The Martinsburg Chapter 1074 of the Vietnam Veterans of America is four years old, and has accomplished a lot since its local inception – especially when it comes to helping veterans navigate the system in order to obtain their military-related benefits.
But the best part, according to chapter president Mossie Wright, is that the organization helps any veteran that needs assistance – regardless of when or where they have served.
“We don’t care if they were in Korea, Somalia or Afghanistan, because we’re here for all vets, ” said Wright, a founding member who took over the helm from past president Tyrone Kennedy last December.
Veterans are also welcome to attend the monthly meetings that are held the first Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the organization’s office at 630 Winchester Avenue. The next meeting will be April 2.
It’s also an exciting time because there are now 17 VVA chapters in West Virginia, and the local organization is increasingly being tapped to help with larger projects, Wright said.
For example, state leaders have tasked Wright and his officers with organizing a regional Agent Orange -a powerful mixture of chemical defoliants used by U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War to eliminate forest cover for the North Vietnamese -public meeting.
The goal is to educate the public – veterans and their family members, as well as concerned citizens – about this exposure and even how to recognize some symptoms that may be linked to it, Wright said.
Doctors will be speaking at the event, he said.
Martinsburg members will be working in this area of the state, while a similar session is also being planned for Charleston, he said.
Although plans are just now underway, local organizers hope it will be held sometime in June, Wright said.
“Our area is a good choice because of the growing population, plus we also have a large veteran population here – especially with the VA Hospital’s location, ” he said.
While Vietnam veterans originally got little help from government officials things have changed and now there is a growing list of diseases that can be associated with Agent Orange exposure, Wright said.
The VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for benefits for several different diseases, including AL Amyloidosis, Chronic B-cell Leukemias, Chloracne, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin’s Disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Parkinson’s Disease, Peripheral Neuropathy Early-Onset, Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, prostate, soft tissue sarcomas and various respiratory cancers.
“Things have come a long was since back in the day when we got back from Vietnam, because the government has recognized that this exposure is a problem for veterans and can even be a problem for their family members such as children and grandchildren, ” Wright said.
“So we definitely want to do our part to get this message across, and help reach as many veterans as possible so they can also learn more at this town hall meeting, ” he said.
Other organization officers include vice president Ron Jeffery, treasurer Rodney Fitzgerald and secretary Margaret Sommers.
Story courtesty of Jenni Vincent at The Journal .