It was during the war in Vietnam when soldiers were exposed to Agent Orange. It was used by the U.S. military in its herbicidal warfare program, to help clear areas of the thick jungle. A friend of mine served in the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, which earned the name “The Walking Dead” for its high casualty rate. Butch Castle said that he would come back from patrol in the bush and start brushing off the orangish-yellow powder that covered his fatigues. During the Gulf War soldiers began telling of health problems after being exposed to the smoke of burn pits. It became known as The Gulf War Syndrome. The Veterans Administration is now going to begin addressing these environmental hazards that have plagued veterans for decades. 

Beginning November 8th, veterans visiting the Battle Creek VA Medical Center will be screened for possible exposure to environmental hazards during military service. It’ll be a 5-minute screening with a series of questions by a veteran’s primary care physician. The VA says the screening is due to the high rate of veterans who expressed concern over possible exposure to hazards, such as Agent Orange, Open Burn Pits, radiation, and Gulf War-related exposures. Veterans can either request a screening or will be screened automatically during routine care with their primary care VA doctor.   

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It will be just days later when veterans, who paid the ultimate price for our Nation, will be remembered for their sacrifice during wartime, and the lingering wounds of toxic exposure that they carried after their days of service. The annual Veterans Day Observance will be held at Fort Custer National Cemetery on November 11th, beginning with a flyover above the sacred 770 acres which contain the remains of more than 40,000 veterans, and ending with the playing of Echo Taps. 

Abandoned World War II Bunkers, Pennsylvania

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