Agent Orange (Dioxin) a Deadly Legacy

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Stephen Madison
Professor Corbally
English 101, 0221
5 November, 2012
Agent Orange (Dioxin) the Forgotten Legacy of our Vietnam Veterans Struggles On a day in 1970, while on patrol in a dense forest of South Vietnam I happened to notice a C130 flying about one kilometer from my squads position. I thought this unusual because of the low altitude and it was spraying some unknown substances on the jungle directly ahead of my squad. While on patrol it’s usually eyes and ears only so I did not ask about it until we got back to base camp. It was then that I asked a corporeal, my number two man if he had ever seen that before. He told me a couple of times and he always thought it was spraying for bugs. This is what initially I thought. Never in the sixteen months I was deployed there had I heard the name agent orange or knew that the U.S. was spraying a defoliant in Vietnam. It did occur two or three times again while I was there, either sprayed by C130’s or Huey’s. Not until fifteen years later did I realize this spraying was a chemical called dioxin (Agent Orange). I read sketchy articles in the paper indicating that Vietnam Vets were suing the chemical companies for exposure to this chemical agent, specifically Monsanto. Years past and I took no action and should have, since I now suffer from the exposure and fighting the V.A. and U.S. government in federal court for disability compensation. Due to U.S. Government bureaucracy and restrictions placed on the Veterans Administration many Vietnam Veterans are receiving inadequate medical care and either little or no compensation for their exposure to Agent Orange (dioxin) while serving their tours, any easing of these restrictions needs to be addressed now by congress. In August of 1961, America began spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam the operation was called Ranch Hand. 20% of South Vietnam was sprayed at least once. “Millions of gallons of dioxin-containing defoliant were used across vast areas. Concentrations were 50 times greater than for other defoliation purposes. Horrific consequences followed.” (Lendman) Imagine one fifth of the United States sprayed with this agent Dioxin, one of the most deadly known substances. “It’s both natural and man-made. It’s a potent carcinogenic human immune system suppressant. Minute amounts cause serious health problems and death.” (Lendman) Dioxin contaminates soil, foliage, air, water and remains toxic for decades. “It’s not water soluble or easily degradable.”(Lendman) Over two and a half million soldiers served in Vietnam and all were exposed to this chemical agent Dioxin. The V.A. acknowledged that all service men who served in this combat zone are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. A small percentage of disability claims are for illnesses that scientists have listed as being associated with Agent Orange. VA presumes that all military personnel who served in Vietnam were exposed to Agent Orange, and federal law presumes that certain illnesses are a result of that exposure. This “presumptive policy” simplifies the process of receiving compensation for these diseases since the VA foregoes normal requirements of proving that an illness began or was worsened during military service. (Viet)

Dioxin can be inhaled, absorbed through skin, or gain bodily entry through eyes, ears or other cavity passages. “It enters the food chain. Crops, plants, animals and sea life are poisoned.” (Lendman) In the early 1970’s Vietnam Veterans began reporting certain ailments such as skin rashes and cancer. I can recall having a serious skin rash in the late 1970’s, early 1980 that my doctor said was impetigo. I was told to use certain medicated soaps and given special creams. “A 1979 class-action lawsuit against herbicide producers was settled out of court in 1984.”...
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