Agent Orange Continues Its Toll on Veterans

Agent Orange Continues Its Toll on Veterans

Dr. Norman Latov, MD, PhD of Weill Medical College, Cornell University noted in his writings what a growing list of medical professionals now recognize, that chronic peripheral neuropathy is associated with the cancers and treatments for the cancers.

One of the worst results of exposure to Agent Orange is cancer, but the list is growing of what this toxin has done to both the people of Vietnam and in other countries where it was used or stored.

Now in 2010 after decades of denial that it could even cause Chronic Neuropathy, now the Institute of Medicine IOM states that PN does not necessarily resolve within one year. In other words Agent Orange causes Chronic Peripheral Neuropathy.   But to add insult to injury the VA demands that the veteran must have had symptoms or a diagnosis within one year of exposure.  This is during a time medical science did not have the tools for diagnosis and seldom recognized the symptoms, let alone at the 10% disability level that the VA requires.   The frustration of veterans continues with such demands from those who should know better.

In 2014, this video was published by the New York Times.  It says it all and shows the double talk by so many in power to protect the chemical companies over Agent Orange.  Click here to see the video:

Beyond the cancers and other acceptable diseases caused by Agent Orange, it is imperative that medical professionals understand that extremely painful or crippling neuropathy is not something that should be ignored or dismissed by medical practitioners.  While many highly respected neurologists continue to deny that Agent Orange could cause chronic neuropathy, in 2012 the VA began to recognize the obvious about chronic neuropathy and Agent Orange with the recognition by the National Institute of Health.

All that being said, VA still insists on talking about neuropathy being diagnosed in the decades after Vietnam, as if medical science had the tools for diagnosis or could even recognize the symptoms, demand that the veteran prove early onset at the 10% disabling level!  This is an unrealistic bogus requirement imposed by the VA creating yet another hurtle for veterans.

Neuropathy must be addressed both by an understanding of neuropathic pain treatment options and possible treatments and research to find ways to address prevention and treatment for the nerve damage itself.

Recent findings and suggestions by the Peripheral Nerve Society in their “Journal of the Peripheral Nerve System” has outlined many findings and research needs.

Our understanding of the neuropathies continues to grow and with the recent change in VA policy recognizing that Peripheral Neuropathy does not necessary resolve within two years, but often becomes chronic over time, it is increasingly imperative that medicine correct its long held poor attitudes toward neuropathy patients.

MedPage Today published an article on May 13, 2013 regarding the increasing evidence that this horrible toxin is strongly linked to many types of cancer, only highlights what has been suspected for decades while veterans and their families have suffered with growing, but limited help and recognition.

Agent Orange: Still Taking a Toll on Vets by Cole Petrochko, Staff Writer, MedPage Today Published: May 13, 2013 – Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

To read the entire article go to: www.MedPageToday.com/HematologyOncology

NOTE: Copyright 2010-15 Network For Neuropathy Support, Inc. dba Neuropathy Support Network.. This article may be reprinted or published for educational purposes as long as the printing or publishing is not for profit and acknowledgement is granted the author. Contact him at E-mail: gene@neuropathysupportnetwork.org

PATIENT TO PATIENT – Disclaimer: Patient to Patient articles are intended to be educational, not diagnostic or prescriptive and the patient is encouraged to seek help from their own private physician.

About the Author

LtCol Eugene B Richardson, USA (Retired) BA, MDiv, EdM, MS

Col Richardson has suffered with severe neuropathy for over 45 years. A 27 year military veteran and veteran of the Vietnam War, he was diagnosed with a progressive chronic peripheral neuropathy resulting in severe disability. This diagnosis has been confirmed as due to exposure to Agent Orange. It was not until 2010, 42 years after his exposure to Agent Orange, that his diagnosis was recognized by Veterans Affairs as service connected.

Author Archive Page

11 Comments

  1. I first filed an “Agent Orange”/peripheral neuropathy claim with the VA in 2004. I’m still in the appeal process but the process is at a crossroad – I have a C&P exam tomorrow. The VA has recently begun using the term “popliteal nerve damage” in regards to my claim. What in the world does this mean and how does this affect my claim? I am already SC for diabetes. Are they trying to pull a fast one? Is this some way for them to muddy the waters of my claim (like that was even possible)?

    1. Tom: See National Institute of Health Article at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2941578/ for an article on popliteal nerve damage.

      Normally this is damage done to the nerve in the area of the knee. It is an entrapment neuropathy and can be caused by a knee injury and other things such as peripheral neuropathy of long standing so it could be related to your claim. Entrapment neuropathies are very common in diabetics but I do not know if the VA is trying a trick here to deny it is related to your diabetes or by peripheral neuropathy as substantiated by medical authorities! Just keep the pressure on and do NOT stop appealing. The VA could be attempting to refused to related your neuropathy to diabetes with this focus but the literature notes that peripheral neuropathy does cause such a problem and according to Norman Latov, Cornell University in his book, such entrapment neuropathies are common to diabetes but medicine is not sure why this happens.

      For an extensive review and photos of this subject go to the online encyclopedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_fibular_nerve
      Chronic peroneal neuropathy can result from, among other conditions, bed rest of long duration, hyperflexion of the knee, peripheral neuropathy, pressure in obstetric stirrups, and conditioning in ballet dancers. The most common cause is habitual leg crossing that compresses the common fibular nerve as it crosses around the head of fibula.[2] Transient trauma to the nerve can result from peroneal strike.

      Damage to this nerve typically results in foot drop, where dorsiflexion of the foot is compromised and the foot drags (the toe points) during walking; and in sensory loss to the dorsal surface of the foot and portions of the anterior, lower-lateral leg. A common yoga kneeling exercise, the Varjrasana has, under the name “yoga foot drop,” been linked to foot drop.

      Repeat: Just keep the pressure on and do NOT stop appealing. Let me know what the VA comes back with after your C&P TODAY. I hope the examination is being done by a competent Neuromuscular Neurologist at the VA, as they often use ANY DOCTOR (and can do so by VA law) to do such exams even if retired and have no clinical training in the area. It is the face of the beast.

      Let me know how it goes.

  2. I have peripheral Neuropathy for about five years, had two claims rejected, have not appealed, should I keep appealing?
    I was in the Air force in Vietnam working on the C-123 that carried the agent and was exposed many times. claim was denied because I didn’t report it after the first year. I don’t have diabetes. heard that the law may change on this.

    1. Terry: You need to appeal until you are no longer able to appeal. We have forced changes in the law several times since Vietnam and from decades of claiming no relationship to Agent Orange to the bogus claim it shows up in a year and goes away after two years…all bull… to AO does cause it but must show up within two years at 10% disabling level during a time when no medical authority could diagnose it or recognize the symptoms. The VA is now using a bogus claim on the early onset requirement that has no basis in medical fact. I will send information directly by email for your appeal.

  3. Gentlemen:

    I am no medical doctor, but have suffered Type II Diabetes and peripheral Neuropathy due to Agent Orange for years. I have managed to maintain my Type II with lots of hard exercise and diet. More important I have used B3, B6 and B12 to decrease my Neuropathy. Yes, the front portion of my feet do not feel normal, but they feel better and no pain. you might try this, I certainly hope it works for you as it does for me. After returning from Vietnam I had no feeling in my hands, feet, arms or legs due to Neuropathy. I could not tell I was holding a pencil! A lot of it disappeared over the years, except for the feet.

    From what I have learned the Dioxin in Agent Orange modified the DNA/RNA in plants to make cell walls thicker which made it difficult for leaves to uptake the sucrose needed to survive resulting in defoliation.

    The same thing happens to our DNA/RNA; it has been modified permanently to make cell/membrane walls thicker making it difficult for us to uptake the sucrose in our cells/membranes. In the same way the B vitamins needed for our nerves cannot get through the producing walls and into the blood stream. By supplementing the B3, B6 and B12 you subsidize what the body normally creates.

    At least that is my belief and it appears to work for me.

    The very best of luck to all of you and thank you for serving,

    John

    1. John: Really appreciate your insight and so glad that you have found a way to turn your diabetes around from Agent Orange exposure. I am going to past this on to our Medical advisor. The B vitamins have been long known to have a role in the development of many types of Peripheral Neuropathy. The only caution is that B6 as you may know in excess can be toxic and cause neuropathy, but then you did not mention B6. I also have used B vitamins, but have not had the great results that you have experienced. The IVIg that I get for years has had a very effective effect in preventing more damage to my nerves while reducing the pain and other symptoms, but I do not have diabetes. The problem is that we are all genetically different and different in how we respond to medicine and treatments. This makes is very difficult when we attempt to provide all patients of neuropathy with similar treatments. The other variable is that often neuropathy comes and then abates for reasons we do not know. This is why the VA at first stated that neuropathy comes within a certain period and then disappears in two years, pure crap as we have found that this is wishful thinking for many patients. But for diabetes caused by Agent Orange exposure, your idea may be very sound and I certainly will pass it on to our Medical Advisors and to patients. Thanks for your input!

      1. Sir, my question is my P.N. has only got worse with age–Acute/Sub Acute, hell they did not even know this terminology ,I currently have a B.V.A. appeal in progress, and the Judge in Washington D.C. requested that I have to go for another exaim-46 years latter??. In 1999 I was put through several exam’s for a couple months–2 to 3 days a week, and the Doctors final decision ,per his letter(There is no other reason this Vet has P.N. other than A.O. exposer)but he did not use the words Acute/Sub-Acute, He latter left V.A. and started his own Practice ,I found him on the Internet and called him. He was very nice and said he remembered me ,So he asked me how can I help you, I told him about the 2 words that should have been in his report and I was shocked when he told me that he never saw this to put in exaim,I have evidence(letters) from troops in my unit on how we were heavily sprayed on end of Air Base, and after a couple of C-123 dropping A.O.I got sick and was flown by Helo to Saigon for 2 weeks, they thought I had Malaria(NO),I have copy of medical report And diagnosis un-known–throwing up, equal Librium BAD, passing out .So what in the world are they goanna do 46 years later? to help me with my claim??
        Thank You for you’re time, Ray
        p.s. my email–alphonsisray@yahoo.com–PH: 850-934-9999.Any help would be greatly appreciated.

        1. Ray: I will send you guidance on how to respond in regards to reopening your claim and what you must use. Many doctors have no clue unfortunately. You will get an E mail from me.

          1. Good Morning,

            I too, am a Vietnam (Da Nang and Phu Cat) Veteran – Air Force. The VA continues to deny any responsibility – as I have had the “within one year” requirement pulled on me as well. From what I understand and read here – the information wasn’t even out there to diagnose – let alone treat a person.

            I really appreciate your input to our fellow Veterans! I too would like to receive
            any information you can provide – to help me in my fight to obtain rightful assistance.

            They knew what they were doing – when they hung us out to dry.

    1. To answer your question, YES. We will send you information direct by E mail. Col Gene

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