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