The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

October/November 1998 POLICY FOR LETTERS


We welcome letters to the editor for publication in The VVA Veteran. We are interested in your criticism as well as your praise. Letters may be edited for purposes of clarity or space. Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.

It's no secret that those of us who served in Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides are at high risk of developing a variety of illnesses, including many forms of cancer. One simple way for Vietnam veterans to increase their odds of overcoming Agent-Orange-induced illnesses is through Preventive Maintenance (PM)—getting a regular medical check-up that pays specific attention to those illnesses related to toxic exposure.

PM is important because many illnesses can be cured if found early. Lung cancer, for example, can come on with very little warning. A physical that includes a chest X-ray can detect the early onset of this often deadly disease.

So remember to do your own Preventive Maintenance. Your life could depend on it.

Michael Eckstein
For VVA's Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee


We would like to thank the Virginia State Council and Virginia membership for standing behind us in a time of need. On July 10, our son, Chuck, and his wife, Karen, had a new son, Matthew Brian Parsons. After he was born, Matthew was diagnosed with Myotublar Myopathy X link, a deadly and rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. He was immediately flown by helicopter from Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg to Roanoke Community Hospital and placed in their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Matthew stayed on life support for the first month of his life, but with prayers and monetary support from VVA members, he is home. He still has a feeding tube in his stomach and an oxygen tube in his nose. He has a heart and lung monitor and a suction device to keep his airways clear.

On behalf of Matthew's entire family, we wish to thank VVA for stepping in and helping the grandson of Vietnam veterans. Matthew's maternal grandfather, Doug Spence, is a charter member of VVA and was instrumental in starting Chapter 138 in Radford, Virginia. A trust fund for Matthew has been set up with Carolyn as administrator.

VVA's motto should be changed from "Veterans helping veterans" to encompass the kids and grandkids who may have ties back to Agent Orange and other birth defects. Thanks, VVA, for your support and prayers.

Tom and Carolyn Parsons
Sedgefield, Virginia


In your August/September The VVA Veteran, VVA Agent Orange chair George Claxton's report describes the efforts of various VVA chapters around the country in bringing the issue of dioxin exposure to the forefront with the building of Agent Orange/dioxin watch-towers.

George attributes the construction of VVA Chapter 725's towers to myself and Jack Watson. While Jack did play a major role in the construction of the three towers currently in place, the other motivating person was not myself, but Ed Lee, Chapter 725's president. Ed became excited at the prospect when it was presented by the AO Committee at the National Leadership Conference in Louisville in 1997. He took the concept home and got the members as excited as he and Jack were about the possibilities of erecting a tower in the heart of Louisiana's petro-chem corridor. This was a courageous move and deserves the highest recognition possible for a great group of veterans.

My role in the project was limited to encouragement (with the exception of one day of being "muscle") and moral support in my capacity then as AO Committee member and Louisiana State Council president.

Allan A. Reynaud
Laplace, Louisiana


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