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Branch Vietnam Veteran Fighting VA For Records Change

Matthew Gould was a Private First Class in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. His role as a specialist dog trainer allowed him to work with 25 different units from January 1969 until October. 

Then he fell sick. 

“They called it the acute cellulitis of my head and neck. swelling, extreme swelling, high fever, infection throughout my body and blood and I was kept in a coma for a couple of months,” says Gould. 

From October 3 until December 22,1969, he was in a coma and considered missing in action or dead by his commanding officer, who was amazed to see him once he came to. 

“They pretty much decided that I was no longer fit for duty because of the conditions created by the infection,” says Gould. “They wrote orders for me to come home  and from that time about 45, 47 hours later I was standing in Fort Lewis, Washington, out of the military.”

When he returned home, Gould says the cellulitis began flaring up again. 

“I returned home February 18 of 1970 and I went to the VA hospital in Ann Arbor for treatment for that swelling and infection flaring up, beginning in March, and was denounced by the VA,” says Gould. “They wanted medical proof that I had this happen to me in the service.” 

But Gould couldn’t provide any proof. His medical records from his treatment in Vietnam were sent to archives.

Gould believes he is experiencing the effects of Agent Orange. He believes his illness, found in 1969, was brought on by exposure to the herbicide. He wants to have it documented and to be compensated. 

Gould is currently on 100% disability for PTSD and hearing loss.

“I’ve asked to be compensated for what really happened. My feet were broken before I went to Vietnam, in training” says Gould. “This infection has been a part of me since the October onset of it. And I’ve asked to be treated for this infection if it falls under their guidelines of Agent Orange exposure, then by all means rate me for Agent Orange. That has not been done in 52 years.” 

Gould is asking for acknowledgement of his illnesses and to have it documented as part of his VA case file. He was listed as having hepatitis in 1969 which he says he didn’t have but he believes he had candida septicemia, a chronic fungal infection that creates hepatitis like symptoms. 

He’s also asking for his medical records, that have yet to be released to him. 

“They refused to give the medical treatment records from Vietnam to anybody. I saw them in Battle Creek VA Hospital at a pension reading hearing and a medical doctor had them, opened them up and started to look through some of the blood work,” says Gould. “I asked him to let me, see him right there at his desk, and he refused. They’ve been refused for anybody. The BORN clinic has filed three requests to the Battle Creek VA Hospital for those very records- not available.”

Gould says he wants the whole story, which is why he has appealed his case and has a hearing scheduled for November 18, in front of a judge. His last hearing was August 12, 2019 at the Cadillac VA hospital.

He wants the correct disabilities such as injuries to his feet, sustained in training, and the exposure to Agent Orange listed in his care records. He’d also like access to medical records that he has not had access to before so he better understands his conditions. 

“I’m not a defeatist. I don’t think that way,” says Gould. “I guess that’s why I’m still battling, trying to get the acknowledgement of the truth.” 

Gould has also sought out help from Congressman Bill Huizenga and Senator Gary Peters. It is a policy that neither office can comment on a private individual’s case. But they have responded to Gould.