CSN Login
Members Online: 18

The Silent Killer of Vietnam Vets

slg
Posts: 200
Joined: Jan 2010

Yesterday, Memorial Day, I attended for the very first time the ceremony at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California. My husband and I had never attended but had talked about going some time. My father, uncle and baby sister are buried there and now my brave husband, Paul had joined them there.
I had gone by myself and never thought I would see anyone I knew there but was invited to sit with a friend who has been going with her husband for the past five years! A very nice and touching ceremony with helicopter fly over, many different brances of service, and band and of course local politicians.
While sitting there listening to some of the different speakers talking about the brave people who have fought for our country and died for our country it suddenly hit me! that my husband also just died for his country. There are many Vietnam Vets who have lost their lives or will because of contracting HepC while being inoculated before going over to Vietnam. My husband was one of them! Hep C stays dormant in your system for 30 to 40 years before becoming active. If untreated it can then turn to cirhossis of the liver and then CANCER!
If you know of a Vietnam Vet or someone else who has Hep C tell them to watch it closely. I only wish we had known then what I know now about it and my husband might still be here with me.
Thank You Veterans Administration!!!

XtremediverHCC
Posts: 57
Joined: Feb 2011

Hi SLG, we have talked before about this "unknown" epidemic among the Vietnam Veteran population. I, too, have been to Vietnam and like Paul, I received those inoculations with the air guns, and yes I contracted the Hep C virus. I now have Cirrhosis of the liver and have fought 2 times now with HCC. Yesterday I thought of all of the men and women who died needlessly because of those inoculations; you see in 2 weeks I go back again for my "umpteenth" time for another MRI and anxiously await the report to see if I have been given another reprieve or if I too will have the Cancer return again. It's been 2 years since my last recurrence and 5 since my first diagnosis and I know that I am beating the odds. It scares the hell out of me because I know that the next checkup could be the one that seals my fate, too. We gave our blood and our youth and for many of us living with the emotional or physical scars of that war we now have put our lives on the line again for our country. Paul did indeed die for our country and I sure pray that someday the country and the Veterans Administration will stand behind us, too! God Bless.

slg
Posts: 200
Joined: Jan 2010

Somehow I knew that you would be posting if you still came to this site. I tried to send a private email but couldn't figure out how. I hope some day that the Veterans Administration does take responsibility for what they have done to the Vietnam Vets...
I wish you good luck with your MRI and keep fighting just like Paul did. He fought to the very end and he is MY hero for that.
I don't know that I will continue to go to this site so just in case, my email is slg72@aol.com. Hope you can keep me posted on your progress. I wish you well. And if you should hear of the VA accepting responsibility, please let me know...
Thank you for your kind words.

blueheaven56
Posts: 18
Joined: Dec 2011

Vets with hep C need to be aware of the fact that the VA does have established guidelines to follow regarding monitoring for vets with hep c and cirrhosis. They also need to have the gumption enough to demand that they be followed. How often do I actually know of the guidelines actually being followed? Not that often in my personal experience. Not sure if it is the MD or NP or PAs lack of knowledge but this is NOT an excuse. They are not following their own guidelines. Since they are "guidelines" and not "policy" they also have an out there. VA gets out of making hep C service connected is because of the 60s and the drug/sex culture at the time. I say pull the records of everyone who was processed/boot camp at the same time and see how many were infected. Of course we as mere citizens can't do that, and it would be too easy for the powers that be to be able to see a correlation. My dear husband and I discussed this and came up with this conclusion...only after most 'Nam era vets have died, will they make hep C service connected.

slg, I read your posts about Paul and prayed for you both frequently. I was praying that
they both would get a liver. My sweetie of 8 1/2 years died peacefully at home on June 25,2012. He was a wonderful husband/friend and I can't believe he is really gone.

XtremediverHCC
Posts: 57
Joined: Feb 2011

My deepest condolences for your recent loss; I pray always that my wife will not endure what you, SLG and so many others have bravely had to witness and go through. As much as I hate to admit it, you are probably correct that the responsibility will not be admitted to by the VA until such time that the remaining population of Vietnam veterans is so small as to not "tax" the system and drain it of it's resources. I was fortunate, I had private medical insurance to cover my expenses in battling Hep C, but I will need to rely on the VA when (and if) I become eligible for a transplant. My recent MRI results were positive and I thank GOD for that, but the odds are against me and others like me so we will become a burden within the system and nothing I am aware of will change how the VA does business for now. I was younger then and I fought bravely for my country and to return to my home and my loved ones. I continue to fight bravely as I age (now almost 62) but I am tired. I could use a little support from the government that put my life on the line for those 2 difficult years in Vietnam and gave me this disease and then abandoned me and others like me when we need them the most.
I still love my country, but I feel very angry with my government. A government that freely hands out the money collected from it's people to so many other countries and openly refuses to help its' own veterans. Shame on us for allowing such treatment of the bravest fighting force in the world. "For those who have fought and almost died, Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know".~Jeff

XtremediverHCC
Posts: 57
Joined: Feb 2011

My deepest condolences for your recent loss; I pray always that my wife will not endure what you, SLG and so many others have bravely had to witness and go through. As much as I hate to admit it, you are probably correct that the responsibility will not be admitted to by the VA until such time that the remaining population of Vietnam veterans is so small as to not "tax" the system and drain it of it's resources. I was fortunate, I had private medical insurance to cover my expenses in battling Hep C, but I will need to rely on the VA when (and if) I become eligible for a transplant. My recent MRI results were positive and I thank GOD for that, but the odds are against me and others like me so we will become a burden within the system and nothing I am aware of will change how the VA does business for now. I was younger then and I fought bravely for my country and to return to my home and my loved ones. I continue to fight bravely as I age (now almost 62) but I am tired. I could use a little support from the government that put my life on the line for those 2 difficult years in Vietnam and gave me this disease and then abandoned me and others like me when we need them the most.
I still love my country, but I feel very angry with my government. A government that freely hands out the money collected from it's people to so many other countries and openly refuses to help its' own veterans. Shame on us for allowing such treatment of the bravest fighting force in the world. "For those who have fought and almost died, Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know".~Jeff

blueheaven56
Posts: 18
Joined: Dec 2011

I work as a RN in an intensive care unit of the VA. The one thing that I can do is to insist to my patients that have cirrhosis and/or hep C to get their primary caregivers to order the appropriate tests. However, one problem that the transplant coordinator has noted-some people who are eligible and being worked up for transplant, they do not get their testing done in a timely manner and miss appointments etc. then when things get so bad that they are a patient in my unit...everyone wants everything to be done NOW! Where were they when they had testing orders months before and never bothered to keep the appointments. There is something to be said for doing what you need to do for yourself.

With a negative PET scan, negative MRI, negative CT after SIR spheres, we were told by 2 transplant centers in the VA system (Pittsburgh and Richmond) that he didn't qualify due to "having cancer". UMMS is another story in and of itself that ticks me off to even talk about.

It also makes me angry that we send all our money to countries that don't appreciate it. That money could be better used here to care for our vets and strengthing our own country.

XtremediverHCC
Posts: 57
Joined: Feb 2011

It is my job to care for myself....I know this and I am very consistent in my testing and at making my Dr.s order the test more frequently than the accepted protocol actually calls for. I went from no tumors to almost inoperable (3.5 cm on the Portal Vein and another one not seen by the MRI) in 3 months time, that's cutting it close. I had the best transplant surgeon on my team from the U of Mich. and he said it was a miracle. If I had followed the accepted guidelines and waited an additional 3 months for a followup MRI, I would not be here today. All I ask is for the VA to accept their responsibility and to take proper care of the Veterans who they have infected with the Hep-C virus and God only knows what new stuff is coming. I paid for my treatment in advance during Vietnam with my blood, sweat and tears and yet I still paid for my treatment again with my own money when it actually came time to need their help. It is a national travesty the way our veterans are treated when they need the medical care promised to them and yet not delivered upon when asked. Our scars from battles fought will never go away, both emotional and mental as well as the physical scars that will remain with us forever; that is just the way it is. I am sure that you, unfortunately are seeing the results all to often in your role at the VA, blueheaven56. There are good people who want to help and yet their hands are tied by the bureaucracy and BS that is imposed on them by the upper levels of the Government. Cancer sucks, but being ignored by our own government sucks even more. Just my 2 cents.

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network