A Vietnam Veteran’s Widow

23 thoughts on “A Vietnam Veteran’s Widow

  1. I’m so sorry for all of your years of struggle. My late husband was a Viet Nam Vet, and I lost him in June 2008. A seizure in Dec 2007 revealed brain cancer caused by his exposure to Agent Orange. The VA would never admit that’s what caused his cancer, just “We don’t know.” I’m so glad for you that the VA admitted your husband’s illness was due to Agent Orange. Good luck in you and your children’s future.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss. It doesn’t matter how many years have passed your battle continues, for that I am truly sorry. This to happen to me and my children in 2004. My husband died from a service connected condition. It took almost 3 years, which I guess it is really fast, but I did have people that were willing to help me and he was 100% when he died, but proving his death was service connected was the problem. One good thing, I hope for you, is that they will go back to the date of death. I am glad that you have stuck with it and fought this battle. Some people will just walk away and in some cases the VA hopes, that they will walk away. Your husband fought so bravely for his country and his life. I know he would be proud to know you did not give up. God bless you and your children.

      To. Laura== Go back to the VA and file again, if you can. There have been new findings and links to other cancers from Agent Orange. I am praying for all of you.

    2. Laura,
      did you ever appeal that decision? If brain cancer is caused by Agent Orange and he was in Vietnam…that is the link. Don’t give up on this!
      Edith

    3. I have read these horror stories of Agent Orange never thinking I would one day be the widow of a Viet Nam Vet exposed to Agent Orange. My husband fought and beat prostate cancer, but when he returned from Nam he always had a high white blood cell count. Therefor he was not able to be hired by the Los Angeles Police Department as he hoped. But he worked and then in his 50s he fought the prostate cancer and after the radiation his immune system was out of whack. Every year he would get pnemonia but the anitbiotic would help and back to work he would go. We were together almost 30 years when he finally fullfilled his dream of buying us a nice home. But he didn’t even get to enjoy it for 2 years. For the last year I could see him getting weaker and sicker. Finally one of his blood tests showed 5 blast cells in his results. NOT GOOD. The oncologist was too optomistic and gave us false hope. He was gone after much pain in a month. What sickens me about all of this for all of us widow is that Viet Nam War ended in the 70s and yet today our Veterens that were exposed to Agent Orange are being affected and dying. I am sure like Laura the VA will never admit his cancers were due to the Agent Orange and what so so horrible is that our own nation sprayed it on their own men. How absolutely nightmarish. I pray my husband is well now with no pain or illness now that is in another realm of life. I will always love him. Always. He is my hero as every Veteran is. But to fight for our country then come home and 30 years later die because of our country.

    4. It took 9 months for the V.A. to give me anything after John passed away, He was a Viet Nam vet. too. They put him through so many surgeries, hospital stays and tests I was abut ready to yell what are you doing to him? He has been thruogh enough, But he was braver than I was. I lost him March 2nd 2008 and still miss him very much.

  2. I walked away and cried after reading your post. Whenever I’m on facebook, I scan past the posts here very quickly because I feel that I don’t deserve to be part of this because I had my husband for so many more years than the young women who lost their men.
    Ray was golfing with his brother and fell over and died. His disability was the cause of his death. He was in the AF for 30 years. Humble, couragious, loyal to his country. Completely dedicated to God, country and family. A quiet man, never complained. After our first kiss I told him that I wanted to breath his air, get inside of his body. I adored him, the man of my dreams. It’s almost four years and I miss him more than life itself. I look in the mirror and see blank eyes. I’m lost. I grieve for me and all of you…Love you Ray forever and always

    1. As the proud sister of this “veterans’ widow and the aunt of these remarkable children, believe me when I say there is so much more to Jim’s story.

      Denise has truly been the “veteran” here, clearly wounded by years of her battle with the VA. Jim loved his wife and children so much. I remember him well. How sad that she still fights his battle long after his death. Sixteen years is long enough. Like a true “veteran” she has chosen to NEVER NEVER GIVE UP and I could not be more proud of her!

    2. Hi Elizabeth: I just found this page today as I was really feeling the loss of my Vietnam vet husband (E5 Army Sergeant) today. He died in 2007 after a courageous battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia as a result of Agent Orange exposure during his Vietnam stint in ’70-’71. So for 7 years he had a 100% service connected disability and he went through hell with this illness. To say I miss him everyday is an understatement as many of you here can attest to. I think of him almost everyday and since his passing it has not been easy. I turn to my faith to get through the most difficult days. God Bless all of the widows and their families on here.

  3. Agent Orange, known commonly today is sold at the big box stores as: Roundup. I’ve humped through miles of jungle, defoliated, or wet with new spray…Lucky then that I haven’t keeled over just yet…but then, we did sweat constantly, and never set-up in the immediate area as long as we could do that. We had no idea consequences happened later, as in your stories. I’m so sorry for your losses, and proud for your Childrens’ successes. I cannot think of a nicer report of them by their Moms. If you breathe in a breath right now, perhaps those departed ones’ scents will enter your nostrils and you will recognize your loved ones are near you now. I can tell you, that Soldiers all have no idea how important and loved, they are and were, but that you have posted what you have of the ones you miss. Thank you for showing this to us.

  4. Denise,
    I met you at the Heath’s home last August. I think your wonderful and I am proud of you for your hard work. Keep fighting we pray for you and all our military.

    Donna Null & Bob Derr

    Bob was in the navy with Paul. He worked on the nuclear submarines. We often think about you. Your amazing and I was lucky to have met you. Next time were in GA at Paul’s we will get together. Please keep forwarding your info to us.

    dvb97@hotmail.com
    bobgaild@comcast.net

  5. While I was hesitant at first to share our family’s story, your very gracious words have not only brought me much peace, your sincere understanding and outreach have brought me some much needed closure. The song my husband had sung at our wedding was, “The Impossible Dream.” To all Veterans, Widows and their families, please remember the saying, “When you’re down to nothing, God is up to something. The faithful see the invisible, believe the incredible and then receive the impossible.” And through my children and grandchildren, I have received just that, the “Impossible.” Bless you all.

  6. Denise,

    Thank you for sharing your family’s story. The love we all shared doesn’t die.

    My beloved Vietnam veteran (we met at age 17) who died in 2008 also suffered for many years from the effects of Agent Orange exposure. He died of a brain tumor and complications of many years of drug and alcohol addiction.

    My love bless and keep you and your family always.

    — Amanda, proud “widow of the heart” of Richard T. Newell, Spc.4, 101st Airborne, 1970.

  7. I just lost my husband 10mos ago…he was a Viet Nam veteran and had been exposed to agent orange. I’m still fairly angry about this. He wasn’t killed over there, but suffered for 40yrs afterward…in the end, Viet Nam killed him.

    The sad part was having to fight the VA for everything he received because of the exposure….denied/appeals/denied/appeals and so on. If only those people who made these decisions “had to walk a mile in the shoes” of these veterans before they stamp “denied” on the claims.

    I’m sorry. I still grieve for my husband.

    1. Kay, I am just beginning to grieve and its the most painful thing I have ever felt. I hate it when people say I know how you feel, Yet I think as sisters we do know pretty much what the feel is. Mine is anger, sorrow and lonileness. I have a daughter who was a step daughter to my husband but it also grieving as my husband was a wonderful kind loving man. He would even tear up at the National Anthem even though it was his own country that killed him. When and how are we going to get the goverment to understand our loss and at least compensate us for our heros. No my husband did not want to be ill. He fought the cancers as hard as he fought in Viet Nam. He was in the Air force and was a gunner. Their life expectency was 2 weeks, being the most dangerous of jobs while one duty, but he volunteered. That is how much he loved his country, I would love some advice to at least know where to start to go to start with the compaints and wanting at least a compensation. His owner of his company loved him dearly and actually arranged for a flyover at this funeral. Something usually only the generals get. But why should that be. Is thier dying any more special than that of a gunner? oh I could just screem with frustration. Someone that reads this might address their response to me so I know its to me and let me know where to start my fight. I am as much a fighter as my husband and will do whatever ot tales tp get what all widow are due. I too am disable due to back surgeries and many other illnesses. But I will still get in there and fight for what I think the widows deserve.

      1. While there are no quick answers with the VA’s “BROKEN” Claims system……I am now entering my 17th year……I encourage you to contact the law firm in Bethesda, MD. They do not charge upfront and only take cases they feel strongly “they can win.”

        GOD Bless you and your families:

        Bergmann & Moore, LLC
        7920 Norfolk Ave #700 Bethesda, MD 20814
        (877) 838-2889

  8. Thank you for sharing your story…many of us share similar experiences. My husband was also a Vietnam Vet and died in 2011 from cardiac amyloidosis. A few years ago the disease was recognized as Agent Orange related. I watched my husband die for 6 years and took care of him until his last breath. Dealing with the VA has not been easy but they finally did come through with a 100% disability rating. I too had periods of anger that I lost my husband of 38 years to the effects of Vietnam. He was a proud and highly decorated soldier and patriot who never received a thank you from the country he died for while he lived.

  9. Kay,
    don’t give up on the appeals. I went through this process as well and it was very frustrating and made me angry at times. My husband has died 16 month ago and yes I am still grieving for him too. As time goes by it does get somewhat easier….but he is always missed. Take care!
    Edith

  10. Thank you for sharing your story with the world, it truly touched me and brought tears to my eyes.

    I am only 28 and do not know what it was like growing up during the War but I wanted to learn more since my grandfather died in 2007 of Cancer! Two weeks after he passed away I traveled to Viet Nam and spent a month traveling throughout the country with U.S. Veterans from the war. Learning about the effects of war & life after the War was eye opening. It was the first time I learned of Agent Orange.

    As I read your story and then the comments posted my other wives that lost their husbands from this disease it makes me wonder how many people were truly affected???

    And yet the Board of Foreign Affairs (even after admitting that Jim’s illness was caused by Agent Orange) still makes you fight in court. I agree with your son, your strength is empowering and I hope that, as a reader, I can give you a little additional encouragement for this “battle” you are still fighting for your husband. I am sure it would make him happy to know that you and your children are taken care of once the fight is won!!!

  11. Thank you for sharing your story with the world, it truly touched me and brought tears to my eyes.

    I am only 28 and do not know what it was like growing up during the War but I wanted to learn more since my grandfather died in 2007 of Cancer! Two weeks after he passed away I traveled to Viet Nam and spent a month traveling throughout the country with U.S. Veterans from the war. Learning about the effects of war & life after the War was eye opening. It was the first time I learned of Agent Orange.

    As I read your story and then the comments posted my other wives that lost their husbands from this disease it makes me wonder how many people were truly affected???

    And yet the Board of Foreign Affairs (even after admitting that Jim’s illness was caused by Agent Orange) still makes you fight in court. I agree with your son, your strength is empowering and I hope that, as a reader, I can give you a little additional encouragement for this “battle” you are still fighting for your husband. I am sure it would make him happy to know that you and your children are taken care of once the fight is won!!!

  12. My family lost my Vietnam Veteran husband Jim on April 17, 2009 after a long battle. This was also my youngest daughter’s birthday so it was a double whammy for her. Here was a man who came home from Vietnam and joined the National Guard and served for over 20 years. He had so many things go wrong starting with a blocked common bile duct and he developed diabetes that was impossible to control. He had pancreatis and liver disease and ischemic heart disease and in the end his kiidneys failed too. Many strokes and 2 heart attacks. I have not listed all the things that happened to him . I was fortunate to have him home the last week of his life and he died peacefully in his sleep. It was just more than one man could fight. He was given 100% disability but the VA waits until you are almost gone to give it to you. It’s been 4 years and I still think the government should be fair about Agent Orange.

  13. Sorry for your loss. There are so many Nam Vet widows out there and allot of us lost our husbands to GBM-4 Brain cancer. The VA does not recognize it, but have been a few claims won by widows/families. I’m working on this in hopes of all of us GBM-4 Brain cancer widows can win our claims. I promised my late husband I would continue his fight, it’s been over 2 years now and I will not give up. I’m also compiling a list on Nam Vets with GBM-4, the list grows all of the time.

  14. Susan, My husband just passed away March 13th 2014,from a blast crisis, which was AML. He was diagnosed on March 4th after a week long illness that we thought was pneumonia, that he got every spring. He was died 9 days later. He suffered terribly that week even with the medication he was given in hospice care. He too was exposed to Agent Orange, suffered from combat PTSD, having a flash back 10 minutes before his last breath. I don’t think the world will ever understand what torment that war caused for our hero’s. My husband was honest, kind, loyal, intelligent, funny our kids and I are devastated losing him.. that being said he lived with one foot in each world one here with us one in Vietnam. Tormented with night terrors, flash backs, intrusive thoughts. It breaks my heart to think of how hard his life was because of that war. He not only stepped on a land mind and had constant pain in legs and back. I’m glad he didn’t know he’d ultimately die anyway from this blood cancer he had from his tour over their. He probably would have committed suicide like so many other of his friends have done. Very sad ending for such a wonderful person that he was.
    Joy Becker

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