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Veterans Group Receives $250,000 Counseling Grant

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Vietnam Veterans of San Diego has received the first in what it hopes will be an annual $250,000 family counseling grant, the group announced this week. The grant comes out of a trust fund established by chemical companies that manufactured herbicides used during the Vietnam War.

Vietnam Veterans of San Diego will use its grant to provide counseling services, with a special focus on children born with physical disabilities and developmental disorders, said Robert Van Keuren, the group’s executive director.

“Our primary mission is to provide direct counseling to veterans and case management for the children of veterans,” said Dr. Marc Gotbaum, director of the new Vietnam Veterans Family Assistance Program. The project will help families through the maze of governmental programs offering help for their children, Gotbaum said.

“We are initiating a program designed to identify disabled children of Vietnam veterans and potentially heal the entire family,” said Dr. Jon Nachison, clinical supervisor for the program.

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The $240-million nationwide trust fund was created in 1984 as an out-of-court settlement of a class-action suit filed by Vietnam veterans who claimed that exposure to the plant defoliant known as Agent Orange resulted in medical problems for them and genetic defects in their children.

In addition to cash awards to individual veterans, more than $7 million in grant money has been awarded to assistance programs for veterans and their children, according to Dennis K. Rhoades, executive director of the private Agent Orange Class Assistance Program, which administers the fund.

Vietnam Veterans of San Diego was founded in 1981.


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