A Terrible Legacy Still Exists
During the Vietnam War, the US sprayed 20 million gallons of Agent Orange, which contains the toxic chemical dioxin, over South Vietnam. The stated purpose was defoliation so that the enemy would have no cover or crops, but the concentrations of toxins were 20 to 55 times those typically used in agriculture. Plants were killed, and so were people.
It isn’t over. The effects of Agent Orange are felt for generations as afflicted persons pass the genetic burden of Agent Orange to their children and grandchildren. Second and third generation babies are born with cancers, respiratory problems, birth defects and deformities. The impact is widespread. In some villages, there are entire streets where in every house, there are children unable to care for themselves.
In Vietnam, persons with disabilities face stigma and discrimination. In addition to massive physical and financial burden, these afflicted families face extreme social isolation. The victims and their families are dealing with these problems alone.
There is no systematic government assistance to victims or their families. With no nursing homes or community health services, family members nurse one another for their entire lives. The victims face enormous financial burdens alone.
In spite of its inarguable role in this devastating problem, the United States government has, until recently, refused to accept responsibility for the effects of Agent Orange on the civilian population in Vietnam.