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Eyeing death rates of Vietnam War veterans
WHEN Diane Lake began visiting her late
husband's resting place at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, she became alarmed by what she saw nearby: memorial
markers that showed many of her husband's fellow Vietnam veterans had died even younger than he had.
The markers, spaced
along a wall where the ashes of her husband, Spc. 4th Class Robert Lake, and others are interred, indicate which war a veteran
served in, along with rank and branch of service.
"I would look up on the wall and see this one was only 62 and this one
was only 61, and say to myself these men were pretty young to be dying already," said Lake, whose husband was 65 when he died
of an aggressive skin cancer May 13.
Lake, of East Northport, is among an increasingly vocal number of Vietnam veterans
or their loved ones who are questioning whether participation in the Vietnam War is hastening the deaths of soldiers who survived
John Rowan, of Queens, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America, said his organization had been frustrated
that the Department of Veterans Affairs has not done current research on the death rates of Vietnam vets. But he said he sees
change coming. In September, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said his department has begun a study of the health impacts of the
war, which he said would be complete in about three years.
"The insight we gain from this study will help give us an understanding
of how to better serve America's veterans," Shinseki said in a news release.
Death rate concerns veterans
study could go far in addressing concerns of Vietnam veterans groups who believe the war has had a devastating effect on their
health and life expectancy. Their evidence is mostly anecdotal, though. Some experts familiar with limited data regarding
veterans' deaths say they have seen nothing that supports the charge that Vietnam vets are dying at unusually high rates.
Still, many Vietnam veterans believe it is true.
"The Vietnam guys are going faster than the World War II guys," said Joe
Ingino, president of the Nassau County chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America. He said he has come to believe this from stories
he has been told across the region.
Examples on Long Island include a Medal of Honor awardee, Army Spc. George C. Lang,
who grew up in Hicksville. Lang, who was paralyzed during a 1969 firefight, was 57 when he died of cancer five years ago.
a section of the memorial wall, known as a columbarium, in Farmingdale are the names of Staff Sgt. Leslie Garcia, formerly
of Central Islip, who was 58 when he died of a heart attack this year, and PV2 Angel Gonzalez, of Manhattan, who was 53 when
he died in 2009. The marker for another soldier nearby - Pfc Lawrence Gilmore was 61 when he died of a heart attack last year
- reads "No more pain beloved son and brother."
"He was a loner, and never married," said his mother, Eva Gilmore, of Port
Richey, Fla., who said Gilmore battled diabetes before he died. "He was in a lot of pain."
Many veterans note with alarm
that the VA this year again expanded the list of more than a dozen diseases - including a host of cancers, Type 2 diabetes,
and ischemic heart disease - directly linked to exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides sprayed in Vietnam between 1962
and 1971. A diagnosis on the list can entitle a veteran to compensation related to a service-connected disability.
factors at play
Advocates say factors other than service in Vietnam also likely undermined the health of veterans. Because
returning troops were rejected by a war-weary public, many turned inward, battling anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic
Stress Syndrome on their own, often made worse by alcohol or drugs, experts say. And for most of the war, troop rations included
"I can't say if his heart attack had anything to do with him being in the war because he was a heavy smoker,"
said Jocelyn McIntee, of Greenlawn, whose husband, Eugene, served in Vietnam in the mid-1960s, and died in 1992 when he was
49. "He really didn't talk about it, but do I think he came back with a lot of stress, yes. He saw a lot of people killed,
and that must have been disturbing."
As early as 1987, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that troops
who had been in Vietnam were dying faster because of risky or violent behaviors after their return.
In its 1987 Vietnam
Experience Study, the CDC reported that the death rate for U.S. troops who served in Vietnam was 1.5 times higher than for
troops who served elsewhere in the first five years after their discharge.
Violent deaths accounted for much of the increase
in that study, with Vietnam veterans twice as likely to die from car crashes, suicide and homicide as were troops who served
elsewhere during that era.
A 1996 study by Australia's Department of Veterans Affairs showed that Australian troops who
served in Vietnam died younger than Australian troops who served elsewhere in the same period. They were twice as likely to
die of lung cancer and three times as likely to die of cirrhosis of the liver, the study showed.
More recent data on the
rate of Vietnam veteran deaths is anything but clear, says Mary Paxton, of the national Institute of Medicine, a sister organization
of the National Academy of Sciences that evaluates health data for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Paxton said studies
of U.S. veterans cannot be regarded as definitive because incomplete record-keeping by the U.S. military means researchers
cannot reliably track the health outcomes of the 2.6 million Americans who served in Vietnam.
No 'massive die-off'
her reading of research has convinced her that there is no epidemic of early deaths among Vietnam vets.
"I get calls from
veterans who say they are dropping like flies, but that doesn't seem to be the case," Paxton said. "I think they are at somewhat
higher risk, but there is not the massive die-off that is being claimed."
Paxton referenced a 2004 update of the 1987 CDC
study, which followed 18,313 male Army veterans.
"Death rates from disease-related chronic conditions, including cancers
and circulatory system diseases, did not differ between Vietnam veterans and their peers," the report said.
of many Vietnam veterans, the statistics only go so far, as many now wonder whether their service in Vietnam so long ago is
threatening their lives a second time. That's a question that tugs at Diane Lake, who said it became clear her husband knew
he would not live past 65.
"He said, 'Diane, I don't have much time,' " she said, recalling his words shortly before his
death. "He was with us another 10 days, and he was gone."
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GOD BLESS OUR VETERANS
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vets should be protected under the Federal Americans with Disability Act?
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Vet Get an Investigation Against a Corrupt, Powerful Law FirmThe cause is going for 1,000 Facebook members.
Their mission: Pressure the State
of New Jersey into investigating Corruption/Cover-Up charges against New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics,
Former Vice-Chairman Robert Correale,
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In Vietnam, Webmaster Jack Cunningham served
(24/7) in a Vietnamese peasant-farming village. At times, there were only four (4) Americans in a village of 2,000
Jack is holding his M-79 grenade launcher.
The weapon was nicknamed "The Blooper" because of the sound the weapon made, when it released a round.
Please call Governor Chris Christie (609-292-6000) and ask him to answer
combat-wounded, Vietnam veteran John "Jack" Cunningham's registered letter his office signed for on November 20th.
Details at: http://pronlinenews.com/?p=1834
Dear Vietnam Era Veteran,
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in
any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated
and appreciated by our nation."
- George Washington
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Proud Vietnam Vet, Proud Tea Party Patriot,
Webmaster Jack Cunningham
Help end Government Corruption in 2010
A state Supreme Court attorney
ethics Vice-Chairman Robert Correale misuses his high level government and court office to Cover-Up and block ethics violations
and legal malpractice charges against his own law firm, Maynard & Truland. After eight years, the Cover-Up leads
all the way up to the Governor's Office, the Attorney General's Office, the state's Supreme Court and Superior Court.
Disabled Vietnam vet, Jack Cunningham's ethic complaints start with Robert Correale's and his law firm's gross negligence,
over-charging per hour, false billing, lack of communications, coming to court unprepared and open perjury to the New
Jersey Supreme Court and Superior Court systems. (Evidence are Maynard & Truland's own contact, invoices,
court-filed letters, court-filed documents and court-filed sworn statements, NJ Supreme Court attorney certifications,
Thanks to some
dedicated, honest State Legislators, Jack Cunningham is no longer in this battle alone. Please read the below
It's going to another
level. It's proof that in America, the little guy can win, if he or she does not give up...
State Senator Steven Oroho's office has already completed
a preliminary investigation.
New Jersey State Senator Oroho's office has received
enough calls. I can't thank you enough.
Please direct your calls to Gov Chris Christie at: 609-292-6000. It's
time "new", Governor Chris Christie asks for a formal investigation of the Cover-up.
John "Jack" Cunningham vs. New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics
Gov. Christie can ask State Senate Steven Oroho all questions.
A real David and Goliath story
Eight year corruption battle against his State Government may finally come to light...
Above the Law
Disabled vet battles over 9 years to bring them
When does a Superior Court transcript
go missing, before it could be typed?
When a state Supreme Court official is
being tied for legal Malpractice.
Supreme Court Official Commits Perjury to Supreme Court (Evidence)
you can recognize the perjury)
Petty Officer Mike Monsoor
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