According to the VA, 8,744,000 veterans served in the Armed Forces in the time between the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the signing of the Paris Peace Accords.1 Of those, 3,403,000 were deployed to Southeast Asia. Those who served during this period often were exposed to unique environmental hazards, such as commonly used pesticides and herbicides, as well as diseases attributed to the tropical environment, such as fungal infections, and there were more than 40,000 reported cases of malaria. Upon returning home, these veterans faced a tough readjustment that often magnified the stress associated with combat.
Today, the VA recognizes 8 conditions related to service in Vietnam for the purposes of establishing service-connection: soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin disease, chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, respiratory cancers, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, acute peripheral neuropathy, and spina bifida in offspring. As the veterans of this conflict age into their retirement years, the VA now also faces the challenge of providing care to this growing senior population.