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Vietnam veterans still fighting battles

In case you haven’t been paying attention these past few decades since the end of war in Vietnam, the clock has been ticking.

Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam, Less than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today most of us in our early seventies. So, if you served in South East Asia and you’re alive and reading this, how does it feel to be among the last one-third of all the U.S. vets who served in Vietnam?

I don’t know about you guys, but it kinda gives me the chills, considering this is the kind of information we’re used to reading about WWII and Korean War vets. If true, 390 Vietnam vets die every day

I landed in Vietnam mid-1968 and, like my other Nam brothers, I thought I knew who the enemy was, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong (Charlie). Little did I suspect I was facing another enemy — my government, which was spraying Agent Orange all over South East Asia..

It’s a legacy of war that nobody wanted: the lingering effects of a herbicide called Agent Orange. A scorched earth warfare destroying vegetation to clear the countryside of places for the enemy to hide that was taken to the next level, I recently read that over 20 million gallons of the chemical was sprayed by the U.S. military in Southeast Asia.

Nobody knew just how bad an idea that was until after the war, when many of the more than 2.7 million U.S. military personal started reporting major health problems.

Over the years many of us developed serious health issues, and every year, more Vietnam veterans are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Worse, many of us who were exposed to Agent Orange and other battlefield chemicals have developed a more aggressive prostate cancer.

Nobody knows the exact nature of the genetic reprogramming that makes those exposed to Agent Orange more susceptible to cancer.

If you are a Vietnam vet or know one, my hope is to get the message across that our battle with Agent Orange diseases, including prostate cancer is a lifelong fight.

What I have learned in the past two months is if you served in South East Asia, you were exposed to Agent Orange and you must tell your doctor and insist on prostate screening.

As a Vietnam veteran who served in country, we were all exposed to that toxic herbicide. Many of us who came home now have developed a very aggressive form of prostate cancer which has been determined by the Veterans Administration to be service connected.

As an old Viet Nam Vet facing an aggressive cancer I am prompting men with a history of Agent Orange exposure to talk to their physician and strongly consider prostate cancer screening.

Be sure your doctor knows if you have a history of Agent Orange exposure. Because of the possibility of increased cancer risk, your doctor might advise you to get cancer screening tests and to promptly report any suspicious symptoms.

As a Vietnam vet we are more likely to have a higher incidence major health issues as well as a more aggressive form of prostate cancer. This puts each of us in categories of greater risk and warrants that we are diligent in making sure that we are diagnosed early, evaluated competently, and cared for appropriately, whether it be in the VA or private sector.

Robert Ware

French Creek

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