Exposed to Agent Orange or other toxins?

Town hall co-hosted by Iowa Veterans Home

On Saturday, Marshalltown’s Iowa Veterans Home and Vietnam Veterans of America, Story County Chapter, will cohost an Agent Orange and Toxic Exposure town hall.

The event is tailor-made for Vietnam veterans, “modern-day” warriors, and their families.

It will be held in the Malloy Leisure Resource Center on the IVH campus, 1301 Summit St.

Sessions, are 9 a.m. to noon, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Veterans and families are invited to talk and learn about health impacts from Agent Orange and other toxic exposure.

Agent Orange was an extremely powerful herbicide and chemical defoliant used against enemy forces in Vietnam from 1961-71 in hopes of eliminating the thick jungle ground cover.

There was 22 million gallons of Agent Orange sprayed. Military personnel who were involved in its application, storage, mixture and transportation — including mechanics — received the heaviest exposures.

Personnel from allied forces — Australia, Japan and South Korea among others — were exposed too.

Agent Orange was made with tetraclorodibenzodioxin, or dioxin for short, and is a potent cancer causing agent.

The town hall is part of a campaign begun eight years ago by the Vietnam Veterans of America to raise awareness of toxic effects of the herbicide and other toxic chemicals widely used during the war.

“We are honored to be part of this event for Vietnam veterans and their families,” said IVH Commandant Timon Oujiri. “Exposure to Agent Orange has claimed the lives of many Vietnam veterans. Sadly, their children and grandchildren have not been spared. It is critical we educate our veterans and their families.”

Several studies have shown increased rates of leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, soft-tissue sarcoma and chloracne to individuals exposed, and may be associated with other cancers and neurological disorders as well.

With the exception of liver cancer, these are the same conditions the Veterans Administration has determined may be associated with exposure to Agent Orange/Dioxin, and are on the list of the conditions eligible for compensation and treatment.

“Agent Orange was one of the worst errors of judgment during the war,” said John L. Kost, a member of the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs and president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Story County. “Many have suffered and perished from the effects of Agent Orange and Toxic Exposure.”

One Marshalltown veteran who served in Vietnam has been engaged in a personal crusade over the years to make sure exposed Vietnam veterans are educated about the debilitating effects of Agent Orang.

Dennis Myers was a U.S. Navy CTO3 — a Cryptologic Technician — who served in the air, at sea, and on land.

His mind, voice and persistence are his weapons now.

He is fighting for himself and other veterans who are suffering from insidious, debilitating effects of Agent Orange.

Myers’ personal list of documented medical conditions resulting from Agent Orange runs three pages — from eye ailments to a heart condition to infertility.

Myers has many allies, including War on Terror veterans like Mike Hines.

“Our Vietnam veterans and their families deserve to be made aware of the deadly diseases caused by Agent Orange,” said IVH Executive Assistant Hines, a retired U.S. Army First Sergeant. He is a veteran of the Iraqi and Afghanistan Wars and numerous overseas deployments. “Whether (use of Agent Orange) was the result of bad judgment or not, our men and women once again answered the call to fight an unpopular war. The benefits and health care that our veterans today receive from the Veterans Administration is a tribute to our Vietnam veterans. I truly believe that they have paved the way for a better VA system.

Medical professionals must continue to research Agent Orange’s impacts, as well as those from and other toxins to keep Vietnam veterans and their descendants educated. I would encourage Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to attend.”

For more information, contact Hines at 641-753-4309, or michael.hines@ivh.state.ia.us


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