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july/august 2007

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Veterans Against Drugs Task Force Report / Government Affairs Committee Report / IOM SHAD Study / Credentials Committee Report / AVVA Report / Homeless Veterans Task Force Report / PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee Report / Region 9 Report / Rules Committee Report / VVAF / Women Veterans Committee Report / Arts of War / Book Review / The Ding-A-Lings / Jersey Guys / Letters / The Locator / Membership Notes / Reunions / Taps /

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The new format of The VVA Veteran is excellent! The pages are so much easier to read and handle and, of course, the new format allows for great color pictures, graphics, and ads. Congratulations on the new publication.

Bob Wefald
Via e-mail

My husband received his VVA Veteran today and I was looking through it.
I noticed that your Convention is in Springfield, Illinois, and you have a list of things to do and places to see, restaurants, and other sites pertaining to Abraham Lincoln. May I make another suggestion on a place to visit? It’s the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 Headquarters and Museum. The address is 503 South Walnut Street in Springfield. Hope you can stop by and see it.

Lynne Gallaudet Dolan
Daughters of Union Veterans of
the Civil War 1861-1865
New York Department Chaplain
Via e-mail

I must commend you on the articles, the writing, and the information that you put forth in each issue. I joined VVA just two-and-a-half years ago. I don’t know why I waited so long. Maybe it was because I was a member of the VFW and thought that they cared about veterans, rather than running bingo games. Since I have joined and found Chapter 311, I have formed friendships with the members, and I can now proudly state that I am a Vietnam veteran.

One article in the March/April issue caught my eye. Being a “gear head” since I was in high school and a card-carrying member of the NHRA, I loved the article about Melanie Troxel and her top fuel car. Keep up the good work.

Michael D. Zenisek
Wheaton, Illinois

I am writing to inform all Vietnam veterans about a potential health risk that they may have been exposed to while serving in Vietnam: the little-known danger from parasites.

My husband, who was otherwise healthy, passed away on January 20, 2006, from cholangiocarcinoma, cancer of the bile duct of the liver. It is very rare in the United States, but very prevalent in Vietnam and surrounding countries. There are two known causes of this type of cancer: from contracting hepatitis C and from ingesting a parasite from the water supply in Vietnam. My husband did not have hepatitis C; therefore, it was determined that his cancer derived from a parasite. I have received official notification from the VA that his death was service related, which is not something the VA determines without an overwhelming amount of evidence.

This cancer does not manifest itself until later in life, when you are between 60 and 70 years old. Once the symptoms occur, which usually include jaundice, it is very difficult to treat or beat. My husband was 58 years old when he passed away. If he had been informed that there was a possibility that he could have ingested a parasite while serving in Vietnam, he would have taken precautions to have his bile ducts examined, possibly extending his life. The parasite is long gone, but it left behind damaged cells, which developed into cancerous tumors in the bile ducts.

If you spent time in Southeast Asia and are having gastrointestinal issues for no apparent reason, please have your physician check for damage within the bile ducts. It may save your life.

Mrs. Edward S. (Pete) Harrison
Horseheads, New York

The comments made by Cheryl Price in her letter to the editor in the May/June issue are a slap in the face to all Army veterans and current soldiers. Her comment, “He must have been in the Army. They take anyone,” was unwarranted.

Rich MacLeod
Via e-mail

I just read the May/June edition. As usual, you did an outstanding job. While reviewing the memorial list, I quickly realized it does not include our brothers who died in Vietnam. They never had the opportunity to join VVA. I assume a decision was made not to include them. I personally believe they should be included.

John Baxter
Via e-mail

I just read your article about immunization problems in the May/June issue and felt I should write about what has happened to me (and I’m sure many others). In November 2006 I was feeling a little lousy and went to my doctor. He got some blood work back that said I had come down with hepatitis C.

I was completely dumbfounded as to how this could have happened. I had absolutely no risk factors: no transfusions, no promiscuous sex. As I delved deeper, I found out some truly astonishing things on the VVA web site, such as the fact that the general population risk for hep C is 1.9 percent, all veterans’ risk is 8.9 percent, and Vietnam veterans’ is 18.0 percent.

The last time I went to the VA clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida, I thought I was in Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First.” After weeks of waiting to hear back about what was to be done about a different problem, the doctor said he was going to give me a prescription for my ailment. Then I got a letter in the mail saying that they couldn’t give me the medicine because it is too expensive. Nice, huh?

Ed Malone
Port St. Lucie, Florida

In June, the U.S.S. Liberty Veterans Association commemorated forty years since our ship was attacked by our ally, Israel (see The VVA Veteran, Sept./Oct. 2002).

On June 8, 1967, while the Liberty was in international waters monitoring the Six Day War, two Mirage fighters attacked, killing nine sailors. Torpedo boats followed, firing five torpedoes at the Liberty. One smashed into the Research Operations Department, instantly killing 25 cryptologists. Machine-gun fire was merciless; even lifeboats were sunk. In the end, 34 were KIA, 172 were WIA.

The bravery and heroism of the Liberty crew resulted in the award of a Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, and 36 Silver and Bronze Stars. Even though the casualty rate was the highest since World War II, few people know of the Liberty. Our service has been denigrated, the attack we survived, minimized.

For forty years, the LVA has called for justice and a full investigation into the events of that sad day. I am happy to report that this year both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion at their conventions will debate resolutions demanding justice for these Vietnam Era veterans. Sadly, my own organization—Vietnam Veterans of America—will not.

John Hrankowski
Rochester, New York

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