Chapter 160, The Việt Nam Chapter of the Veterans For Peace
Remnant of War: Vietnam, 37 years later
Da Nang, Viet Nam
June 20, 2012
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King Jr.
US civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 - 1968)
Remnant of War: Vietnam, 37 years later
It’s been 37 years since the end of the Vietnam War. The war was senseless. War is wrong. No question. As a veteran, I can attest to its nonsensical virtues.
One ongoing legacy of that war, Agent Orange, continues to destroy the lives of millions of Vietnamese. During a recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City with a group of returning American veterans, we visited Tu Du Hospital’s Peace Village. Tu Du Hospital has cared for Agent Orange victims for a number of years. I sometimes comment that the victims who are being cared for in these hospitals and centers are the fortunate ones. Immediate medical attention is available. Medicine, food, and shelter are often in ample supply. This is the case at Tu Du. However, some of these victims are the worst of the worst. Birth defects and disease which require constant monitoring and care. Many of these children know no other family. Most are orphans. All are loving, all have great physical as well as emotional needs and all are Victims of Agent Orange who must be helped.
Living in the same city which has one of several dioxin laden “hot spots” in Vietnam, I am constantly reminded of the devastation that continues as a result of Agent Orange. Over 5,000 victims of Agent Orange live in Da Nang. Well into its third generation, the aftermath of that war continues and there is no end in sight.
I would think after all of these years, however, that the misery would start to subside. Sure, there have been some small victories. The US Veteran receives disability compensation if we suffer from one of 15 presumptive illnesses and were in country during the war. Female Veterans who served in Vietnam and have children born with spina bifida also receive benefits. Far from ample. But benefits nonetheless.
What about the millions of Vietnamese victims who suffer from these and other illnesses that have been directly linked to Agent Orange? The US Government has done next to nothing, in this regard. The manufacturers of Agent Orange have done nothing at all. True, the US has started to do something meaningful in Da Nang while it attempts to remove some of the most toxic dioxin in the world; the by-product of a hastened manufacturing process employed by Monsanto, Dow, and the rest. This ensured higher profit margins which was all that these corporations were interested in. They had no concern whatsoever for human life or the environment. To this day, their focus remains on profits. Seemingly at any cost.
Today, both of these insidious multi-nationals continue to brag about their love of the environment, their concern for humanity, their perceived need to solve the hunger crisis. Monsanto owns and sells the majority of genetically modified seeds in the world, attempting to convince the Vietnamese to purchase and use these “safe” products. Just like they said that Agent Orange was safe, they attempt to refute scientific evidence and an overwhelming voice in the scientific community stating that genetically modified seeds and organisms are indeed unsafe! How dare they return to Vietnam after all of the death and destruction they were responsible for here.
Dow Chemical, another manufacturer of Agent Orange as well as Napalm and, the largest single owner of Superfund Sites in the US, arranged for a multi-year, multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee. Claiming their positive contributions to a green planet! And yes, another large player in the GMO industry. Seeking more profit taking in Vietnam.
Agent Orange and Genetically Modified Seeds and Organisms are linked. If you examine the components of a recently introduced GM Corn (by Dow), it actually contains some of the same ingredients as did Agent Orange. This would, so the manufacturer claims, enable it to withstand higher doses of products like Round-up.
Let us not continue to be silent.
Chuck Palazzo is an American veteran who lives in Vietnam. He is a founding member of Veterans For Peace, Chapter 160 in Vietnam http//vfp-vn.ning.com/ and the Agent Orange Action Group http: //aoag.org/. Chuck can be reached at email@example.com.