Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Agent Orange curse continues to live on

Michael G. Johnson’s April 13 column on veterans’ suffering and the VA’s refusal of treatment was indeed disturbing. He mentioned Vietnam’s Agent Orange legacy. What few know, and the VA refuses to acknowledge, is that the Agent Orange curse continues to be visited upon those who did not even serve in Vietnam.
C-123 “Provider” aircraft were used to spray Agent Orange during the war, and between 1972 and 1982 were flown by USAF Reserve squadrons. Many of those reserve aircrew persons are now developing Agent Orange-related symptoms. VA refuses all medical care. That, despite studies by Columbia University and the Centers for Disease Control (among other agencies and experts) confirming the reserve aircrews’ exposure to Agent Orange residue.
Ironically, the personnel who finally scrapped the remaining C-123’s at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base “boneyard” wore HAZMAT suits to protect them from the toxin. “Patches,” the battle-damaged C-123 retired to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio required three decontaminations to deem it safe for the public tours, yet VA insists the crews who flew “Patches” were not exposed “enough” to receive treatment.
“Thank you for your service” has something of a hollow ring for these patriots.

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