OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — Snow fell outside the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 696 as its members held their monthly meeting Feb. 9.
Although attendance was down, most of those present were Vietnam veterans receiving some percentage of disability benefits from their exposure to Agent Orange — a herbicide sprayed by the United States military during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971.
Among them were Billy Milan, Lou Drawdy and Terry Stinson.
They were like thousands of other Vietnam vets who returned home unaware that they had been exposed to the same toxic dioxin that was meant to combat their enemies — the Viet Cong guerrillas and the North Vietnamese Army, known as “Charlie” to U.S. forces.
Now, decades later, Agent Orange is catching up with Vietnam veterans, leading to debilitating and deadly health problems that range from heart disease to various forms of cancer.
The three men said they were proud veterans, but, like many of their comrades, struggle with their Vietnam experience because they live every day with a multitude of illnesses stemming from Agent Orange exposure.