The frustration of Vietnam veterans echoes today among new veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who deal with a current backlog that has left nearly one million veterans waiting for their benefit claims to be processed.
In a February 6, 1991 broadcast highlighted Sunday on Melissa Harris-Perry, NBC News reported on Vietnam veterans suffering from illnesses they contracted due to exposure to Agent Orange, the chemical used widely during that conflict. The devastating effects of Agent Orange to the men, women, and children of Vietnam were already known, but even in the 1980s, the men who were exposed to it during their tour of service had to fight to get treatment and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The V.A. basically told me to get lost,” Jim Donaghy, a Vietnam veteran, said in the clip. ”The rage is incomprehensible. It goes beyond rage, it’s betrayal.”
March 29 marked 40 years since the last American troops left Vietnam, and March 20 was the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
Later on Sunday’s MHP, former U.S. representative Patrick Murphy, the first Iraq veteran to serve in Congress joined journalist Aaron Glantz of the Center for Investigative Reporting and Kayla Williams, a fellow with the Truman National Security Project Center for National Policy, to talk about the veterans benefits backlog and how to fix it. See the discussion below.