Agent Orange and Neurological Disorders

I just read a post from a veteran who discussed the effects of Agent Orange and Parkinson’s Disease. It made me wonder if there are others who have had similar experiences? If so, is there anything you have learned from your medical team and/or the VA regarding this? Please feel free to share your story.

@colleenyoung

Good questions Teresa with respect to Agent Orange and neurological disorders. I’d like to bring @mivy @johnjames @ggopher @macbeth @retairforceman and @Robert43DAP into this conversation as they have experiences to share.

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Vietnam War veterans with prior exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange may be at higher risk for certain types of skin cancer, suggests a report in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
Skin Cancers Present in About Half of Vets Exposed to Agent Orange
During the Vietnam War, Agent Orange was widely used as herbicide and jungle defoliant. It has been linked to a wide range of cancers and other diseases, caused by the highly toxic dioxin contaminant TCDD. “TCDD is among the most carcinogenic compounds ever to undergo widespread use in the environment,” according to Dr. Clemens and coauthors. Veterans Affairs recognizes and provides benefits for certain cancers and health problems associated with prior dioxin exposure during military service, however skin cancer is currently not one of them.
The researchers analyzed medical records of 100 consecutive men who enrolled in the Agent Orange registry at the Veterans Affairs Hospital of Washington, DC, between August 2009 and January 2010. Exposure to TCDD consisted of living or working in contaminated areas for 56 percent of veterans, actively spraying Agent Orange in 30 percent, and traveling in contaminated areas for 14 percent. The study was limited to men with lighter skin types.
Non-Melanoma vs. Melanoma: The VA’s Use of Agent Orange in Viet Nam
March 31, 2015/in Agent Orange, Veterans /by Hill & Ponton P.A.
Over the years, there has been a great deal of documentation on how herbicides affect veterans – specifically Viet Nam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Agent Orange was a chemical spray widely used during the Viet Nam War to clear and destroy foliage in the jungles. Although effective in its purpose, it has been linked to a wide range of cancers and other diseases due to the fact it contains dioxin – a well-known carcinogen. The impact Agent Orange has on the skin – the body’s largest organ – is the primary focus of this blog.
Back some years ago, between August 2009 and January 2010, a study was conducted amongst those veterans who enrolled in the Agent Orange Registry at the Veterans Affairs Hospital located in Washington, D.C. The study examined 100 men who worked in contaminated areas, were involved in the actual spraying of the agent, and those who traveled in the contaminated areas. Of the 100 men, all were known to have lighter or fair skin types. [Isn’t that ironic?]
Of the group tested, 43% was found to have a skin condition known as chloracne which has been proven to be caused by dioxins – as previously stated; a well-know carcinogen. Some of the other findings from the study included:
• 51% of the veterans having a non-melanoma, invasive skin cancer (still skin cancer);
• 73% represented veterans having participated in spraying Agent Orange resulting in the highest risk of skin cancer, and lastly;
• men with the lightest skin type and eyes also having a much higher risk of contracting non-melanoma skin cancer.
The good news is that there was no increased risk of the most dangerous type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma. Although a deadly form of cancer, the study did not document any differences between those males of similar age exposed to Agent Orange as compared to the general population. With that said, I do want to stress that this study took place five (5) years ago in 2010. Additionally, the study sample was extremely limited in both size and population.
Obviously, further studies are warranted to accurately decipher the impact of Agent Orange exposure as it relates to melanoma and non-melanoma types of cancer. [Not from any war-related contaminants, but via personal experience with malignant melanoma and its ramifications, I cannot express my adamancy of further research in this area.] Fortunately, this is exactly what is happening. Maybe not fast enough, though, since now four decades after the Viet Nam war ended, we are seeing an increase in the rates of non-melanoma skin cancer caused by this potent jungle defoliant. How could we not see such increases and possibly worse ailments — .these men and women were exposed to gallons upon gallons of this cancerous pesticide. Granted, the government’s reasoning was to destroy and remove the forestry that was concealing the enemy by destroying the crops. That it surely did. But today, we know that there were over 1.5 million Americans serving in Viet Nam during that time when the use of Agent Orange was most intense. Was this the best alternative? Our men and women may have survived the war zone, but now are battling a new war back at home!
Back in the 70’s, veterans returning from war began to report a number of ailments that included skin rashes that seemed “minor” in nature. In having discussions with my husband and his fellow Viet Nam veterans, they often referred to this condition as “jungle rot”. [This is a discussion for a future blog.] Today, it is quite common to hear of the skin condition, chloracne, which was observed in 43% of the veterans who were part of the study referred to above – much more than just a “minor” ailment..
The researchers acknowledge that flaws existed in their study and that more extensive research to include a control group is necessary to obtain more accurate results. The relative risks within this population most definitely warrant further studies in an effort to support our veterans and provide the care they earned and truly deserve. Let’s work together to make sure this happens for our veterans and those currently serving our country – the United States of America.

Thank God for our sisters and brothers in the military! — jjames

I HOPE THIS HELPED OTHER VETS AND FAMILY MEMBERS.

@colleenyoung

Good questions Teresa with respect to Agent Orange and neurological disorders. I’d like to bring @mivy @johnjames @ggopher @macbeth @retairforceman and @Robert43DAP into this conversation as they have experiences to share.

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@johnjames

Thank you!

DR ROBERT HADDOCK CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST FOR THE GUAM DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES WHO PROVEDT HAT I PERSONALLY KILLED THOUSANDS OF UNBORN BABIES AND COUNTLESS THOUSANDS OF VETERANS . HE NEEDS THE MAYO CLINIC, ASPEN FOUNDATION, AND OTHERS TO EXERT PRESSURE ON DOD, USAF, USN, USA, VA AND CONGRESS TO COOPERATE WITH HIM TO COME TO MORE ACCURATE FINDINGS WHICH HE WANTS TO INCLUDE VETERANS AND THEIR AFFECTED FAMILIES. THE CANCER RATES ON GUAM ARE THE HIGHEST IN THE WORLD. I KIILED SO MANY AS I HANDLED MIXED AND POWER SPRAYED AO, AW, AB, AP AND SILVEX POWDER AND CRYSTALS ON GUAM FROM SEPTEMBER 68 TO JUN 78. DR HADDOCK’S EMAIL IS ROBHAD@YAHOO.COM

Thanks to @johnjames @retairforceman @johnbishop @macbeth who continue to share information based on their experiences and research. I appreciate it!

My husband was exposed to Agent Orange and has since had prostrate cancer/kidney cancer/and now Parkinson’s and dementia. I spent months filling out paper work and working with the VA. Luckily in my town, I have two guys in the VA who are very knowledgeable, helpful, and will work like crazy to help the veteran. After several months, my hubby was pronounced 100% disabled which surely helps to pay for the care I have to have for him. The thing I leaned was to never accept the “No, we can’t do that”. When I was told no I asked why and I insisted they give me reasons they said no. The farther up the line he applications went, the worst it became but I didn’t give up. He spent 23 years in the military and deserves to be taken care of – as all veterans do.

@tntredhead

My husband was exposed to Agent Orange and has since had prostrate cancer/kidney cancer/and now Parkinson’s and dementia. I spent months filling out paper work and working with the VA. Luckily in my town, I have two guys in the VA who are very knowledgeable, helpful, and will work like crazy to help the veteran. After several months, my hubby was pronounced 100% disabled which surely helps to pay for the care I have to have for him. The thing I leaned was to never accept the “No, we can’t do that”. When I was told no I asked why and I insisted they give me reasons they said no. The farther up the line he applications went, the worst it became but I didn’t give up. He spent 23 years in the military and deserves to be taken care of – as all veterans do.

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I served 38 years with the military and handled, mixed and power sprayed AO HERBICIDES. I HAVE FOUGHT THE,DAMN VA SINCE 1987 AND WILL NEVER WIN. IT TOOK THE AIR FORCE 41 YEARS TO CORRECT MY MILITARY ECORD FOR THE RVNGCWP. THE VA, DOD AND OUR GOVERMENT ARE CORRUPT AND EVIL. I KILLED THOUSANDS OF UNBORN BABIES AND COUNTLESS THOUSANDS OF VETERANS. I HAVE 33 autoimmune diseases including severe spinal stenosis and ANKLYLOSING SPONDIOLYSIS with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis with degenerative joint and disc disease and colon cancer and rectal cancer and severe ischemic heart disease and peripheral neuropathy in all of my limbs and bladder disease and thyroid cancer hypothyroidism and Parkinsons-like symptoms and more from handing AODRUMS I am dying

@retairforceman
Yes, the government needs to man up and take responsibility. Also, Dow Chemical needs to take responsibility. They knew about the toxicity of dioxin from the beginning, and due to Dow’s knowledge, the government had to have known, too. Money does not replace good health or jobs, but there should be penalties against the fed. government, and Dow, and in favor of all ground troops and handlers who were exposed, as well as for the people of Veitnam. For some of us, Vietnam will never end. It is a haunting that will follow us to the end.

@retairforceman I wish there were words I could say that could take away some of the pain you are feeling. You are not alone in your feelings. I’m not sure if it will help you but I did see an agent orange registry health exam that you can get based on your service recollections (does not depend on what they show as your military duty station records). http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/benefits/registry-exam.asp – the exam may give you more support for claims which have to be submitted separately from the exam – https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage. Do you have a local VA advocate in the County where you live? The counties in Minnesota have VA reps that help vets wade through all the VA forms and submissions. That would be a good source if available in your area.

There is also a veterans group for agent orange if you haven’t already seen it –
https://vva.org/what-we-do/outreach-programs/agent-orange/.

John

@tntredhead

My husband was exposed to Agent Orange and has since had prostrate cancer/kidney cancer/and now Parkinson’s and dementia. I spent months filling out paper work and working with the VA. Luckily in my town, I have two guys in the VA who are very knowledgeable, helpful, and will work like crazy to help the veteran. After several months, my hubby was pronounced 100% disabled which surely helps to pay for the care I have to have for him. The thing I leaned was to never accept the “No, we can’t do that”. When I was told no I asked why and I insisted they give me reasons they said no. The farther up the line he applications went, the worst it became but I didn’t give up. He spent 23 years in the military and deserves to be taken care of – as all veterans do.

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@tntredhead

It IS difficult to fight them, especially if the gov’t has not yet officially recognized the illness you are arguing about – but are testing for it – for many years. I guess I just have to keep writing letters and filing claims.

Thank you for your post.

@macbeth

@retairforceman
Yes, the government needs to man up and take responsibility. Also, Dow Chemical needs to take responsibility. They knew about the toxicity of dioxin from the beginning, and due to Dow’s knowledge, the government had to have known, too. Money does not replace good health or jobs, but there should be penalties against the fed. government, and Dow, and in favor of all ground troops and handlers who were exposed, as well as for the people of Veitnam. For some of us, Vietnam will never end. It is a haunting that will follow us to the end.

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There was a lawsuit that was settled but I think a lot of vets were sorrily left out – http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-agent_orange-settlement-settlementFund.asp

@johnbishop

@retairforceman I wish there were words I could say that could take away some of the pain you are feeling. You are not alone in your feelings. I’m not sure if it will help you but I did see an agent orange registry health exam that you can get based on your service recollections (does not depend on what they show as your military duty station records). http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/benefits/registry-exam.asp – the exam may give you more support for claims which have to be submitted separately from the exam – https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage. Do you have a local VA advocate in the County where you live? The counties in Minnesota have VA reps that help vets wade through all the VA forms and submissions. That would be a good source if available in your area.

There is also a veterans group for agent orange if you haven’t already seen it –
https://vva.org/what-we-do/outreach-programs/agent-orange/.

John

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Oh i have done all of that years ago

@tntredhead

My husband was exposed to Agent Orange and has since had prostrate cancer/kidney cancer/and now Parkinson’s and dementia. I spent months filling out paper work and working with the VA. Luckily in my town, I have two guys in the VA who are very knowledgeable, helpful, and will work like crazy to help the veteran. After several months, my hubby was pronounced 100% disabled which surely helps to pay for the care I have to have for him. The thing I leaned was to never accept the “No, we can’t do that”. When I was told no I asked why and I insisted they give me reasons they said no. The farther up the line he applications went, the worst it became but I didn’t give up. He spent 23 years in the military and deserves to be taken care of – as all veterans do.

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@tntredhead Your perseverance was important. I’m glad that your husband received the needed benefits.

@tntredhead

My husband was exposed to Agent Orange and has since had prostrate cancer/kidney cancer/and now Parkinson’s and dementia. I spent months filling out paper work and working with the VA. Luckily in my town, I have two guys in the VA who are very knowledgeable, helpful, and will work like crazy to help the veteran. After several months, my hubby was pronounced 100% disabled which surely helps to pay for the care I have to have for him. The thing I leaned was to never accept the “No, we can’t do that”. When I was told no I asked why and I insisted they give me reasons they said no. The farther up the line he applications went, the worst it became but I didn’t give up. He spent 23 years in the military and deserves to be taken care of – as all veterans do.

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Please know you are in my prayers. Much Love to You.

@colleenyoung

Good questions Teresa with respect to Agent Orange and neurological disorders. I’d like to bring @mivy @johnjames @ggopher @macbeth @retairforceman and @Robert43DAP into this conversation as they have experiences to share.

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Colleen- what is the best place to share and ask questions about Parkinson’s- I’m having allot of side affects that’s new to me and they are constant and depressing- as everyone knows who has Parkinson’s. Thank you. JJAMES

@macbeth

@colleenyoung
@hopeful33250
All I know is that it has been recognized as related to a host of diseases in Vietnam vets, including Parkinson’s, diabetes, some cancers, and ischemic heart disease, among other conditions. The vet who helped us file a claim, at a nearby VA regional office, (and a comp doctor there) also believe it may also be connected to dementia/early onset dementia, which makes sense, due to the relationship to Parkinson’s and ischemic heart disease (the higher rate of ischemic build-up around the heart is bound to be happening elsewhere in the body – such as in the brain), but, that not enough veterans or their families are making the connection and filing claims. More claims filed = more attention from the government. Also, I am being told that it will take many more years of research before the connection is officially recognized between AO and dementias, in general. I realize that not everyone who gets a disease has a family history of that disease, but my husband’s family has no history of dementia, and I began to notice symptoms or wonder about him, as early as in his early – to – mid sixties, and maybe before that, looking back. But I was in denial. He also has the AO related ischemic heart disease. One of my brothers (Vietnam vet) had an AO related carcinoma, and had to have his leg amputated. It can wreak havoc decades after exposure. I know that many children of Vietnam vets have had problems that are being traced back to the AO exposure of a parent.

All you have to do, is begin to research this stuff on the net. There are a lot of very sad, very frustrating experiences related there.

I know that there is strength in numbers, and that being civil is very important, but that being tooooo polite does not get a job like this done. Vietnam veterans and their families need to be heard about these facts and overwhelming coincidences. They need to file claims. They need to write letters. They need to get louder. They need to push. They need to extend the support to Vietnam veterans that they rarely or never received for their service.

O. K. Now I’ll dust off my hands and get off my high horse. Can you tell I’m a little passionate about this?

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If he has his 201 file and orders when he was in Viet Nam will help more than you know.JJAMES

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