40 Years On, the Vietnam War Continues for Victims of Agent Orange


  Tran Thi Le Huyen, 23, in a wheelchair at her family home in Danang, Vietnam, in 2007. Her family once lived near the highly contaminated Danang Airbase; her father was a driver for the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government during the war. (David Guttenfelder / AP)

 

Marjorie Cohn | Truthdig | December 17, 2015

The war in Vietnam resulted in the deaths of more than 58,000 Americans and more than 3 million Vietnamese. Twenty years ago, the United States and Vietnam normalized diplomatic relations in an effort to put the terrible legacy of the war behind them. But for the survivors—both Vietnamese and American—the war continues. About 5 million Vietnamese and many U.S. and allied soldiers were exposed to the toxic chemical dioxin from the spraying of Agent Orange. Many of them and their progeny continue to suffer its poisonous effects.

Agent Orange was a chemical, herbicidal weapon sprayed over 12 percent of Vietnam by the U.S. military from 1961 to 1971. The dioxin present in Agent Orange is one of the most toxic chemicals known to humanity.

Those exposed to Agent Orange during the war often have children and grandchildren with serious illnesses and disabilities. The international scientific community has identified an association between exposure to Agent Orange and some forms of cancers, reproductive abnormalities, immune and endocrine deficiencies and nervous system damage. Second- and third-generation victims continue to be born in Vietnam as well as to U.S. veterans and Vietnamese-Americans in this country.

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