Celebrating and commemorating our veterans. United States military veterans and their families.

Agent Orange Claims – Gig Line #41


By Marsha M. Brown

Though I’m not sure who first said, “Good things come to those who wait”, there’s no doubt we’ve all heard the phrase more than once. With reference to the men and woman who have submitted claims to the Veterans Administration for one reason or another…most do just that…they wait and wait.

It’s been my understanding that many claims have been filed in the last few years, especially by veterans of the Vietnam War. Surely, each and every claim will be reviewed and carefully scrutinized in great detail as they are all worthy of every bit of careful consideration. Hopefully each claimant will, at some point, hear a satisfactory and favorable response once his or her turn for review and judgment as to the validity of the claim can be determined.

Please don’t be discouraged if you have filed a claim that is still pending. And please know that even if you have been responded to in a negative way, you may still have a window of opportunity to challenge the response and pursue further review for a specified period of time. Please clarify your specific time allowance with your Veteran Service Officer.

Patience is a virtue and one that is tried time and time again in life but “it is what it is”…a virtue…a characteristic that matters. The Veterans Administration is apparently overwhelmed with submissions of veteran claims and the process, unfortunately takes time.

During our last Veterans Advisory Council meeting on January 24th, Rhonda Creef, Dare County Veterans Service Officer, reported that the most recent update she had on file indicated there were 35,000 rating claims pending at the VA Regional Office; 7,000 rating claims that had been pending for over a year; 700 rating claims pending for over two (2) years and 2.4 million nationwide. It was her understanding that most of the claims related to the Vietnam War era.

The numbers seem staggering but its obvious there are a lot of deserving men and women who most likely have an illness, injury or medical condition that relates to Dioxin (Agent Orange or ‘AO’) or some other effect from the time they spent in Vietnam and elsewhere. And what concerns me is that some of the veterans I’ve spoken to who have not investigated the possibility of a claim for benefits or entitlements, feel they either “Don’t want anything from the government”, feel they “Don’t deserve anything” or that they feel they were “Treated so badly when they came home”, they often times “don’t even want to acknowledge service in Vietnam”.

Please all veterans who have served on foreign soil and especially in Vietnam, think of not only yourselves but your families. Talk to your primary care physician or seek medical services through the VA Medical Centers and Outreach Clinics. You’ve gone through enough. You’ve deserved way more than the world has given you 40 years later. But this is the deal, you wouldn’t be taking anything from the government, you’d be helping the government gather pertinent information that could possibly benefit fellow veterans and future veterans.

Research and collection of data is what contributed to the acknowledgement of the fifteen (15) illnesses and conditions directly relating to exposure to Agent Orange that we only recently came to know about. Also, just think of all the men and women who have left this world not knowing, not reporting, not claiming and not being compensated. You know what’s best for you but I ask that you please consider reading up on the governments outreach to Vietnam veterans in particular. You have more than earned any benefit or entitlement. You matter, you really matter! Much of what we’ve read and have heard recently is that many veterans who have reached or exceeded the age of 66 have begun to experience medical problems related Agent Orange.

A lot of good and productive things are coming your way dear veterans so please keep reading GIG LINE and write to me whenever you can. I love to hear from everyone who loves and supports our service men and women.

If you’re interested in talking with someone from the VA Medical Center in Hampton, VA, or to someone in Elizabeth City, the closest VA Outreach Clinic to us, you can contact me through GIG LINE at editor@giglineheroes.com, Rhonda at her office (252) 475-5604 in Manteo or through the Dare County web site dedicated to veterans. You can also write a confidential note through the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council email at dcvac@darenc.com.  

When it comes to the virtue of patience, the good Lord knows my Sweetie Pie Billy is a perfect example. Another old Army saying, “Hurry up and wait” fits me to a T…bless his heart. All I can say is that God sure knows who we need in our life to love us.

Please don’t put off seeking medical care or counseling if you just want to talk to somebody. There are a lot of caring people dedicated to helping veterans in every way possible. And until next time, be happy, be safe, be proud and stay tuned…

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