Agent Orange Effects on Vietnam Veterans
Agent Orange: a harmful combination of herbicides 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D first used by the British in the Malayan Emergency. When Operation Ranch Hand was put into effect by the U.S. in Vietnam, Agent Orange was again pulled out of reserves, with consequences just as harmful and just as extensive. The Geneva Disarmament Convention of 1978 prohibits any country from harming forests and jungles, but an exception specifically states that any vegetation can be harmed if military combatants use these natural areas as cover in any way.
It was under these very circumstances that Agent Orange (AO) was used during the Vietnam War. The U.S. military dropped millions of gallons of Agent Orange over massive expanses of vegetation on Vietnam to eat away at the leaves of trees and bushes, thereby exposing the enemy. That was the objective of Operation Ranch Hand—to get the enemy out into the open.
But if AO could eat away at all of these plants, imagine what it does when it comes in contact with human flesh . . . Then imagine the Agent Orange effects and lasting health effects of this poisonous herbicide. With so much of this concoction being sprayed over the land, it was inevitable that Vietnamese and American troops alike would be exposed to it.
Agent Orange Affects Blue Water Vets
Agent Orange effects the benefits of thousands of blue water vets. The Department of Veterans Affairs has listed 14 presumptive diseases on their site that are conditions assumed to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange, including several life-threatening cancers. Certain birth defects in children of affected veterans also qualify as presumptive diseases, and more research is done by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) all the time to investigate other possible diseases. The VA offers several benefits to affected veterans that mainly include health care and disability compensation. Originally, the Agent Orange Act of 1991 stated all Vietnam vets were eligible to receive these benefits if they had been affected by Agent Orange. However, a provision in 2002 altered specifications, excluding thousands from benefits that they should have had the right to obtain.
The biggest issue argued over today is that veterans who were located out in the deep waters of the sea near Vietnam are not considered eligible to receive benefits if they never set foot on Vietnamese soil or traversed Vietnamese rivers. These “Blue Water” veterans have been fighting for their rights for a long time—which is really put into perspective when you think about the fact that the Vietnam war ended forty years ago, and these vets are still suffering without aid.
Organizations have claimed in the past that there was insufficient evidence to support the fact that these veterans were adversely affected by Agent Orange, or even that they came in contact with the stuff in the first place.
However, the IOM has come out with new evidence that argues this is not only perfectly possible, it’s even likely. Thousands of veterans are suffering from diseases related to Agent Orange exposure, but they are not receiving any benefits as a result. These soldiers have served our country to the best of their abilities regardless of home obligations, and yet they are not shown the same amount of dedication and respect that they gave.
So many veterans are already being compensated for these adverse effects. Why exclude the Blue Water Navy veterans who were also exposed? Colorado has recently started taking action by passing a resolution that supports the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2015, which will get these veterans the help they deserve. A few other states have also shown support for this act, and it’s expected that more action will start to unfold in the very near future.
Agent Orange: The Fight for Benefits Continues
Stay tuned to the issue. Keep up with our blog and keep your eyes on the news to stay in-the-know about legislation happening today. Every American should know about the veterans – the heroes – who aren’t getting the benefits they deserve. Share this article to spread the word.