Press Release

Contact: Mokie Pratt Porter, Communications Director 202-628-2700 Ext. 146

VVA APPLAUDS VIETNAM'S RETURN OF CONFISCATED AGENT ORANGE DATA

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 19, 1997) Vietnam Veterans of America is greatly encouraged by Vietnam's return of confiscated Agent Orange research materials, and applauds South Dakota senator Tom Daschle for his efforts in this return. The 200 pages of documents and specimens relating to Agent Orange research in Vietnam were seized in 1995 by Vietnamese customs officials from the American scientists, and causing concern for the future cooperation between the two governments on this issue. Through Daschle's advocacy, the documents were returned to Dr. Schecter Dec.17.

VVA has long called for research on the impact of Agent Orange in Vietnam, a ready-made laboratory where birth defects and a wide range of diseases are common in areas sprayed by the highly toxic herbicide.

Said VVA president George Duggins: "The answers to some of the lingering health questions still plaguing Vietnam veterans and their families are in Vietnam, where the population was exposed to Agent Orange over a long period of time." Vietnam Veterans of America has been working with the Vietnamese 10-80 Committee, the Vietnamese counterpart to the National Academy of Sciences, to promote cooperation on this very critical issue.

"Collaboration with the Vietnamese is essential," added VVA Agent Orange Committee chair George Claxton. "We are hopeful that the return of these documents signifies a continuation of the cooperative efforts of U.S. and Vietnamese scientists. If we want to get to the bottom of this matter, we must work together. We owe it to all those exposed to this toxic chemical to conduct more research on the effects of exposure."

VVA has been a major force in achieving justice for the victims of Agent Orange. In 1989, VVA's class-action lawsuit, Nehmer v. Veterans Administration, required the VA to compensate Vietnam veterans for diseases that result from Agent Orange exposure. During the 1990's VVA continued to push VA to compensate for more diseases which scientists found to be associated with Agent Orange, and by the end of 1996, VA was paying veterans compensation for nine different Agent Orange diseases. In 1996, VVA led the charge to pass landmark legislation providing benefits to any child of a Vietnam veteran born with spina bifida, a serious birth defect that has been linked to Agent Orange.

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation's only congressionally charter veterans service organization dedicated solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's founding principle is "Never again shall one generation of veterans abandon another."



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