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This letter is going out to our entire 1st Mob/Comm Alumni email list because, sooner or later the subject could apply to everyone.
The subject is the conflict between our ability to provide "Proof of Service" in a particular country at a particular time, and the mobile mission of the 1st Mob/Comm.
Frankly, I am trying to understand how big a problem this is to 1st Mob/Comm Alumni. I am seeking any knowledge you may have and/or any advice you can offer. My intent is to pass it along to other Alumni or to build it into a webpage for our website. Any information is appreciated.
The generic problem in a nutshell: Given the nature of the mission, most of us were deployed to countries different from our home base. Our military records clearly reflect our assignment to the 1st Mob/Comm and to our home base, but may not contain any information with regards to temporary assignments to other countries. This was compounded by the fact that, at least in my day, all movement of Mob equipment and personal was classified at a minimum of secret with a number of Top Secret deployments. Years later, while applying for benefits applicable to personal that served in a particular country, you are required to furnish "Proof of Service," usually in the form of a DD-214 reflecting service in that country. What do you do if your DD-214 does not reflect service in that country? (Entirely possible, given the mission.) My take, is that we were not alone, there were plenty of outfits that probably had similar missions, so there should be some administrative way around this.
In my personal case I was lucky, (lucky?) I went from the Mob to the 1964 Comm Grp Det 3 (Pleiku), PCS, so my records do reflect a PCS Vietnam assignment. I also retained my passport reflecting my Mob Vietnam deployments from 1961-1963.
But from time to time, I get requests from Alumni asking if anybody has a particular set of TDY orders or the like, or if anyone remembers them being on a specific team. So I am trying to put together some information to share with all, rather than having separate individuals trying to solve it for themselves. Thus my letter, asking for your help.
The specific problem: On November 9, 2000 The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the addition of Diabetes mellitus (type II) as a presumptive condition for in-country Vietnam veterans. In-country service in Vietnam presumes exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange if the veteran meets the criteria regarding dates of service. (January 9, 1962 - May 7, 1975.) By presumptive condition, they mean, if you served in Vietnam during those dates, and you have Diabetes mellitus (type II), or other conditions listed below, they will treat you. They go on to say: "You will however, need to show evidence of military service in Vietnam. Usually, a DD Form 214 will serve as proof of service in the Republic of Vietnam." Therein lies the rub, or catch 22 if you will.
We do have an Alumnus looking for help:
1st Mob Alumnus, Larry Olesen, was in the Flight Facilities section in 1962 - 1964. In 1963, he deployed to Tan Son Nhut Air Base , Vietnam as an Air Traffic Controller. Another time in 1963, he passed through Tan Son Nhut on his way to another location. He is seeking our help with regards to his "Proof of Service" in Vietnam. His DD Form 214 does not reflect Vietnam service. He does not have any copies of his TDY orders to Tan Son Nhut. The VA may or may not accept TDY orders as proof. I have heard reports of sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.
If anyone has had a similar experience and either solved or did not solve the problem, please contact me. Likewise,if anyone can place Larry on those teams through memory, pictures or other means, please contact me. Thirdly, I know some of you have professional experience in this area and I ask for your advice and council.
Even though we do have a specific incident, I believe the issue is fundemental to the mission of the Mob and collectively we should be able to solve it. I am hopping it already is solved and know all we have to do now is communicate. So, all input is appreciated.
Thank you, for taking the time to read and think about this, and please take a moment now, to think of all the gallant service men and women, who are in harm's way insuring the security of this wonderful country of ours.
The following health conditions are presumptively recognized for service connection.
Vietnam veterans with any of these conditions do not have to show that the illness is related to their military service to get disability compensation.
A current medical diagnosis of the condition and a DD Form 214 showing Vietnam Service is normally all that is needed to accompany a completed Veterans Application For Compensation or Pension VA Form Number 21-526.
1. Chloracne (must occur within 1 year of exposure to Agent Orange). Chloracne is a skin condition that looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. The first sign may be excessive oiliness of the skin. This is accompanied or followed by numerous blackheads. In mild cases, the blackheads may be limited to the areas around the eyes extending to the temples. In more severe cases, blackheads may appear in many places, especially over the cheekbone and other facial areas, behind the ears, and along the arms.
2. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a group of malignant tumors (cancers) that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue. These tumors are relatively rare compared to other types of cancer, and although survival rates have improved during the past two decades, these diseases tend to be fatal.
3. Soft tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or mesothelioma.) Soft tissue sarcoma is a group of different types of malignant tumors (cancers) that arise from body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues (not in hard tissue such as bone or cartilage). These cancers are in the soft tissue that occurs within and between organs.
4. Hodgkin's disease is a malignant lymphoma characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia.
5. Porphyria cutanea tarda (must occur within 1 year of exposure.) Porphyria cutanea tarda is a disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas.
6. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of specific bone marrow cells that is characterized by bone marrow tumors in various bones of the body.
7. Respiratory cancers, including cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus.
8. Prostate cancer is a cancer of the prostate and one of the most common cancers among men.
9. Peripheral neuropathy (transient acute or subacute. It must appear within 1 year of exposure and resolve within 2-years of date of onset.) A nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. This condition affects only the peripheral nervous system, that is, only the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord. Only the transient acute (short-term) and subacute forms of this condition (not the chronic persistent form) have been associated with herbicide exposure.
10. Diabetes mellitus: Often referred to as Type 2 diabetes: A condition characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body's inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin.
11. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (Final rule and regulations pending). A disease that progresses slowly with increasing production of and older) who live in areas where it's offered.
VA health care providers occasionally see combat veterans with multiple unexplained symptoms or difficult-to-diagnose illnesses that can cause significant disability. Two new VA centers offer specialized evaluations for combat veterans with disabilities related to these difficult-to-diagnose illnesses. The centers, called War Related Illness and Injury Study Centers - WRIISCs (pronounced "risks") are at the VA Medical Centers in Washington, DC, and East Orange, NJ. Veterans who were deployed to combat zones, served in areas where hostilities occurred, or were exposed to environmental hazards while on duty may be eligible for services. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update for 22 August 2003]
Lt. James "EMO" Tichacek, USN (Ret)
Extract from "EMO" Tichacek's great military retiree newsletter, "The RAO Bulletin," dated 090903
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