Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Still battling Agent Orange

http://www.salisburypost.com/Opinion/063010-edit-agent-orange-qcd Thirty-five years after the the Vietnam War ended, Agent Orange continues to haunt the United States — proof that withdrawal from a war zone does not halt its impact. The lingering effects of Agent Orange are as nearby as the homes of local veterans and hospital rooms of the Hefner VA Medical Center, and as far away as the villages of South Vietnam. The U.S. military set off a chain reaction of problems when it dumped some 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides on large swaths of South Vietnam between 1962 and 1971. The goal was to kill the Communist forces’ jungle hideouts. But as Agent Orange wiped out some 5 million acres of forest, it also penetrated people’s skin and seeped into the ground. This spring the Department of Veterans Affairs proposed new rules that expand the conditions it associates with exposure to Agent Orange to include ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and chronic B-cell blood cancers. That brings the list to 14 ailments. The VA says the rule change will give more than 100,000 veterans an easier path to disability pay, including retroactive pay. Surviving spouses and estates will also be eligible for retroactive benefits. The projected cost of the expansion of claims is $13.6 billion this fiscal year and $42.2 billion over 10 years. The people of Vietnam also continue to suffer problems related to Agent Orange. A joint panel of experts from the United States and Vietnam is urging the U.S. government and others to provide some $30 million annually over 10 years to clean up sites contaminated with dioxin, a toxic chemical used in the defoliant, and to treat people disabled by contact with it. MORE: http://www.salisburypost.com/Opinion/063010-edit-agent-orange-qcd

No comments:

Post a Comment