Thursday, September 2, 2010

Agent Orange and the US Economy

Former Senator Alan Simpson is concerned about how much Agent Orange compensation is eating into the federal budget. He recently said that veterans who are collecting disability payments as compensation for their Agent Orange-related conditions are “ . . . not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess.”

The US Government has been lying about Agent Orange for 48 years. They have lied about what it contained - the known carcinogen dioxin. They have lied about where its use had an impact - the entire country of Vietnam, all of its airspace, off-shore waters and parts of Laos and Cambodia. They have lied about who was responsible for its manufacture - chemical companies followed government specifications to make it. They have lied about when it was used - 1962 – 1971. They have lied about what damage it caused - the list of conditions that Agent Orange has been proven to cause follows:

Acute and Subacute Peripheral Neuropathy
AL Amyloidosis
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Chronic B Cell Leukemias
Type 2 Diabetes
Hodkin’s Disease
Ischemic Heart Disease
Multiple Myeloma
Parkinson’s Disease
Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
Prostate Cancer
Lung Cancer
Larnyx Cancer
Trachea Cancer
Bronshus Cancer
Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Spina Bifida in the children of exposed veterans
Birth Defects in the children of exposed female veterans

None of these maladies made this list without repeated litigation battles. Many vets suffered without assistance before their condition made the list; lots of them died. Many people are still fighting for other associated, but yet-unproven conditions.

An estimated 2.6 million Vietnam veterans were exposed to dioxin-based herbicides while serving the United States in Southeast Asia. To be sure, the use of Agents Orange, Blue, White, Purple, Green and Pink is costing us a staggering amount of money. Thousands of individual and class-action lawsuits have been battled for tiny gains towards the compensation of soldiers who were exposed in the name of democracy. Yet, because the feds lied about it for so long, the majority of these costs have been covered through employer-sponsored health plans, not the Veterans Administration.

Maybe we shouldn’t have sprayed our troops with carcinogens? Maybe we shouldn’t have lied about it, but treated them earlier? Those options may have saved us a few bucks, right? I think the feds will lie about Agent Orange until the last exposed veteran has been buried.

My husband spent 26 months in Vietnam between ’66 and ‘69. He wasn’t drafted, but enlisted. When his service was up, he signed up for a second tour, then a third. He died from lung cancer. Congrats, Mr. Simpson; there’s another one off the VA rolls, eh?

I think the former senator must be bat-shit crazy. But, he’s right about one thing - these guys aren’t helping with the economy. They can’t. They’re too busy dying.

The mission of the US’s Veterans Administration was pledged by Abraham Lincoln: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.” This commitment takes more than putting a yellow ribbon on the back of your car.

1 comment:

  1. Amen Sister! Well said, very well said.