68-year-old Paul Scappaticci, of Manchester, served in the Navy on a Destroyer Tender a few miles off the coast of Vietnam during the war. He washed, bathed and drank desalinated water from the
South China Sea.
He has had two cancers, nerve damage in his hands and feet and has cysts all over his body. Paul along with nearly a hundred thousand Vietnam Blue Water Veterans believe they, like the troops on the ground, are now suffering health affects from Agent Orange.
Agent Orange is the toxic defoliant that the U.S. sprayed across Vietnam during the war. It is known to cause serious health problems. The V.A. covers the affects for Veterans that served on the ground in Vietnam but not those that served in ships off the coast.
Says Scappaticci, “My diseases are on the list, they’re on the list. But I’m not covered. None of us Blue Water Sailors are covered.”
Paul and the leaders of various Veteran’s groups joined Monday with Senator Richard Blumenthal in calling on the U.S. Senate to give final passage before the end of the year to a bill to cover the Blue Water Veterans.
“We weren’t shot by the enemy. We were poisoned by our own government,” said Vietnam War Veteran Gerry Wright, of Andover.
Garry Monk of the National Veterans Counsel adding, “We shouldn’t be having to fight for health care for veterans that have been infected and afflicted with toxic chemicals from a war they went to fight abroad.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) saying, “This measure has been pending for years. It has been opposed, reprehensibly, by the V.A.”
One of the reasons the V.A. Secretary has said he opposes this measure because of high costs. It is now estimated that the cost has gone down significantly, because so many of these veterans have died.