Vietnam: Agent Orange 40 Years Later

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Tran Thi Ty Na, 33, sits on a bed with her aunt at their home in Da Nang, Vietnam. Na and her older brother are second-generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. Na's father, who served as a soldier during the conflict, died years ago from illnesses caused by Agent Orange. Her mother and aunt are now the sole caregivers for herself and her older brother, who is completely and mentally disabled because of their father's exposure. Na has developed muscular dystrophy and other conditions like her brother and is angry at the cruel fate that awaits her. The family gets no government support, and Te, the mother, wonders who will take care of her children when she is gone. She calls the U.S. government ?heartless? for using poisonous herbicides during the war, and says she wishes the U.S. military would have killed her children right away instead of leaving them to suffer decades later. ?If they die in the war, this is normal because it is a war,? Te says. ?But why did the U.S. government spray this Agent Orange?? The Vietnam Red Cross estimates that at least 3 million Vietnamese suffer from illnesses related to dioxin exposure, including at least 150,000 people born with severe birth defects since the end of the war. The U.S. government is paying to clean up dioxin-contaminated soil at the Da Nang airport, which served as a major U.S. base during the conflict. But the U.S. government still denies that dioxin is to blame for widespread health problems in Vietnam and has never provided any money specifically to help the country's Agent Orange victims. March 18, 2013.