Decades of Pentagon pollution poison service members, residents and future plans for the island
by Jon Mitchell
We have compiled a list of 162 reported illnesses that the biological Grand-Children of Vietnam Veterans are suffering from to try and find common threads. There have been no official claims that anything on this list has been proven to be caused by Agent Orange/Dioxin unless otherwise noted in the information below. If your child is suffering from any illness not listed, please email us at COVVHA@GMAIL.COM This list has been updated as of October 1, 2013.
Please click on the page “NEWS ALERTS” to become an email subscriber. You will then receive notifications when databases for 2ND GENERATION, 3RD GENERATION, and VETERANS HEALTH have been updated as well as any new articles that are published. Please be sure to check your email after subscribing for your confirmation completion.
1. 16p deletion in DNA:
2. Abdominal Migraines
3. Abdominal Scar Tissue Growth
4. Alopecia Universalis
5. Allergies- Food, Milk, Meds, Gluten, Seasonal, Severe, ETC
6. Allergic Rhinitis AKA Hay Fever
7. Amblyopia AKA Lazy Eye
8. Anal Fistula
11. Anger Problems
13. Apraxia of Limb
14. Apraxia of Speech
16. Asperger’s Syndrome
18. Attention Deficit Disorder
19. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
20. Atypical Tuberculosis (Not Regular Tuberculosis)
21. Auditory Processing Disorder
22. Autism Spectrum Disorder
23. Autoimmune Problems
24. Beckwith–Weidemann Syndrome
26. Bicuspid Aortic Stenosis
27. Bilateral Retinoblastoma
28. Bipolar Disorder AKA Bipolar Affective Disorder, Manic-Depressive Disorder, or Manic Depression
29. Blood Clotting Issues
30. Borderline Personality Disorder
31. Born with One Kidney
32. Bowel Obstruction
33. Celiac Disease
35. Chest Pain: Undefined
36. (Chronic) Bronchitis
37. Chronic Ear Infections
38. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
39. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease AKA Emphysema
40. Cleft Palate
41. Clubbed Thumb
42. Congenital Talipes Equinovarus (CTEV) AKA Club Foot
43. Congenital Hypothyroidism
44. Constipation AKA Costiveness AKA Dyschezia AKA Trouble moving Bowels
45. Crohn’s Disease AKA Crohn’s Syndrome AKA Regional Enteritis
46. Cystic Hygroma
49. Deformed Baby Teeth
51. Developmental Delay
52. Dual AV Node In Heart
55. Edwards Syndrome
56. Ehler’s- Danlos Syndrome AKA Cutis Hyperelastica
57. Emotional Problems
59. Enlarged Adenoids
60. Enlarged Tonsils
61. Failure to Thrive (Difficulty Gaining Weight)
63. Fine Motor Aphasia
64. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
65. Gross Motor Aphasia
67. Hearing Aids (Both Ears)
68. Hearing Loss
69. Heart Murmur
70. High Blood Pressure AKA Hypertension
71. High Cholesterol AKA Hypercholesterolemia
72. Hip Dysplasia
73. Hirsutism AKA Frasonism (Female facial hair)
74. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
75. Hole in Heart
76. Holoprosencephaly (Lobar)
78. Hydronephrosis AKA Enlarged Kidney
79. Hyperflexability in the Joints AKA Hypermobility in the Joints
81. Hypovitaminosis D AKA Vitamin D Deficiency
82. Idiopathic Thrombocytic Purpura (ITP)
83. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
84. Insomnia AKA Trouble Sleeping AKA Sleeplessness
85. Idiopathic Thrombocytic Purpura (ITP)
86. Keratosis Pilaris (KP) AKA Chicken Skin
87. Kidney Problems
89. Learning Disability, Non Specific
90. Leg and Hip Problems at Birth
91. Low Birth Weight
92. Lupus AKA Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
93. Metabolic Syndrome
95. Minimal Separation of Left Renal Collecting System
96. Missing Teeth
98. Neural Tube Defects
99. Night Terrors
100. Nosebleeds AKA Epistaxis
102. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
103. One Testicle That is Smaller Than the Other One
104. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
106. Overall Weak Immune System
107. Past Urinary Problems
108. Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) (Form of Autism)
109. Peeling Finger/ Toe Nails
110. Pericardial Cyst On Heart
114. Poland Syndrome, Undiagnosed
115. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
116. Poor Hand/Eye Coordination
117. Potty Training Problems
118. Premature Birth
119. Primary Teeth Retention- Causes Crooked and Crowded Teeth
120. Prone to Vericocele/ Hydracele
121. Prune Belly Syndrome
123. Pulmonary Stenosis
124. Pyloric Stenosis
125. Radial Dysphasia of the Wrist
126. Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy
127. Retinoblastoma AKA Cancer of the Retina
128. Ruptured Ear Drums
131. Sensitive Skin
132. Sensory Processing Disorder/ Dysfunction of Sensory Integration
133. Severe Colic
134. Sickle Cell Anemia
136. Skin Problems
137. Sleep Apnea
139. Social Anxiety Disorder
140. Speech Disorder, Articulation
141. Spinal Muscular Atrophy
142. Spine is Blunt at the Bottom
143. Stickler Syndrome
144. Stomach Pain: Undefined
145. Teeth Growing in Crooked
146. Thoracic Kyphosis
147. Tibial Torsion
149. Torticollis AKA Wry Neck
150. Tourette’s Syndrome
151. Two Uteruses
152. Type One Diabetes
153. Umbilical Hernia (At Birth)
154. Urinary Tract Infection AKA Bladder Infections
155. Vacterl Syndrome (Born without an Anus)
156. Ventricular Septial Defect
157. Viral Meningitis
158. Von Willebrand Disease
160. Weak Baby Teeth
161. Weak Enamel In/On Teeth
162. Weird Skin Rashes
© (COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC
Agent Orange Video
COVVHA Co-founder, Kelly L. Derricks (Truth Teller) speaks about Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance and Agent Orange. September 10, 2013 at the Doylestown VFW. Click HERE watch more of COVVHA’s Agent Orange videos on YouTube.
PLEASE WATCH AND SHARE WIDELY! COVVHA HAS FILED FOR FAIR USE AFTER YOUTUBE BLOCKED ACCESS. AVAILABILITY MAY BE LIMITED!
Dark Matters Season 3 Episode 1, Agent Orange – The Accidental Inventor
Synopsis: A chemical that speeds up the flowering process in soybeans turns into a weapon during Vietnam.
Original air date: November 22, 2012
Dark Matters: Twisted But True is a television series featured on the Science Channel. Hosted by actor John Noble of Fringe and Lord of the Rings, the show takes the viewer inside the laboratory to profile strange science and expose some of history’s most bizarre experiments. This show uses narration and reenactments to portray the stories in this show
Agent Orange – Turkish Protesters Hijack Agent Orange for Increased Media Coverage
Official COVVHA Report
Heather A. Bowser, LPCC
What is more frightening than the thought of being intentionally poisoned by someone in authority over you? Perhaps, offspring being born with devastating birth defects, learning disorders, or rare illnesses? Maybe dying of horrible cancers, heart conditions, or complications of Parkinson’s Disorder? These are not merely frightening thoughts to those exposed to Agent Orange; it is reality, life and death.
Over the weekend, there were wide reports coming from Turkey that police were using Agent Orange on protesters as a form of crowd control. Social media, especially Twitter became ablaze with re-tweets calling foul to this form of force by Turkish police on people who were trying to protest unrest within Turkey. Social media accounts of the violence fueled more protesters to join the throng. Rampant reports of police using tear gas and high force water cannons to dissipate the crowd were coupled with images.
Agent Orange advocates and founders of (COVVHA) Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC. , Kelly L. Derricks & Heather A. Bowser, felt after researching media reports about the incident in Turkey, it was important keep the dialog about Agent Orange set in fact and not fiction. COVVHA is fighting for justice for all generational victims of Agent Orange. It is a difficult fight shrouded in denial, secrecy and lack of media support. It is coupled by the urgent needs of sick and dying offspring of those exposed.
Agent Orange has a notorious history in Vietnam from 1961-1971. The United States military used several chemical herbicides during the Vietnam War to “help” in the War effort. The military sited the thick jungle foliage of Vietnam, and the enemy’s access to food crops, as reason to spray an unfettered amount of chemicals onto South Vietnam, killing all the vegetation in its spray zone. The military deducted, if the enemy had no food and no place to hide, the U.S. and Allies would be victorious in Vietnam. In the end, they sprayed an estimated eighteen million gallons of Agent Orange, on a country the size of New Mexico.
Protesters in Turkey have stated the police were shooting orange liquid filled canisters at the crowd. Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War was colorless. It was called agent orange because of the orange stripe around the middle of the fifty five gallon barrel it was stored in. It was not orange. However, a Turkish protester seeing this substance being shot would think something is very wrong here. It is natural for them to question what police were shooting at them. If a protester was un-knowledgeable of the history of Monsanto, Dow, and the 5 other chemical company’s recipe for herbicide, it’s not a far leap for a protester to think the Turkish police, firing an orange substance at them could think they were using Agent Orange. At that point protesters believe it had gone well beyond crowd control. Instead the police were trying to kill protesters with chemical warfare.
Agent Orange wasn’t used as a crowd deterrent it was used to defoliate plant material. It was not sprayed directly on people as an act of chemical warfare. However, many were indirectly sprayed with Agent Orange during its use in Vietnam. Many U.S. and Vietnamese soldiers and Vietnamese civilians have recounted times when they were exposed by aerial spray. Others were exposed when handling the chemical with no protective gear, working or living in areas that had been defoliated, or drinking contaminated water or food. The U.S. Military has fought back against outrage that Agent Orange was used as chemical warfare. They state it was used strictly as vegetation control, an agricultural chemical. The problems with the herbicides used in Vietnam were they were toxic. They were contaminated with an industrial byproduct called dioxin. Dioxin is one of the deadliest known contaminants to man. Production of Agent Orange ended in the 1970’s.
The process of dying at the hands of Agent Orange is a long painful process, with the exception of Chloacne, which appears shortly after acute exposure; symptoms of exposure do not surface for years. Police are looking for quick responses in riot control situations.
A quick internet image search about the effects of Agent Orange on the children of Vietnam can leave a person horrified. Babies today are still being born in Vietnam with severe deformities, especially in areas where the deadly dioxin is still in high concentration in Vietnam’s soil. There are still twenty eight such places in South Vietnam today.
The plight of America’s Vietnam Veterans, Australian Veterans, and Vietnamese Veteran’s illnesses and battle to gain justice has been going on for over forty years. Children and grandchildren of all, who fought in the Vietnam War from around the globe, are currently pleading for those in power to recognize the birth defects and diseases they suffer from and believe are caused by their parent or grandparent’s exposure to Agent Orange. All of these groups cannot afford the reality of their life or death fight to be watered down or distracted from by Facebook and Twitter posts from Turkey.
So was this report from Turkey simply a misstep by a confused, uninformed protester, or was it something else? Could Turkish protesters have been trying to ride the impact of the fear associated with Agent Orange to gain more recognition for their county’s unrest? Or was it a simple mistake, which people perpetuated by not checking their facts? If the act by Turkish protesters was to gain international media exposure by claiming Agent Orange was used on them, it’s worked. The whole world did a double take when headlines read,” Turkish Riot Police, Starts Using Agent Orange,” all of the sudden the focus of the protest was lost.
There isn’t any evidence of Agent Orange being used in Turkey. Members of the media and activists must check the facts so disinformation is not spread. To be successful we must push ourselves to be knowledgeable before just clicking the share button.
The challenge is to stay focused to the matters at hand. Turkey is going through unrest. Agent Orange is continuing to kill people every day. Don’t confuse the two, and do not turn away, your attention matters.
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” ~ Mark Twain
© 2013 (COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC. All rights reserved.BECOME A MEMBER OF CHILDREN OF VIETNAM VETERANS HEALTH ALLIANCE YOU WILL RECEIVE A ONCE DAILY EMAIL OF ANY BREAKING AGENT ORANGE NEWS AND RELATED TOPICS IN ADDITION TO ANY COVVHA UPDATES PLEASE ENTER YOUR EMAIL IN THE BOX BELOW, A CONFIRMATION LINK WILL BE SENT TO YOUR EMAIL. YOU MUST OPEN THE EMAIL AND CLICK THE CONFIRMATION LINK TO COMPLETE THE PROCESS.
AGENT ORANGE INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE OFFICIAL COVVHA TESTIMONY
(Irvine California) There is a renewed push for the Institute of Medicine to take seriously the claims made by the Children of Vietnam Veterans and their families about the birth defects and illnesses they are suffering from. The adverse affects of the dioxin laden herbicide sprayed over the jungles of Vietnam, AKA Agent Orange, have been well known since the government first admitted in 1991 to cause illnesses in Vietnam Veterans. For years, the veterans and their families have been saying birth defects and rare illnesses have affected their children’s health. These anomalies and illnesses are not only happening in the children of Vietnam Veterans (2nd generation), but now are showing up in alarming numbers in the grandchildren (3rd Generation) of Vietnam Veterans as well.
On January 16, 2013, (COVVHA) Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC. participated, in the public hearings for the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Committee to Review on the Health Effects in Vietnam Veterans Exposure to Herbicides (Ninth Biennial Update) in Irvine, California. Tanya Mack, COVVHA Core Chairperson, and California resident, gave testimony on behalf of COVVHA to the committee. Tanya Mack is the Daughter of a recently, deceased Vietnam Veteran who succumbed service connected Agent Orange illnesses. She was born with severe hip dysplasia and has developed several rare aggressive cancers in her thirties which she is currently still fighting.
“The Institute of Medicine is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public (From the IOM website).” They have been commissioned to review biannually, the most current data available about herbicides and the health effects on our Veterans. In the past, the IOM have been responsible for getting new illnesses added to the presumptive list for our ailing Vietnam Veterans. Like On October 13, 2009, when, the Veterans Affairs added three new medical conditions for Vietnam Veterans presumptively associated with exposure to herbicides; hairy cell and other B-cell leukemia’s, Parkinson’s disease, and ischemic heart disease, to the list of covered illnesses.
Included in COVVHA’s report to the committee, were the number and types of illnesses and congenital anomalies found in the second and third generation members of COVVHA. This includes the ailments that mirror the Vietnam Veterans and the congenital anomalies found on the list of birth defects covered in the children of women Vietnam Veterans. Tanya Mack, shared several studies from the early eighties including Ranch Hand studies and a current epigenetic study from Washington State that show a correlation to trans-generational exposures to dioxin, with the committee for them to consider. Several recommendations were made as to the next actions to help the children of Vietnam Veterans in the most practical ways.
Three of COVVHA recommendations included approving the currently covered eighteen plus, birth defects for children of female Vietnam Veterans for the children of male Vietnam Veterans. The second recommendation included the request for free DNA and Epigenetic testing for the biological children of Vietnam Veterans as needed, and an official Agent Orange Registry for Children of Vietnam Veterans. COVVHA made several other recommendations that were included in their submitted testimony.
Highlights of other participant’s testimony:
Ken Holybee, Director at Large, of Vietnam Veterans of America. Ken pointed out in the Veterans and Agent Orange 2008 Update, the IOM Committee concluded that it was plausible exposure to herbicides that could cause paternally mediated effects in offspring as a result of epigenetic changes, and that such changes would most likely be attributable to the TCDD contaminants in Agent Orange. He urged the committee to follow up on their 2008 recommendations. Due to the continued suffering the VVA sees in the families who attend their Agent Orange Town Hall Meetings.
Debra Kraus, widow of a Vietnam Veteran, Activist and Artist, shared a slideshow presentation of her art that is based on her experience through her husband’s dealings with the V.A. and health issues.
Elayne Mackey, National Health Committee co-chair for the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America (AVVA). AVVA recommends the creation of Centers of Excellence to provide for research, treatment, and social services for the offspring of veterans of all eras who have been exposed to toxins while in service to our country.
Wesley T. Carter, Chair of the C-123 Veterans Association, asked for two possibilities, the Department of Defense designates the contaminated -123 aircraft, by specific tail number, as Agent Orange exposure sites. The other for the VA to accept claims from veterans able to provide evidence of service aboard the aircraft known to have been contaminated.
Andy Olshan, PhD, Chair of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina and Kim Boekelheide, MD, PhD, Professor of Medical Science, Brown University phoned into the meeting. The Doctors gave their opinion on the likelihood of Paternal Transmission of Dioxin through Sperm. The Doctors stated that paternal transmission is relatively small because the male system is made to minimize the transmission of issues and that there is not enough evidence to support the theory that Dioxin is transmitted through sperm.
COVVHA is committed to serving as a voice for the children of Vietnam Veterans including second and third generation victims of Agent Orange and Dioxin Exposures worldwide. We believe in empowering each other to hold the companies and governments responsible for causing so much devastation and suffering to our generations. We fight for justice globally. We hope the IOM will make the responsible recommendations to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Please, see the full testimony submitted to the Institute of Medicine attached which also includes Tanya Mack’s personal health struggle with Agent Orange related birth defects and cancers.
Today my words are meant to help uplift, empower and heal you. I know the feelings written here personally and it has hurt me in the past. I would like to give you some helpful ideas on how you can help children. How you can have them be a part of your life. How you can help them to fulfill their dreams, goals and lives even if you cannot have your own.
Recently I lost another child and finally put into motion a means that I would not concieve again to avoid the pain. I wanted to have my husbands child so badly that I could almost see him already. I felt that he was almost here and I could reach out and touch him and change my life. It was a boy I know that and it tore me open. I cried for weeks about this and I just want you to know that I truly understand how hard it is. This was not my first loss of a child but this one hurt the most.
I have had my share of trouble conceiving a child and then when I could was not able to carry to term. I made some changes in my lifestyle without the intention of having a baby at that time. I got rid of all the chemicals and animal products and voila ..side effect I was pregnant. I was so excited and happy. Then I found out the truth about what was happening and in the end I kissed my child goodbye and told him through tears that I was so sorry that I couldn’t be the mother that he had chosen.
I dealt with that pain and came out the other end knowing that I am here for another reason. That as much as my whole life i heard things like *Oh my god you will make such a good mom* to *You are so maternal* Why can’t I help children or adopt them and give them a better life? Why can’t I be their teacher and inspiration? Why can’t I help other people who feel like i do? I thought about it for months and came to the conclusion that I could do all and any of these things that I wanted to. The only limitation in place is what you believe there is. You can accomplish so much more than you may even realize.
I think that it is very important to remember that you may not be able to have your own child. But there are millions upon millions that could benefit from the love you hold in your heart for the ones you cannot have. They are just there waiting for you to find them, to lift them up and out of their desperate circumstances. To show them a better world and a kinder heart than they may have seen. So long as your choice is kindness and love towards a lonely or hurt child it is a good one.
These links will be a road that you may choose to go down. Remember while you do that just as you may feel alone and without joy and love, there are many children that feel the same exact way that you do. You hold this amazing gift in your hands and it is called free will. You can choose to gift and uplift and show these young people that they may suffer and that life is difficult but it is also filled with surprising kindnesses and gentle loving people.
I try to think what the reasons could be as to why people cannot have children. There are so many it would take a very long time to cover even half of the reasons. But I think that while it is a heartbreaking thing to have to realize there is a reason I believe. We are here to help others. We are here to look at and find children that need us and just help them in any way we can. Mourn your losses and move on it is the best thing you can do for yourself. It may sound harsh but that is the truth. You are here for another potential purpose. Perhaps you are meant to be Father or Mother to the children of the world. Perhaps you were given a gift instead. One that could make a huge difference in the world. Have you considered that?
We are all here just floating around and sometimes we see something. We stop and look at it and examine it closely because it speaks to us. Loving other human being that may not be your blood is one of those things that passes by us. We should stop and examine it and see what we can do to help others and in doing so heal ourselves.
I have been amazed at how many things we can do to help children. We could just type in volunteer to help children and find out for yourselves what is out there. What we can do to make a difference in the lives of so many children that lack hope. Because they have been hurt so badly that they find trusting someone difficult. But if this is what you want to do then there is nothing stopping you from helping someone else. Imagine the power that you possess! You could change the life of another human being for the better!
You could volunteer at your local school. See if they need any help and do what you can. If you have medical problems and I know that many of you do then tell them your limitations. Many would be happy to have the help from anyone. If they cannot work with you then keep trying and see what you might be able to start in your community. There is always some way to help others.
I am including as many things that I can find that you could go out and do for yourself. Helping others can help to heal your own suffering. That is a proven fact in this world. If you reach out and help another human being you heal a hurt inside of you. These children that you help will not forget you or the things that you do to try and help them. I know you are hurting inside and I understand and this is a way to heal what is ailing you and your heart. Couples can benefit from this as well. Reach out and take a chance!Quiescent Aureate Serpent © 2013 (COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC. All rights reserved.
Children of Vietnam Veterans: Their Voice Keeps Growing
Originally Published By Salem-News.com (Mar-27-2013 11:36)
COVVHA was founded by two children of Vietnam Veterans. Heather A. Bowser and Kelly L. Derricks. Both of their lifes have been significantly affected by Agent Orange. Kelly lost her father at age seven due to Agent Orange illnesses. Kelly currently suffers from twenty eight, unexplained illnesses which forced her to retire from her career in the mental health field. Heather was born with several birth defects, including missing her right leg below the knee, several of her fingers and big to on her left foot. Heather was born two months premature and only weighed 3.4 ounces. Her father is also deceased. Heather’s father had five bypasses on his heart at age 38, subsequently he died at ace 50 from a massive heart attack. His death was service related due to his Agent Orange exposure.
Kelly and Heather founded this organization because there are so many needs that are not being met in their peer group. The most pressing one, is the government has not acknowledged the devastating birth defects and illnesses in the children of male Vietnam Veterans, like they have in the children of female Vietnam Veterans. Currently, the government acknowledges eighteen plus birth defects in the children of female Vietnam Veterans. They only acknowledge one birth defect in the children of Male Vietnam Veterans. Spina Bifida. This, Kelly and Heather both feel is discrimination. Especially because they have so many reports of similar birth defects and illness.
COVVHA has also built a private support community for only children of Vietnam Veterans. It has over six hundred members. They educate and support each other in this group. Kelly and Heather want their members to understand that they are not alone. Many of them have lost, or are in the process of losing their Vietnam Veteran, plus they are dealing with birth defects or unexplained illnesses.
They are also seeing an influx of children of Vietnam Veterans who start researching Agent Orange because their child, the grand child of the Vietnam Veteran has been born with an issue, or suddenly has a rare illness.
COVVHA deals with a lot of issues, like grief, illness, anger and the like. The group also enjoys each others company and find many similar anecdotes of what it was like growing up with a Vietnam Veteran.
COVVHA is also involved in supporting international efforts in cleaning up, and disclosing locations of buried herbicide. Heather has traveled three times to Vietnam. She has visited two of the most poisonous hot spots still contaminated with Agent Orange, Da Nang, and Bein Hoa. Heather has also worked with organizations in Vietnam who support the on going health care of the Vietnamese children who are still being born today with birth defects due to their parents or grand parents exposure and the continued environmental pollutants. Recently Heather traveled to Okinawa, Japan to educate those seeking answers about reports that Agent Orange herbicide was stored, used and buried on the island of Okinawa. Building community with those who may have suffered due to Agent Orange in Japan is very important to the organization.
COVVHA seeks unity in all those who have been affected by Agent Orange dioxin so that our community may build strength in numbers and that our voices would be heard by those who make decisions.
(C) (COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC.
I Was Just There Last Night
© James J. Alonzo
“Jim, do you still think about Viet Nam?’ asked Dr. Tallutto, my shrink at Veterans Hospital.
“How do you stop thinking about it.” I Laughed, “everyday for the last 30 plus years, I wake up with it, go to bed with it. Yeah, I think about it, I can’t quit thinking about it. I never will, but most of the time I have learned to live with it. I’m mostly comfortable with the memories, the flashbacks, I’ve learn to stop trying to forget, and I am trying to learn to embrace it. It just doesn’t scare me anymore.”
“Jim, if you weren’t being affected by the experience of war, combat, and death, that would be abnormal.”
When he told me that , it was like he’d have just given me a pardon, Read Full Article →
On Monday November 12, 2012, Kelly L. Derricks and Karen Y. Wengert were please to return to the Organic View Radio Show, hosted by June Stoyer, for a special Veterans Day feature about Agent Orange and the children of Vietnam Veterans.
Click the player below to hear the show!
Check out some of our photos for our different brand lines like :
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For Immediate Release
Agent Orange In Ohio
Boardman, OH – October, 13 2012 – Two Generational Victims of Agent Orange who founded the Non-Profit Organization ‘Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance’ will host a meet & greet and educational seminar on October 13th starting at 6pm at Ohio Naturopathic Wellness Center, 755 Boardman-Canfield Rd., Suite D- (Southbridge West), Boardman, OH. Appetizers and beverages will be served, followed by the seminar at 7pm. Please make your reservations at COVVHA@Gmail.com for attendance since seating is limited. The event is free and open to the public and can also be joined through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/
Heather A. Bowser (39), Daughter of Bill Morris, of Canfield Ohio and Kelly L. Derricks (37), Daughter of Harry C. Mackel Jr., of Bucks County Pennsylvania are both daughters of deceased Vietnam War Veterans. Each of their father’s were exposed to the deadly herbicide Agent Orange/Dioxin while serving with the United States Military resulting in their untimely deaths. Heather and Kelly were both born with multiple birth defects and illnesses which they still suffer from Today. In early 2012, after many years of independent advocacy, they came together to form ‘Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance’ a Non-Profit organization seeking justice and providing assistance for the tens of thousands of sons and daughters also suffering from the generational effects of Agent Orange that occurs during the conception of a child.
Karen Y. Wengert (38), Daughter of surviving Vietnam Veteran George Ridgeway, of Newark Ohio, will also be attending the event. Karen’s mother, Barbara Ridgeway (Dunn), who is now deceased, was a key proponent in starting the area’s local VVA chapter. At the age of 8, Karen accompanied by her parents on November 11, 1982, stood in attendance at the official opening of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. As a surviving Vietnam Veteran, Karen’s father now suffers the severe health effects that Agent Orange / Dioxin is known for leaving in its destructive wake. Recently, Heather and Kelly were very pleased when Karen graciously accepted the position of Secretary as an Official COVVHA board member. Karen has worked tirelessly over the last several months, despite her suffering with numerous illnesses, to ensure COVVHA’s ability to reach the 2ND generation victims of Agent Orange.
Nicknamed COVVHA, Kelly and Heather stress four simple words that have reached millions, not just in the American community, but also the international community of those exposed including Vietnam, Australia, Korea, Japan, Guam, and Canada; “You Are NOT Alone.” COVVHA has vowed that no Vietnam Veteran, Child, Grandchild, or those who were exposed to Agent Orange by other circumstances, will ever feel like they are waging the fight for their lives alone. The event which is being hosted by Kelly and Heather on October 13th starting at 6pm at Ohio Naturopathic Wellness Center, 755 Boardman-Canfield Rd., Suite D-(Southbridge West), Boardman, Ohio, Is intended to educate the general public and those exposed about the generational health and medical effects of Agent Orange. They also hope to meet other Sons and Daughters of Vietnam Veterans who may have interest in volunteering any extra time to COVVHA.
Before his Death at the age of 37, Kelly’s father stated, “I know I have a bomb ticking inside of me, I know that bomb is Agent Orange.” Before his death at the age of 50, Heather’s father stated, “If I only knew I was taking my children to war, I would have dodged the draft.” Please join Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance on Saturday evening, October 13, 2012 to help COVVHA raise awareness. R.S.V.P. by email at COVVHA@GMAIL.COM At the conclusion of the evening’s events, A brief memorial tribute will be held in honor of Kelly’s father marking the 30 year anniversary of his death on October 14, 1982. Kelly was only 7 years old when her father died. Agent Orange was not just a Vietnam War Era tragedy. In fact, Agent Orange was used globally long before the war began. To people like Kelly and Heather and the millions they fight for, the Vietnam War never ended. The battle ground and weaponry have simply changed.
I know that several of you have either taken this journey already or will be taking it yourself but I would like to share my experience with you in hopes that you will get a glimpse into what it is like to go into the unknown. My journey started with a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at 18. I had always had problems with my periods, I started at 13 but then I didn’t have another one until I was 15. I had sporadic periods and the pain would intensify with every one I had from then on. I went to Planned Parenthood when I was 18, as I didn’t have a regular OB/GYN, they did a pap test on me, I almost came off the table as the doctor pinched me with the speculum, and she said that since my “situation was so far outside the realm of norm,” she was going to have to refer me to an high risk OB/GYN. At that point, I hadn’t had a period in 2 years. Thus began the roller coaster ride.
I started to see the OB/GYN, which then prescribed birth control pills for me to take to get my periods under control. That is when the facial hair began to really grow in fast, she then added a water pill to make the facial hair stop growing, it didn’t work but I sure did have to go to the bathroom a lot. I changed birth control pills 3 times that year. One made me bleed, one made me sick and one made my hair fall out. I started to have pain in my abdomen and that is when I started getting the large cysts. The pain was unreal. I would usually end up in a hot bathtub full of water, soaking, that is the only thing that would ease the pain.
I got married at 26, Richard and I wanted kids very badly. We tried for 3 years to have children. We went to my OB/GYN, she put me on Clomid, a fertility drug and had me taking my temperature to check for fertility everyday. It was an exhausting process. I had 3 pregnancy tests come back positive and I was exstatic! I had all the symptoms of being pregnant, I was nauseous all the time, I had the breast pain, I was gaining weight, everything, so I called the doc. She gave me a due date of January 21 over the phone and scheduled me for an OB workup and ultrasound. I went in for the appointment and when I went for the ultrasound, the woman, very rudely, demanded to know just who told me I was pregnant. I told her Dr. Yablonkski told me and she said, again, very rudely, “there’s nothing in here, take off your underwear!” So, I did and she shoved the ultrasound wand inside me none to gently and she told me there was no baby growing inside me. I was absolutely beside myself! I was crying and I just wanted to go home and grieve but they made me wait to see the doc. When she finally showed up, she wanted me to take more Clomid and Provera to get rid of my lining. When I told her I didn’t want it, she told me I was being “irrational and overly emotional,” and that I needed to just get back in there and try again. She gave the scripts to Richard, he tore them up, threw them at her and we never looked back.
We went to another OB/GYN at Riverside before I found the one that I have now and she did and exam and told me that I had a chemical pregnancy. She didn’t really explain anything to me. While doing the exam, she found a polyp on my Cervix and she said I might feel some cramping and she removed it with no anesthesia or anything. It was so painful that I had to bite my lip to keep from yelling out. Needless to say, I never went back to her either.
I went to see Dr. Atwood that spring. She looked through my records and saw what happened with the pregnancy that almost was, and she started asking me questions about it. When I told her what the woman at Riverside told me and that she never explained what it meant, she just shook her head and apologized to me. A chemical pregnancy is when the sperm and the egg get close enough to meet but they don’t fertilize into a viable pregnancy and they send out the chemicals to the brain that you are pregnant. It was nice to finally have an explaination of what had happened to me, I thought I was crazy, that was in 2004. We tried a couple of different types of birth control pills to regulate me but getting my diet under control actual did the most good. I was eating more healthy and walking 2 1/2 to 5 miles a day and it did more than any pill for my system. It regulated itself and I could almost set my watch by it. Then I had my first big nervous breakdown. I didn’t care about anyone or anything and I took to my bed.
I started to have pains again with my periods in 2006, it was gradual at first. I would get nasty cramps to let me know I was going to start and then I would be fine after that, then it would be for the first day then I would be fine, then it got to be almost everyday. This became habit so I had gotten used to carrying Ibuprofen in my purse and having it in my locker at work, 1600 mg and I would be able to make it through the day, then 3200 mg wasn’t touching the pain anymore. 2008 comes and the pain in my abdomen ends me up in the ER more than once. It was actually a saving grace. I had a CT scan done and they found spots on my lower lobe of my lungs. After several tests and scans and one cancer scare later, they found that it was Sarcoidosis, not cancer. That is when we first started talking about hysterectomy. That to me was a death sentence. I just knew it to be a dark, scary thing that was going to hurt and that was going to make me stop being a woman!
I suffered for the next 2 years with cramps so bad that they started in my abdomen and went clear through to my lower back. The ONLY thing that made it better was either soaking in a hot bath or I was plugged in with a heating pad all day, everyday! It was so bad toward the end that the pain was radiating down my legs. In 2011, started to get heavier periods and I was passing blood clots the size of baseballs. I was weak and I was sick all the time. I made the appointment with Dr. Atwood and I told her about what was going on and she just asked me, “are you ready yet?” It was then I decided that I had to do the right thing and end the pain and the suffering that I had been living with for YEARS. I didn’t realize how bad it was until she asked Richard how bad it was and he told her that I couldn’t function even to do basic everyday things. I didn’t think he was noticing or that it was effecting him, but it was. We tried for almost 10 years to get pregnant and it was killing me that this was how it was going to end but all Richard said to me was that he wanted me to be ok, that was all that mattered to him. I am thankful and blessed to have him. He was feeling it too.
She scheduled it for October 4th 2011. I had 3 weeks to get used to the idea and believe me, I was terrified! On one hand, I was at peace with the idea. I was tired of the pain, I was tired of being tied to that blessed heating pad, I just wanted it to be over. On the other hand, I was in mourning for the fact that I was 38 years old and I would never have the one thing that I wanted the most in this world, children. I would never get to feel what it was like to carry a child in my womb, I would never get to feel the agony of childbirth. It was just going to have to be ok.
The morning came, and I was nervous. We didn’t tell anyone but my dad and Jane, our good friend Lora and our dearest friend Kelly that I was having the surgery. I needed to be focused on myself and getting through whatever was going to happen on that day. No one was with us at the hospital. I went back and they prepped me for surgery, everyone was really nice, they are at the hospital where it was done. I was so cold, it was freezing back there. I don’t remember anything else til I woke up in my room.
I woke up with Richard and my dad and Jane with me. I just remember wanting to get out of bed right away. I was still groggy. Richard always buys me a stuffed animal when I have surgery, he bought me a TY Bat, my dad brought me some beautiful flowers. I was talking to them and all of the sudden I told them I was going to be sick and it just came in waves. I couldn’t stop, the only thing I can think of now is that I was on a Morphine drip (your best friend) and I hadn’t had anything to eat. The nurses came and changed me and changed me bed and moved me to the room I was going to be in from then on. My bladder didn’t seem to want to cooperate for 24 hours after the surgery. I had a catheter in and I was drinking one of those 32 oz cups of ice water an hour and I wasn’t putting anything out. They were getting very concerned and kept doing ultrasounds on my bladder but it finally turned around right before I was let go to go home. I was told that what she found when she got in my abdomen was that my ovaries were the size of small potatoes and covered with sacs of blood and that scar tissue was beginning to attach to my bowels so instead of leaving my uterus and one ovary like she planned, she had to take everything.
I had staples across my abdomen. They don’t suture you after the hysterectomy. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was completely numb across there so I didn’t even feel them, except right before they were to come out, one was getting infected and it was pinching a little . I didn’t feel it one bit when she took them out, it was all still numb when she took them out. I haven’t had any pain since she did the surgery and I am so relieved! I am still numb across my abdomen a year later, but numb I can live with. This is a decision that I wrestled with, am I still a woman, yes. Am I still grieving, some. Do I regret it? No! It is something that we go through as women because our bodies are flawed and need to be corrected, not because there is anything wrong with us as women!
I hope that this glimpse into my journey helps to ease a fear, to let you know that you are not alone.
© Karen Wengert
Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance
Hillary Clinton on Wednesday became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Laos in 57 years, on a trip focused on the damaging legacy of the Vietnam War and a controversial dam project.
At Vientiane’s flag-bedecked Wattay International airport, Mrs. Clinton was given flowers by girls in traditional purple-silk costumes, kicking off her brief but historic trip.
“It’s a pretty big deal for the Laotians, and we will underscore a number of areas that we’re working on together,” a senior U.S. official said.
These include leftover ordnance from the war which ended in 1975, excavating the remains of U.S. soldiers missing in action and the continuing effects of defoliant Agent Orange, used by the U.S. to try to flush out communist forces.
Mrs. Clinton, whose four-hour whirlwind trip has been front page news in Laos this week, met with Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong at his office in an elegant white-columned building with two large elephant statues outside.
The pair had “substantive discussions on the broadening bilateral cooperation,” according to a joint statement released after the meeting.
The countries “agreed to improve and further facilitate the accounting operations for American personnel still missing from the Indochina War era,” and address the “remaining challenges” of unexploded ordnance, the statement said.
They also discussed the forthcoming entry of landlocked Laos, one of the poorest nations in the world with just 6.5 million people and an annual gross domestic product growth rate of 7%, into the World Trade Organization.
Mrs. Clinton is only the second secretary of state to visit Laos after John Foster Dulles, who spent a day in the then-monarchy in 1955.
Mrs. Clinton was invited to Laos by Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith in 2010 who was the first top Laotian official to visit Washington since the Soviet-backed communist rebels swept to power, ousting the monarchy, in 1975.
U.S. relations with Laos, while never severed, were long tense, in part over its campaign against the Hmong hill people who assisted U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.
I’m not there. It was quite a difficult decision for me to make. A decision that made me feel forced to attend a funeral of sorts. I buried my father 30 years ago when I was 7 years old. There’s not anything about the day that I don’t remember. When I was told that his memory was to be included in today’s events I felt very sad. I expressed to the people that did tell that I thought most would expect me to be happy about it. But I wasn’t. Not in any way.
Let’s face it. People don’t visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall to be happy. It is in essence a collective grave stone with more than 58,000 names on it. 30 years later our government has decided to acknowledge my father’s service in Vietnam and his death thereafter as something special? 30 years later?
To be clear, I did not submit the application, a relative did. One that I have spoken to less than 10 times over the last 20 years. When and if I ever go back to The Wall, it will be on my own terms and my own time. It will certainly not be yet another day in history that the United States Government dictates to me how I am to feel about my father’s death and the Agent Orange that killed him.
So on a day that I wanted to keep to myself, I feel yet again forced to deal with the issue since going through my emails today; I was faced with an article written about the ceremony events. An article that shared the story of another PA Vietnam Veteran who lost his life to Agent Orange & Dioxin exposure and was also being honored today. The article failed to include the names of the other 9 PA Vietnam Veterans who are also being remembered today. I felt that I should at least include my own father’s name, however in doing so I thought it necessary to share the story with all of you.
If anything positive has come out of today, I can say that it was one simple thing that I have been waiting for over the last 37 years of my life….. To see my Father, Harry C. Mackel Jr., an active member of The United States Air Force for nearly 10 years, who voluntarily served 2 “Boots On The Ground” tours in Vietnam, in his USAF Military Uniform. Yes, that is correct, for my entire life I have never seen a photo of my Father in his uniform, until now. Included in the ceremony events are the names and photos of all of the Vietnam Veterans being honored today. I received a photocopy of the picture being used in the booklet early last week. It took me several days to convince myself that it was even my father. My husband insisted that it was. In the picture, he was probably just 17 years old, making it the youngest photo I have ever seen of my father. For days, I traced the harsh lines of a photo that came out of a copy machine and then tri-folded for mailing. For days, I had no idea who this man was in the photo, thinking it had to have been a mistake. For days, as I have done many times over the years, I questioned my own Identity. Until I finally stared at his eyes. They are unmistakable, they are mine.
Yet, as I write this story, I am filled with A Heart Of Rage. The kind of rage that only a daughter of a Vietnam Veteran who has long been dead would know. The rage of her Father being taken away. You see, there is even more to this story then one could possibly imagine. I found out about “In Memory Day” on a week night at 8:00 p.m. Only 6 short hours before that, I received a different phone call. One informing me of a situation which I knew in my heart would come one day, a situation I have been running from since I was a teenager.
AGENT ORANGE AGAIN RIPPING THE LIFE AWAY FROM YET ANOTHER LOVED ONE OF MINE.
Who you ask? The only other man that I have ever called my father. A man that is now suffering the effects of Agent Orange and Dioxin.
My adopted Father.© Kelly L. Derricks Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance
Below I have included the booklet that was at the Ceremony. I have also included the link to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for anyone interested in applying for the program. In addition, you will find the original article written about the PA Vietnam Veteran also being honored.
It is at the governmental level, and first at the level of the United States government, that the question of support for Vietnam must be raised and that the demand for just reparations must be made.
(DA NANG Vietnam) – The Vietnam War (1961-1975) is known for the massive bombings of North Vietnam. More insidious, however, yet less well-known to the general public, was the chemical war waged from 1961 to 1971 against South Vietnam.
An immense environmental disaster and a human catastrophe taking numerous forms: health, economic, socio-cultural …, it had dramatic consequences which are still felt today. The American government and the chemical companies involved have eluded their responsibilities. For years, a conspiracy of silence has obscured the toxicity of the defoliants used. Those responsible have the effrontery to continue denying it today. Humanitarian aid is incommensurate with the needs. It is at the government level that support for Vietnam must be organized and the demand for just reparations must be made.
During the Vietnam War, from 1961 to 1971, American aviation sprayed defoliants over Southern Vietnam to chase from the jungle the combatants taking shelter there, to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail by which weapons, supplies and medication came down from the North, to facilitate surveillance of roads, coastlines and waterways and to destroy the rice paddies, forcing villagers into “strategic hamlets” and thus depriving the guerillas of food and aid. More than 77 million liters of defoliants were released by plane (95%), by helicopter, by boat, by tanker truck, and by men with backpack sprayers. More than 2,500,000 hectares were contaminated by these defoliants, the best known of which is Agent Orange. It contains dioxin, one of the most violent and most indestructible poisons known.
Millions of Vietnamese, soldiers, civilians, men, women, children, were injured by the spreading of Agent Orange/dioxin. Tens of thousands died on the spot. Two to four million survivors, according to the Vietnamese Red Cross, frequently present serious pathologies (cancers, leukemia, diabetes, skin diseases, including chloracne…) Ill or apparently healthy, individuals in contact with Agent Orange often give birth to severely handicapped children. Sometimes it is their grandchildren who are affected, without our understanding yet the mode of transmission.
The Devil’s Rainbow
Agent Orange is a product which was used in the United States as a weed killer along roads and railway tracks, but in solution ten to twenty times less concentrated than in Vietnam. It is a mixture of equal parts of 2, 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (written as 2,4-D) and 2, 4, 5-trichloro-phenoxyacetic acid (2, 4, 5-T), synthetic growth hormones which cause plants to die.
Dioxin is a manufacturing byproduct of 2, 4, 5-T, whose concentration depends on the process used: the faster one wants to go, and the higher the temperatures used, the more dioxin is formed . Its toxicity in laboratory animals, rodents and fish is measured in infinitesimal quantities of the order of a millionth or billionth of a gram per kilo of weight. The lethal dose for man is not clearly defined but is considered to be around 0.1 mg per kilo.
If the name “Agent Orange” has become emblematic, to the point of becoming synonymous with “defoliants”, that is because it was the one most widely used (2/3 of the sprayings) but it was not the only one. With it, Agent White, Agent Pink, Agent Green, Agent Blue and Agent Purple constituted what the American Army called the rainbow herbicides.
Agent White was a mixture of 4 parts to 1 of 2, 4-D and Picloram, contaminated by hexachlorobenzene and nitroamines, all known carcinogenic agents.
Agents Pink and Green were 2, 4, 5-T and contained dioxin. Agent Purple was, like Agent Orange, a mixture of equal parts of 2, 4-D and of 2, 4, 5-T, even more seriously contaminated by dioxin.
All were defoliants and were preferably sprayed over the forests and the mangroves, but also over the countryside and the rice paddies.
Agent Blue contained cacodylic acid, a component of arsenic. It was used for crop poisoning.
The names given to the products came from the colored band painted on the 200 liter drums that contained them. No other mark identified them and instructions given to manufacturers prohibited them from marking “poison” or other customary indications of toxicity. The soldiers handling the herbicides were unaware of their nature and the danger. We will bring this point up again later.
As early as the 1940’s, the American Army was interested in perfecting new chemical weapons and had discovered, in particular, the herbicidal properties of 2, 4-D and of 2, 4, 5-T. Use in Japan was being considered, but with the dropping of the atomic bomb and the Japanese surrender, this project became pointless. The Monsanto Corporation participated in this project. The ARPA (Advanced Research Project Agency) of the Defense Department, had carried out experiments to determine the ideal proportions of the mixtures and the optimal quantities to be sprayed per surface unit (28 liters per hectare), as well as the means to carry out spraying by planes. It was at the Eglin base in Florida that the Fairchild C 123 planes were modified for this purpose. Agent Orange was used at Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada , in 1956, at Camp Drum, New York, in 1959 and in Southern Vietnam (secretly) in 1959 and 1960. There, the Army’s audiovisual service filmed operations for two years and the commentator congratulates himself on the excellent results: 90% of the trees and bushes were destroyed.
The Army then set the specifications of 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5,-T which will later be communicated to the manufacturers of Agent Orange (Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Hercules, Thompson, Diamond and Uniroyal) and included in the contracts.
Defoliants were not the only chemical weapons used in Vietnam. There was also napalm, CS gas – a teargas lethal at high pressure in a confined space, used with the Mighty Mite blower against persons hiding in underground shelters-, neurotoxic gasses, phosphorous bombs … To this we must add the bombings, occasionally intense, as in the A Luoi valley, Cu Chi or at Ben Tre, the city that “had to be destroyed to be saved”. But it is the defoliants which have had the most lasting and the most dramatic consequences: nearly 40 years after the stoppage of spraying, Agent Orange is still killing.
The entirety of the program proposed to the government of the Republic of Vietnam was called “Trail Dust”. It was intended, on the one hand, to clear the area around land and river communication routes and, on the other, to destroy Viet Cong (sic) crops. It included spraying herbicides by various means and, from 1967 onwards, anti-malaria spraying on and around American bases for which malathion, now prohibited because of its high toxicity, had been used (Operation Flyswatter).
The part entrusted to aviation was given first the name of “Operation Hades”, the name of the god of the underworld, but it was soon considered preferable to use a term that was not quite so transparent. Operation Hades became “Operation Ranch Hand”. What could be more normal than a ranch hand using herbicides? The Fairchild C 123 planes were camouflaged, and had removable identification markings. Those used for crop destruction had South Vietnamese identifiers and one of the crew members was Vietnamese (Operation “Farmgate”). The crew dressed in civilian clothing.
It was in November, 1961, that President Kennedy authorized Operation Trail Dust and its sub-programs. The data provided by J. M. Stellman and her Columbia University colleagues retrace the escalation of this chemical war. From August to December, 1961, testing was carried out in Southern Vietnam (with dinoxol and trinoxol). The first cargos of defoliants arrived in Saigon in January, 1962.
Systematic military spraying of herbicides began in September, 1962 (Agent Purple). From 1962 to 1964, Agents Purple, Pink and probably Green were used, a total of around 2,400,000 liters. These releases of defoliants, though still limited, were extremely harmful because of the high TCDD content of the products and the concentration of the spraying over a small surface area.
In 1965, Agent Orange joins the act for some 2 million liters. In 1966, 8 million liters, and 2 million liters of Agent White. 1967 marks the culminating point: 19 million liters in total, including 12 of Agent Orange, 5 of Agent White and 2 of Agent Blue. 1968 is at almost the same level (18 million liters in total) as well as 1969 (17 million liters). In 1970, a significant decrease (4 million liters). The spraying of defoliants stops in 1971, after a final dumping of a million liters. In total, in spite of the missing data and inconsistencies in delivery slips as well as in the spraying mission reports, Stellman et al. estimate that around 50 million liters of Agent Orange (Types I and II), 20.5 million liters of Agent White, and 2.4 million liters of Agents Pink, Green and Purple (with a particularly high dioxin content), were sprayed over Southern Vietnam, i.e., the equivalent of 370 kg of pure dioxin. To that, we must add 5 million liters of Agent Blue (arsenic-containing compound).
At the beginning of the program, there were 6 C 123 planes, 25 at the end of the program. They carried out 20,000 missions, reaching a figure of 600 per month in 1967-1968 (except during the ’68 Têt Offensive). Certain objectives were sprayed as many as ten times. In 1967, American advisors and South Vietnam authorities had created a data base, the Hamlet Evaluation System (HES), identifying the hamlets concerned and their population. These data, though incomplete, cite 20,500 hamlets and the populations of half of them. At a minimum, there were 2.1 million victims but their number may be as high as 4.8 million.
The first Ranch Hand missions outside of Vietnam took place in Laos, in December 1965, along the Ho Chi Minh trail and the Sihanouk trail (from Laos to Cambodia), both North and South of the 17th parallel. 210 missions sprayed at least 1.8 million liters of Agent Orange but the data are incomplete. There were also crop destruction missions using Agent Blue.
In Cambodia, the official doctrine was to avoid spraying herbicides, either directly or as a result of the drifting of toxic clouds. Nevertheless, some ten missions sprayed around 160,000 liters of Agent Orange, enough to devastate 5,500 hectares. In May, 1969, Cambodia accused the United States of having sprayed herbicides on several occasions and having defoliated 71,000 hectares, as scientific missions had observed. Nonetheless, the Cambodian evaluation seems exaggerated as it would have required more than half of the Ranch Hand missions in April-May 1969. The controversy cannot be settled, since the region was entirely devastated by B52 bombings in 1970.
That Vietnam was able to survive the war and then to recover in spite of the embargo imposed by the US until 1995 forces admiration. That its economy’s recent growth rate of 7% – 9% per year and still 5.5% this year despite the recession – ranking it among the first in the world, gives an impressive image of its development. But Vietnam is still a poor country, indeed, very poor: its GDP per capita is 900 dollars per year. Its GDP is equivalent to 3% that of France. The consequences of the war and the enduring impact of the spraying of defoliants over the South of its territory are an enormous burden for it.
The Geneva Agreements established, as is known, a demarcation line, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the North and the South at the 17th parallel, at the thinnest part of the country where the Laotian border is hardly 70 km from the sea.
From the 17th to the 11th parallel, i.e., approximately over 2/3 of the surface area, extend the Central Highlands (between 500 and 1,000 m in altitude) and mountain ranges oriented N-W / S-E (the Truong Son range -ex- Annam range-, and the Mang and the Bach Ma ranges…) which drop precipitously into the eastern sea as at the famous Hai Van pass, or onto narrow coastal plains. The highest summit is Pu Si Linh (3076 m). The valleys of hundreds of rivers and mountain streams cut through the massifs.
Woody vegetation covers around 60% of Southern Vietnam, i.e., 10.4 million hectares. The major part is constituted of a dense tropical forest (5.8 million hectares) principally on the Central Highlands where tall timber trees protect the lower levels, consisting of trees, bushes, shrubs, creepers, grasses and flowers. More than a million hectares of this forest were destroyed by the repeated spraying of defoliants . We find there an abundant fauna, with elephants, tigers, rhinoceros, including the rare Java rhinoceros, antelopes, gaurs, birds, snakes (pythons), butterflies and a multitude of other insects.
The defoliation of large trees devastated this complex ecosystem, their death resulting in that of the rest of the vegetation and the death or flight of animals toward neighboring Laos. Numerous precious and rare forest species have disappeared (Pseudocarpus macrocarpus, Sindora siamensis, Hopea odorata…). Bamboo and other plants without great value overran the impoverished land. 100 million m3 of timber were lost. The stripped hillsides were invaded by high grasses nicknamed “American grass” as tenacious as quack-grass and like it, capable of regrowing from the fragment of a root. Such grasses smother all other vegetation and prevent natural regrowth (Pennicetum polystachym).
Deforestation affected numerous river drainage basins on steep terrain which then become destructive torrents, and vast areas where the soil is no longer maintained in place by vegetation undergo massive erosion due to rain-water run off. Land-slides occur, leaving the laterite bare and cutting off roads. The effects of current climate change, marked by particularly heavy monsoons and rain out of season, are aggravated by the consequences of deforestation to the point of compromising the efficacy of “Live with Floods” plans which previously had saved lives: hamlets are no longer simply flooded by high water but buried under unpredictable mud- and land-slides The local microclimate has been modified and it is even thought that the modification may be of greater scope.
Woodland areas have been reconstituted and continue to be so. But real “reforestation”, the recreation of a complete forest as a balanced ecosystem, with all its diversity, is a difficult, long and costly undertaking. After clearing the soil of dead wood, rapid-growth trees, like the acacia, are planted. They are without great interest, but in their shade, after about three or four years, it is possible to plant and see thrive precious young indigenous species, coming from tree nurseries, particularly from Hué, set up with the collaboration of the French Nord-Pas de Calais Region, and which produce tens of thousands of plants per day. Sophisticated management, with accompanying gardening techniques, must control the bushes and shorter plants and promote their growth while avoiding the stifling of young trees. Several millions of hectares of tropical forest have thus successfully been replanted, following the example of the work at the Ma Da Forest Farm. Nevertheless, there is much yet to be done and the available resources are very limited. From the 11th parallel to the point of Ca Mau (close to the 9th parallel) extends a low-altitude (0 to 200 m) region of some 4 million hectares, Vietnam’s principle rice production area, irrigated by the Mekong delta. This area is covered by both mangroves and cultures.
The mangrove is a “swamp forest”, a forest growing in coastal marshes, in brackish or in salt water. It is formed by diverse species, the most interesting being Rhizophora. All species are fragile, and a single spraying of herbicides is sufficient to destroy them. The mangrove area is criss-crossed by canals and arroyos and numerous hamlets are accessible only by pirogue. The mangrove is home to an intense aquatic animal life: palmipeds, turtles, fish and crustaceans. It is a spawning and breeding area for migratory species that come there to reproduce. It protects the low lying coast from erosion by wind, waves, tides and currents. Of the 500,000 hectares of mangroves, 150,000 were destroyed by the spraying of herbicides. Fortunately, the mangrove regenerates itself more quickly than the dense forest. The inhabitants have taken their fate in hand and, on the whole, the mangrove has been recreated. Animal and plant species have reappeared and are thriving. Crocodiles prosper. A promising sign: cranes have returned to the Plain of Reeds. Several large natural reserves such as Can Gio are becoming tourist destinations.
The Melaleuca forests are semi-flooded forests found only in the Mekong Delta. They cover 250,000 hectares in the floodable regions. 120,000 were destroyed but, here again, the population has set about replanting Melaleucas, the only trees able to grow in the acid soil. Thus, after more than twenty years of difficult and dangerous work in the empoisoned marshes, the Vietnamese have succeeded in eliminating some of the consequences of the American war .
During the war, 236.000 hectares of agricultural land were destroyed by the spraying of chemical products in Southern Viet Nam, as well as 8,000 hectares in Laos. These sprayings resulted in the immediate destruction of 300,000 tons of food, often leaving the population without sufficient nourishment. In addition, around 30% of the rubber tree plantations were destroyed . The eroded soil lost its nutriments, and, less fertile, required using fertilizers harmful to the fish and crustaceans that normally live in the rice paddies and constitute a by no means negligible part of the peasants’ food resources. Progressive recultivation was complicated by the presence of unexploded munitions, bombs and anti-personnel mines, that injured – and are still maiming – numerous victims. .
Over 40 years, the soil has been sufficiently washed by rain so that today the greater part is free of dioxin. Non soluble in water, it has contaminated mud and plankton. It remains, however, dangerously present in certain “hot spots”. It is thus that are named the former American bases where pollution by dioxin remains intense not only because of deliberate spraying to clear the area around the bases, but above all because of the numerous leaks which occurred in the storage tanks and the rusty drums abandoned on site. The best known are the airports of Bien Hoa, near Ho Chi Minh-City, Phu Cat and Da Nang. To these must be added the A Luoi valley where the American bases could not be maintained but which was ravaged both by bombings and by defoliant spraying, as well as some twenty other sites . Studies conducted by Lê Cao Dai and by Hatfield Consultants brought to light, at the end of the 1990′s, dioxin levels 300 to 400 times higher than normal. A recent study in the city of Da Nang shows that such levels persist .
The Health Catastrophe
Poisoning by dioxin has two types of dramatic consequences: serious illnesses and reproduction abnormalities, including birth defects. Descriptions cannot convey the frightening spectacle of the invalids with twisted limbs, shaken by convulsive movements, some of them reduced to a vegetative life, bedridden from their early age and who, however, continue to live – if this can be called living. The children shown to visitors in the Van Canh “Friendship Village” are, dare we say, the privileged: something can be done for them. But nothing can convey the distress of the families in the outlying hamlets of the Central Highlands.
Dioxin enters the body by respiratory route and, in the event of direct spraying, by cutaneous and digestive route. It is stored in adipose tissue as well as in milk. There are, therefore, two types of victims: those who were sprayed or who handled the defoliants and those who were contaminated by polluted food. Dwernychuk has described the food chain involved, from sediments and microscopic animals to fish and to duck and from there to those who consume them. . Infants are contaminated by mother’s milk if the mother has been affected, which is why the mean rates of dioxin, in Vietnam, are, all other things being equal, lower in women than in men: women eliminate it when nursing.
Epidemiological studies have brought to light the relation between direct exposure or the presence of dioxin in the blood and cutaneous, digestive, nervous, cardio-vascular and blood ailments, immune system, endocrine and metabolic disorders, cancers (of the liver, lungs, prostate …) lymphomas and diabetes in particular.
In the offspring of Agent Orange victims, we find an excessive number of miscarriages, still-births, premature births, molar pregnancies (degeneration of the placenta leading to the formation of a formless mass of flesh) and birth defects, including monstrous deformities: hare-lips, missing or atrophied limbs, spina bifida, anencephalia, microcephalia, hydrocephalia, blindness, deafness, muteness, mental retardation, idiocy, attention and memory disorders, etc. Sometimes also, neonates initially appear in good health but serious disorders set in subsequently, little by little, leading to early death or to a state of being permanently bedridden. Prenatal ultrasonography is unable to detect these cases.
We are now observing that disabilities and serious malformations are affecting children of the third generation, even if their parents are apparently in good health. Parents who have had a normal child can then have another who is affected, and conversely, a handicapped child may be followed by one in perfect health. Some scientists fear that dioxin may have an action on genes but for the moment, no irrefutable direct proof has been provided.
The number of victims currently alive is not known with accuracy. In April, 2009, the Vietnamese government decided to carry out a general census and for which the Ministry of Health was given the task of setting the criteria defining a “victim.” To date, two criteria have been retained: having been exposed to herbicides used by the Americans during the war and presenting one of the illnesses or reproduction disorders listed, which is highly restrictive. In fact, three categories of victims should be considered:
- individuals (soldiers or civilians, men, women or children) present in the zones where defoliants were sprayed
- their children (including some now adults) and grand-children
-migrants to the areas of defoliant spraying, in particular for economic reasons, as well as their children and grand-children contaminated by the environment.
On the other hand, inhabitants of areas where defoliants were sprayed have emigrated toward other regions.
Combatants coming from the North returned there after the peace. Families separated by the DMZ have since come back together, whether in the North or in the South. There are, therefore, victims all over Vietnam and it is not reasonable to limit the survey only to Southern Vietnam.
To the millions of Vietnamese victims, must be added the American veterans and their Canadian, South Korean, New Zealand and Australian allies who handled defoliants without knowing at all that they were dangerous. Herbicides were delivered separately and mixtures were made on site before being loaded, without precaution and without protection, into airplane tanks. Military bases and their surroundings were regularly sprayed with defoliants to eliminate bush growth propitious for ambushes. Soldiers stored rain water for drinking or washing in empty drums and prepared barbecues in them. The Veterans have experienced the same pathologies as the Vietnamese and their children have also been affected.
Under the pressure of Veterans’ associations, the American government, which had denied any long term effects of defoliants, has ordered studies and the National Academy of Sciences, beginning in 1994, began drawing up a list of illnesses related to Agent Orange, a list which keeps getting longer. At present, there are seventeen.
Destruction of forests, erosion and sterilization of a part of the soil, the disappearance of animal and plant species, are so many hindrances to the country’s development. Restoration costs (cleaning, planting …) weigh heavily. Rice or shrimp exports were threatened at a certain time from fear of contamination. But the principal burden is health and aid costs to the most helpless. Hospital equipment is insufficient. Care and prosthetic equipments are needed, adapted equipment is lacking. The country’s labor force is diminished. Peasants in the areas devastated have sunk into persistent poverty. In family structures, the presence of a handicapped person results not only in a lack of earnings, but also in a hindrance to the activities of the others. Early death leaves a great number of widows in charge of children who are at times handicapped, who need assistance which remains inadequate. Finally, the studies and surveys on the consequences of herbicide sprayings absorb considerable sums.
The dense forest of the Central Highlands sheltered semi-nomadic populations of hunters-gatherers. They lived in the forest, they lived on the forest, which protected them and provided them with food. They have lost their mode of subsistence and have had to adapt, with limited material means, to agricultural techniques which were foreign to them. Their uncultivated territories have been overrun by immigrants coming from the delta in search of land. When the Nature with which they were in close contact, (relation designated at times as animism), was destroyed, they lost their culture as well as the mental equilibrium their living environment provided. “When the Great Banyan died, the Spirit left. No one protects us. We have been abandoned”. These words of an elderly woman summarize the moral and psychological drama of those whose spiritual universe collapsed with the forest .
The families of victims, wherever they are, are sometimes confronted with a marked isolation, if not hostility. In spite of the efforts made by the authorities to make clear the chemical origin of the disabilities, the conviction that it is for a past fault, possibly in another life or that was committed by an ancestor, has not entirely disappeared. The victims are, therefore, often reproached. And even those who do not accept such explanations are wary: who would want his son or daughter to marry someone who might give him/her handicapped children? The uncertainty as to how these abnormalities are transmitted makes them a permanent threat.
The life stories collected by the CGFED from families affected reveal the pain, incomprehension, the weight of interminable care, the blocked future, and the anxiety about the future of a handicapped child when his parents will be there no longer. This is, moreover, one of the reasons driving them to have other children, in the hopes that a healthy child will take care of the infirm. These stories also show the courage and the dignity of the Vietnamese, the affection and tenderness with which the children are surrounded and the energy that the latter show, in so far as possible, in hanging on, in spite of everything.
The Vietnamese government provides modest but useful financial assistance to veterans and their children. It does not extend to grand-children or to civil victims. For a certain time, this assistance has been entrusted to the provinces which provide it according to their means: some are wealthy, others poor, and this has repercussions on the financial aid. The Vietnamese Red Cross , present everywhere, also contributes to this assistance, as do Vietnamese foundations like the Fund for Children presided over by Madame Nguyen Thi Binh , which supports small day-hospitals in the countryside.
The care that could transform the life of the handicapped is inaccessible. There are numerous cases of those born with the feet or hands oriented backwards or with hare-lips. Simple surgical operations which Vietnamese surgeons fully master could correct these handicaps. But funds are lacking. Appropriate training could offer economic independence. But funds are lacking. The blind, the deaf could participate in rehabilitation programs. But funds are lacking. Prostheses, wheelchairs, appropriate equipment could restore mobility. And what can be said of the more complicated cardiac or bone surgery operations, and of costly treatments? Funds are lacking.
There is a principle which says “He who causes wrongs must repair them.” The American government and the firms that produced the defoliants have not taken responsibility. All the same, their responsibility is undeniable. To date, however, they have succeeded in avoiding it. Vietnam has not received, and is not receiving, any aid from them. How is this possible?
American veterans, poisoned and suffering from cancers, were the first to react. As law prohibited them from filing suit against the Army or against the government, they brought, in 1978, a Class Action suit against the firms producing the defoliants to obtain compensation. American legal tradition allowed them to hope for success: indeed, smokers with lung cancer had obtained and continue to obtain indemnification from cigarette manufacturers. The industrial accident at Seveso in 1976 had attracted attention to dioxin. But Monsanto organized its defense and contested that dioxin was carcinogenic. Three scientific reports, supervised by Dr. G. Roush, Medical Director at Monsanto, were published in 1980, 1983 and 1984 in authoritative scientific journals. All concluded in the safety of the product.
The plaintiffs and their lawyers were afraid of losing and in 1984 they accepted an out-of-court settlement: 180 million dollars paid into an indemnification fund against withdrawal of the suit and a commitment to not file another. The plaintiffs were doubly duped: the amount seemed high, but after deduction of lawyers’ fees and distribution between 40,000 people, the sum becomes derisory. Compensation ran from 256 to 12,800 dollars, with an average of 4,000 dollars. But above all, as the Kemmer vs. Monsanto case demonstrated in 1989, the research results had been falsified. Thus, the trial did not take place. Once the suit had been dropped, the role of Judge Weinstein was limited to setting the respective contributions of the various firms to the compensation fund: 45% for Monsanto, the main producer. The firms thus purchased, at a minimal cost, not being convicted or not getting regrettable publicity, all the more precious in that their reputation was under threat from other scandals.
For more than twenty years after the end of herbicide spraying, the Vietnamese did not speak publicly about Agent Orange. It is true that the extent of the health disaster only became known little by little. Nevertheless, this attitude can be surprising. It was attributed to their desire to have the embargo lifted, to normalize relations with the United States and to be admitted into the WTO, all of which certainly played a role. It’s true that economic recovery required that exports have a good reputation.
Other reasons can also be considered. Victorious Vietnam doubtlessly did not wish to be known as “the country of Agent Orange”, a nation of millions of lame and infirm. It could have been tempted to count on its own forces, overestimating them. The subsequent occurrence of cancers and other serious pathologies, the appearance of terrible malformations in the third generation, led it to review its position, as did the more and more pressing appeals for aid coming from the populations that had been victims of herbicide sprayings. The visit of President Clinton in November 2000 marks a turning point: the question of Agent Orange was brought up with him. But how can reparations be obtained? The authority of international courts is applicable only to nations that accept it. The United States refuses. The only possibility for the Vietnamese was to do as the Veterans had done and to file suit against the chemical firms .
In 2003, the decision was made to sue the 37 firms which produced the defoliants. To do so, the Vietnamese created an Agent Orange Victims Association, the VAVA, which filed civil suit at the same time as 3, then 28 individual victims. On 30 January 2004, a class action suit was filed against the firms with the free support of two legal firms Constantine P. Kokkoris and Jonathan Moore. According to American law, to plead before an American court, the Vietnamese must claim Alien Tort Status (ATS) which allows a foreigner to sue for damages in the event of a wrong committed against him/her by an American outside of the United States.
In other words, a first judgment authorizing them to sue the chemical firms is required. They were, in the first instance, refused this right on 10 March 2005. The reason: the use of herbicides is not illegal. They appealed on 18 June 2007 and the Appellate Court confirmed the first verdict: ATS was not applicable. The firms were acting on the order of the government and are thus protected from being sued. Agent Orange was used only to protect American soldiers (22 February 2008). A request was then submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States on 26 October 2008. Its purpose was to obtain the cancellation of the Appellate Court verdict (which would have led to starting up the process again from scratch). This request was quickly rejected without comment on 27 February 2009. Thus, in spite of the numerous demonstrations of support which took place during the five years, both in the United States and in the rest of the world, the first trial was lost. The Vietnamese cannot sue the firms. The Agent Orange trial will not take place.
Should the affair have been pursued? Indisputably, yes. It was the only thing possible and it had to be tried. It did, at the least, put the question of Agent Orange out in public and it made millions of people in the world aware of it. Beyond the case of Vietnam, the issue of chemical warfare was brought to public attention.
American veterans who had not been involved in the settlement of 1984 had filed suit, like the Vietnamese victims. Their case was dismissed in the same way, by the same court, the same day. At present, they are attempting action through their representatives. Their government grants them, stingily, indispensable medical aid and care free of charge, in the absence of a French type social security system of medical coverage: 100,000 files are awaiting settlement. The Veterans have denounced the failures and illicit actions of the governmental agency in charge of their case, the Veterans Agency, the regrettably famous “VA” which they accuse of waiting for them to die so that the question can be settled. The Veterans have invoked the Vietnam War and its consequences to support their opposition against the war in Iraq, alongside Iraq war veterans.
Holding a trial against the defoliant manufacturing firms would have allowed raising the crucial questions and perhaps answering them:
- Were the health consequences of the spraying of defoliants known when they were ordered?
- What are the current scientific proofs of their pathogenic character?
As far as the chemical companies are concerned, the answer is without ambiguity: they knew, but had agreed with each other to conceal the truth. The evidence has come to light little by little and the inquiry of Marie-Monique Robin concerning Monsanto leaves no room for doubt. Similarly, Dow Chemical concealed the results of the research of in-house scientists. In 1965, the first sprayings of Agent Orange strictly speaking began. We have seen as indicated earlier that its dioxin content was enormous, because of the haste with which 2, 4, 5-T was manufactured, but there was no question of losing such a large deal: through a secret agreement, the firms decide not to disclose the information “which might be misinterpreted or which might be used inappropriately”. The results of subsequent research were falsified or dissimulated, at times with complicity within governmental agencies.
The question is not so clear for the American government: everything depends on the date. When Kennedy authorized the spraying of defoliants in 1961, he specified that they must be without danger to human health. In 1965, the firms’ secret was apparently still well-guarded. In any event, neither American soldiers nor their superiors knew anything. In 1965, Admiral Zumwalt, who commanded the American fleet in Vietnam, requested herbicide spraying to protect the squadron of his son, then patrolling in the delta, from ambushes. In 1969, doubt is no longer permitted; however, herbicide sprayings continue for two years more.
Admiral Zumwalt’s son died of cancer after having conceived a little handicapped boy. The Admiral then took the lead of protests against the spraying of herbicides and the secret surrounding their nature. In 1990, he drafted a voluminous, well documented report and sent it to the authorities. This report was classified “secret” and was not disclosed until recently.
The protests of scientists as early as 1965, first in the United States and subsequently in the international scientific community, the Russell Tribunal, constituted in 1966, have not been heard. It is difficult to believe that they haven’t raised any questions among American political leaders.
After the end of the war, the amount of research increases , including the Ranch Hand study in the United States, launched in 1980 and which is still in progress. In Vietnam, Lê Cao Dai is working in relation with Arnold Schecter, of the University of Texas, who also participated in the Ranch Hand Study. In Canada, in New Zealand works have been published (see note 28). The pathogenic and teratogenic effects of dioxin are increasingly probable. Many scientists today consider them as indisputable.
Why isn’t one more affirmative? This is due to the method used in research, the only one possible : it is epidemiological research which brings to light the relation between exposure to dioxin and a given pathology. Now two variables, A and B, can be correlated for three reasons: either A influences B, either B influences A, or they are without direct relation but are both influenced by a third term. For example, all phenomena that increase with time are correlated with each other. That is why statistics manuals teach that bringing to light a correlation is not sufficient to establish causality. It is necessary to examine the likelihood of the three cases in question. Do cancers influence exposure to dioxin? No. Can we find a third factor which would influence both exposure to dioxin and the appearance of cancers? No. It can therefore be affirmed, beyond all reasonable doubt , that exposure to dioxin causes cancer. But those who stubbornly deny the consequences of dioxin, by repeating ad nauseam, says W. Dwernychuk – that “correlation is not causality” are not reasonable people.
The chemical firms persist, shamelessly, in a total denial. In 2004, in an interview in Cropwatch, Jill Montgomery, spokes-person for Monsanto, stated “We are sympathetic with people who believe they have been injured and understand their concern to find the cause, but reliable scientific evidence indicates that Agent Orange is not the cause of serious long-term health effects.” Bob Pierce, another spokes-person, responded to the Thanh Nien Daily on 8 August 2009t that decades of health research “have not brought to light conclusively the existence of a link of cause and effect between the sprayings and the illnesses considered.”
The American authorities are somewhat more subtle but insist on the fact that there are only correlations available. Former American ambassador to Vietnam, Michael Marine, explained that the payments made to American veterans were done so on the benefit of the doubt and that there weren’t any Agent Orange victims in the United States but only soldiers who had served their country well and who needed help. Another former ambassador, M. W. Michalak, congratulating the work of the Dialog Group, urged it to ground itself on serious scientific studies. The United States considers that no internationally recognized scientific study establishes a link between Agent Orange and birth defects.
The Dialog Group, created four years ago, brings together American and Vietnamese specialists to study the consequences of the spraying of herbicides. It publishes an annual report. Last year it set up a working group on environmental damage and this year one on health. The United States has released 6 million dollars for the decontamination of the former Da Nang base, one of the “hot spots”. From 1989 to 2007, the United States gave 43 million dollars in aid for the handicapped. On 4 June 2009, a 5-member Vietnamese delegation was received by the House of Representatives and pleaded for increased aid to Agent Orange victims. They were met by an open welcome and signs of sympathy, but Eni Faleomavaega, President of the Asia Pacific sub-committee, encouraged the Vietnamese to be patient: “their case is a difficult one.”
It is time for those responsible for the spraying of defoliants and their dramatic consequences for Vietnam to assume the consequences. Chemical firms obtained immense profits from the sale of defoliants to the American Army. The United States is a wealthy nation. Both must repair the wrong that has been done. The damage caused to nature is obvious, indisputable: the United States wanted to destroy the forest. It succeeded. It wanted to destroy the crops and poison the rice paddies. It succeeded. Providing the means to repair the damages does not require further studies
Even admitting that certain points concerning health must be further specified, a sufficient amount of knowledge has already been obtained to justify compensation for the wrongs suffered by millions of individuals and by the Vietnamese nation. True, scientific research is still necessary, in particular to bring to light the mechanism of action of dioxin on the human body, the only way to surmount the “inadequacy” of correlational proof. This research has begun. It requires urgent financing.
This research alone will tell us if the genetic heritage in Vietnam, and therefore of all humanity, has been affected. This research alone will allow understanding how it is that third generation victims are still coming into the world. This research alone will allow putting an end to the anxiety of young couples who fear that in loving each other, they will give birth to monsters. The Vietnamese are doing all that is possible to help the victims. For twenty years, the Red Cross and, more recently the VAVA, have participated, particularly by organizing events whose profits are devoted to the victims. But this is not enough. Foundations, humanitarian associations of numerous countries, including from the United States, are doing their best to help Vietnam heal its wounds, but their resources are incommensurate with the needs.
It is at the governmental level, and first at the level of the United States government, that the question of support for Vietnam must be raised and that the demand for just reparations must be made.
Submitted by Salem-News.com Reporter Chuck Palazzo in Da Nang, Vietnam, on behalf of Agent Orange Action Group