A veteran friend has terminal cancer that is believed to have been caused by his being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. He has been combatting the effect from the disease since at least 1998, and he also suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome from his experience in that tragic and unnecessary war.
A veteran of the 377th Security Police Squadron, Dave Dowdell, remains a proactive American patriot. His grandsons have served in the Marines and Army, and in combat in America’s continuing wars that are driven by foreign policy.
Dave wants his story told. It is not so much about his combat duty in a security unit, as it is about the US military command exposing troops to a most harmful and debilitating chemical at a time when science and leadership knew better. That act to deploy troops where the earth has been showered with Agent Orange was wrong. It was wrong to soldiers and to humanity.
Then, the wrongful acts by the military and US government continued. The military dragged out claims for medical assistance. They sought to deny the harmful consequences from Agent Orange. The behavior of the military and government that makes matters worse for veterans is despicable.
It has to do with the idea that Americans should not put soldiers into combat if the nation doesn’t have the resources to be fully responsible for the consequences and care for troops throughout their life cycles.
Dave also shared his disdain for chemical companies that influence the agriculture industry that uses harmful chemicals in food production. Dave advocates organic food and is opposed to genetically modified foods.
Dave Dowdell was one of many of my high school classmates who served in Vietnam. Many of them were killed or wounded in combat as that war was incredibly vicious.
What does Dave want, now? He would like to not be so sick. He would like to go back to his mountaintop home to his lovely wife and family of sons and daughter, and grandchildren. He is grateful for his medical team at Dartmouth, but he is saddened that his disease came from what might be described as “friendly fire.”
Dave wants the American military and government to treat veterans with full support and willingness, with dignity to care for them as they deserved and earned it.
Dave is still fighting his personal battle for as long as he can.
Here is a story by Dave Dowdell describing his experience in Vietnam when he was wounded: http://www.vspa.com/tsn-dowdell-charlie-flight-1968.htm
That is an excellent description, told as well as any journalist could.
“What is Agent Orange?
During the Vietnam War, the United States military sprayed the herbicide Agent Orange on trees and vegetation that were providing coverage for enemy forces. In turn, many American troops also suffered exposure to the chemical’s harmful consequences. The possible effects of Agent Orange include:
- Throat cancer
- Acute/chronic leukemia
- Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Prostate cancer
- Lung cancer
- Colon cancer
- Soft tissue sarcoma
- Liver cancer
“DIABETES MELLITUS TYPE 2
Veterans who develop type 2 diabetes and were exposed to Agent Orange may be eligible for VA benefits.
The U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides on trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War. Several decades later, concerns about the health effects from these chemicals continue.
VA offers eligible Veterans a free Agent Orange Registry health exam for possible long-term health problems related to exposure.”
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“Veterans' Diseases Associated with Agent Orange
VA assumes that certain diseases can be related to a Veteran’s qualifying military service. We call these "presumptive diseases."
VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for benefits for these diseases.
- AL Amyloidosis
A rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters tissues or organs
- Chronic B-cell Leukemias
A type of cancer which affects white blood cells
- Chloracne (or similar acneform disease)
A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
- Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin
- Hodgkin’s Disease
A malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia
- Ischemic Heart Disease
A disease characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart, that leads to chest pain
- Multiple Myeloma
A cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
A group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue
- Parkinson’s Disease
A progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement
- Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
A nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and motor weakness. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure.
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
A disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA's rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
- Prostate Cancer
Cancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among men
- Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer)
Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
A group of different types of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues
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