By Kelly Rayl

The Yuma Pioneer

Agent Orange was a tactical herbicide used by the U.S. military from 1962 to 1975, named for the orange band around the storage barrel. The military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other tactical herbicides on trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War.

Many of the Veterans that served on Air Force bases, worked on C-123 aircraft were exposed to Agent Orange, but were not eligible for healthcare benefits, because they were not on land when the tactical herbicide was sprayed. Some have died.

On January 8, 2019 legislation was introduced to provide those in need with the necessary healthcare. Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 H.R. 299. Veterans who served on a vessel operating not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia, as defined in Public Law 116-23 are eligible for the Agent Orange Registry.

The bill became public law no. 116-23 on June 25, 2019, 57 years later.

That’s why William Shuttleworth walks.

William had a job at one time managing a campground. He discovered that several of the people that lived there were homeless, trying to survive with addiction and mental health issues. These people were also military veterans.

That’s why William Shuttleworth walks.

America is almost an overwhelmingly beautiful place, full of people with fantastic stories,” he said Monday in Yuma. “I am not afraid, don’t be afraid to touch a life, try and make a difference.”

William Shuttleworth: A 71-year-old U.S. Air Force Veteran, educator, family man, is on a seven month walk across America from Massachusetts to California, 3,000 miles, “Vets Don’t Forget Vets”.

William served as a mental health clinician during the Vietnam War. He worked with POW’s, veterans and their families.

Yuma VFW’s Jimmie White presents a donation Monday to William Shuttleworth, while fellow VFW members John Barker, Lyman Herrick, Gaylord Mekelburg and Jim Falconburg look on. (Pioneer Photo/Kelly Rayl)

We need a coalition of awareness,” he said. “Veterans across America are faced with a huge amounts of paperwork, ‘Red Tape’ to receive the healthcare needed. Some are homeless, maybe even have mental health issues and even have trouble finding transportation to a facility. Veterans gave a lot and often have little to show for it. More than 25 percent of all homeless men are veterans, and many of these forgotten warriors struggle with employment, addiction and sobriety. These men and women have little voice in Congress. Today, less than 18 percent of Congress has served in the military, compared to 78 percent in 1972.”

That’s why William Shuttleworth walks.

His wife Patty suggested he find something to do, find a way to get to California for free, they have family in California.

That’s why William Shuttleworth walks.

William decided to take a walk across America, generate support for those that sadly have had a difficult time finding their own. So he tore pages of an atlas apart to plan his journey, as close to a straight line as he could through rural America.

Please note that being in the Agent Orange Registry does not verify eligibility for benefits.

That’s why William Shuttleworth walks.

William Shuttleworth is extremely grateful for all the support he has managed to gather so far and would sincerely appreciate your time, your story, your money, a cold drink, a meal or a place to rest on his walk.

Vets Don’t Forget Vets.”

You can follow William on Facebook, visit his website at https://vetsdontforgetvets.com/ or you can call him at 207-844-0666. His email address is vetsdontforgetvets@gmail.com.