Clifford Anderson’s serious health problems began when he was in his 30s.
It began with a diagnosis of colitis, an inflammation of the inner lining of his colon, in the early 1980s. By 1990, his colon had to be removed.
“When they took the colon out, the doctor at the university said they’ve never seen a colon like that before,” Anderson said. “It was like battleship gray.”
His health continued to deteriorate over the years as he developed poor circulation, bleeding ulcers on his ankles, blood clots, eye disease and now a rare cancer that leaves small tumors on the inside of his intestines.
Anderson, 67, of Joy, Ill., is convinced that his health problems stem from his exposure to Agent Orange, a highly toxic chemical sprayed on trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War. Anderson served with the 101st Airborne Division from February 1966 to September 1967.
“I felt sorry for myself for a long time,” Anderson said Saturday. “But I tell you the worst thing is, and I’ll just put it very bluntly, the hell I put my family through.”
Now, he worries about the effects of the drug being passed down genetically to his son and eventually his granddaughter.
In fact, the effects of Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals that soldiers may come in contact with during war may be felt in the next five to seven generations, said Maynard Kaderlik of the Minnesota State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America.