Commentary: Getting help for sick veterans

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John DeMello, Southington Veterans Committee
Phone: (860) 276-6299
Email: Demellofam@gmail.com

Were you as a veteran affected by an illness that you believe was a result of a place that you were stationed while in the military? We ask this question because there continues to be the number of veterans who suffered disabilities during their military service by being exposed to chemical hazards that they were never advised about—even while they were sick and dying from these chemical wastelands.

The VA has already authorized benefits for veterans stationed at Fort McClellan and Camp Lejeune during specific time periods.

There has been a direct correlation of chemicals used during wartime, but chemical exposure also happens in

Peacetime—open burn pits, toxic water, airborne hazards, and bases contaminated with hazardous waste. There are numerous military bases that caused or are contributing to an increase in mortality or irreversible or incapacitating illnesses.

I meet with various Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the war. The veterans administration are allowing these veterans to file claims for various presumptive health issues as a result of their exposure to those chemicals.

I recently met a veteran that has been suffering from cancer and other health issues. I sat and talked to this amazing veteran to discuss his military service and where he might of came into contact with or exposed to hazards that might have contributed to his health condition. One military base he was at was Fort McClellan, Ala, at the Army chemical school. He indicated that he was exposed to nerve agent, agent orange and an array of other chemicals at the school.

He never enrolled in the VA system after his discharge from his honorable military service. He has been utilizing civilian doctors after he developed his health issues. He paid tens of thousands of dollars for his civilian doctors, continued in hospital treatments, home health care and much more. It is believed that the cancer and other health issues are a direct result to his time at Ft. McClellan.

He applied for VA Health enrollment, and he applied for a disability claim for compensation. An award for compensation is not automatic; the development of a claim by a veteran must show medical evidence.

There are approximately 130 military installations and sites in the United States that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed as superfund clean-up sites. Veterans who were stationed at bases that are listed under the EPA superfund cleanup sites still have an option of filing a claim for compensation for direct service connection as long as they can show service connection exposure. Many of these bases did not have the contaminants except during specific time periods, not every service member may have been exposed.

Veterans in need of help with PTSD, please reach out for help, 1-800-273-8255 (Press#1)

John DeMello is a member of the Southington Veterans Committee. The committee can be reached at Town Hall, 75 Main St., by phone at (860) 276-6299, or by email at SouthingtonVets@southington.org.