The U.S. Military sprayed more than 19-million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War.
The aim? To remove trees and dense foliage where the enemy could hide.
Decades later, American veterans, who served there, face heart disease,cancer,diabetes and other conditions, linked to their exposure.
From 1967 to 1968, Carl Brown from Altoona, served as a medic with a Marine corp unit in Vietnam. They called him Doc.
"You get very very close," he remembers. I relied on them to keep me safe and they relied on me to take care of them."
Carl spent 20 years in the military and is glad he did. However, he now tries to cope with serious medical problems linked to his service.
He's had a quadruple bypass due to severe circulatory problems, that also make his arms and legs hurt. And Carl has diabetes.
"I was never directly sprayed," he says, "but I was in areas where it was used. Basically, if you were on the ground in Vietnam, you were exposed to Agent Orange."
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes Carl's ilnesses, ischemic heart disease and type two diabetes as possibly related to his Agent Orange exposure.
He and other vets can also receive compensation if they develop one of numerous cancers, Parkinson's disease, or amyloidosis, presumed to be linked to herbicide exposure. There's also coverage for veteran's children with the birth defect spina bifida.
"If you meet criteria for presumption, if you come down with the condition, if it's diagnosed and documented, you win a claim, "says Chief Service Officer Tim Susengill.
The Vietnam Era Veteran helps eligible vets file claims for the benefts at the Van Zandt V.A. Medical Center.
He and Carl are both members of the Vietnam Veterans of America. They want to make sure fellow service members deployed in Southeast Asia know about the toxins they were exposed to, and of the help now available.
That's why they're publicizing an Agent Orange Town Hall Meeting scheduled for October 26 in State College. It'll get underway at the Ramada Inn starting at 6:30 p.m.
For more information on the town hall, contact Tim at Susengill@verizon.net
For information on Agent Orange benefits for veterans, go to http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp