COPPERAS COVE, Texas — Richard C. Brown, 84, said he has been diagnosed with cancer for the seventh time in five years. He said his exposure to Agent Orange while stationed in Thailand beginning in 1968 is to blame.
The U.S. Military used Agent Orange, a herbicide, as part of the herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971.
"While I was stationed in Thailand, I was in contact with Agent Orange," Brown said with a raspy voice. "I've been fighting cancer now for nearly five years. Four times in my throat and three times in my prostate area."
In 2018, lawmakers in Congress introduced House Bill 4843, which would aid veterans exposed to herbicide agents while serving in Thailand during the Vietnam era.
"It was very exciting and a lot of Thailand Veterans thought 'now we're going to get somewhere,'" Brown said.
HB 4843 never made it past being introduced in the House. However, the author of the Bill, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) told KCEN Channel 6 they plan to re-introduce the bill in the next few months.
"I'm bitter and angry," Brown said. "It just grabs me everyday. You just look at the news and the Democrats are cutting the Republicans, and the Republicans are cutting the Democrats, and nobody wants to work together."
Brown said he is living on borrowed time, and he's upset at the Veteran Affairs lack of movement on his claim.
"Every time you file or turn something new in, they want something new," he said. "It takes them forever to get back to you about it, and they they just want something else."
John Limpose with the Waco VA sent the following statement to KCEN Channel 6:
"We appreciate the military service of Mr. Richard Brown, and the sacrifices he made in support of the defense of liberty.
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is committed to providing all eligible Veterans, Servicemembers, and their Survivors with the earned care and benefits. On Friday, March 8, 2019, a representative of the VA Regional Office in Waco, Texas, spoke with Mr. Richard Brown; and obtained information needed to research and respond to Mr. Brown's questions regarding VA benefits. We will do everything we can to be of assistance to Mr. Brown."
Public affairs worker Jessica Jacobsen with the regional VA office in Arlington also sent a statement to KCEN Channel 6:
"In order to grant service connection for Agent orange exposure to veterans who did not serve in the nation of Vietnam, federal law requires documentation of Agent Orange exposure. The VA is carefully reviewing Mr. Brown's records to determine if evidence is available to support his claim."
When asked if he were to know about the troubles he would have later in life, would he do anything different, Brown said no.
"I would go through every minute of it again," he said weeping. "I wouldn't change a thing. I'd do it all over."
For more information about the VA's claims and appeals process, go here.