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REST IN PEACE...OUR VETERANS AND HEPATITIS C


I celebrate an anniversary next week. An anniversary that I am not looking forward to, and wish I was not having. It is the day 5 years ago, when I buried my husband.

Ken was in the Air Force in the 1970's, and served as an Air Traffic Controller. He used to tell stories of how when in training they would take him up and basically roll the plane - trying to teach them what would happen if they gave a wrong command to a pilot.

Shortly after I met Ken, I was helping him organize some papers in his room, and I came across a letter that explained the possibility that he may have contacted Hepatitis C while serving in the Air Force. The letter pointed out that there may be drugs to help combat the disease. I was so upset I confronted him on it - and said "I don't need this. If you have some disease like this, maybe this is not a good idea for me." I was 54 years old, and not sure I wanted to sign up for this. He reassured me that he was fine. He had his blood checked and all was okay.

He was not okay. Less than 4 years later, I sat there as they folded an American flag and draped it across my lap. He did not die a "nice" death either. His organs shut down, one by one. Let's back up the story.

He used to tell me stories of how when in the Air Force, they would line up all the soldiers and say, drop your drawers, and they came along with a shot gun called a Jet Gun Vaccinator. It was an airgun that allowed multiple injections to be given in a very speedy succession.


I celebrate an anniversary next week. An anniversary that I am not looking forward to, and wish I was not having. It is the day 5 years ago, when I buried my husband.

Ken was in the Air Force in the 1970's, and served as an Air Traffic Controller. He used to tell stories of how when in training they would take him up and basically roll the plane - trying to teach them what would happen if they gave a wrong command to a pilot.

Shortly after I met Ken, I was helping him organize some papers in his room, and I came across a letter that explained the possibility that he may have contacted Hepatitis C while serving in the Air Force. The letter pointed out that there may be drugs to help combat the disease. I was so upset I confronted him on it - and said "I don't need this. If you have some disease like this, maybe this is not a good idea for me." I was 54 years old, and not sure I wanted to sign up for this. He reassured me that he was fine. He had his blood checked and all was okay.

He was not okay. Less than 4 years later, I sat there as they folded an American flag and draped it across my lap. He did not die a "nice" death either. His organs shut down, one by one. Let's back up the story.

He used to tell me stories of how when in the Air Force, they would line up all the soldiers and say, drop your drawers, and they came along with a shot gun called a Jet Gun Vaccinator. It was an airgun that allowed multiple injections to be given in a very speedy succession.


When I first heard of all the men with bare butts in the air and someone coming along and firing rapidly down the aisle, it seemed amusing. Ken would flash his big grin and say, "yup, boom, boom, boom, we all got it in the butt."

The humor is gone. The problem with these guns was the high potential for the transmission of disease. Fluids were often spilled as they moved from one soldier to the next and blood was present. In addition, there were no safety caps, or consideration for wear and tear on the nozzle and fluid path of the gun.

My husband fought the disease silently. It was not until after the day before he died that I heard Hepatitis C. I walked into the Emergency Room and I heard the nurse say, "well, I'm sure that much of this has to do with your Hepatitis C." I said "Your what?" This was the first time I had heard the term since that letter, 4 years earlier.

Hepatitis C is a viral disease that causes liver inflammation. One in 10 United States Veterans carry the disease. Many are not aware of it, and have never been tested. According to Veteran treatment guidelines, a veteran is not eligible for treatment until their liver is completely diseased. The CDC estimates that half of those infected might not even know they are infected. The greatest risk involves baby boomers- born between the years of 1945 - 1965.

According to an article by CNN Hepatitis is at an all time high. This disease lays dormant in the system for years, and it is not until the liver has become totally diseased and begun attacking other organs do the symptoms show up. The average age of death- 59 years old.

Ken was 59 when he died. They listed the cause of death as multiple organ failure. I contacted the Veterans Affairs office, and submitted paperwork, but no doctor had listed what everyone knew. Ken died of Hepatitis C, brought on by the vaccinations he had received decades earlier. Two days after I buried my husband, I was in a doctors office, getting tested for the deadly disease. I am thankful to say, I tested negative.

The article goes on to say that every baby boomer (especially Veterans) should be tested for the disease. I am convinced that the death rate is going up, because the baby boomers have now reached the age where the disease is manifesting itself.

Our government remains quiet on the whole subject. Safety precautions are now in use for vaccinations. Some laws have been passed to protect our servicemen and women from being guinea pigs for new vaccines and practices, but not enough.

Rest in Peace Kenneth LaVance Gore




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