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To: COMMANDER, NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS, VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS

via Rich Preston, Vietnam veteran exposed to agent orange, and agentorangelegacy.blogspot.com

via Rich Preston, Vietnam veteran exposed to agent orange, and agentorangelegacy.blogspot.com

Baby boomers know how to move on. We’ve seen hippies turn into businessmen, radicals to politicians, yippies into stock brokers.

We’ve seen our soldiers come back from Vietnam and work to regain missing years.

The following two letters come from an American veteran. He served on the Korean DMZ.

Thomas Lucken, like thousands of other Veterans from the Vietnam-era, was exposed to dioxin poisoning.

Like many from the Era, he wants a fair health evaluation from his exposure.

Current investigations at Veterans’ Administration hospitals, like the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix, show a trend of personnel manipulating patient scheduling to maximize their performance bonuses.

Turn this ugly institutional negative into a positive by stepping up processing for Agent Orange claims. What would say “lesson learned” better than addressing this long-standing problem? It’s not going away, and the former soldiers and their kids need help.

Show today’s military the same trust and faith they swear an oath to. Show them words have meaning we all understand.

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Pfc. David A. Gillaspie, US Army, 1974-76, son of SSgt Wayne B. Gillaspie, USMC, 1950-55, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Korean War.

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The letters of Thomas J. Lucken: (links added by boomerpdx blogger.)

20 April 2014

To: Commander, National Headquarters, Veterans of Foreign Wars

Thru: Commander, Department of Illinois, Veterans of Foreign Wars
Commander, District 12, Department of Illinois, Veterans of Foreign Wars

Subject: Dioxin (Agent Orange) Long Term Residual Effects Korean DMZ

Two months ago, I found out that I have Adult Diabetes Type 2, which is one of the many side effects of Dioxin exposure. I already knew many veterans who have served in Vietnam and Korea suffer from not just this side effect but many others. I have discussed with other veterans who have also served in Korea, in particular those who have also served up on the DMZ north of Freedom Bridge/Imjin-gak (River). Many of these veterans also suffer not only from Diabetes, but many of the other side effects of Dioxin exposure.

(Veterans’ Diseases Associated with Agent Orange.)

Agent Orange was used in Korea from approximately 1968 to 1971. Those that served in Korea at that time are the only ones who are acknowledged to have had exposure to Dioxin. It does not cover those that were exposed afterward, where it resides in the dirt for many years to come. From 1971 to 1991 we still had Troops running patrols, manning Guard Posts, and Observation Posts in the American Sector (11 Mile Stretch) after the use of AO.

(Units with Agent Orange exposure in Korea.)

Our final troops exited Vietnam by 1975 and they are covered in the Zone for Agent Orange. But, in Vietnam we did not naturally get a chance to see the effects of Dioxin exposure in the ground to those Veterans. In Korea, many of us believe we were exposed to it through the 70s and 80s due to aliments we now suffer from.

The US Government/VA needs to look at supporting and caring for these Veterans who are suffering from the side effects caused by exposure to Agent Orange. The Government needs to determine and accept that Dioxins remained in the area/ground well after its use and not just during. We exposed these Troops to an unsafe environment and now they suffer from it in sickness/illnesses, and in some cases death. I believe you will find in most cases, it has taken several years for the illnesses to appear, quite similar to those who were exposed to Agent Orange when it was used in Vietnam.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars membership rules changed several years ago, to allow those who have served in Korea since 1953 to become members of the VFW. Now as the VFW it is our mission to support these Troops that are affected, make it known that they are just as important as Veterans, as our other Veterans are that have served in combat zones! They too served a mission that was difficult on the DMZ, that was real, and sometimes was deadly.

Serving on the Korean DMZ and running missions, were not training but a real world situation. These Troops lives were on the line constantly, under the threat of the north. Whether it was being shot at randomly, ambushed by roaming NK soldiers, avoiding minefields that were and are still in place! These Troops were and still are our fellow brothers who deserve to be given equal treatment for their service. A service that many never knew that really existed and/or accepted. Now we as members of the VFW need to see them given the recognition for a duty that was unforgiving, and make the rest of our members and all US Citizens aware of it. They are our brothers and should not be forgotten!

From 1972 to 1991, approximately 50,000 troops have served in the American Sector of the DMZ, and that is a conservative number! For the VA to see an issue/trend here is very limited due to relatively small number of veterans who have served there. With DMZ veterans spread in 50 states, territories, working, living, and retired overseas, and in some cases have passed on, it is hard to see that there is a trend/issue. That is why I ask the Veterans of Foreign Wars to stand up and help these veterans who need it now and never have been recognized for their efforts and their sickness from exposure to Agent Orange.

Last, just for the record. Not only am I currently active with my VFW Post here, but I am a Past Commander of Freedom Bridge Memorial Post 9985, Tongduchon, Republic of Korea.

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1 May 2014

To: Commander, National Headquarters, Veterans of Foreign Wars

Thru: Commander, Department of Illinois, Veterans of Foreign Wars
Commander, District 12, Department of Illinois, Veterans of Foreign Wars

Subject: Dioxin (Agent Orange) Long Term Residual Effects Korean DMZ (Continuation Letter)

This is to add to my previous letter I sent on April 20, 2014.

My son John H. Lucken, who is a member of VFW Post 9770, suffers from Spinal Bifida, a birth defect from those who were exposed to Agent Orange and it’s Dioxins. A birth defect that is define by the VA.

John was born on July 17, 1989 at 121st Evac Hospital, Yongsan, Korea. John’s mother is Korean from the north part of the ROK. Her name is Mun, Yong-Cha!

John’s spinal bifida is on record with the VA besides dealing with PTSD from Afghanistan 2009. Would I know that my service would come back to haunt him even more, than me!

Thomas J. Lucken

Senior Vice Commander
VFW Post 9770
Brownstown, IL

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Mr. Lucken is one voice speaking for thousands. That he chose to share his work with this blogger is an honor above and beyond any expectation. But it shows a modern twist on social media.

Today there are fewer shadows to hide in. Read this and send the link out on your personal networks to see the strength in numbers.

Can one blog post move a mountain? Let’s find out.

About David Gillaspie

Comments

  1. joseph nave says:

    I served in Korea, Camp Casey, 1974 through 1975. We knew were walking through mountian vegetation that had been killed with herbicides. We keft the areas wet from the waist down.

    Was in the DMZ for a number of times doing physical inspections. Returned home, went to the KC VA hospital, reported the rash on my legs, told them about the agent orange use around Casey. They didn’t do anything but list it as a rash! I am now 61.

    Have had heart problems, Diabeties, and other problems related to the exposure. Had 5 children, all have health issues, one with bypolar issues.

    I can’t get anyone at Leavenworth VA to listen to me or provide any help. I am 90% disabled.

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Hi Joseph,

      Getting out on a blog like boomerpdx is a step in the right direction. Everyone likes their privacy, but when it comes down to cutting time it’s a good idea to sound off.

      The big hurdle that’s been there for every Veteran to climb over is proving their case. Why is it so hard? Soldiers don’t pick duty stations like some kind of vacation destination. We got orders to go, and went. If Agent Orange was used where you were, case closed.

      But it’s never that easy. Even harder? Staying patient while explaining yourself for the 10,000th time to someone new who asks questions they ought to know the answers to.

      Stay on track, Joe. Once you get heard, ears open for more cases.

      Thanks for coming in,

      David

  2. Thomas Lucken says:

    Thank you very much for posting and your support David!!!! I and my fellow veterans thank you.

    • David Gillaspie says:

      This is how it works, Tom. It’s not the traditional path to standard results, but a way to say we’re still here. You’ve done a good thing.

  3. Very good site you have here but I was curious if you knew of any message boards that cover
    the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really love to be
    a part of online community where I can get responses from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Appreciate it!

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Hi Trisha,

      My connections are all based on people I meet. I talk to them, they explain what’s going on, then I do the research for a post. Really, it’s all about the digging. Then you’ll be disappointed some things don’t turn out the way you want, but keep digging. One yes is all you need to push forward.

      Here it is Trisha: Yes

      David

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