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A Veteran’s Health: A Most Family Affair

Written by veterans  |  17. April 2006

I know, I started at other than the beginning. I would suggest a Veteran's tale has no one particular beginning. As things here develop, as we become comfortable with each other and each other's foibles, it really won't matter how I started this. However, for the time being, about several things, and in no particular order... - A qualified Veteran Services Officer is worth their weight in gold - get one - The terms you see in italics will be part of my FAQ - soon, when I have the FAQ setup - I can be reached weekdays at 516.733.8414 In A Few Words As a Veteran, your health or lack thereof affects your family in ways you might not realize. Certain illnesses have been classified by the VA as having been caused or aggravated by active-duty service and entitle you to a Service Connection award. Certain Service Connection awards can include monthly tax-free stipends ranging from a little over $100 to over (and for a very few way over) $2,000 - that's per month and tax-free. More importantly, a yearly physical along with certain simple tests could easily lengthen or even save your life through an early diagnosis of these illnesses. A Few Words More As example of one such most overlooked payment, is a form of what is generally known as DIC ("Dependency & Indemnity Compensation"). This DIC is paid to a veteran's family when the veteran's death resulted from a non-service-related disease, and who was entitled to receive service-connected compensation for that disease. Currently, the payment to a surviving spouse is over $1,000 per month, tax-free, for the rest of the spouse's life. As with any such payments, there is a slew of "if-ands-or-buts" - all the more reason to have a qualified Veteran Services Officer assist you. And For Example We who served our Country as In-Country Vietnam armed forces personnel were exposed to herbicide dioxins, the most notorious being Agent Orange ("AO"). AO, a chemical defoliant, was a weapon of war deployed by American Forces during the Vietnam War. Over 22 and 1/2 million gallons were sprayed. By most accounts, and since the end of the war, over 300,000 of our veterans have been affected by AO dioxins, with more resulting deaths than the 58,000-plus that lost their lives during the war. The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes over 40 cancers and sicknesses (including Chloracne, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Soft Tissue Sarcomas, Hodgkin's disease, Multiple Myleoma, Respiratory Cancers, Prostate Cancer, Spina Bifida, Type II Diabetes, and Chronic and Lymphocytic Leukemia) as Agent Orange related and being Service Connected. Yet most of the Vietnam-Theatre (in-country) veterans are unaware of this information. The Order of the Silver Rose (http://www.silverrose.info/) hopes to see every Vietnam Veteran exposed to AO Dioxins given the Honors and Recognition they deserve. And, until the day arrives that our own Government decides to Honor these victims (AO Dioxin illnesses do not qualify for a Purple Heart), the Order of the Silver Rose will continue to offer their Silver Rose Award to all eligible Vietnam Veterans or their surviving families. And About the Order of the Silver Rose Taken from what was written by Mary Elizabeth Davis Marchand: On December 7, 1941, my father's first war began. Daddy was under-age and in a protected profession as a Virginia coal miner, but he went in the Navy anyway. My father retired from active duty early in 1969, after service as a Chief Hospital Corpsman with the Third Marines in Chu Lai, Vietnam. He moved his family to Virginia and registered with the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Salem, Virginia (VAMCS), where he had his yearly physical every August, and every other medical need he required for the rest of his life. Then came 1996. A healthy 75-year-old Chief showed a clean chest film, as usual, in August. That's when the time line for the nightmare began. November 1 - preparatory to surgery on an arthritic shoulder, Chief Davis was administered another chest film. It showed a non-small-cell cancerous tumor the size of a grapefruit perched so high up on the superior vena cava that neither surgery nor chemotherapy was possible. Diagnosis: Terminal. November 27 - the US Navy telephoned Chief Davis and informed him that his cancer had been caused by exposure to Agent Orange in Chu Lai, Vietnam 27 years earlier, qualifying him for benefits under the 1991 Agent Orange Act (91AOA). I was aware of the 91AOA, but unfamiliar with it, so this naive Lifer's brat wrote to her Senator, the Honorable Orrin Hatch. That was December 2, 1996, the day we now call the date that The Order of the Silver Rose was born. January 7, 1997, Chief Frank Davis, his wife (my mother), and my grandmother, Ida Pearl Ketron Davis, qualified for pensions under the 91AOA. The VA was great. They did their best for him. February 19, he "Crashed". I stayed three weeks with him. You can't take flowers to ICU, but a jeweler friend solved that. She had made a plastic rose coated with Mylar silver ... a beautiful Silver Rose. The Chief was tickled to death. He held it up so that it twinkled in the early spring sunlight, and laughed out loud saying, 'The Order of the Silver Rose! I'd rather have this than all the medals in the Pentagon!' I continued my fight for my father's recognition. I hold the distinction of having been turned down by all of the very best people in Washington. On March 13, sometime before 0700 hours, Chief Davis answered his Pilot's call in his sleep. Three weeks later, Senator Hatch wrote to me and told me not to give up, that if Agent Orange vets were ever to receive the recognition they deserved; it would be because I didn't give up. I tried so HARD. All I wanted was $7.50 worth of silk and brass to say that he had died for his country, just a line on his DD 214 to show his great-grandchildren. It seems that while he wasn't good enough for any formal recognition, he was good enough for a Silver Rose. So I made my own medal." Mary Elizabeth Davis Marchand died April 15, 1999. The Silver Rose lives on. And, only with your support will it be able to recognize and honor our brother and sister Vietnam Veterans - Gary J. Chenett, National Director. --- Regards, Walt 060417.1621-4

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