I have a friend whose name will remain confidential because of my profession. On Feb. 1, 1971, he entered into the service in one of the branches of our nation's armed forces and was trained and posted as a private at one the largest installations in the southeastern part of our nation, where, according to his record, he served as a model recruit and performed the tasks he was given.
He hadn't been in the service very long when he was ordered to a job of entering and cleaning military aircraft that had transported and sprayed lethal doses of a lethal mixture of dioxins also known as Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant filled with potions concocted by the DuPont Corporation designed to kill vegetation in the jungles, forests and fields of South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
These aircraft had become so saturated with dioxin that the Army brought the aircraft home for cleaning in 1972 until the end of the war in 1978. This hellacious chemical was hailed by the Army and the Armed Services Committee in Congress as a solution to wiping out ground cover for our enemies in Southeast Asia. As you might imagine, prior to its interaction with humans nothing was disclosed by anyone, not DuPont, not the Army and not the Armed Services Committee regarding its danger to humans. More pointedly, to our servicemen.
A couple of years after being exposed to Agent Orange my friend began to experience a number of symptoms that had become apparent to the medical military personnel in 1973. Symptoms such as soft tissue cancers, lesions on his lungs, blisters on his eardrums, peptic ulcers, diabetes mellitus, vomiting blood, ad nauseum.
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I see these ads endorsed by country music's 100 percent red- blooded American patriot Toby Keith. He asks Americans to say a prayer for peace as if such will cure those suffering from "fighting for peace" (if that makes sense to anyone anymore). The ad also requests a standing monthly donation of $28 a month to help these veterans. Why is this necessary when the U.S.A. spends twice as much money on weapons like Agent Orange, as does the rest of the world spend, in total, for all of the world's other militaries. Go to YouTube and listen to President Eisenhower's speech regarding our nation becoming a servant to the excesses of an all powerful runaway military budget
Politicians, our "worthless pieces of dung," are the only government we have. Every two to four years, they talk about being pro military and taking care of our dead and wounded because isn't that what we the people are supposed to do when soldiers die for freedom or are wounded for our freedom?
Although my friend has been on the Agent Orange Registry for more than a decade he receives no disability benefits beyond $132 a month. He just got a wheelchair last week to be used in a house trailer not modified for one. According to VA in Dublin, his spine is collapsing, he has diminished use of his hands, he cannot walk and he called me crying because he was hungry and alone.
Is he alone? He is not, in fact he is treated by our government and our governors as are the majority of our veterans. Perhaps our armory of "smart weapons" is testimony to our idiotic leaders in government that can't or won't finance what is required to take care of our veterans.
Rather than saying a prayer for peace, why don't we kick these worthless people to the curb, where they belong. If they wanted to care for our wounded warriors, they would receive the caring they earned from a seemingly uncaring government. It's all so much BS. It truly is, brothers and sisters.
Jon Gary Branan is a resident of Macon.