My son SSG Steven Ochs served with 101st Airborne. He completed 3 different deployments with a total of 40 months. 9-07 was diagnosed with Leukemia, Dr's said he's young and healthy he will get through this no problem...the cancer was so aggressive...Dr's could not explain. He fought for his life...as hard as he fought for our country. We lost a part of us when he passed 7-12-08. A nurse whispered in my daughter's ear "he is not the only one".
-Jo Ann Ochs Mother of the late SSG Steven Ochs
When they told me I had a progressive, untreatable lung disease due to toxic exposure from my deployment during OEF. I went from being a ...physically fit person to having to give up my career as a police officer. Instead of giving up I started listening to and reading about the thousands of other veterans who are suffering...there is no reason to wait decades to provide the care and treatment needed...these people who put their lives on the line to fight for our country...held up their end of their promise no questions asked.
-Cynthia Aman, Veteran
As a US Army Reservist, my husband deployed several times after 9/11. On October 2, 2010 we ran a half-marathon at Disney World. Seven days later, our world drastically changed. A biopsy confirmed that David had Glioblastoma Multiform (GBM), a statistical anomaly considering he was 45, in outstanding physical shape with no hereditary conditions. He died 11 months later. David's last words to me were: "Did I do a good job?" I told him yes and kissed him goodbye.
-Tammy McCracken Wife of the late Colonel David McCracken
“My husband’s health has been a rollercoaster since he came back from his second deployment from Iraq. He was first diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma (throat cancer) and started chemo and radiation in February 2008. My cannot eat or drink anything by mouth, he feeds only through a G-tube. He is limited in his movements, in a day-to-day task as easy as putting on a shirt.”
- Rocio Alvarado, wife of Veteran Brian Alvarado
“My son was Army Nation Guard and served at Camp Caldwell and Camp Anaconda 2006-2007. After he returned we found he was in stage 3 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. The VA hospital in Clarksburg, WV denied that he got cancer while in Iraq and that he didn't have PTSD that he was depressed because he had cancer. After having his lymph nodes and over 13 tumors removed he received chemo on and off for 2 years. My son took his life November 14, 2009. The VA turned their back on my child and they need to be held accountable.”
- Ann Leach, Veteran, US Marine Corps
Imagine getting off the plane after suffering through a tour of duty, breathing a sigh of relief because you were not injured only to find out months or years later that you, in fact, were injured in the worst way. A silent killer was growing slowly inside you waiting to rear its ugly head and ruin your life and the life of your family. This is the story of my husband, Tsgt. Eric P. Birch, who was a man who led a clean life and was taken down in 15 months from stage 4 throat cancer that could only be linked to his exposures while serving in Iraq and Qatar. It only makes sense that he would receive a Purple Heart for his sacrifice.
-Carla Birch, Wife of the late TSGT. Eric Birch