I learned this afternoon that my wife’s youngest brother Jim has died. He was sixty years old. His death did not come as a surprise to us as he has been in increasingly poor health since his return from Vietnam. He was one of the many young men who experienced combat in Vietnam after being drafted into the U.S. Army. While in Vietnam, he was exposed to Agent Orange by the U.S. Army. Agent Orange was used frequently as a defoliant to expose the solders of the Viet Cong by making the leaves on all vegetation to fall off thus leaving them no place to hide when attacked. Agent Orange was essentially a nerve toxin, very close chemically to nerve gas. A large number of personnel were severely injured by this exposure. As a result Jim was chronically ill for the remainder of his life. This episode, in which so many men were injured, and the subsequent maltreatment of them by the Veterans Administration, remains one of the most shameful episodes to have occurred in our history. Every time I hear some politician heap praise on the V.A. and telling us how well we treated our returning men and women, I almost gag.
(Postscript: I must apologize for this Post. It was written several years ago but it was only published recently. Upon reading it the reader is unfortunately left with the the impression that Jim had died a short time before the post was published. Jim actually died several years prior to the 2019 publication of this Post.)