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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I handled, mixed by hand and power sprayed AGENT ORANGE HERBICIDES which included agent purple, agent white, agent orange and silvex which is the most deadly of all the herbicides because of its concentration of tcdd dioxin 7 times the amount in AGENT ORANGE. DR ROBERT HADDOCK CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST FOR THE GUAM DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COULD USE ALL OF THE MAYO CLINICS HELP WITH THE HEALTH EPIDEMICS CAUSED BY AGENT ORANGE HERBICIDES ON GUAM. HE IS FIGHTING A LOOSING BATTLE WITH THE US GOVERNMENT IGNORING THE HOLOCAUST I CAUSED.

@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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@johnjames – My husband had the aspiration pneumonia until he was injected with the Botox at Mayo Phoenix. Please look into that as it has helped him so very much. No problems swallowing or pneumonia since the injection – about 8 months ago. I watch my husband every day and know what you are going through. You will be in my thoughts as you continue this journey

@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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@tntredhead Thanks for sharing that with @johnjames. Valuable information!

@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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Does he have Parkinsons as well? That’s the dirving force with my throat- be able to swallow fast enough

@johnbishop

I was on 2 different US Navy destroyers during the Vietnam War but we never were involved with Agent Orange to my knowledge. The following links may help vets and family that were affected by Agent Orange.

What you need to know about agent orange:
http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/17744/10-things-every-veteran-know-agent-orange/

How to go about getting help/compensation:
http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp

Hoping you find answers and help you need…

John

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There has been proved that there was Agent White, purple, orange Silvex, Most of this was trials- Agent Orange if you check was used mainly in the Iron Triangle with the Infantry units were in a fire fight most after. We would be in the jungle-same clothes for 2 weeks and was soaks with agent Orange.

@johnbishop

I was on 2 different US Navy destroyers during the Vietnam War but we never were involved with Agent Orange to my knowledge. The following links may help vets and family that were affected by Agent Orange.

What you need to know about agent orange:
http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/17744/10-things-every-veteran-know-agent-orange/

How to go about getting help/compensation:
http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp

Hoping you find answers and help you need…

John

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@johnjames Unbelievable! Thanks again for the information –

@johnbishop

I was on 2 different US Navy destroyers during the Vietnam War but we never were involved with Agent Orange to my knowledge. The following links may help vets and family that were affected by Agent Orange.

What you need to know about agent orange:
http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/17744/10-things-every-veteran-know-agent-orange/

How to go about getting help/compensation:
http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp

Hoping you find answers and help you need…

John

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@johnjames

My brother said the same thing – in the jungle for a couple of weeks at a time – no changing – no tooth brushing – jungle rot, shrapnel, etc. And all of those chemicals had to be all over you.

Macbeth

@johnbishop

I was on 2 different US Navy destroyers during the Vietnam War but we never were involved with Agent Orange to my knowledge. The following links may help vets and family that were affected by Agent Orange.

What you need to know about agent orange:
http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/17744/10-things-every-veteran-know-agent-orange/

How to go about getting help/compensation:
http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp

Hoping you find answers and help you need…

John

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@macbeth How sad.

Leroy – I have been trying to find additional evidence that AO harmed civilians on Guam but not having any success so far. I believe this is because, in contrast to AF personnel, very few civilians were directly exposed to AO. The only exception I am aware of is the civilian heavy equipment company that was contracted for a time to haul the AO barrels from Naval Station to Andersen. Of the three men involved with this task, one died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, one died of liver cancer, and the third is still alive but had testicular cancer (I tried to locate a copy of the contract but was unsuccessful).

God bless you and Ralph in your efforts to let the truth be known.

Robert L. Haddock, DVM, MPH
Epidemiologist
Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services

@johnjames

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.

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jjames, Sir; Sincerely appreciate your post Dated: Oct 16, 2016.. However, with patience, I fail to understand our Congress, our VA in-reference to the abuses our honorably discharged Vietnam, and Vietnam ERA Veterans are left to suffer with ! Personally I have had 2 types of Cancer removed, two AORTA Aneurysms, one "Widow maker" plus 8 different stents crammed into my heart. I have stabbing pains in right knee, causing me instability (use walker).. Left Kidney surgically corrected from blockages.. Left side of body remains numb.. I have Sleep Apnea, and I have to use CPAP, and 24/7 oxygen .. Several emails to State representatives, Have received maybe 3 responses.. the rest have not replied, except to request Contributions and Voter Support !! … I have requested (FOIA) 5 times reference to flight departures .. one response to redirect me to "Archives" still waiting on 4 remaining responses !! I have been denied claims.. even though I prove to VA that in 1971, I was on 2 Ships which are listed on VA "Exposed Ships List, 1971 ".. Some of above surgeries are listed by VA as caused by exposure !! Now, I am on appeals, Still waiting (3 Years) .. I feel with ALL this Crap, I am developing PTSD.. Definitely STRESS.. I don't know why we are treated the way we are… its almost (if Not) Unconstitutional, inhumane treatment.. I understand many politicians dodged the 60's draft.. I do Not blame them.. I was afraid too.. but why the continued suffering, abandonment issues.. Congress (per the Constitution) is who can declare War !! Congress can change the continued abuse and denials of benefits to our Veterans !! Why the Continued abuse, is it Shame, is it Guilt ? Respectfully, Mike

@mikey1

jjames, Sir; Sincerely appreciate your post Dated: Oct 16, 2016.. However, with patience, I fail to understand our Congress, our VA in-reference to the abuses our honorably discharged Vietnam, and Vietnam ERA Veterans are left to suffer with ! Personally I have had 2 types of Cancer removed, two AORTA Aneurysms, one "Widow maker" plus 8 different stents crammed into my heart. I have stabbing pains in right knee, causing me instability (use walker).. Left Kidney surgically corrected from blockages.. Left side of body remains numb.. I have Sleep Apnea, and I have to use CPAP, and 24/7 oxygen .. Several emails to State representatives, Have received maybe 3 responses.. the rest have not replied, except to request Contributions and Voter Support !! … I have requested (FOIA) 5 times reference to flight departures .. one response to redirect me to "Archives" still waiting on 4 remaining responses !! I have been denied claims.. even though I prove to VA that in 1971, I was on 2 Ships which are listed on VA "Exposed Ships List, 1971 ".. Some of above surgeries are listed by VA as caused by exposure !! Now, I am on appeals, Still waiting (3 Years) .. I feel with ALL this Crap, I am developing PTSD.. Definitely STRESS.. I don't know why we are treated the way we are… its almost (if Not) Unconstitutional, inhumane treatment.. I understand many politicians dodged the 60's draft.. I do Not blame them.. I was afraid too.. but why the continued suffering, abandonment issues.. Congress (per the Constitution) is who can declare War !! Congress can change the continued abuse and denials of benefits to our Veterans !! Why the Continued abuse, is it Shame, is it Guilt ? Respectfully, Mike

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Hello @mikey1, welcome to Connect. I'm also a Vietnam Vet. I'm not sure if you saw one of my earlier posts with the following links for more information on Agent Orange.

What you need to know about agent orange:
http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/17744/10-things-every-veteran-know-agent-orange/

How to go about getting help/compensation:
http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp

Hoping you find answers and help you need…

John

@mikey1

jjames, Sir; Sincerely appreciate your post Dated: Oct 16, 2016.. However, with patience, I fail to understand our Congress, our VA in-reference to the abuses our honorably discharged Vietnam, and Vietnam ERA Veterans are left to suffer with ! Personally I have had 2 types of Cancer removed, two AORTA Aneurysms, one "Widow maker" plus 8 different stents crammed into my heart. I have stabbing pains in right knee, causing me instability (use walker).. Left Kidney surgically corrected from blockages.. Left side of body remains numb.. I have Sleep Apnea, and I have to use CPAP, and 24/7 oxygen .. Several emails to State representatives, Have received maybe 3 responses.. the rest have not replied, except to request Contributions and Voter Support !! … I have requested (FOIA) 5 times reference to flight departures .. one response to redirect me to "Archives" still waiting on 4 remaining responses !! I have been denied claims.. even though I prove to VA that in 1971, I was on 2 Ships which are listed on VA "Exposed Ships List, 1971 ".. Some of above surgeries are listed by VA as caused by exposure !! Now, I am on appeals, Still waiting (3 Years) .. I feel with ALL this Crap, I am developing PTSD.. Definitely STRESS.. I don't know why we are treated the way we are… its almost (if Not) Unconstitutional, inhumane treatment.. I understand many politicians dodged the 60's draft.. I do Not blame them.. I was afraid too.. but why the continued suffering, abandonment issues.. Congress (per the Constitution) is who can declare War !! Congress can change the continued abuse and denials of benefits to our Veterans !! Why the Continued abuse, is it Shame, is it Guilt ? Respectfully, Mike

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Mikey1- re you saying that the VA system has not ever contacted you or helped with an Agent Orange Claim? Also are you in Phoenix- the reason I ask is: there is a part time VA REP: that does nothing else than process the Veterans claim after one meeting with him, and you bring in your DD- 214 and any orders you might still have from Viet Nam- He can pin point where you were and all the sites where the chemicals were sprayed. That's the first thing that would help you allot getting your claim open( which goes much faster now with the new mandate by the President to process Viet Nam Veterans claims faster and to put them in the front of the pile- especially those with Agent Orange illnesses of any kind, I did this same process and it was completed in 4 months- But it takes the VA office I just mentioned to do the paper work proving where you were and that you were in fact spayed. And you are so right about how the people ( did not receive us as soldiers serving in real war- but as a form of people who committed crimes to the Viet Nam people to include murder and the killing of Children- which -not only isn't true, but they did not look or take time to research the facts of all the soldiers did for the people of South Viet Nam. The first time I came home -we landed at Travis AFB- at 4am, no one was there except the Air Force welcoming party and a Full Streak Dinner before leaving for home.( that was the best home coming we ever had- which I thank God for all those who understood why we were fighting. However the second time I came home- we landed in SF CA where there was hundreds of the people you talked about- It felt as if we had landed in a difference America. I served in the Infantry for many years before later on in life I studied to be an Army Chaplain- For the last 35 plus years. I have retired now do to many illnesses caused by Agent Orange. And the VA accepted all the facts from my doctors without any issues. But that's only been 3 years ago before all the claims were approved. So tell me how I can help you- and get information you need and what you may be looking for. I pray this makes scene and is a little help. In my prayers Brother. JJames.

The facts about Agent Orange and the effects it had on military people who served in Vietnam, including those whom the DoD and the VA have labeled as Brown Water Sailors is a complex issue. Made complex by the VA who ignored the thousands of Blue Water Sailors who were exposed to agent orange, but never acknowledged by the VA. Agent Orange had devastating effects on thousands, including cancers, diabetes, neurological damage just to name a few. For me the side effects include my immune system failure, chronic fatigue,diabetes, high blood pressure, heart trouble and most recently a brain disorder not yet diagnosed. I can't walk without crutches, I'm weak, hands tremble, small blood vessel damage in my brain. No one has ever been able to tell me why I suffer from side effects of dioxins, found in Agent Orange. I am a Navy Vietnam War Veteran.

Hello @jlpdurham526, welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Thank you for sharing here on Connect. I'm also a Navy Vietnam War Vet although I spent my time on a destroyer that provided troop and land base support off the coast. I also have some autoimmune disorders but don't think mine are Agent Orange related. The American Cancer Society has some good information on Agent Orange related disorders here:
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/agent-orange-and-cancer.html

Are you able to share a little more about treatments that have helped you or what helps you cope with your symptoms?

Hoping you find some answers…

@jlpdurham526

The facts about Agent Orange and the effects it had on military people who served in Vietnam, including those whom the DoD and the VA have labeled as Brown Water Sailors is a complex issue. Made complex by the VA who ignored the thousands of Blue Water Sailors who were exposed to agent orange, but never acknowledged by the VA. Agent Orange had devastating effects on thousands, including cancers, diabetes, neurological damage just to name a few. For me the side effects include my immune system failure, chronic fatigue,diabetes, high blood pressure, heart trouble and most recently a brain disorder not yet diagnosed. I can't walk without crutches, I'm weak, hands tremble, small blood vessel damage in my brain. No one has ever been able to tell me why I suffer from side effects of dioxins, found in Agent Orange. I am a Navy Vietnam War Veteran.

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@johnjames. My former husband who served in the navy for four years. Hke served on the flight decks on air craft carriers. He was t exposed to agent orange but a couple o years ago. He was losing his speech and trouble walking. Hecwas diagnosed with ALS and then on was a downhill battle. The va was very helpful in getting the equipment he needed. He died last year one day after his birthday. So its not just agent orange that is wrecking havoc with veterans lives its othernthings too. i stuck with him thru the war wrote letters everyday and waited for him to come home. Thank you all who served and are serving to protect our country an.d prayers to you

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