Vietnam War veterans diagnosed with cancer linked to service being denied care by Veterans Affairs

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Kristin Thorne reports on Vietnam veterans being denied health care.

They put their lives on the line for our country - in a conflict that bitterly divided the nation.

Now, some Vietnam veterans are being diagnosed with cancer that may be linked to their service, but they're being denied care by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Jerry Chiano was only 19-years-old when he went off to fight in the Vietnam War. Years later, he was diagnosed with throat cancer and then more recently, bile duct cancer.

"Most people get no symptoms. They turn yellow. They get a little pain. It's already stage 4," Chiano said.

It's a rare cancer that many believe stems from parasites in Southeast Asia's waterways, but the Department of Veterans Affairs does not recognize it as a service connected illness.

New York Senator Charles Schumer is stepping up to make care available for Vietnam veterans.

"Jerry, who served our country, should not have to fight a second war to gather scientific facts about bile duct cancer," Schumer said.

Schumer called on the National Academy of Sciences to launch a study examining the correlation between bile duct cancer and parasites that veterans may have been exposed to in Vietnam.

Edie Chiano, Chiano's wife, says it took 40 years to metastasize, and no one knew about it.

Chiano's treatment for the bile duct cancer is being covered by his FDNY benefits. The one claim he did file with the Department of Veterans Affairs was rejected - so were about 60 others filed by veterans across the country in 2015, according to Schumer.

"If Jerry, God forbid, doesn't beat this thing, his wife Edie would lose the benefit that her husband earned," Schumer said.

Thankfully doctors say Chiano's prognosis is good, mainly because they caught it early.
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