Today is a day of remembrance for the Vietnam Veterans who sacrificed so much during a time when the war was unpopular. Today is a day we honor both the living and the gone for their sacrifices. NEVER FORGOTTEN.
The Vietnam War was the longest lasting war in American History, from 1964-1973, until this record was overtaken by the recently withdrawn Afghanistan War. The difference between Vietnam and previous wars was the growing unpopularity over the span of the war, as well as the return home, which unlike WWII where military units came home at the same time and were welcomed home, the Vietnam War brought one soldier home at a time as another soldier went out to fight the war. The welcome home was met with middle fingers instead of hugs and waves, along with obscenities and sometimes flying objects or spit.
We have an opportunity to take better care of the men and women who fought for this great country, and Vietnam Veterans deserve more than what has been provided. Fortunately last year, the PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) Act was revised to become the PACT Act of 2022, which expands the benefits and the list of presumptive conditions and locations for veterans that served in the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, primarily related to Agent Orange from the Vietnam War and burn pits from the Gulf Wars. This is a game changer for veterans and their benefits. This took effect January of this year (2023). What this means is if you were a Vietnam Veteran, and you have a condition listed in the qualified health conditions, it is presumed this is related to your time in the Vietnam War due to Agent Orange exposure. Funds are distributed depending on the severity of a veteran’s illness.
Many of the conditions are sometimes thought to be attributed to age, and many veterans do not realize they are entitled to benefits, as they may think they are just getting older, and this is what happens. I believe almost everyone knows someone who has been in a car accident, has had a sports injury, or some other physical trauma when they were younger and now, they feel the effects of that injury at an older age. Education on eligibility and available benefits is key in helping our veterans.
We recently contacted Ron Bryant, a local Service Officer with Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and he explained that there are 18,000 veterans in his local community that could be assisted by this new expansion law passing, but they need more resources and more outreach. He was interviewed by a local newspaper recently, which sheds some light on the impact he’s making and highlights how much work is left to do (please see link below to the article). During our lunch with Ron, he explained how claims to the VA are sometimes submitted with symptoms such as “pain” or “soreness,” etc. instead of conditions such as “arthritis,” or “strained.” This can lead to denied claims and missed opportunities for benefits or expanded benefits. He shared how critical the claim process submission can be in determining the final outcome, which can help our veterans receive their much needed and well-deserved benefits.
Bottom line, the key in helping our Vietnam Veterans with additional benefits is by getting the word out and educating the veteran population. The time is NOW! The sooner we can provide outreach is the sooner we can provide more financial and medical support to give our Vietnam Veterans what they truly need and deserve. So today, on Vietnam Veterans Day, let’s honor and thank those who served in this long battle, and let’s also think about how we can make an impact to their financial future, and the communities we live in.
-Mike Wall, Bottle Breacher
Green Valley News Article: Serving the troops: Veteran helps secure disability benefits | Local News Stories | gvnews.com
How you can help the Disabled American Veterans (DAV): DAV : Disabled American Veterans Charity – FIND, DONATE, JOIN and VOLUNTEER