Myrtle Beach area veterans exposed to Agent Orange honored with medals

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Some Vietnam veterans who face the effects of exposure to Agent Orange during the war got recognized Wednesday in Socastee.

Veterans who spoke to News13 all echoed the same sentiment — they’re extremely appreciative of the recognition of their service while exposed to harmful chemicals, adding that while their wounds may not be visible, they’re very real and affect them every day.

Veterans shared breakfast and recognition from the Orange Heart Medal Foundation for their service in Vietnam and exposure to Agent Orange used by the U.S. military.

“This chemical that they sprayed did a heck of a job, but it’s doing one heck of a job on us as well,” said Bobby Tyner, a board member for the Orange Heart Medal Foundation.

Roddy Lewis, a Vietnam veteran and Orange Heart Medal recipient said they’re “wounded warriors without showing that sign.”

The medals are presented to veterans showing any one of 17 symptoms of exposure to Agent Orange.

“It’s a group that no one wants to join, or wanted, to join,” Lewis said. “It just happened while we were serving our country.”

“There wasn’t a lot of recognition at first, but now this is why this is appreciated because they are recognizing us guys,” said Marion Chestnut, another medal recipient.

So far, more than 7,300 medals have been awarded nationwide, with roughly 500 going to veterans in South Carolina.

Tyner presents the veterans with the medals.

“It’s a feeling that’s hard to explain,” he said. “But it’s a beautiful feeling that we are working and putting the awareness out there.”

Veterans wear the medal with pride and also use it as a teaching tool.

“It would be a conversation piece to say, well what is this and what is this for and make people aware of Agent Orange,” said Keith Pickelsimer, a medal recipient.

To apply for the medal or learn how to donate, visit the foundation’s website.

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