For Vietnam veterans in Wilson and surrounding counties, across Tennessee and the nation, the Vietnam conflict isn’t over as the effects of exposure to Agent Orange takes its toll on them, their children and grandchildren.
The Tennessee State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America, along with co-sponsor Lebanon VVA Chapter 1004, will hold an Agent Orange Town Hall meeting May 4 from 6-9 p.m. in the Veterans Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.
“Operation Ranch Hand” was the code name for the spraying of a host of herbicides, primarily Agent Orange, by the U.S. military in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries to protect American and allied troops by defoliating the dense jungle vegetation hiding enemy positions.
About 10,000 Wilson and surrounding county veterans served in Vietnam, and no one knows for sure how many were exposed to Agent Orange. Some were deployed in areas during and immediately after spraying operations, while others actually handled Agent Orange and did the spraying.
During the past few decades, a substantial body of scientific and medical research has shown that Agent Orange and other herbicides that contain dioxin have an elevated probability of causing or contributing to a variety of sometimes fatal illnesses being suffered by veterans who served in Vietnam between January 1962 and May 1975.
The list of diseases related to the veteran’s exposure to Agent Orange continues to grow. The evidence for inclusion of diabetes mellitus type II as a presumptive disease is strong, and the same is true of prostate cancer and other service-connected presumptive conditions, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and respiratory cancers of the lungs, bronchus, larynx or trachea.
The Gulf War of the early 1990s and beyond saw oil well fires, burn pits, etc., which caused their own problems for modern-war veterans, along with the contaminated water problem at Camp Lejeune are just a couple of the chemical-related problems for veterans.
The Agent Orange Town Hall will educate, provide a platform for asking questions and an opportunity for veterans, their children, grandchildren or surviving spouses to speak with veterans service officers about filing claims for VA benefits. All veterans from all conflicts are urged to attend. For more information, contact Terry Yates with Lebanon VVA Chapter 1004 at 615-800-0517.