785 – Agent Orange keeps on giving

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Mike Blackledge, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Mike Blackledge sits in his home in Fredericktown, Ohio on December 12, 2016. Blackledge served in Vietnam where we was exposed to Agent Orange. Two of his children, born after the war, have illnesses he believes are related to his exposure to the toxic defoliant. Maddie McGarvey/For ProPublica

Agent Orange was one of the terrible legacies of the Vietnam War. The decision to utilize the super defoliant now known as Agent Orange in the Vietnam War was good intention-ed but it unfortunately came with some terrible unintentional consequences. One of the worst unintended consequences was that many Vietnam Veterans got sick from exposure to the dioxin found in the herbicide. It doesn’t stop with the veterans. Now it is believed by many that the possibility of contracting Agent Orange related diseases is being passed on to the descendants of Vietnam Veterans. The sad situation is featured in a story found in The Stars and Stripes titled: At greater risk: The children of Agent Orange that was submitted by Charles Ornstein and Hannah Fresques, ProPublica and Mike Hixenbaugh for The Virginian-Pilot.

The article writers point out numerous examples of Vietnam Veterans who have children that have contracted mysterious Agent Orange diseases. One Vietnam Veteran, Mike Blackledge, who fathered a healthy child before the war and two sick ones after, believes the government that exposed troops to Agent Orange should care for those it harmed — including their children.

For decades, the Department of Veterans Affairs has collected — and ignored — reams of information that could have helped answer that question, an investigation by ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot has found. In a statement, the VA stated “it does not have the expertise in the relevant fields of inquiry and that they should only play an ancillary role.” Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health said: “While I used to be pretty skeptical about reports, especially related to Agent Orange exposures of predominantly male soldiers we had at the time, I’m not as skeptical as I was.”

Regardless of the skepticism of the smart guys, something has to be done to help these veterans who not only have to worry about their own health but that of their descendants. The country owes that to the brave veterans who went off to fight for their country and got sick because of something the country did to them during that service.

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Veterans and Agent Orange, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

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