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WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 04, 2010, 10:36 AM

New VA study shows new diseases connected to "Agent Orange" used in Vietnam

Dilworth, Minn. (WDAY TV) - A new VA study shows three common diseases in Vietnam Veterans can stem from inhaling the chemical, Agent Orange.

One vet continues to find out what benefits he has. Jim Beckstrom spent a year fighting in Vietnam and he never expected nearly 50-years later he would be seeing the effects of all the breaths he took while there.

Jim Beckstrom: "none at all, absolutely none. When I was over there I was 22, and totally indestructable."

Beckstrom has diabetes and a heart disease. Both now known links to the chemical used to kill the forrest and weed out the enemy. Something he has accepted.

Jim Beckstrom: "There's only one thing certain coming in to life. Is that you're going to leave it."

About 50-local vets gathered in Dilworth to hear from VA leaders about how they're now able to claim Parkinson's, Heart Disease and Luekemia as effects from the chemical.

This town hall type meeting is the first area VA leaders have ever held. Its because of the number of uncertain vets looking for help after so many years.

Tom Figliuzzi: "so were starting to get more and more phone calls from some of these veterans you know. What all does this mean and is there other benefits that may be connected."

As Beckstrom learns about his new benefits. He stays humble, knowing that his disease is out of his hands. And whatever was done when he was fighting in Vietnam was necessary to beat the enemy.

Jim Beckstrom: "it provided a way to get the mission done. Erraticate the enemy. Get the enemy off his land. That's the job of the soldier."

For more information, go to www.VA.gov.

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