Saturday, October 24, 2009

VA, Agent Orange, Vietnam, and Veterans' activism...

Ed Note: I am posting this article from Thanh Nien News in it's entirety.  Our own Chuck Palazzo is quoted extensively, as is another Vietnam Veteran activist, named Paul Sutton.  Chuck has been in the forefront of the debate surrounding the inclusion of Parkinson's as presumptive, here on our pages.  He is our Interim Agent Orange Editor, and a member of VVAW, an organization that has been in the Agent Orange fight, from th very beginning.  You can follow his work here at  

It is  work that is having an impact, as demonstrated by this incredible Veitnamese news article, quoting two former enemy combatants, announcing the VA's inclusion of these three additional presumptives, regarding US Veterans compensation.  In this article, neither Chuck, nor Marine Vietnam Veteran, Paul Sutton, let our government off the hook for the original war-crime of chemical warfare, or for it's failing to properly compensate Vietnamese people for the devastation that Agent Orange has caused to them, and the ecosystem of their country. 

Most importantly though; I am posting it in recognition how important each of our efforts are in the struggle for peace and justice, in this case, the resolving the social injustices of chemical warfare, on not only the enemy, but of our own troops, as well.  No matter how discouraged you might become; never give up, never surrender!  Chuck and Paul...both have a history of struggle that has helped to bring about this small, but important, victory, recognized as far away as in the land of our former enemy. Never forget what got us all here. WH
Thanh Nien News/ Health/ US government recognizes more illnesses linked to Agent Orange

US government recognizes more illnesses linked to Agent Orange

The US Veterans Affairs Department said Tuesday it plans add three more conditions to the list of ailments linked to Agent Orange exposure for which Vietnam veterans can receive medical benefits.

(Two airplanes spray herbicide in Southern Vietnam in a file photo taken during the Vietnam War.)

Relying on an independent study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Eric K. Shinseki decided to establish a service-connection for Vietnam Veterans with the three specific illnesses based on the latest evidence of an association with the herbicides referred to as Agent Orange.

The illnesses affected by the recent decision are B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia; Parkinson's disease; and ischemic heart disease.

Paul Sutton, Staff Sergeant of Marines in Vietnam 1964-1965 and 1967-1968 welcomed the decision, but said it didn’t simply wipe away years of suffering.

“This determination by General Shinseki is right for the times. As someone who's been in this fight since October 1977, I've watched the VA and the system allow our brothers and sister suffer and die needlessly for too long.”

Chuck Palazzo, a former US Marine and combat veteran in Vietnam (1970-1971) who now lives in Da Nang, told Thanh Nien Weekly the decision was a step in the right direction that would have “a positive effect on many thousands of veterans who would otherwise not have received medical assistance from the government.”

But the day was not one for full celebration for people suffering from Agent Orange related maladies, or for the families of those who have already passed on.

“The additional illnesses, sadly, have already taken many lives,” said Palazzo. “Had the VA acted quicker, they could have prevented many unnecessary deaths.”

He said the 15 presumptive illnesses now recognized by the VA were “still way short of the possible hundreds of afflictions caused by exposure to Agent Orange or being an offspring of someone exposed.”

He also pointed out that not only US veterans had been suffering.

“The US Government has not done enough for its own Veterans and families. They have done less for the Vietnamese citizens and their families who were exposed to Agent Orange... what we have given to the Vietnamese in terms of assistance is pennies compared to what is truly needed.”

The decision had been a long – and not easy – time coming, according to Sutton.

“Because of my support for the Vietnamese efforts to get the US government to put their money where their mouth is vis-a-vis cleaning up the toxic mess below the 17th parallel, I have taken a lot of crap from brother veterans over the tears, but, fair is fair. Help one, help everyone.”

Used in Vietnam to defoliate trees and remove concealment for the enemy, Agent Orange left a legacy of suffering and disability that continues to the present. Between January 1965 and April 1970, an estimated 2.6 million military personnel who served in Vietnam were potentially exposed to sprayed Agent Orange.

In practical terms, Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a "presumed" illness don't have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service. This "presumption" simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits.

The Secretary's decision brings to 15 the number of presumed illnesses recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Other illnesses previously recognized under VA's "presumption" rule as being caused by exposure to herbicides during the Vietnam War are Acute and Subacute Transient Peripheral Neuropathy

  • AL Amyloidosis
  • Chloracne
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2)
  • Hodgkin's Disease
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Respiratory Cancers, and
  • Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or Mesothelioma)
Source: Agencies-Thanh Nien Weekly
Story from Thanh Nien News
Published: 19 October, 2009, 12:34:05 (GMT+7)
Copyright Thanh Nien News

Friday, October 23, 2009

VETERANS DEPORTATION - ACTION ALERT: Seeking Personal Testimony re Military Recruiting and US Citizenship


Please give this top priority and distribute ASAP to all members and any and all veterans groups and or individuals.

Fellow Vets & Supporters,

The email request below is an "URGENT REQUEST" from a Pro Bono Attorney here in San Diego that is assisting us with the Deportation of U.S. Military Veterans Issue. Specifically for a Vietnam Veteran who has been deported. Please review her short request for assistance for background information based on your personal knowledge and experience and email her directly. Please Cc me as well at Her email address is at the end of her email request below. Thank you.

Jan A. Ruhman
San Diego
Cell # 858-361-6273

Request for support

I am a pro bono attorney representing a Vietnam War vet who was recently deported back to Mexico. We are filing some legal paperwork to have a prior conviction vacated in county court but the judge wants additional evidence to support my client's assertion that he was promised automatic citizenship when he enlisted in the army back in 1973. Is there anyone who, either from personal experience or through others, knows whether or not this was common practice by Military Recruiters (e.g. making promises of US citizenship) to induce immigrants to enlist into the military? Or even after enlistment, did superior officers or NCO's tell immigrant soldiers that they would be given citizenship because of their military service?

I acknowledge that this was not the official policy of the United States military but even a few anecdotes to demonstrate that this did in fact happen on a few occasions would be exceedingly helpful. Please feel free to contact me via email at, if you have further questions, comments, or suggestions.

Many thanks in advance.

Van T. Nguyen, Attorney at Law
600 West Broadway, Suite 1800
San Diego, CA 92101-3375
Direct Dial: +1.619.238.2823
Fax: +1.619.696.7419

From Vietnam to Afghanistan: The more things change, the more they remain the same...

A Poor Place To Have To Defend To Begin With
Chuck Palazzo

As you are all aware, my main interest right now is Agent Orange - what can be done about the required medical attention by those who are victims - either directly sprayed, having living in contaminated areas, and of course their offspring - Americans, our allies and of course the Vietnamese - and as I am learning, the widespread contamination reaches much, much further - Canada, Guam, Japan - I hope to write on that soon as I gather more information. I have also taken up an interest in UXO, am far from qualified to even write or comment about it, but I am a very strong supporter of the clean-up efforts involved, and the killing and maiming of innocents that occurs each and every day throughout the world.
The story that the link below will take you to, I found as a result of UXO research. Its actually more about how the US put itself in harms way by basing a small camp, then trying to defend it, in a nearly impossible scenario. Our involvement in Afghanistan, fighting against brave warriors that defeated the Russians, and a fighting force that are defending their country, their families, their religion. A country that has fought on horseback, and in an impossible environment - long story short, they know what they are doing and in my opinion, we have no reason to be there. I personally draw many parallels between Vietnam and Afghanistan.
Here is an eyewitness account of COP Keating - I use the term "eyewitness" loosely because it was provided by a General from a CP from who knows how many klicks away from the actual battle. But nonetheless, the words speak for themselves. It brought back vivid memories of some of our impossible missions in Vietnam - fighting for ground that was meaningless, no advanced air or artillery support, etc...
Here is the link:

Semper fi! and my condolences go out to the family members who's sons, brothers, fathers, husbands were KIA as a result of this yet, another waste. What was achieved? Death.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Afghanistan?! What about the war at home?

A Blog Posted On Blogger
(click to go to Julie Anna's Blogger blogsite)

Ed Note: I have taken the liberty of reposting Julie Anna's blog on our pages because, to me; this is the real collateral damage of war...when will the VA and the Pentagon ever learn? There are some serious lessons to be learned from Julie's experiences. I hope her husband somehow reads this, and realizes that he is not alone, through all of this...hope is the best motivator for finding the road home. Been there, done that. WH

13 August 2009

My heart is broken. My husband was diagnosed with PTSD and TBI and life has been hell for more than two years because instead of getting the help he needs, he was shit on even more. We all were. Now we are back at Fort Lewis and my girls and I are living alone. He can barely function with out freaking out, and for safety sake has moved out. We are all getting counseling of all kinds but I can still barely breathe. I thought an army wife was supposed to be strong, just like her warrior husband... now we are all broken.

I love my husband and I am still here for him, despite the things he's done which I can't even begin to mention. He says his biggest fear is to lose me and the kids, then why can't he see that I'M STILL HERE?!

i'm still here...

posted by julie anna


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Alert: Stop The VA Land Grab!

Call To Action!


121 years ago, on 3 March 1888, a plot of land was irrevocably deeded by John P. Jones and Arcadia de Baker to the United States for the “sole purpose of providing veterans a place to heal from war”. That property is now called the “VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System” and is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In September 2007 the local VA entered into a “Shared Property” agreement with an organized group of Brentwood and Beverly Hills residents calling themselves the “Veterans Park Conservancy” to use 16+ acres of that land, rent-free, as a public park.

The LA Veterans Healthcare System has turned over one facility after another to private enterprises for pennies on the dollar rent. Most listings for the Veterans Wadsworth Theatre don’t even include the name “Veteran” anymore. The current deal with the VPC is just one more of the “slippery slope” deals will lead to the piece-by-piece fragmentation of the veterans’ property.

We must all stand together to protect this land on behalf of all veterans and not let this land be given away by the Veterans Administration. Once this land becomes “public property” the veterans will never see it again because reversing a “public agreement” will be next to impossible.

Los Angeles, CA (street parking is available on Wilshire)

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11TH, 1:00 – 4:00pm


For more information contact:
Bob Rosebrock at 310-472-2717
Steve Crandall, VVAW, at 805-388-1542

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Tough Week: the Phillipines, Indonesia, American Samoa, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and of course, Vietnam...

Typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, forgotten victims, and possible link to the spread of Agent Orange
Chuck Palazzo
Interim Editor for Agent Orange, VVAW

One thing amazes me during and after a natural disaster occurs – including those that have occurred in our own United States – has it ever occurred to anyone, or is it just me? Those that are mostly affected are those that need these disasters the least. Not to minimize anyone on our planet, their resources, the destruction and devastation that they have experienced, but why is it that the poor, those that have been through so much, those who have to beg for a few Dong just to eat seem to be the most gravely affected? It’s been an impossible week for so many people, so many countries. Is it our global climate change? Who knows and I doubt we will ever know. My heart goes out to ALL who have been affected. Living in Vietnam however, and in Da Nang especially, I feel a sense of brother and sisterhood – those who were once our enemies, all joined together this week as one nation, as one people – human beings helping human beings.

My neighbor’s here in Da Nang, Son Tra Province to be specific, which is a stone’s throw from the ocean, all came knocking on my door. The Vietnamese families that have “adopted” me, dropped what they were doing, stopped boarding up their own homes, just to make sure I was OK and offered their help. With my very limited Vietnamese, and their very limited English, we communicated in our own form of sign language, and ensured we would and always will, count on each other – in good times and bad. And my friends, this week was BAD and we all kept our words – we helped each other, placed others before ourselves – especially the children.

My friend, colleague, mentor and of course, fellow Marine, Willie H. and I recollected the Monsoon season here during the war – neither of us could remember it ever being this bad.

Café in the Morning

For those of you who don’t know, Da Nang is located on the coast of central Vietnam. (Please see the link to a map below). During the war years, it was attacked by both VC as well as NVA. Hue City is very close by. There are many Vietnamese who live here and in the general area who fought for the south and some who fought for the North. I happen to have coffee each morning (by the way, if you haven’t tried it, you must! Vietnamese coffee is some of the finest in the world) with a Vietnamese man who has become my friend. About my age and fit as can be – he finally told me he was a former VC and not proud of it. Many Vietnamese are not proud of their affiliations from the past – but the past is the past. Guess who was the first to knock on my door the day after the storm? My new VC friend. He calls me “bạn chiến đấu” which means “brother in arms”.

Why the lack of coverage about the Vietnam Disaster?

I have my own theory, and in my opinion, as we have publically come out to say time and time again, the war is behind us, the major difference is this - the Vietnamese really mean it when they say it. I also believe that there is indeed a link to Agent Orange and the potential spread of Dioxin via floods like what was just experienced. Some of you have read the question I posed to many experts in the field, and I am still sifting through all of this very valuable information. Thank you so much for all of you who contributed. Could it be, in some bizarre fashion, that by offering more aid to Vietnam, especially with flooding and the potential of spreading the poison Dioxin, we are indeed admitting guilt to war crimes? We all know that the chemical companies that created this nightmare are guilty of creating an uncontrollable negative future. We also now have proof that the US knew all along that this was a poison that would cause extremely serious consequences if used – beyond just being, excuse the pun, your garden variety weed killer.

I read and I write – especially about the war that I was part of, and the negative consequences it has brought on to so many of us. I see widespread press coverage by other countries as a result of this disaster – especially coming from the US. But I see little, if any, regarding the number of people killed, the homelessness, the destruction that has been created and the potential worsening of the dioxin problem here in Vietnam. (Kudos to the Wall Street Journal – they appear to be the only exception). Isn’t it ironic that I rely on finding this info from other countries but not the US? We are not putting our wealth nor are we offering assistance, to the country of Vietnam. Could this all be related? I believe in my heart of hearts, that it is.

Once again, I don’t dare minimize what these other countries have been through this week – but where is the coverage we owe to Vietnam, and the aid that is rightfully theirs from a global, if not THE Global Leader – the US? Our Secretary of State pledged $100,000! No typo folks. I am embarrassed to even state that number.

Audacity and Arrogance Defined

As I sift through all of this information, I find this story from a Canadian publication:

In brief, “Efforts to clean up contamination from the wartime herbicide Agent Orange in Vietnam took a step forward Thursday when the United States awarded a contract to prepare for dioxin containment.

The US said the 1.69-million-dollar project will involve building a secure landfill site to hold contaminated soil and sediment at Danang airport.

Full-scale decontamination could take years”.

Give me a break! It will cost billions to clean up Vietnam and give the medical attention to those of us who served here, the Vietnamese, our allies and the offspring that continue to be born with afflictions that can only be caused by such an insidious poison – dioxin.

I have to thank my good friend and colleague, Rena K. for pointing this out : if we use the number 3 million victims and this $1.69million in money just released by the US, that equates to $.56 (fifty-six cents) per victim PRIOR to administrative costs. As she puts it, this is worse than shameful, much worse – it’s an insult!

Timed perfectly by the Canadian Press – but I have yet to find any retort, any argument in favor of what the US continues to do – which in my opinion is nothing.

Links to Related Stories

Please friends, take some time and check out these links. I invite any and all comments, for and against what I am stating here. But please, show compassion to all, not just a select few.,typhoon-ketsana-death-toll-rises-to-101-in-vietnam.html

This one has to be a mis-print. But please read what our secretary of state had to say:

On Friday, the United States said it would provide 100,000 dollars worth of assistance to help victims of the typhoon after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country stands ready "to assist the people of Vietnam as they recover from this tragedy".

Came from this publication:

The stories go on and on, the tragedy and deaths continue, and the suffering just seems to be non-stop. And “poor us” in the US, we complain about the price of a Big Mac increasing.

Lingering '70s Spittin' Image & VA Politics contribute to 2009 PTSD and New GI Bill SNAFU

Sheddin' The Light of Truth: What was true then, is still true, today...
Chuck "Mutt" Winant
La Mesa, Ca

Among the many half baked lies about America's war against Viet Nam is the "they spit on us" myth that has served so well to deter many from any actual examination of the War. In the article "Viet Nam Veterans Now Get Warm Welcome", Aug 17, I'm now told I had bottles and eggs thrown at me...,0,4753225.story?page=2

Never happened...

You know, after seeing what my country was up to in Viet Nam, the LAST thing I cared about was getting a parade. I'm hardly alone in this.

Oh, we were "spit on", all right - by the Veterans hospitals, foul dungeons where many died from medical neglect, by a VA which stonewalled any investigations into Agent Orange, and had but one bed, nationally, for heroin addiction.

We were spit on by a series of thuggish Saigon regimes, the last of which- Thieu/Ky, got rich off of, traffiking in that heroin.

We were spit on by our own Services, when returning vets, denied health care or drug treatment, were given bad paper discharges for speaking out - just like todays returning vets! There was no "diagnosis" of PTSD, back in the day, so not even any counseling, one on one or in a group setting, was available to us.

That is, until Viet Nam Veterans Against The War documented a common problem amongst returning Veterans that they called Post Vietnam Syndrome, later (1983) to become clinically recognized as an anxiety disorder called PTSD, with the publication of the DSM-III. With this development, the Swift Boat types created the media spin that we were cry babies, rather than veterans that were psychologically damaged by their harrowing experiences in an illegal war.

Who could forget the hosing we got from the VFW and Legion, who used their political weight to limit the new crop of veterans from getting the benefits they themselves enjoyed - shades of John McCain - voting down every VA bill that expanded veterans right and benefits for Veitnam Veterans. When anti War Viet vets joined VFW and American Legion posts, those posts were dropped from the rolls.

Then we were spit on by the political generals of the Pentagon, Hackworths' "Perfumed Princes" - who put thier careers ahead of what was good for the country as well as the troops. And we were spit on by pro war flag waving nonothings, who reacted in rage and sometimes violence against Viet Nam vets who dared speak the obvious about that uspeakable war.

People who opposed that war stood behind us, and with us. They were on OUR side. Anti War vets, like Viet Nam Veterans Against the War fought all those forces to bring to light the realities of Agent Orange, and what they called PVS, going so far as to seize unused wings of VA hospitals, setting up our own PVS treatment centers, and forcing the military to upgrade thousands of bad discharges.

A parade? You want to buy me with a fucking PARADE? - tell you what; You want to honor my voluntary tour in Viet Nam, derail these latest public wars for private profit, devote however many billions it will take to do right by our wounded, and the damage we inflicted, and have those responsible for these disasters bought to justice.

Related Links
GORDON MARSHALL. "DSM-III." A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. 6 Oct. 2009

Thursday, October 01, 2009

VA GI Bill Payments SNAFU: Situation Normal, All F****d Up...

Sept   30, 2009                                                                       
Contact: Katie Roberts or 202-461-4982

Secretary Shinseki Announces Ability to Sign Up for Emergency Educatio Benefit Payments on VA Web-Site this Friday

Vans to Help Veteran-Students

WASHINGTON - Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki today announced further outreach to Veteran-students eligible for a special emergency payment of their education benefits. Veterans can now apply online beginning October 2nd. Veteran-students can also request courtesy transportation to VA regional benefits offices.

"Our Veterans went the extra mile for their country," Shinseki said. "One of our top priorities in transforming VA is to be, first and  foremost, the advocate for Veterans."

Last week Shinseki announced that on Friday, Oct. 2, VA's 57 regional benefits offices will begin providing on-the-spot emergency payments up to $3,000 to students who have applied for their education benefits but who have not yet received a government payment.

Citing the distance many Veterans would have to travel to apply in person at a VA benefits office, Shinseki announced Veterans can also apply online at, starting Oct. 2. The online application will guide Veterans through the process to supply needed information. Shinseki noted that online applicants will receive their emergency payments through the mail after processing.

"VA is adapting to meet the financial needs of our Veteran-students who are on campus," Shinseki said. "They should be focusing on their studies, not worrying about financial difficulties."

Students without their own transportation can also request free van service, provided by volunteers, to carry them to the nearest benefits office. To obtain this service, Veterans would have to call their nearest VA medical center and ask for the "Volunteer Transportation Coordinator." Transportation will be on a first-come, first-served, space-available basis.

Veterans can find a map and list of medical centers at

Whether traveling by personal vehicle or volunteer van, VA officials suggest students check their mail boxes and banking accounts before leaving home, since some Veterans will find their checks have already arrived. VA would like to recognize the volunteers and Veterans Service

Organizations for partnering with us in ensuring that student Veterans' needs are met.

The emergency checks are an advance on each student's education benefits, and the amount will be deducted from future benefits payments.

Checks will be written at the regional offices for Veterans who bring a photo ID and evidence of their enrollment. VA officials emphasize that $3,000 is the maximum payment, with many Veterans receiving smaller payments based upon their likely monthly education benefits.

A map and list of the participating VA regional benefits offices is available on the Internet at . The most updated information regarding VA issuing emergency checks will be available VA's web site starting
October 1st.

Applications from approximately 25,000 Veterans are currently being processed for Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefit payments to students or schools.

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