said I had dermatitus and psoriasis over my entire body and hyperhydrosis of both hands. I continued to suffer, often wearing multiple band aids on my face to hide blisters or leisons and always long sleeve shirts in the heat of Orlando summers. Then slowly it started to go away. By around 1980, all was gone. Just some scars left like chicken pox. No skin conditions, no very sweatly palms. I could now wear shorts in public and was a happy man.
But in the late 80's I started to have other health issues. All were autoimmune/inflamatory issues, it started with arthritis of my spine, a bone spur growing into my spinal cord had to be surgically removed and they had to fuse two vertabra. In the late 90's, I had my first heart attack. I had never smoked and ran or rode a life cycle since my days in the USAF. I was of normal weight.
Anyway, the heart issues got worse, I had quad bypass and 3 stints. It is much worse today as I now have AFib and cannot walk on a treadmill faster than 2.5 without chest pain or going into AFib. A few years back, I developed crohns disease, which included an ulcer, It is inflamatory bowel disease of the worst kind. I also had my inflamed appendix out in my 60's, the surgeon remarked, that it was rare to have that at my age. I also had been suffering from chronic prostate disease and often peed blood my prostate has enlarged to 7 times normal size. I had kidney stones, gall stones and then had to have my inflamed gall bladder removed about 3 years ago. Then a 2nd surgery for a large gall stone they found while removing my gall bladder, it had moved into some duct.
I had never connected this to Agent Orange. Then I started reading that agent orange has been connected to autoimmune disease and I contacted the VA and was told I did not qualify because I had served in Thailand, not Vietnam,
Then about 3 years ago, the VA announced they were going to start allowing Thai Vets to file Agent Orange claims. I did and was told I was denied because I did not serve on the perimeter of the base. The VA had released a report WRITTEN IN 1973 about the USAF using defoliants inside the perimeters of the Thai AFB's since they were in a rain forest. They waited 40 years to release this report to the public.
Also under in the long report they mention U-Tapeo AFB where I served, one issue to increasing security was no defoliants were available the first half of 1972. In other words they were available after that. Security had to beef up defenses as they had a small North Vietnam special forces type team actually get onto the flight line and cause minor damage to 3 B-52's. At least two escaped in the dark and they think it was by water since the base is on the Gulf of Siam. The U-Tapeo runway ends about 1/4 mile from the beach. The runway is 43 feet above sea level.
It was obvious they had used massive defoliants when I arrived in Nov of 72. I could clearly see the redish brown color that later turned to desert brown as I approached to land the aircraft. The whole area had been heavily defolianted but we knew nothing of agent orange. In this Checo report they mention defoliants for Thai bases were obtained from Vietnam WHERE THEY HAD ALREADY BEEN BANNED FOR USE IN WARFARE IN 1971 BECAUSE OF WORLD OUTCRY OF THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS. Anyone reading this far google "agent orange victims" in images, warning they are some very very ugly images.
The report also goes on to say that the military could not spray defoliants even one foot outside of the base perimeters. THEY COULD ONLY SPRAY INSIDE THE BASE.
There is more, my case has been declined multiple times since the VA said I was not on the base perimeter. U-TAPEO HAD A BASE BEACH FACILITY OPEN TO ALL BASE PERSONNEL DIRECTLY ON THE PERIMETER AND DOWNHILL OF THE AREAS SPRAY BY HEAVY DUTY DEFOLIANTS, THE SAME DEFOLIANTS USED IN VIETNAM THAT CALLED AGENT ORANGE.
In my case, I somehow even had my U-Tapeo sailing club card which was located in the rec area which is very close to the very popular Thai beach resorts. Our rec area looked like a resort and it was on the perimeter. I am from FL and obviously hung out on the beach a lot and think that is where I was exposed. The rainy season starts in Nov, the same time I arrived but I still had a lot of sunny days at the beach as a pilot only fly about every 2.55 days. Many of those were at night and most mission were about 5 hours.
In addition, my VA records are a text book case for an Agent Orange claim. The first symptom is skin rashes and worse that go away. The more severe have sores and last for years like mine.
The VA did a big study in the mid 90's and came up with a term called chloracne to desribe the skin condition. In there owm brochure they use the exact terms that were used to describe my skin condition to describe what chloracne is. Yet they will not even use my own records to see that I had the exact same thing as chloracne and since it did not call it chloracne back in the 70's, they refuse to acknowledge I was exposed to agent orange. I called yesterday one more time to try and explain the original diagnosis in my file from the 70's descibes exactly the main symtom of Agent Orange and was told nothing they could so, but if I wanted to send in new evidence to send them back the same records I obtained from them. So, I have been collecting a 30% service connecte disability check since 1977 due to a skin condition that is a text book case for agent orange, yet they refuse to look at their own medical records to see this. They hid the fact they used agent orange type defliants from the public for more than 40 years and a lot of Vets who were affected like me have died. Now they continue to hide from their own evidence in cases like mine. As much as I hate to use this term. THE VA SYSTEM ON AGENT ORANGE HAD BEEN RIGGED SINCE THE 70's. They make all of these statements about there to help Vets and it is total BS. The clear strategy for the VA on Agent Orange claims is to deny til we die. The whole frustrating process speeds up the die timeline.
The first photo of the B-52s show the desert look. This is in a rain forest. The beach photos are the rec area directly on the perimter, not the guard tower is for secutity police not life guards which the USAF did furnish us. The last photo was taken in 1967 by a Navy aircraft while the base was being constructed the color has not been altered. It sure looks like heavy duty defoliants cause the orange area at the bottom of the picture. What do you think?
Product or Service Mentioned: Us Department Of Veterans Affairs Medical Care.
Reason of review: TOTAL COVER UP BY THE VA ON THE ISSUE OF AGENT ORANGE.
Preferred solution: MAKE THE V A TRANSPARENT AND SHARE ALL OF THE AGENT ORANGE SECRETS TO THE PUBLIC, NOT WAIT DECADES AND DENY DENY TIL WE DIE.
I liked: Employess re polite.
I didn't like: Entire 40 year coverup and a system designed to deny claims, Lie we are the government and we are here to help.