During the Vietnam War and also as part of the ongoing American presence in Korea, the military used a chemical called Agent Orange.
The reason soldiers called the chemical Agent Orange was because the military used barrels with an orange marking to store it.
Troops used large airplanes to dump millions of gallons of the chemical on heavily forested areas in combat or potential combat zones in order to clear out the common hiding spots of enemy soldiers.
While the chemical was in common use in the 1960s and 1970s, the military stopped using it after it became apparent that it was harming those exposed to it.
Cancer and other diseases
After it was largely too late, people realized that man of the chemicals in Agent Orange, as well as other chemicals the military used to clear brush, are toxic to humans.
The military has subsequently attributed many serious medical conditions to exposure to Agent Orange. Some of these are relatively common conditions, like Type 2 diabetes. Still, dealing with diabetes is a real hardship for many Oregonians. Nerve issues and skin conditions are also possible.
Unfortunately, Agent Orange has also been tied to a wide variety of cancers and other diseases, many of which are difficult to treat successfully. Some of these conditions affect a person’s vital organs, including the heart, lungs and liver. In short, an exposure to Agent Orange is potentially deadly.
Agent Orange has also caused birth defects in the children of those exposed to the chemical. Specifically, scientists have tied Agent Orange to spina bifida, a condition where a baby develops in the womb without a fully closed spine.
Without prompt and extensive treatment, spina bifida will likely cause paralysis in the baby because of damage to the unprotected spinal cord. Infections, which are potentially deadly, can also develop in a victim of spina bifida. These treatments are both expensive and emotionally draining, and there is never a guarantee that they will work.
Those who have been exposed to Agent Orange and other harmful herbicides, as well as their children, may have several legal options available to them for covering their losses. While Veteran’s Administration benefits may be available to them, other paths to recovery may turn out to be better or equally valid options.