The Agent Orange precedent is helping the military come to terms with the potential health issues created by the COVID vaccine mandate

Despite the good intentions of two American presidents, United States military personnel have been exposed to substances that later proved to be potentially harmful to their health.  Thanks to the decades of struggle to recognize the nation's obligation to care for veterans injured by this exposure, there is a solid precedent for addressing the potential harm that mandatory COVID vaccination may have inflicted on our military personnel.

Two American presidents made sincere attempts to use science to save lives.  In 1962, President Kennedy allowed "Operation Ranch Hand" to proceed.  The use of herbicides in Southeast Asia was initiated and lasted until 1971.  The lifesaving goal of using Agent Orange was to take away the deadly Viet Cong and NVA Army's advantage in using triple-canopy and other significant natural dense foliage to spring ambushes on both ground troops and our riverine brown water forces such as swift boats.

Almost six decades later, on April 29, 2020, President Trump talked of accelerating scientific research to find a vaccine against COVID: "We're going to fast-track it like you've never seen before."

Tragically, both presidential initiatives fell victim to the law of unintended consequences.  But the history of the decades-long fight to bring Veterans' Administration resources to aid my fellow Vietnam veterans and their families suffering the consequences of Agent Orange may help bring focus on the evolving potential ill health effects faced by American veterans forced to take the COVID shots or be thrown out of the military.

When some, way too many, Vietnam veterans began to experience horrific life-ending cancers and other illness such a ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, chemical companies that fabricated Agent Orange saw the potential for huge liabilities.  This was Dow Chemical's position at the time:

Moreover, decades of study relating to Agent Orange have not established a causal link to any diseases, birth defects or other transgenerational effects. Notably, the extensive epidemiological study of veterans who were most exposed to Agent Orange does not show that such exposure causes cancer or other serious illnesses.

Fortunately, the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) came to the fight for service-connected benefits early, but still, the complete scientific resolution took over twenty years, until the late first secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Ed Derwinski, said enough is enough and stopped the USG lawsuit denying benefits.

Because of Secretary Derwinski, the Agent Orange Registry was created, which continues research to this day.

However, soon after creating the A.O. registry, Operation Desert Storm occurred, and some who served were reporting significant ill health in greater numbers than the general population.  For example, ALS again was seen in higher numbers.

As the secretary's assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, I was instructed to create the Desert Storm Registry covering those who served.  Yet again, pushback was received, this time from senior DOD military and civilian leaders, who saw claims of Desert Storm illness as a grab by reservists and Guard troops to get unearned combat service disabilities, being connected to DVA health and benefits compensation.  More quickly than A.O.'s decades-long struggle, the Desert Storm Registry was created, and this time, the American Legion were tremendous allies.

With the decades-long "sandbox wars" of Iraq and Afghanistan, it became easier to change the Desert Storm Registry to the Gulf War Registry.  Medical precedence and exam protocols were put in effect for our recent wars.

This is not a pro- or anti-vaccine post, but rather a look at how ongoing scientific epidemiology research focusing on Operation Warp Speed — once seen as a great life-saving benefit — can over time hurt some people.

The Biden national security team had made mandatory COVID inoculations essential to continuing one's military career.  Sadly, many combat warriors have been involuntarily discharged for not taking the vaccine and were also additionally penalized:

The services, however, have taken very different approaches beyond that. The Marine Corps has given 78 percent of those it separated a general discharge, while the Navy has given all honorable discharges. The Air Force has granted the fewest honorable discharges.

A general discharge precludes access to the G.I. Bill.

Fortunately, this time, it was the new Congress that said enough is enough and passed the PACT Act.  All the decades of effort that went into recognizing service-connected ill health from adverse environmental effects on the battlefield smoothed the way for the PACT Act that was recently passed.

The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances.

The PACT Act adds to the list of health conditions that we assume (or "presume") are caused by exposure to these substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans — and their survivors — with the care and benefits they've earned and deserve.

After decades of fighting and research to keep the promise of President Lincoln's immortal words espoused, the DVA motto, there is a mission to look at any adverse consequences of being vaccinated:

To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.

Now all that Veterans' Affairs secretary McDonough has to do is state that there is the potential for adverse health effects on our troops from the mandatory vaccine and that for some veterans, it could manifest as "a toxic substance."  Such action would further structure scientific epidemiological research to help all exposed to the vaccine — not just veterans — in order to see if there are serious adverse health effects from all COVID shots.

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