The Lingering Devil
In the song “Uncommon Valor” there is a lot of talk about the use of agent orange, and the notion that there are health risks associated with it. However, “The U.S. government has consistently stated that no scientific evidence links Agent Orange/dioxin to adverse health effects found in Vietnam.” (Vietnam’s Lingering Ghost, 2009) However, George H.W. Bush mandated that any one with some diseases associated with agent orange get help from the Veterans Association. This is partly due to the fact they would be required to allocate enormous amounts of funds if they conceded that it was a serious risk. It is clear that the government isn’t willing to take blame. This is probably due to liability issues and inability to effectively handle the problem.
Now, the government has left the care of Agent Orange victims to organizations like the VA or the Veterans Association. There are many health effects that can qualify you for compensation from the VA such as: “soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, chloracne, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, respiratory cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, amyloidosis, peripheral neuropathy, porphyria cutanea tarda, type II diabetes, spina bifida in offspring, Parkinson’s Disease, hairy cell leukemia and ischemic heart disease.”(Aspen institute, 2008) As one may see there are many disabilities that are attributed to coming into contact with agent orange. Also, it’s very important to note that some of these diseases are passed down to offspring.
Knowing the health risks associated with the use of dioxin, the ingredient most often blamed for causing the health risks associated with agent orange. Dioxin is a long lasting and harmful chemical, and it takes very small amounts to harm humans and vegetation. According to the WHO, Dioxin has a half-life of 7 to 11 years in the body. More disturbing than that, when dioxin is in the environment it tends to build in the food chains. “That is to say, the higher the animal is in the food chain, the higher the concentration of dioxins.” (WHO, 2014) So, this brings a question about the morality of using these agents during a war; furthermore, the chemicals have affected life in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The Vietnamese Red Cross states, that about a million people have been affected by agent orange, of that million 150, 000 are children suffering from birth defects. (CNN, 2013) Seeing as how we didn’t “win” the military conflict in Vietnam, the use of agent orange could easily be called one of the worst human rights violations still being down- played or suppressed by the U.S. government.