WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS)–Wildwood’s Vietnam Memorial Wall is a smaller version of the one in Washington, D.C.
It displays more than 58,000 names of Americans killed in the war, but experts say countless more have become casualties of Agent Orange – a potent herbicide used to destroy the jungle.
“Our friends are dying and they’re not knowing that they’re dying from this and now it’s affecting our kids,” says Harry Weimar, a Vietnam Vet and Commander of American Legion Post 184 in Wildwood.
He and more than 100 fellow Vets held a rally last weekend in Wildwood demanding the Veterans Administration recognize and treat more health problems for Agent Orange.
Congressman Frank LoBiondo has sponsored such legislation but Congress is yet to move it through committee.
“I’m hopeful that the entire Congress will get behind it because it is the right to do,” LoBiondo told CBS3 on Thursday.
But the Cape May County vets have another issue.
“They don’t have the (healthcare) providers to take care of us. I mean you got to drive 83 miles to Wilmington,” says Vietnam Vet Vince DePrinzio.
There are very few clinics and no VA hospitals in South Jersey.
Just this week the VA acknowledged there were almost no partnerships with doctors in South Jersey as recently as October of last year.
But they say things have been changing rapidly in 2017 with more than 220 local providers signed up to the Veterans Choice Program.
LoBiondo says the Cape Regional Medical Center will soon partner with the VA to provide medical services to vets, though their administration could not confirm as of Thursday.
Weimar wants to see how these new promised services actually work and his Post is planning another rally on Saturday 4/2 in Rio Grande at the corner of Route 7 and Rio Grande Ave.
“We’re going to keep doing the rallies and hold their feet to the fire,” says DePrinzio.