Monday, July 13, 2015

Vietnam War's medical history to be rewritten to correct record on Agent Orange
A new official medical history of the Vietnam War is to be written to correct the record on the Agent Orange controversy.
The council of the Australian War Memorial decided on the move after a long campaign by veterans dissatisfied by Barry Smith's account in the original history.
Jim Wain, the national president of the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia, told veterans the "wonderful news" over the weekend.
He said that Professor Smith's account was "fatally flawed" and "unjustly insults" the veterans over their "years of campaigning" to have the repatriation system acknowledge Agent Orange's harmfulness.
Mr Wain said that Professor Smith's history "goes so far as to accuse the campaigning veterans of dishonesty and greed".
Instead, he said, the "veterans turned out to be right about the harmfulness of Agent Orange" and "their behaviour, far from being dishonest and motivated by greed, was a fine example of the Anzac tradition of veterans looking after their comrades-in-arms".
Mr Wain succeeded Tim McCombe, who died this year after leading the long campaign to achieve this result.
Professor Smith also died this year, but when contacted by Fairfax Media last year, when the possibility of a new history was first raised, he was unavailable for comment.
Brendan O'Keefe was the main author of the 1994 volume Medicine at War: Medical aspects of Australia's involvement in Southeast Asia 1950-1972 that included Professor Smith's chapters on Agent Orange.
Mr O'Keefe did not wish to comment but had previously "welcomed" the prospect of a new history.
Mr Wain said the campaign was important for veterans because Professor Smith's history omitted two key findings of a royal commission on the effects of chemicals on Australian Personnel in Vietnam, established under Justice Phillip Evatt in May 1983.
The findings were that "under the standard of proof prescribed by Repatriation law, there were two categories of cancer attributable to exposure to Agent Orange" and "the Department of Veterans' Affairs purposely disobeyed Repatriation law in not allowing veterans the prescribed 'benefit of the doubt' ".

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