Monday, November 4, 2013

Vietnam veterans still fighting a war against Agent Orange
MANVILLE — More than 100 veterans and family members turned out to a town meeting Sunday at the VFW Hall Post 2290 to discuss the lasting legacy of Agent Orange. Called “The Faces of Agent Orange: A Town Hall Meeting to Raise Awareness,” the event’s goal was to better educate veterans about the toxic defoliant and its impact of illness and health problems.
It is not just the generation that served that has been affected, but their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, said John LeGates, the first vice president of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) New Jersey State Council (NJSC).
“The exposure was done 40 to 50 years ago, but now we are seeing the wide variety of health issues because of the exposure to Agent Orange,” he said.
“The birth defects started showing up shortly after the ’60s and ’70s. We came home and started finding issues,” said Mike Eckstein, chair for the Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee of the NJSC VVA. “Later, when veterans would get together, we would start talking in a group and it was not that one thing — like one miscarriage — happened. It was how many. It had to be connected. It’s not rocket science to see what happened.”
The meeting, which coincides with Agent Orange Awareness Month, was hosted by the VVA NJSC as the first of three they are planning in the next 12 months, LeGates said. The town hall meeting provided the latest information on Agent Orange’s use in Vietnam, health problems that followed and ways that veterans, their children and their families can cope and get aid.

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