AARP AARP States Health & Wellbeing

Common Symptoms of Aging Could be Much More for Vietnam Veterans

Carolyn Ballou
Special to AARP California by Carolyn Ballou, California Department of Veterans Affairs

As we age, our bodies go through all kinds of surprising changes. Sometimes those changes can produce unpleasant—even troubling symptoms. Hollywood Actress Bette Davis was quoted as saying, “Old age is no place for sissies.”

Many of us over the age of 50 have experienced occasional weight loss, weakness, night sweats, changes in urination or impaired balance or coordination. A visit to the doctor often reveals nothing wrong. For a Vietnam veteran who served in country between 1962 and 1971, any of those symptoms could be the sign of a disease related to their Agent Orange exposure decades ago.

The USDVA presumes that 14 different diseases and disorders are related to Agent Orange exposure when diagnosed in “boots-on-the-ground” veterans and certain other veterans groups. Certain birth defects in the children of Vietnam veterans may also be the result of Agent Orange exposure.

Early diagnosis and treatment are a veteran’s best hope for cure or successful management of an Agent Orange-related disease. For more information about veteran health, including military exposures, diseases and conditions, treatments, wellness and more, go to www.publichealth.va.gov/index.asp.

To learn about your state and federal veterans benefits or how to file a claim, your local veterans service organization (like VFW, American Legion or others), the California Department of Veterans Affairs at 877-741-8532, or our County Veterans Service Office. To find the office nearest you, go to www.cacvso.org. Click on “Contact Us,” and then click on your county of residence.

Carolyn Ballou is the Communications Director for the Veterans Services Division of the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

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