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:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL7i0flTTPA