Paul Appell, Vietnam Veteran exposed to Agent Orange

(For PFC Aaron Barnes- exposed to depleted uranium munitions in Iraq)

I never met him when he was alive. The Army kicked him out because they said his weight was fluctuating, but they said there was nothing wrong with him. His mother held a fundraiser, so he could go to a private doctor. And it turned out that he had a very rare liver cancer that had metastasized throughout his body. [His mother’s] biggest regret was that she couldn’t yell at the Army and VA for how they had abandoned him.

(During the Vietnam war) I had to tell a mother that her only son was killed. I still feel every blow to the chest that she gave me. When I had one of my men killed in Vietnam, I felt those blows again. And then when another neighbor’s son was killed, I also felt it. And it still tells me the same thing: waste, waste, waste.

One of my legacies of Vietnam is I’m sterile. I’m so thankful that I don’t need to worry about passing on to [my] offspring. When you sign up for the military, unfortunately, you also sign up your family members. It affects way more people than just the combatant.

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How can we beat swords into plowshares?

The easiest way is to prevent war veterans. The military is the biggest polluter in the world, by far, the U.S. military. …Every cent we pay to the military is not worth it. It makes us less secure and destroys the world. Destroys our lives. The people that profit from that, the military industrial complex, need to pay up. Agent Orange, depleted uranium. All of this is very expensive. Bottom line is that they can’t clean it all up, but at least they can do some things. The key thing is not to just completely keep destroying the earth.

Except for time spent away for school and the military, I’ve spent my life on a farm. For me, I probably wouldn’t be here [after Vietnam] if I had not been on the farm. There’s something about working with the land.

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