Disgraceful Government Treatment of Veterans Affected by Agent Orange

An article in the Washington Post this weekend highlighted some awful actions taken by the U.S. military in order to avoid paying veterans who may have been affected by Agent Orange lingering on planes after the Vietnam War.  Much of it speaks for itself:

In 2010, the Air Force destroyed 18 of the Vietnam-era aircraft in part because of concerns about potential liability for Agent Orange, according to Air Force memos documenting the destruction…

The Air Force aborted plans to sell some of the planes in 1996, after evidence surfaced that 18 of them might still be contaminated with TCDD dioxin, a carcinogen associated with Agent Orange, according to Air Force document… The Air Force did not notify the post-Vietnam crews or Boneyard employees of the potential risk, according to Air Force documents…

Officials at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, which oversaw the planes, approved a consultant’s recommendation in 2009 to “dispose of/recycle the 18 UC-123K ‘Agent Orange’ aircraft as soon as possible to avoid further risk from media publicity, litigation, and liability for presumptive compensation,” according to a base memo in August 2009.

Subsequent testing of 17 aircraft in August 1996 detected “strong potential of low level concentrations of dioxin,” according to Air Force documents.

In December 1996, the Air Force requested the government terminate the sales, warning that “the potential for harm to individuals from dioxin contamination is great.”

It’s pretty sad when documents exist admitting the wrongdoing and the danger of these chemicals to people around it yet no action will be taken to compensate the victims who will suffer the consequences.  Especially sad when considering the amount of money the U.S. spends on defense and heaves upon defense contractors.

And, of course, these are just the lingering effects of Agent Orange on people who were not around when the actual spraying was being done and not the people who suffered the 20 million gallons that were dropped by U.S. forces on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, a clear violation of Geneva.

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