By Jennifer Martin
It didn't take long for David Ogle to learn his first lesson in Vietnam.
"They told me when I first got there, if we got shelled at night, you were supposed to take your weapon and your ammunition your helmet and flakjacket on go out on the green-line. I got out there and I was waiting for everyone else to show up. They finally start coming out there and the major come by and says, 'Well next time you need to put your clothes on before you come out here.' I learned real quick you've got time to put your pants on before you come out there."
Ogle served as a cook in the Army's 2nd battalion, 20th Aerial Rocket Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division. It was a cobra gunship unit.
"I was real lucky. My unit, none of us ever got killed. But there was a lot of other people that was killed around us. But that was something you just couldn't do anything about. You just had to take it and go on."
Ogle spent three years in the Army and two in the Navy. After he left the service, he went through dozens of jobs before he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He thought going back in the service would help. It didn't. He spent 8 years in the National Guard before leaving the military altogether. Eventually he went to the Corp of Engineers where he worked for 24 years.
"The Agent Orange caught up with me in 2001. I almost died from that. I am 100% disabled from that. I've got plenty of time and money, but I can barely walk to the car to spend it."
Ogle says it's been tough to get his benefits from the VA.
"It's a shame that you have to put up with the kind of stuff you have to put up with the VA and the government. They didn't ask you if wanted to go over there and be in a war. And they ought to take care of you after you get back."
He supports the Veterans History Project.
"This is something they oughta make a lot of people watch. They don't appreciate veterans you know. People ought to give them a lot more respect than they do."
20 million gallons of the Agent Orange herbicide was used in Vietnam to remove surrounding leaves and plant life from base camps and enemy hiding places. A number of veterans have reported health problems from exposure to it. The VA has treated many of those veterans.
In the case of Mr. Ogle, the VA says, "We deeply regret any bad experience by the veteran. We have apologized to him. In the future, we hope to improve his experience with the VA."
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