I-Team: Heroes Denied after Agent Orange - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

I-Team: Heroes Denied after Agent Orange

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TOLEDO, Ohio - The 13abc I-Team staying on top on our nation's Heroes Denied.

Now we look at an issue for veterans that's evolving, 40 years after the conflict ended.  It's the effect of Agent Orange, something that so many veterans in Vietnam came in contact with every day.  Now for some their health is failing and they think the VA is failing them.

Agent Orange is a chemical sprayed on the jungles of Vietnam.  It is something not only the people of Vietnam suffer through but so did our servicemen and women.  It’s caused health issues that for some veterans are just popping up.  Some say they're not getting the treatment for it.

There were plenty of controversial aspects to the war in Vietnam.  Agent Orange was one of them.  It was sprayed by US forces in the jungles, trees, and vegetation.  The idea was to destroy the forest the enemy used for cover.  But the health effects of it turned out to be devastating.

"I think they don't want to tell anybody they've got Agent Orange because they don't know," said Vietnam veteran Thomas Bell.

Bell served in the early 1970s between Da Nang and Saigon.  He says he knows about Agent Orange better than just about everyone.

“Everything green in the jungle was dying.  They say I wasn't in that area, they're wrong.  I ought to know what I went through and what I seen," said Bell.

Now he suffers from difficulty breathing and problems sleeping.  So far he's not received treatment he says he needs for exposure to Agent Orange.  It can be a complicated issue.

“There's no treatment for Agent Orange.  It's diseases you get because you are exposed to Agent Orange," said Ken Buckland with Lucas County Veteran Services.

 Buckland points to this list.  A list some veterans may never have seen.  It's the list of recognized diseases attributed to Agent Orange exposure: 

  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 –

(http://www.publichealth.va.gov/PUBLICHEALTH/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp)

So veterans are not treated for "Agent Orange," you have to be treated for a specific disease and it has to be on this list.

“If you were boots on the ground.  If your feet were on the ground one day in Vietnam you have the possibility of being exposed to Agent Orange and we should file a claim," said Buckland. 

Not everyone has.  Some don't talk about their service or may suffer from a disease not on the list.  The I-Team has found the list keeps changing.

“There could also be things that add on.  You never know," said Buckland.  “I still say let's apply for it let them tell us 'no' because things do add onto the list and then they would have to go back and pay you for the time they denied you," said Buckland

“Since I was in Vietnam there's always the question, was there exposure to Agent Orange?" added Vietnam veteran David Ridenour. 

Ridenour has not felt the effects of Agent Orange exposure. 

"I've had a lot of friends that's had disease related to it.  It does concern me," saidRidenourr.   

“One of the issues I am hearing about from people who have a specific problem that maybe requires a specialty or sub specialty is the expertise is not at the VA," said Senator Rob Portman (R) Ohio.

Portman's pushing a plan to let veterans go to private doctors for specialized issues and there are plenty of them on the Agent Orange list.  Leaving flexibility for veterans and maybe answer some of the questions. 

"I hope we can get something done because it's been too long, 43 years now and we're still living with it," said Bell.  

Working with a veteran services officer is your best way to get your case moving and to better understand Agent Orange issues.  Every county has officers.  Here are the best ways to contact those offices: 

Williams County
1425 E. High Street, Suite 106
Bryan, Ohio 43506
Phone: 419-636-8812

Fulton County
604 S. Shoop Ave.
Suite 270
Wauseon, OH 43567
Phone: 419-337-9266

Lucas County

1301 Monroe St.
Suite 180
Toledo, OH 43604
Phone: 419-213-6090

Ottawa County
8444 West State Route 163
Suite 102,
Oak Harbor OH 43449
Phone: 419-898-2089 

Wood County
1616 E Wooster St #22,
Bowling Green, OH 43402
Phone: 419-354-9147

Henry County
855 Oakwood Ave.,
Napoleon, OH 43545
Phone: 419-592-0956

Defiance County-
1300 E. Second St., Ste. 102
Defiance, OH 43512 
Phone: 419-7826861

Paulding County

810 E Perry St, Paulding, OH 45879
Phone:  (419) 399-8285

Putnam County

245 E Main St #105
Ottawa, OH 45875
Phone:

419-523-4478

Hancock County
1100 E Main Cross St #201,
Findlay, OH 45840
Phone: 419-424-7036

Seneca County 
920 E. County Road 20,
Tiffin, OH 44883
Phone: 800-820-0189

Sandusky County
2511 Countryside Dr,
Fremont, OH 43420
Phone: 419-334-4421

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