As with many groups, the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 47, started its July 7 meeting with a prayer, a pledge and a roll call.
There were 13 members on hand for the meeting, which was held at the Oak Harbor Library. Members gathered to welcome Shelby Bassett to their ranks, and listen to announcements and unfinished business.
First up was Basset, who repeated her Oath of Obligation with chapter service officer Muggs Monahan.
Other business included a request for assistance from Whidbey Help House. Members voted to lend a hand to the food bank.
Members discussed the Institute of Medicine’s release of its report on Agent Orange exposure, which focused on the “blue water” Navy and problems arising from exposure to the herbicide during the Vietnam War. (Exposure has been linked to serious diseases such as cancer of the prostate, lung, larynx, trachea and bronchus; multiple myeloma; Hodgkin’s disease; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; soft tissue sarcoma; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; and type 2 diabetes.)
For years, veterans who served on land or on the inland rivers and waterways in Vietnam, aka “boots on the ground” personnel, have been filing claims for aid with the Department of Veterans Affairs for conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure.
Now the “blue water” Navy is getting a listen. According to discussion among DAV members, there is debate over whether military personnel assigned to deep draft ships could have been exposed to Agent Orange despite the fact they never served on land.
Speculation is the herbicide floated on the surface of the water and when deep draft Navy ships siphoned sea water to convert it to drinking water, some of the toxins remained.
Those who drank the potable water are showing a noted increase in health problems associated with Agent Orange. DAV members will continue to follow the issue.
It was announced that from the beginning of the year, the DAV has helped veterans complete 905 forms submitted to the VA for help with education, insurance and requests for disability.
Chapter 47 logged 1,818 service hours helping veterans and 962 hours driving veterans to events here or in Seattle.
The Mount Vernon DAV group has folded, and the Oak Harbor chapter has absorbed its membership, and there is also discussion of forming a DAV group in Skagit County.
Since it formed in 1920 the DAV is the official voice of America’s 2.1 million service-connected veterans.
Getting those veterans back to work and back to health is what the DAV is about. Call 257-4801 to find out more.