Cumberland Times-News

Columns

January 12, 2013

Do what you can for them; they earned it

A friend of mine recently had what used to be called “a spell.” This was the second time I’ve seen it happen to him.

He started to wobble and weave, but we were able to catch him and get a chair under him before he went down.

It wasn’t like that the first time, when he collapsed almost gracefully, like a smokestack toppled by demolition experts.

My friend was glassy-eyed and staring, and someone suggested he might be having a stroke. Somebody else went to call 911.

I bent down in front of him, almost nose-to-nose, and started talking to him. He seemed to know I was there, but that was all, so I told him to open his mouth and stick out his tongue.

When he did that, I told him to make it curl up on the sides. That didn’t happen, so I said to move it from side to side. He did that with surprising vigor and no apparent difficulty.

“He’s not having a stroke,” I said, standing up and looking around at our friends.

“It’s the Agent Orange kicking in.”

Their puzzled looks told me they didn’t understand. But I have run across this phenomenon before and knew my friend would be OK. Keep him from falling over, give him room to breathe, don’t fuss over him, and get out of the medics’ way when they show up.

By the time they got him to the hospital, he was alert and ready to come back and join us ... but his wife wouldn’t stand for it. Can’t say that I blame her.

Our paths crossed again a few days later, after I’d heard what led up to the experience.

“Chocolate chip cookies for breakfast?” I asked, one eyebrow hoisted in Mister Spock-like fashion.

“I thought I’d taken my insulin in plenty of time,” he said. “Guess I was wrong.”

My friend is diabetic, but it doesn’t run in his family ... his bloodline family.

It does run in his other family — the family of Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange that was sprayed by the millions of gallons to destroy jungle cover that might be used by the North Vietnamese.

I have talked to men who believe they are alive because of Agent Orange. It reduced the number of places where Charlie could hide in order to ambush and kill them.

Countless more have developed Type 2 diabetes, cancer, leukemia and other disabilities because of exposure to Agent Orange.

Their children and grandchildren have suffered birth defects and other terrible ailments, and babies have been stillborn because of what they inherited from a parent or grandparent (our women also went to Vietnam).

“From our base, we could see them spraying Agent Orange,” my friend told me. He was a U.S. Marine. “The river where we got our water was full of it. We drank that water.”

My friends in Chapter 172 of the Vietnam Veterans of America are among those who say  that those who were in-country were exposed to Agent Orange and likely will develop Type 2 diabetes or worse — if they haven’t already.

The government claimed for years that Agent Orange was harmless to humans and would have no eventual effect upon them, but that position dissolved as the truth emerged.

Benefits for Agent Orange have been expanded, but there has been reluctance to grant them to the blue-water sailors who may have been exposed to it. The position taken is that no U.S. Navy ships carried it, but men who served on those ships disagree.

“That’s a lie,” said one of my friends. “We carried it on my ship. I saw the containers, we handled them, and we had pictures to prove it.”

Enter my friend, John Bury — Vietnam Veteran of the U.S. Navy and one of those blue-water sailors — who lives in Media, Pa. His letters to the editor have appeared in the Times-News in recent years. (You can read them by calling up our Website, www.times-news.com, and using the search engine for “John Bury Agent Orange.)”

He has been published in about 1,000 newspapers and has friends in high places, including senators, congressmen, state legislators and others in public and private life, one of them a retired admiral.

John also works with Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance (www.covvha.com), an organization formed to help those families in which the afflictions of Agent Orange have become an inherited condition. It has a Facebook page that offers support groups.

Barring some miracle, Agent Orange is going to kill John. He weeps frequently, not because he is sad, but because of what his condition has done to his eyes. He hopes to live until he has accomplished what he can for his brothers and sisters who suffer as he and his family have.

John tells me that his wife, Cathy, may have borne his pain more than he has, because her pain is compounded by her desire to understand and to care. He’s not the first Vietnam Veteran I’ve heard say that; some have told me they are still alive only because of their wives.

When the Burys came to Cumberland, I took them to visit the VVA Chapter, which has an active Agent Orange effort of its own. John and I already were friends because of e-mail, and he and Cathy and I immediately became friends in real-time.

I introduced John to my buddies by saying, “If there is a more relentless and eloquent spokesman for the victims of Agent Orange than John Bury, I am not aware of it. If legislation is ever passed to help you, it will be in large part because of him.”

They cheered for him, and I lost track of how many men came over to talk to him about their problems. Some hugged him. He listened to them all and told them what he could ... but that’s what he does every day.

I told John that if even one of those men gets some help because of his visit, it will have been more than worth the five-hour drive he and Cathy made to get here. He said he’d already come to the same conclusion.

Legislation is pending to help Agent Orange victims — the men and women who once put their lives in peril to defend us and our cause of freedom. Urge your senators, congressmen and state legislators to act. Our veterans have earned everything we can do for them.

If you or someone you know is suffering because of Agent Orange, know that you are not alone. More people than you may realize are trying their damnedest to help you.

You can reach one at: John J. Bury, 508 S. Middletown Road, Media, Pa. 19063. Phone 610-565-9473. E-mail johnb1936@verizon.net.

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Sleep under the stars! Be a game warden!

    July 27, 2014

  • He was here long before Duck Dynasty

    July 27, 2014

  • Very first memories of a very long life

    July 27, 2014

  • FSU Planetarium has new outreach program

    Several years ago, the FSU planetarium acquired an iPad. Months later, we purchased an iPad projector with necessary cables. I purchased a number of astronomical apps this year for the iPad. So I’m interested in visiting schools in this county to teach the stars and planets to classes. The astronomical apps allow you to survey the current evening night sky and show the planets, bright stars and star groups. One of the apps shows the planets close up with wonderful surface detail (as if you were cruising by in a spaceship). The apps I’ll be using can be purchased from the iTunes app store for a few dollars.

    July 27, 2014

  • O’s, Pirates will be buyers, but when?

    Not that we should expect any blockbuster deals to go down as Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline approaches, but the names you hear in Baltimore are catcher Kurt Suzuki and starting pitchers Ian Kennedy, A.J. Burnett and Jorge De La Rosa.

    July 27, 2014

  • Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    July 27, 2014

  • Peanuts and Cracker Jack beat any foam finger

    Times have changed, and for the better, as this week marks the third year in a row NFL training camps have opened and have not taken center stage in the cities of Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington. That, of course, is due to the play of the three baseball teams that inhabit said cities, the Orioles, the Pirates and the Nationals — two of whom hold first place in their respective divisions, with the other one entering play on Wednesday just 2 1/2 games out of first.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014