Looks pretty gross, huh? These things suck. If a person gets an infestation of these flukes, they can cause cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer. Even sweeter, a person can be infected for decades without knowing it, and the cancer develops from an inflammation of the bile ducts.
Nice. You want to know what else sucks besides the flukes? Some of the bureaucrats in Compensation and Pension at the VA. It seems that an unusually large amount of Vietnam veterans have came down with this rare cancer, and some of the C&P folks are hemming and hawing about guys getting these rare cancers from flukes found- you guessed it- in the rivers and streams of Vietnam.
You can read the AP press release here.
Typical. This seems to me to be a fairly clear-cut case of a service connection for an ailment directly caused by wartime conditions, and guys have to fight hard to get their claims verified. According to the press release, denials are common, and sometimes people have to fight for years for a resolution of their cases. Of course, victims of cholangiocarcinoma usually have a poor prognosis so I’d imagine a number of them die before anything comes of their claim. And who knows how many of them have died undiagnosed?
Hard to tell.
Full disclosure: I have an axe to grind with C&P. In combat, I was thrown over a wall by an RPG blast. I struck my head with some violence. Later on, I was in a building that was struck multiple times with recoilless rifle fire. Then I was gunning on a truck and we struck a building, then a tree. I was battered by bricks, branches, and the spade handles of my weapon. All in the same day. Now my neck and back hurt, a lot. I’ve been denied a “service connection” for my spinal stuff four times. The process has worn me down, put one in the WIN column for C&P.
So I get where these guys are coming from- being diagnosed with some weird cancer and then getting the runaround from the VA. Really makes me wonder about all of that oh-so-hygenic food I ate with my Afghans- those guys were all sick with something or the other, and I saw where the water came from that we made our tea out of- some mucky ditch with dead stuff floating in it. LOL, maybe me and the guys on my team all have flukes, too. God knows most of us had dysentery.
Hey, I’d rather talk about that cool interstellar asteroid thing- what a weird story. Cool as hell, mysterious, and something that really makes you wonder.
But I saw the article about the flukes and decided to write about that, instead.
The VA accomplishes tremendous amounts of work for little thanks, and to the medical professionals there who care and do their jobs, my sincere thanks. Only a small minority give veterans a hard time, but unfortunately, those people draw a lot of notice and press.
I wish there was a mechanism whereby you could take an overzealous beancounter and magically teleport him or her into combat hell and let them see what it’s like. After their hair starts to gray, teleport them back into their cosy chair.
Maybe some things would change.