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Page 28
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VVAW Supports the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011: HR 2634

By Susan M. Schnall

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New York area Agent Orange activsts meet with a leadership
delegation from VAVA (Vietnam Association for Victims of
Agent Orange/Dioxin) this past December.

FIFTY YEARS AGO: The United States used approximately 19 million gallons of 15 different herbicides, including 13 million gallons of Agent Orange over south Vietnam. Between 2.1 and 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed during the spraying and many more are continuously exposed through the environment. Agent Orange exposure continues to negatively affect the lives of men and women in both Vietnam and the United States. Agent Orange exposure is associated with cancers, immune deficiencies, reproductive illnesses and severe birth defects in Vietnamese, American and Vietnamese Americans directly exposed as well as their children and grandchildren.

SEVEN YEARS AGO: David Cline and Merle Ratner founded the Vietnam Relief and Responsibility Campaign. The Campaign is dedicated to healing the wounds of the American conflict in Vietnam by bringing together former enemies to jointly assist the victims of the war and to hold responsible those whose use of chemical weapons constitutes crimes against humanity. VVAW has been instrumental in working with the core leadership on educating the public about the continuing harmful impact of the spraying on American veterans, their children and grandchildren and the Vietnamese people. Marty Webster is an active member of the core leadership and Barry Romo is an active member of the VAORRC board.

FOUR YEARS AGO: The American Public Health Association passed Policy #20078 recommending:

  1. The President direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to continue to address the enduring psychological and physical health effects of Agent Orange and dioxin on US veterans of the Vietnam War and their children;
  2. The US government and involved chemical companies provide resources for services for the disabled in areas where dioxin victims are concentrated; provide medical services, nursing and social services for those harmed by Agent Orange;
  3. The US government and the involved chemical companies be responsible to re-mediate or attempt to clean up those areas in Vietnam that still contain high levels of dioxin. Anne Hirschman of VVAW's leadership played a key role in support of this policy at the APHA's annual meeting.

SIX MONTHS AGO: Congressman Bob Filner introduced the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011 (HR 2634). This legislation would provide:

  • medical assistance for the children and grandchildren of American veterans who served in Vietnam,
  • health care for Vietnamese Americans and their children affected by Agent Orange,
  • extension of the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study,
  • health care and social services for exposed Vietnamese people and,
  • remediation of those areas in south and central Vietnam that remain contaminated by dioxin.

This legislation addresses the ongoing health problems of United States veterans, their progeny, and the Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans harmed by the use of Agent Orange/dioxin. HR 2634 offers an opportunity to heal the terrible suffering and wounds from the Vietnam conflict, 50 years after the beginning of the spraying of Agent Orange/dioxin in central and south Vietnam.

Help pass this critical legislation — contact your member of Congress. Ask your Congress member and Senators to co-sponsor HR2634.

Call or visit their office, and let them know that, as a constituent, you want their support for this bill.

Please email us at info@vn-agentorange.org and let us know who you've contacted and their response.

Read the full bill at www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h112-2634

Contact us at: info@vn-agentorange.org. Our website is: www.vn-agentorange.org/.

Susan Schnall is a co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign, chairing the legislative outreach and science group. She is currently a professor in Health Policy and Planning at NYU and a member of VVAW, VFP and APHA. In 1969 she was tried and convicted by a general court martial for her anti-war activities while a member of the US Navy.

(l to r) Nguyen Minh Y, VAVA Director of
External Relations Department, Marty Webster,
VVAW National Coordinator and a core member of
VAORRC,and Lt. Gen. (Rt.) Nguyen Van Rinh,
President of VAVA share a moment of solidarity.

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