Vietnam Veteran Larry separated from service after 20 years when he began having problems with his heart. He credits VA with saving his life.
Why you were medically retired?
I developed a severe heart condition in Okinawa. So I was physically discharged. 1985, I started with the VA program. I joined the Disabled American Veterans and had a nice representative. And we fought to tie that in with Agent Orange. A VA doctor took real interest in my condition and said, we’re going to get to the bottom of this. So, I put on a Holter monitor and wore it for three days and nights. I was sleeping when the phone started ringing. We couldn’t understand the doctor on the phone: He was telling me to get to the hospital right away, right now. Come to find out I had V-tach. And V-tach is the cause of sudden death also.
You’d been in V-tach for a while and didn’t know it?
Didn’t know it. So that phone call saved my life. VA saved my life by rushing me to get a pacemaker defibrillator. I could’ve died in my sleep without knowing it. I know there’s problems sometimes, waiting times and things like that, but you have to remember there’s thousands of us [Vietnam Veterans] – not just a couple hundred. There’s thousands and thousands of us now who are really starting to show the delayed symptoms of say, Agent Orange, or ALS, or type 2 diabetes. Now they’re getting the treatment through the VA system and the care system for their health problems. But as the years progressed, I really believe in the last couple years, now that they recognize ALS, different types of diabetes, and things like this, I feel that I got really fantastic treatment.
The VA here saved my life. The nurses and staff at this local VA saved my life.
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