September 25, 2013
War veterans, military historians, medical professionals and veterans' family members are taking part in a series of panel discussions on the service-connected disabilities and birth defects of Agent Orange, Oct. 2, at West Chester University.
Organized by West Chester faculty on the University's Veterans Council, along with representatives from the Chester County chapter of Vietnam Veterans, the panels are taking place from 1 to 7 p.m. in the Autograph Library of Philips Memorial building at 700 S. High St.
Participating on the panel of medical professionals is Tom Berger, a Navy corpsman with the 3rd Marine Corps Division in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968, who for over 30 years has been involved in veterans' advocacy, serving in a number of organizations concerned with the healthcare of America's veterans.
Berger is a member of the Vietnam Veterans national committees on Health Care, Government Affairs, Agent Orange and Toxic Substances, and Women Veterans. He is the first representative of a national veterans' service organization to be a member of the Veterans Administration's (VA) executive committee of Substance Use Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative in Palo Alto, Cal. Berger formerly chaired and is a member of the VA Consumer Liaison Council for the Committee on Care of Veterans with Serious Mental Illness, and he serves on the executive committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention in Washington, D.C. He also is a member of the veterans work group of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors.
Following his military service and completion of his postdoctoral studies, Berger held faculty, research and administrative appointments at the University of Kansas, the State University System of Florida in Tallahassee, and the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has addressed veterans' healthcare issues on CNN, ABC, the BBC and National Geographic, and before Food and Drug Administration committees, Justice Department commissions, and House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees.
Members of the panels will include Kelly Derricks, co-founder of the Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance, Inc. and the daughter of a deceased veteran who died in 1982 after being exposed to Agent Orange during two tours of Vietnam; Mokie Porter, director of communications for the Vietnam Veterans of America; and Paul Sutton and George Claxton, both Vietnam veterans and Vietnam War historians.