Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Usual Suspects - Monsanto Board of Directors
Board of Directors

David L. Chicoine

Janice L. Fields

Hugh Grant

Arthur H. Harper

Laura K. Ipsen

Gwendolyn S. King

C. Steven McMillan

William U. Parfet

George H. Poste

Robert J. Stevens


Company Leadership
Hugh Grant
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

Brett D. Begemann
Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer

Pierre Courduroux
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Dr. Robert T. Fraley
Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

Tom D. Hartley
Vice President and Treasurer

Janet M. Holloway
Senior Vice President, Chief of Staff and Community Relations

Consuelo E. Madere
Vice President, Global Vegetable and Asia Commercial

Steven C. Mizell
Executive Vice President, Human Resources

Kerry J. Preete
Senior Vice President, Global Strategy

Vietnam, The U.S., & Agent Orange

US raises $30 million for dioxin cleanup in Vietnam

Some US$30 million have been mobilized from the US government and donors to assist Vietnam in cleaning up sites still contaminated by Dioxin, the Vietnam News Agency reported on Monday.

The funding will also be used to revive the ecosystem and to treat Vietnamese who are believed linked to exposure to Agent Orange, the agency said.

The sum, including a pledge of $15 million from the US government, was announced at a discussion held at Wake Forest University in North Carolina on February 18.

That is the first dollars of the $300 million, decade-long aid under the Special Initiative on Agent Orange/Dioxin.

One of the speakers at the discussion, Charles Bailey, Director of the Special Initiative on Agent Orange/Dioxin for the Ford Foundation said, "Agent Orange's toxic legacy continues in 28 'hot spots' where the level of Dioxin remains dangerously high."

Dealing with this issue is just part of the "unfinished business" left over from the Vietnam War, said Bailey.

He said that helping Vietnam to deal with the aftermath of Agent Orange "is a humanitarian issue, and we can do something about it".

The US army dumped more than 7.5 million liters of the defoliant, on about a quarter of former South Vietnam between 1962 and 1971.

Because of slipshod production methods, much of the defoliant was heavily contaminated by a persistent organic pollutant known as Dioxin. The chemical has since been linked to over twenty chronic diseases.

The Vietnam Red Cross estimates up to 3 million Vietnamese children and adults have suffered health problems related to Agent Orange exposure.

Defence ministry cleans up dioxin areas
The Ministry of National Defence has briefed foreign military attach├ęs on the ministry’s efforts as well as its international and US cooperation in overcoming the aftermath of toxic chemicals left by US troops during the war in Vietnam.

At the event held in Hanoi on March 25, the ministry said it has basically assessed the Agent Orange/dioxin contamination levels at three airports: Da Nang, Bien Hoa (in southeastern Dong Nai province) and Phu Cat (in central Binh Dinh province).

The ministry said its Chemical Arm has successfully dumped almost 100,000 cu. m of AO/dioxin contaminated land at the Bien Hoa airport.

Despite many efforts, results in dioxin cleanup have failed to meet requirements and have presented many difficulties and challenges.

The ministry emphasized the significance for the ministry’s agencies and units to increase potential, expand cooperation, share information and join efforts with domestic and foreign individuals and organizations to clean up and restore the environment.

The South African military attache spoke highly of the ministry’s efforts to overcome the aftermath of dioxin/AO in polluted areas.

from the files of George Claxton

In 1981 the Veterans Administration published their "Review of Literature on Herbicides, Including Phenoxy Herbicides and Associated Dioxins". Volume 3 concerned the review on birth defects from herbicides. On pages 185 and 186 the following is stated:

"The results for TCDD in particular and to a lesser extent for 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D in a manner of nonhuman species are cumulatively so compelling that it is difficult to believe that humans might not be susceptible to the reproductive effects of these compounds. The two most satisfactory studies were those of applicants in New Zealand and Vietnam Veterans in Australia. These are negative overall, but both give the suggestion that exposure of the male parent to Agent Orange might be associated with heart defects."

The VA has already granted compensation for spina bifida in the children of Vietnam Veterans whose fathers were exposed to Agent Orange and dioxin. Was there a reason to not grant compensation for other birth defects? Could the problem of funding be a consideration factor?How about protection of industry? If the answer is funding, why is there no question of funding when this country is going to war? The irony is obvious. If the answer is protection,the answer becomes diabolical. Ask yourself why the veterans in Canada are suing Dow and Monsanto for exposure to dioxin laced herbicides. This action was taken because of the Canadians exposure in Gagetown, New Brunswick.

I rest my case.

Faithfully submitted,

George Claxton

How VA Lies Killed the Agent Orange Equity Act in the 111th Congress
The first legislation attempting to re-admit offshore participants of the Vietnam War back under their original coverage by the Agent Orange Act of 1991 was introduced by Representatives Bob Filner and John Hall in July, 2008 when they hosted a gathering on a patio of the Cannon Building. Bill HR-6562 died in Congress because there was no time to fully develop it prior to the close of the 110th Congress. The role it played, however, was to lay the ground work for its re-introduction in the 111th Congress, which opened in January, 2009. Representative Filner reintroduced this Bill as HR-2254 to the House in May, 2009 and laid the groundwork for a sister bill to be introduced in the Senate in October, 2009, as S-1939 by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. These Bills were each read from the floor, assigned their numbers and given to the respective Veteran Affairs Committees. And there they sat.
HR-2254 ultimately had 261 House co- sponsors, which means 261 Representatives of the People heard enough information and received enough requests regarding HR-2254 that they were willing, on behalf of their constituents, to sign their names in support of passing the bill before it was even brought out of Committee. Having 261 Representatives willing to co-sponsor a Bill indicates this was a very popular legislation. S-1939 in the Senate had 19 cosponsors, which is a fair start. All these people who pre-signed this Bill, the Agent Orange Equity Act, did „the right thing‟ by showing their support for a dying group of veterans – those who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam between 1962 and 1975.
The Bottom Line Up Front
Let me make my bottom line position perfectly clear right off the top. These veterans are sick and dying because they were inadvertently poisoned by a chemical warfare agent used by their own country. A majority of the offshore veterans have already died without even knowing that, between 1991 and 2002, they were eligible for free medical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), as were all other Vietnam veterans. They were also all eligible for monetary compensation which would help them make up for lost income based on the severity of their disability. These benefits were available to all veterans of the Vietnam War and the probability that they were exposed to the most horrific chemical compounds ever used in wartime was so great that, in 1991, Congress made it a law that everyone who served in the Vietnam War was presumed to have been exposed. And as soon as they exhibited symptoms of specific diseases, they would receive these veteran benefits.
When veterans who served offshore Vietnam were removed from eligibility for these basic, humanitarian benefits, a secondary atrocity of the Vietnam War was committed. These veterans, mortally wounded by their own government, were given yet another unconscionable blow to their basic dignity. Based on nothing more than the whim of DVA and Executive Branch career politicians, many who had never served this country in uniform, much less served in the Vietnam War, offshore combat and support personnel were suddenly denied these basic benefits while all other Vietnam veterans who served on land continued to receive this necessary, life-prolonging care.


Friday, March 18, 2011



Contact: David Tucker at (202) 225-9756

Congress Must Act Now to Restore Earned Benefits

to All Vietnam Veterans – Including “Blue Water” Vets!

Washington, D.C. – House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Democratic Member Bob Filner (D-CA-51) announced the introduction of the Agent Orange Equity Act, H.R. 812, a bill that would restore equity to all Vietnam veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange.

“We owe it to our veterans to fulfill the promises made to them as a result of their service,” said Ranking Democratic Member Filner. “If, as a result of service, a veteran was exposed to Agent Orange and it has resulted in failing health, this country has a moral obligation to care for each veteran the way we promised we would. And as a country at war, we must prove that we will be there for all of our veterans, no matter when they serve. The courts have turned their backs on our veterans on this issue, but I believe this Congress should not allow our veterans to be cheated of benefits they have earned and deserve.”

H.R. 812 would clarify the laws related to VA benefits provided to Vietnam War veterans suffering from the ravages of Agent Orange exposure. In order to try to gain a better military vantage point, Agent Orange, which we now know is a highly toxic cocktail of herbicide agents, was widely sprayed for defoliation and crop destruction purposes all over the Vietnam War Battlefield, as well as on borders and other areas of neighboring nations.

Currently, VA requires Vietnam veterans to prove a “foot on land” occurrence in order to qualify for the presumptions of service-connection for related illnesses afforded under current law. This issue has been the subject of much litigation and on May 8, 2008, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld VA’s overly narrow interpretation and the Supreme Court later denied certiorari essentially affirming this ruling. However, Congress clearly did not intend to exclude these veterans from compensation based on arbitrary geographic line drawing by VA. Many stakeholders agree.

H.R. 812 is intended to clarify the law so that Blue Water veterans and every service member awarded the Vietnam Service medal, or who otherwise deployed to land, sea or air, in the Republic of Vietnam is fully covered by the comprehensive Agent Orange laws Congress passed in 1991. “Time is running out for these veterans,” concluded Ranking Democratic Member Filner. “Many are dying from their Agent Orange related diseases, uncompensated for their sacrifice. There is still a chance for America to meet its obligations to these noble veterans. This is not a partisan issue and I hope the new Chairman of the Committee will join me in working work with our colleagues to provide the earned disability benefits and health care to the thousands of veterans and survivors that earned this care for their selfless service to our nation.”


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hatfield Consultants - News
Dr. Wayne Dwernychuk interviewed regarding Agent Orange use in Ontario

Posted: 14 Mar 2011 12:00 AM PDT

A Star Exclusive report interviewed Hatfield’s retired chief scientist regarding the use of Agent Orange in northern Ontario, Canada.

“Wayne Dwernychuk, a world-renowned expert on Agent Orange, said the government is ‘throwing up a smokescreen’. There was no categorical brand called Agent Orange,” said Dwernychuk, who for more than 15 years conducted extensive research on the impact of toxic defoliants in Vietnam. “There was nothing coming out of any of the chemical companies in a barrel that had Agent Orange written on it. That’s laughable.”

“If it’s got 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D as a mixture, it’s Agent Orange and it has dioxin — I guarantee it,” said Dwernychuk


Hatfield has worked on the dioxin issue in Canada since the late 1980s, with the pulp and paper industry in British Columbia. The company has been instrumental in helping the Government of Viet Nam address the Agent Orange dioxin issue since 1994. Hatfield is currently involved in the assessment of contamination at the main dioxin hotspots at former US military installations in Viet Nam and Lao PDR, and in providing technical assistance for the cleanup of the Da Nang Airport.

About Hatfield:

Established in 1974 and based in Vancouver, Canada, Hatfield Consultants has built a worldwide reputation in environmental services with over 1,600 successful projects in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. We help you apply best environmental practices, meet regulatory requirements, and contribute to a sustainable future.

For more information, you may contact:

Grant Bruce
President & Senior Environmental Specialist
telephone: +1 604-926-3261


This is a reconstruction of the Chernobyl radioactive plume by the French Government's official agency on radiation and nuclear matters, the Institut de Radioprotection et Surete Nucleaire.

It is based on weather patterns for the time period April 26 to May 6 when the fire was burning inside the stricken reactor, and on known Cs-137 measurements.

It is a remarkably graphic illustration of the huge extent of the radioactive contamination of East and West Europe (and eventually the rest of the Northern Hemisphere) by the Chernobyl catastrophe.

After you have opened this page please wait for 1 or 2 minutes while the film (15 MB) is downloaded to your computer: it then starts automatically

Monday, March 14, 2011

FROM THE VAC: Navy Ships Included In Agent Orange Exposure List

from the Hillsboro Journal News - Hillsbor, Illinois
by Dave Strowmatt

It has become official.

All US Navy ships with the following designations are included in the Agent Orange exposure: LST, LCM, LCVP, PBR, and PCF. US Coast Guard vessels designated WPC, WHEC, WLB and WAK are on the list.

There are a great deal of other ships on the list-too many to list here. Sailors or Marines serving aboard those vessels in Vietnam are now officially eligible to submit claims for any disabilities related to exposure to Agent Orange. It has taken way too long for this approval, but it is finally a fact. Unfortunately, not all vessels that served in the Vietnam theater are listed. That fight is still in progress.

The push for a VA CBOC is still on as well. We recently received a call from US Representative Bobby Schilling’s staff about the possibility. There will be a tour of the proposed facility, so the Congressman can make an informed recommendation to the Secretary. We are hopeful that this project still has support and can move forward.

It must be charitable solicitation time. Several people have brought in solicitations from organizations to find out if they are legitimate. We did some internet research and found that they are actual charitable organizations that are recognized. If you get one and are unsure, bring it in and we’ll look them up.

The "Stop Loss" filing date has been extended again. The final date for filing is now this Friday, March 18. If you or any one you know has not submitted a claim, please call me and we can help you get it filed this week. Last chance!

If you have any questions about the latest VA benefits or any veterans services available, come on in or give us a call. I don’t have all the answers, but we can find most of them. We’re open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays, at 201 S. Main St. in Hillsboro, and our phone number is 217-532-9695.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Film about Camp Lejeune's toxic water to debut at N.Y. festival
By Barbara Barrett | McClatchy Newspapers WASHINGTON — A documentary about the historic water contamination at the Marines' Camp Lejeune, N.C., will have its world premiere this spring at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

"Semper Fi: Always Faithful" tracks the evolution of Marine veteran Jerry Ensminger into an environmentalist after his young daughter, Janey, died of leukemia in 1985.

Ensminger, a former drill instructor from White Lake, N.C., helped uncover voluminous details about the extent of contamination that poisoned the drinking water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for decades. A million people are thought to have been exposed to the water. Thousands, like Ensminger, suspect that the poisons caused the illnesses that they and their family members have suffered.

The movie's directors, Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon, have spent at least two years working on the film.

Tribeca announced Monday that "Semper Fi" will be among a dozen films in its world documentary competition. The movie festival takes place from April 20 to May 1.

Read more:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sowing seeds of hope in Vietnam
Ruriko Hatano / Yomiuri Research Institute Senior Research Fellow

Founder of the "Seed of Hope" scholarship for Vietnamese child victims of Agent Orange, Masako Sakata was brought face-to-face with the problem in a very personal way when her American husband died suddenly from cancer in 2003. A friend told her that it may have been his exposure to Agent Orange during his military service in the Vietnam War that ultimately led to his death.

Although 36 years have passed since the end of the war, the tragedy continues for many children in Vietnam who are born with congenital disabilities caused by Agent Orange, which was used by the U.S. military.

Touched by their plight, Sakata, 63, wanted such children to be able to have dreams for the future and so set up the Seed of Hope Scholarship.

Following a visit to Vietnam, she made a documentary in 2007 titled "Hana wa Doko e Itta? (Where have all the flowers gone)--Agent Orange: A Personal Requiem." Although it was her directorial debut, the film received several awards.

The funds that she raised at screenings of the movie were used in various ways to support victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

One day, a young Vietnamese girl told Sakata that she wanted to become a doctor so she could help victims like herself. This prompted her to establish the scholarship.

She found out that with financial support of about 2,500 yen a month, a young person can study at a vocational school or university in Vietnam, and such assistance will pave the way for Agent Orange victims from poor families to become independent.

Establishing the scholarship with sufficient funds to support 20 students for three years, she handed over some of the money at the end of January.

"Although it's a small amount for us, it means a great deal for the recipients," she said.

Sakata would like to hear from people who are sympathetic to her cause. For more information, visit

EPA Struggles to Keep Up With Its Growing Burdens, Report Finds
By Patrick Corcoran on March 3, 2011

Chemical assessments are a vital way for the Environmental Protection Agency to warn the public about potential health hazards from many substances, but the agency is falling way behind on its work.

A wide-ranging new report from the Government Accountability Office found that the EPA has gotten so backed up that certain chemicals have gone for more than a decade without an evaluation from the agency. As the Center for Public Integrity notes, an assessment of dioxin has been pending for 19 years, while a formaldehyde evaluation has lingered for 13.

In other areas, too, the GAO questions whether the EPA can keep up with the nation’s needs. The report says the Superfund hazardous waste cleanup effort, which was launched three decades ago, can’t come up with reliable estimates of how much money it will need to finish its work because the agency is hampered by poor and incomplete data.

Water quality is another major concern. The report cited the deterioration of the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s premier watersheds, along with the problem of aging water treatment plans and other decaying infrastructure. The GAO estimates that it could cost up to $1.2 trillion, through 2029, to adequately upgrade the nation’s water infrastructure.

On top of these longstanding issues, the EPA is taking on an emerging role — though one that increasingly is coming under fire in Congress — in combating climate change. Yet, the GAO report notes, the EPA’s budget has only kept pace with inflation since 2000.

The report’s recommendations, however, are standard fare: enhanced oversight, improved information for regulatory decision-making and better coordination with other agencies.

Landover resident starts support group for area veterans
By Natalie McGill
The Gazette
Thursday, March 3, 2011

In the 1960s, so many of Jerry Staggs' neighbors went to war in Vietnam that he said the conflict just about cleaned out the young male population of Fairmount Heights in those days. And the soldiers who returned often did not come home with a clean bill of health, said Staggs, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1970.

To aid other area veterans who might be suffering the ill effects of combat, Staggs, 63, of Landover launched the Fairmont Heights Veterans Association in October 2009. The group is designed to act as a resource and support group for local veterans, Staggs said.

Staggs, a 1966 graduate of Fairmont Heights High School, said about 95 percent of the group's 28 members are Fairmont Heights graduates, adding that it began with four members and spread through word of mouth. The group holds it meetings mostly to share information on how veterans can receive health benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

"I just had a dream," said Staggs, who suffers from hypertension as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder. "I just said, we have to do something for the other veterans."

The group meets at 2 p.m. monthly on the last Saturday at the Glenarden American Legion Post #275, 8201 Martin Luther King Jr. Highway. Staggs said the group uses the phrase "pass it on," meaning to share any information that might help as many veterans as possible.

Silver Spring resident Michael Black, 65, a 1963 Fairmont Heights graduate, said the group has one member who fought in the ongoing war in Iraq but that most are in their 50s, 60s and 70s and served in conflicts such as the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

VVA and AVVA join Frederick Residents in Agent Orange Action at Fort Detrick

Fort Detrick, Gagetown, Love Canal, Fort Ritchie, Camp Lejeune, Times Beach, Vietnam - Connect the Dots

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Trouble in the air at Fort Detrick
Latest biodefense facility adds risky element to already high-risk environment
February 28, 2011|By Kenneth King

Frederick residents have had plenty of reminders lately why they should be concerned about the biodefense facilities in their midst: an ongoing cancer cluster investigation related to past groundwater contamination, an Agent Orange protest, and headlines about the 2001 anthrax attacks — which the FBI still insists were perpetrated by a researcher at Fort Detrick's U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).

Little wonder, then, if Frederick residents are troubled about the latest risky biodefense facility at Fort Detrick: a 460,000-square-foot Medical Countermeasures and Test Facility, which, it appears, will aerosolize large numbers of monkeys with bioweapons agents.

The facility joins three other huge, new biosafety level 4 facilities (studying diseases for which there is no effective cure or treatment, and required the highest level of precautions) already being constructed at Fort Detrick by the Army, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Homeland Security — an ongoing explosion that occurred even as the FBI was identifying Detrick as the source of anthrax spores used against Americans in 2001.


VVA and AVVA join Frederick Residents in Agent Orange Action at Fort Detrick

By Amber Chaney

Vietnam Veterans of America and the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America joined the residents of Fredrick , Maryland , on February 23, to raise awareness regarding the harmful affects of Agent Orange. Together, they led a peaceful protest outside the gates of Fort Detrick , where tactical Agent Orange and other tactical herbicides were formulated, stored, staged, and applied.

The residents of Frederick are investigating cancer clusters, contaminated water, and other effects of this lethal legacy “Vietnam veterans know only too well the health concerns of residents in the communities in and around Ft. Detrick, as Vietnam veterans and our offspring have suffered from health conditions associated with these herbicides for more than 40 years,” said VVA National President John Rowan .

VVA Chapter 304, Frederick, Vice President Adolph Gardner, and VVA Region 3 Director Bruce Whitaker were joined by fellow VVA Maryland and South Carolina members. They provided literature on the health impacts of Agent Orange and shared stories of battling numerous illnesses and the deaths of family members, enlightening the community to the broad range of health effects of the harmful herbicide that have been visited on veterans and their families.

VVA member Lou Krieger, of Myrtle Beach, who organized the February 23 event, said, “I am proud that VVA and their membership have started a public-awareness campaign and are urging Vietnam-era veterans to file claims for exposures at stateside test locations and overseas bases.” Krieger provided the funds for Vietnam veteran Henry Snyder and his wife, Sheila, to travel from Florida to display of the Agent Orange Quilt of Tears, the moving memorial to those who have died from exposure to Agent Orange.

Nancy Switzer, AVVA National President, who was on hand to provide counseling and information to the families, said, “Ft. Detrick is at the center of the nightmare that has been Agent Orange for over 40 years. First we watched our spouses suffer from a long list of illnesses caused by their exposure to toxic chemicals like Agent Orange, used all over Vietnam and tested right here in the United States, and now we see our children and grandchildren suffer the intergenerational affects of this horrible poison.”

Currently, the Frederick County Health Department is studying the area to determine if there is a cancer cluster around Fort Detrick , where the Army tested Agent Orange in the 1960s. Blood tests have linked Agent Orange to Fredrick cancers. Other highly toxic herbicides were tested at Fort Detrick as a tactic to eliminate rural support bases and food supply.

Amber Chaney and Kit Reiner are VVA Communications interns. Amber is in her second year at Montgomery College and hopes to complete her degree in journalism. Kit graduated in 2010 from Stevenson University with a bachelor's degree in film. She provided us with coverage of the February 23 Fort Detrick Agent Orange event, which can be viewed at:

Dealing with the legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam
A national grant maker in New York and a former congressman from Pennsylvania came to San Francisco on Feb. 25 to explain how Americans can help "end the war" in Vietnam.

"War doesn't end when the last soldier leaves," said Bob Edgar, a former politician turned president and CEO of a citizen lobbying group called Common Cause. It's time, he added, to move past the "blame game" and take part in a humanitarian effort to help the people still suffering in Vietnam.

Edgar made his comments at the Commonwealth Club, which hosted an hour-long discussion titled, "Addressing the Legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam." He was joined on stage by Charles Bailey, a Ford Foundation director who helped to establish Ford's Special Initiative on Agent Orange/Dioxin.

The event was moderated by San Francisco State University Journalism Professor Jon Funabiki, a former Ford Foundation grant maker who now runs the Vietnam Reporting Project.

Bailey, who spent a decade in Vietnam for Ford, spoke passionately about the need for philanthropists, politicians, community leaders and other concerned citizens to help Vietnam recover from the devastating effects of Agent Orange.

"There is this lingering legacy of the past," Bailey said, adding that the spraying and storage of Agent Orange during the war and after has adversely affected millions of people. "The bottom line," he added, is that people who enduring the spraying or live around "hot spots" need help.

"Agent Orange and some of the other herbicides (used during the war) were contaminated with dioxin, a highly toxic and persistent organic pollutant," according to a declaration put forth by the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin. "Dioxin (2,3,7, 8-tetrachlorop-dibenzo-dioxin, or TCDD) has been linked by the U.S. Institutes of Medicine to cancers, diabetes, and nerve and heart disease among people directly and indirectly exposed, and to spina bifida among their offspring."

Read more:

Agent Orange effects linger in Vietnam

THE OLD GOLD & BLACK - The Wake Forest university Newsletter
The Vietnam War is a sore spot in the memories of many American citizens. From 1955 to 1975, the United States found itself entrenched in a war of unrecognizable proportions. Due to the unprecedented tactical disadvantages faced by American soldiers, action had to be taken to level the playing field, ultimately crippling the guerrilla warfare tactics held by members of the Vietnamese military. The solution? Agent Orange, an herbicidal chemical extensively used to eradicate jungle flora throughout the Vietnamese countryside. Often used at levels upwards of 50 times the recommended usage, Agent Orange decimated fields and jungles alike.

However, unexpected consequences accompanied the use of this chemical, resulting in adverse health conditions contracted by both the Vietnamese people and the American soldiers responsible for its distribution.

Some 35 years later, the effects of this chemical are still evident in Vietnam, as children are born with birth defects and families are ripped apart at the seams. The war may be over, but the conversation cannot end.

Unfortunately, it seems that the focus of the consequences of Agent Orange has been politicized. Many claim that Agent Orange has had little effect on the people of Vietnam, that it is simply a propaganda campaign by the Vietnamese government to garner international sympathy and financial support for the cleanup of their countryside. Yet, the facts remain.

There still exist some 28 hot spots of Agent Orange, commonly concentrated around former U.S. airport bases where the chemical loaded into planes.

Furthermore, these hot spots still affect the local communities, as the dioxin produced by Agent Orange attaches itself to fish consumed by the nearby citizens.

Agent Orange can affect individuals in a variety of ways, most commonly in the form of birth deformations and defects. Some Vietnamese children are born without eyes and noses. Others are born without the ability to walk or function in a normal societal setting. Some 150,000 children in Vietnam can attribute disabilities to Agent Orange.


VA expands aid to Korean War veterans exposed to Agent Orange
Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving along the demilitarized zone in Korea will have an easier path to access quality health care and benefits under a Department of Veterans Affairs final regulation that will expand the dates when illnesses caused by herbicide exposure can be presumed to be related to Agent Orange.
For more information
The La Plata County Veterans Service Office provides infor-mation and assistance to veterans and their families. For more information, visit the county website at and type “veterans services” in the search window. The Veterans Service Office and the Durango VA Clinic are located at 1970 East Third Ave. The office phone number is 759-0117. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays except holidays. Appointments are encour-aged. To schedule an appointment, call 382-6150.

“VA’s primary mission is to be an advocate for veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “With this new regulation, VA has cleared a path for more veterans who served in the demilitarized zone in Korea to receive access to our quality health care and disability benefits for exposure to Agent Orange.”

Under the final regulation published Jan. 25, 2011, in the Federal Register, VA will presume herbicide exposure for any veteran who served between April 1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971, in a unit determined by VA and the Department of Defense to have operated in an area in or near the Korean DMZ in which herbicides were applied.

Previously, VA recognized that Agent Orange exposure could be conceded only to veterans who served in certain units along the Korean DMZ between April 1968 and July 1969.