National Vietnam Veterans Day is a commemorative holiday in the United States which recognizes the sacrifice veterans and their families made during the Vietnam War. It is also a day to give proper recognition to the men and women who returned home from the war and did not receive a proper welcome home. March 29 was chosen to celebrate in perpetuity as March 29, 1973, was the day Military Assistance Command Vietnam was deactivated. The United States of America War Commemoration honors all U.S. veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from Nov.1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location. The total loss was over 58,200 lives. There are still a estimated 1,585 POW/MIA still not accounted for. During the war, there was 18.2 million gallons of Agent Orange used as part of the herbicidal warfare. Today, thousand of Vietnam veterans are affected by the many diseases from Agent Orange.
VFW Commander-in-Chief Testifies Virtually Before Congress
VFW National Commander Hal Roesch testified via video teleconference before a special joint hearing of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs. The VFW delivered its top priority of toxic exposure reform, demanding Congress develop a comprehensive solution for veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals during their time in service. Roesch cited examples of toxic exposure throughout history, countering the notion that the claim is a new phenomenon. “Toxic exposure for our troops has been synonymous with service for more than a hundred years, but every time we’re faced with it, we act as if it’s never happened before,” Roesch said. The VFW recommends Congress establish an independent commission, free of DOD and VA oversight, as well as partner with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to identify toxic exposures and evaluate their association to certain diseases.
House Hearing on Improving Women Veterans’ Health
Last Thursday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health and Women Veterans Task Force conducted a hearing to look beyond the Deborah Sampson Act to continue to improve women veterans’ health care. VA representatives responded to questions concerning VA’s policies and procedures regarding reproductive services and care, gender-specific in-patient substance abuse treatment, COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy, and research on the reproductive health of both men and women. In a statement submitted for the record, VFW National Legislative Service Associate Director Tammy Barlet cited results from a VFW survey of women veterans on gender-specific services, expanding interoperability of electronic health records between VA and Community Care Network providers, and ensuring VA prioritizes reproductive health.
Legislation Introduced for Agent Orange Conditions
Last Wednesday, the Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act of 2021 was introduced by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) along with 16 senators. The VFW-supported bill would add hypertension and MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) to the list of presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure. VA has yet to add these to the list even though science shows they meet a stronger evidentiary standard than some of the previously approved conditions.
Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert Parker, 23, was a pilot assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group. On Nov. 15, 1943, he was piloting a P-40N Warhawk fighter on a patrol mission with seven other P-40s over the Markham River Valley, New Guinea. Interment services are pending.
Navy Fireman 2nd Class Carl M. Bradley, 19, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
Navy Fireman 1st Class Denis H. Hiskett, 20, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas J. Valentine, 22, was a member of Battery B, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950, after his unit was attacked by enemy forces as they attempted to withdraw near the Chosin Reservoir North Korea. Interment services are pending.
Army Cpl. Walter A. Smead, 24, was a member of Battery A, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950, after his unit was attacked by enemy forces as they attempted to withdraw near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. Interment services are pending.
Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Leslie P. Delles, 21, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
Navy Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Everett R. Stewart, 22, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Jack E. Hill, 21, was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force. Hill died on the third day of battle, Nov. 22, 1943. Interment services are pending.
Navy Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Shelby Treadway, 25, of Manchester, Kentucky, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried on June 2, 2021, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Till next week, praying for all service members.
– Charles Castelluccio