As a member of Vietnam Veterans of America, I very much appreciate our national organization continuing to emphasize that which has existed for over 30 years without getting the detail attention it needs. As an in-country Vietnam veteran I wish someone would understand, really understand, the difficulties we in-country Vietnam veteran face, solely due to our exposure to the dioxin in Agent Orange and the other herbicides used in Vietnam as defoliants. Recently, Vietnam Veterans of America have once again attempted to bring these difficulties to the forefront. How well they've achieved their goal remains to be seen. As the father of four I am more than just a little concerned.
Crying Need to Deal with Agent Orange Problems Here in America
Vietnam Veterans of America applauds the conclusions and recommendations of a Ford Foundation-funded report issued today by the National Organization on Disabilities on the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam, said John Rowan, VVA National President. While VVA feels compassion for the many adults and children injured and made ill by exposure to Agent Orange and the many other toxins used in Vietnam during the war there, it is now time to fully deal with the same effects on Americans who served in Vietnam and other areas that were also contaminated. The effects of these toxins on the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren must similarly be addressed.
The U.S. government currently is not studying the possible intergenerational effects of exposure to Agent Orange, nor are they doing any morbidity studies at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or anywhere else.
Rowan called for the immediate de-classification of all Department of Defense information that pertains to exposure of U.S. military servicemembers to any toxin at any time, to include the Vietnam Era and to take immediate steps to begin epidemiological studies, birth defects registries, and outreach necessary to scientifically document the problems suffered by our veterans and their offspring.
Dow Chemical is not going to fund these studies, Rowan said. Only the U.S. government can reasonably be expected to fund this vital research, and they have not been doing their job. In fact, it would appear that for the last decade that our government has been doing everything possible to prevent such studies from being done.
That the Administration is adding another $3 million to the $3 million already pledged from the Ford Foundation for work to help those suffering in Vietnam is fine and good, Rowan said. However, there needs to be at least a commensurate commitment by the U.S. government and the Ford Foundation to American veterans and their families. Under a new President, now is the time for a dramatic change of direction for our country. Similarly, now is the time for a new direction from the Ford Foundation.
--- Regards, Walt Schmidt