about the author
Shortly after I had returned home from Vietnam for the last time, my father urged me to file a disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for medical problems I had experienced during my service. I began the process without much enthusiasm and quickly got side lined by my new civilian life. Little did I realize that I wouldn’t re-visit my disability claims again until almost forty years later, when I watched President Barack Obama give a speech on the horrors of the Vietnam War. I’m still not quite sure what happened that day, but after listening to the president, I committed myself to investigate the causal link between my tactical pesticide exposures and the myriad health problems plaguing my life and the lives of many other Vietnam veterans.
My post-service medical problems began mildly enough but soon ballooned and were followed by more serious health issues. Every time I would ask one of my doctors what was causing my illness, I would usually get the answer, “I don’t know, but---.” When I began my research in 2012, I would learn that Agent Orange, along with several other military pesticides, were all very capable of impacting every biological system in my body and could actually be linked to many wide-ranging ailments for which many of my doctors could only say they weren’t sure of the cause.
Despite the uniqueness of Vietnam veterans and the incredibly diverse range of hazardous chemicals to which we were exposed, the DVA insists on assessing our illnesses by using civilian epidemiological studies, resulting in appallingly inadequate standards for evaluating our toxic exposures during the war.
During my years of research, I have quite literally reviewed thousands of studies and documents. The vast majority of those records came to the same inescapable conclusions as I eventually did at the end of my investigation.
Low-level exposures to just the various known chemicals discussed in my book will attack living organisms on an undetected hormonal, genetic, and cellular/molecular level, producing covert systemic damage and alterations to immune, cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory, and neurological systems of any human unlucky enough to be put in their path. Exactly how that damage and those alterations manifest depends on the several exposure factors which I discus in the book.
Regrettably, I couldn’t go back over the last half a century to get a do-over or to have the war conducted differently. I couldn’t force our legislative or military leaders to make better decisions. I couldn’t rewrite the unpleasant history of the Vietnam War, with all the numerous negative impacts that war had on me and every other soldier, marine, or sailor who served the United States in South Vietnam and in the blue waters of the surrounding ocean.
The very best I could do, almost a half century after the war, was to write an account of our betrayal and describe our exposures to the toxic pesticides and abhorrent conditions of the Vietnam War. All in the sincere effort to correct the present so that what occurred in South Vietnam will never happen again to new generations of military personnel, their families and their children and quite possibility their grandchildren’s children.
The mountain of evidence presented in my book points to one common sense conclusion: Exposure to the tactical pesticides used in the Vietnam War were extremely injurious to the health of military personnel, as well as, the health of anyone else exposed to them. Despite all the facts, the government still places the burden of proof on veterans instead of taking responsibility for the mess they made during the Vietnam War or in the words of Dr. Jeanne Stellman, the Vietnam War is, "the largest unstudied environmental disaster in the world."
Enjoy the book, have a nice day, and God Bless.