Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign
Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign
In support of justice for Vietnamese Agent Orange victims, a national coalition of veterans, Vietnamese-Americans and other community leaders announces the formation of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign on February 28, 2005.
The U.S. government used Agent Orange, from 1962 to 1971, as part of their war in Vietnam. Agent Orange contains dioxin, one of the deadliest substances known, and continues to cause death and sickness to millions of Vietnamese and to many U.S. veterans of the Vietnam war. Now even more than thirty years after the war, Agent Orange remains in the land and water of Vietnam, causing horrific birth defects to several generation of children.
- We support the Vietnamese Agent Orange survivors and their representative, the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin in their lawsuit against the U.S. chemical companies. Their lawsuit is a historic first effort by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange to achieve compensation from the manufacturers who profited from this chemical warfare.
- We call upon our government to meet its responsibility to compensate the more than three million Vietnamese people suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. The U.S. government has a moral and legal obligation to heal the wounds of war.
Many of the key leaders were involved with Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.
The Second National Congress of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), was convened December 2–3, 2008 in Hanoi: The Congress gathered 399 delegates, including Mr. Le Kha Phieu, Mme. Nguyen Thi Binh, Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, Mr. Huynh Dam, Mr. Nguyen Khoi Nguyen, and Lt. General Le Van Huan. Besides delegations from France and South Korea, the U.S. delegation representing VAORRC includes Paul Cox, Claire Tran & Jonathan Moore. Heading the delegation is Paul Cox.
The delegation visited VAVA chapters at Quang Ninh, Ho Chi Minh City (Mme. Dang Hong Nhut's Hoc Mon Center, Peace Village II, Thien Phuoc Center, Cu Chi), Da Nang and Soc Son during its post-Congress 5-day tour. 
A delegation of science and public health professionals affiliated with the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign a project of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, was invited to Vietnam by the Vietnam Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin. The purpose of the trip was to visit people suffering from illnesses recognized among American veterans to be associated with the spraying and use of AO/dioxin by the US military during the American conflict in Vietnam.
Members of the American delegation included: Dr. Franklin Mirer, Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Hunter College of the City University of New York and former Director of the Health and Safety Department for the United Automobile Workers; Dr. Jean Grassman, Associate Professor at City University of New York and researcher investigating the effect of dioxins on human populations; Dr. Michael McGarvey, whose career includes executive responsibility at the federal, state, and local levels, academic administration and teaching at New York university, and senior executive positions in the private sector; Dr. Carole Baraldi, a professional nurse practitioner and educator on disability and women's health care; Marie Elivert, a health care executive with over 35 years in the private and public sector; Dr. Daniel Robie, Assistant Professor at York College of the City University of New York where he conducts research, has authored a number of scientific papers, and teaches physical, analytical, and inorganic chemistry. Also, Susan Schnall, Adjunct Assistant Professor at New York University in Health Policy and Planning, worked for 31 years as a senior executive in public hospitals in New York, and is a co coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign and a national coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
The delegation began the trip in Hanoi, meeting with VAVA and members of the Office of the Committee of 33 to discuss the history of the use of defoliants from 1961-1971 and the serious and long lasting impact on the people and land of Vietnam.
- Priorities of VAVA are: environmental remediation of the hot spots (where the US maintained their bases), prevention of birth defects; survey of foods that are most contaminated, education of people about safe foods, care for victims in the hot spots, research on diseases correlated with AO/dioxin exposure, provide services to women and children exposed, establish rehabilitation services and special schools as needed.
- After our meeting, we travel to Thi Binh and visit an occupational school whose students are dealing with birth defects caused by parental exposure to the herbicides. We meet an older man—veteran of the US conflict, who is lying on a bamboo mat, crying silently in pain, tears running down his cheeks. He is curled up, arms and legs rigid, unable to move. His wife sits next to me, speaking quietly in Vietnamese, gently taking my arm. I talk to her through an interpreter to let them know we are Americans who come to help heal the terrible wounds of war our country has inflicted. Some of us weep.
- But it is the children, the second and third generation babies and children born with enlarged heads and bulging eyes, or curled up on these raised bamboo mats, their bodies twisted and rigid, extremities bent so they replicate being in the uterus, tremors cursing through their limbs—and they look at you when you reach out a hand and touch them. Though they are not able to speak, they smile and react while siblings and parents stand by on dirt floors, in wooden shacks with no running water or electricity. The village people come to see the strangers. We are all struck by the devotion of the families and the care these children receive.
There were, as well, official meetings with Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, the main negotiator for the Provisional Revolutionary Government at the Paris Peace Talks in the early 1970's. Today Madame Binh is head of the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation.
- We talk with her about our impressions from our visit and work on behalf of those who have been harmed by the use of herbicides in Vietnam. She speaks about the suffering of the Vietnamese people and the responsibility of the chemical companies and the US government to ease the suffering. She is well aware of the unsuccessful legal suit and our efforts to pass a congressional bill—HR 2634 Relief for the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011. She asks about our chances for success and we promise we will continue our work until there is justice for the Vietnamese.
A couple of days later Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong met the delgation in Ho Ch Minh City at Tu Du Hospital where we visit the children's unit.
- Dr. Phuong was formerly Director of the hospital and Director of Obstetrics. During the American War she delivered many babies who were born so deformed that she couldn't show them to their mothers. In 1974 she researched a document from the National Academy of Sciences describing the problems. Dr. Phuong did a comparison study in Ho Chi Minh City which was a case comparison between mothers who were and were not exposed to the chemicals. A study with Dr. Zena Stein from Columbia University was presented at the 1987 International Dioxin Conference.
- Sixty children live in Tu Du Hospital, suffering from the effects of Agent Orange/dioxin. They have spina bifida, congenital limb deformities, multi-joint stiffness, microcephaly (small brains), hydrocephalus (enlarged brains), cerebral palsy, and heart defects. One of the children was born without arms and writes with her toes.
- Tran Thi Hoan is one of those children. She was born December 16, 1986 without two legs and a hand into a farming village in Binh Thuan province in central Vietnam. Her mother was exposed to Agent Orange when farming her land by canisters buried in the soil. Hoan was the first Vietnamese Agent Orange victim to testify before a House committee on the effects of Agent Orange. She noted: "many babies, children and young people my age live lives of quiet agony. They are trapped in bodies that do not work. Their brains remain in infancy even as their bodies grow. I am aware that the children and grandchildren of US veterans exposed to Agent Orange are suffering like us. We hope that they receive the medical care and assistance they need."
- And now it is up to us to educate the American public about the deleterious and lasting impact of the use of herbicides in Vietnam. We can do this by supporting the Relief for the Victims of Agent Orange Act of 2011 (HR 2634) that would provide needed services to the children of American veterans, provide care and services to the Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans harmed by the spraying and their children, and clean up (remediate) the land in southern Vietnam that continues to be contaminated by the dioxin.
(In formation, organization for identification only, accessed December 2010 * indicates Core Group Members):
- Elliott Adams (former President, Veterans for Peace, MO)
- Steve Ault (Gay & lesbian activist, NY)
- Sally Benson (Educator, Indochina activist, CA)
- Roy “Mike” Boehm (My Lai Peace Park Project, WI)
- Jean Carey Bond, Black Radical Congress, NY
- Vinie Burrows (Actor, Womens International Democratic Federation, NY
- David Cline (Veterans for Peace, NJ, deceased)
- Marjorie Cohn* (Professor of Law, former President, National Lawyers Guild, CA)
- Frank Corcoran (Veterans for Peace, PA)
- Paul Cox* (Veterans For Peace, CA)
- Michael Cull (Vietnam Friendship Village, AK)
- Bui Van Dạo (Vietnamese community activist, TX)
- William Davis (Vietnam Veterans Against the War/labor leader, IL, deceased)*
- Bhairavi Desai (New York Taxi Workers Alliance, NY)
- Joan Duffy (Vietnam Veteran/Nurse, NM, deceased)
- Beatrice Eisman (US-Vietnam Friendship Association. CA)
- Tod Ensign (Citizen Soldier, NY)
- Mike Ferner (President, Veterans for Peace, OH)
- Bill Fletcher, Jr. (Center for Labor Renewal, DC)
- Jeanne Friedman* (Philanthropy Consultant, CA)
- Arthur Galston (Professor Emeritus, CT, deceased)
- Bill Goodman, Esq. (Co-counsel to Vietnamese plaintiffs, Detroit MI)
- Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton (Archdiocese of Detroit, MI)
- Felicia Gustin (Executive Director, SpeakOut!, CA)
- William F. Henning, Jr. (CWA, Local 1180, NY)
- Tran Khanh Tuyet Jenkins (Community activist, CA)
- Sanford Kelson, Esq. (Veterans for Peace, PA)
- Phạm Thị Van Khanh (VietUnity, CA)
- Ngo Vinh Long (Professor, ME)
- Don Luce (Peace activist, NY)
- Elizabeth Betita Martinez (Author, activist, CA)
- Camilo Mejia (Board President, Iraq Veterans Against the War, FL)
- Jeanne Mirer, Esq.* (National Lawyers Guild, President, Internationl Association of Democratic Lawyers)
- Jonathan Moore, Esq.* (Co-counsel for Vietnamese plaintiffs, NY)
- Radhames Morales (Church of San Romero de las Americas, UCC, NY)
- Tony Van Nguyen (VietUnity, CA)
- Ngo Thanh Nhan* (Visiting scholar, NY)
- Jack O'Dell (Peace and justice activist, Canada)
- Merle Ratner* (Brecht Forum, NY)
- Dawn Reel* (AIDS & Technology Consultant, NY)
- Barry Romo (Vietnam Veterans Against the War, IL)
- Susan Schnall* (Veteran, Nurse, NY)
- Bill Schwalb (Veterans for Peace, CA)
- Paul Shannon (Teacher, AFSC; MA)
- Steve Sherlock (Aid to Southeast Asia, MN)
- Bui Xuan Sơn (CA)
- Walter Teague (Anti-war activist, MD)
- Tara Thornton (Military Toxics Project, ME)
- Nguyen Van Tuan (Professor, doctor, Australia)
- Claire Tran (Asian Pacific Islander community organizer, CAAAV board member, NY)
- Lincoln Van Sluytman (VT)
- Michael Uhl (Veterans for Peace, ME)
- Frank Velgara (Puerto Rico/Vietnam activist, NY)
- Marty Webster* (a National Coordinator VVAW, OH)
- Leonard Weinglass, Esq. (Noted civil rights/liberties attorney, NY)
- Nadya Williams (Global Exchange, CA)
- Hubert Woodard (Hue–New Haven Sister City Project, CT)
- Marilyn Young (Professor, NY)
- ↑ Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign website, accessed Dec. 13,2010
- ↑ The Second National Congress of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA),December 2–3, 2008, Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign News Archive
- ↑ The Veteran, Fall 2012, page 3,Revisiting Vietnam: Agent Orange/Dioxin Devastation Continues, By Susan Schnall
- ↑ Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign website, accessed Dec. 13,2010