The men and women who have served in the U.S. Military are no doubt owed a debt of gratitude. While many of them voluntarily served in the branches of the armed forces, millions were drafted to fight in Vietnam. Here, they were unwittingly exposed to a dangerous herbicide that continues to cause problems nearly fifty years after the Vietnam War ended.
The Vietnam War presented many challenges for the U.S. Military. One of those problems included the dense jungles where they fought. To combat this, the U.S. Military engaged in Operation Ranch Hand, which deployed several chemicals to kill off plant life in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Agent Orange was the most popular.
More than 13 million gallons of Agent Orange was used during the conflict, making up two-thirds of the total herbicides used. Agent Orange was available in varying strengths, called Agent Orange I, Agent Orange II, Agent Orange III, and “Super Orange.”
In addition to active ingredients that caused foliage in Vietnam to lose its leaves, Agent Orange also contained large amounts of a chemical called 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. While the dioxin was not intentionally added to Agent Orange, it was a known byproduct produced during the manufacture of the herbicides. Dioxins are created through many processes, but TCDD is the most dangerous.
Effects of Agent Orange
The Vietnam Veterans of America define Agent Orange as highly toxic. So much so that roughly 300,000 veterans have died as a result of exposure to the herbicide. That’s five times the number of soldiers who perished in combat. Agent Orange has also been linked to a number of diseases and conditions now plaguing veterans of the conflict.
The Veterans Administration believes that the following conditions are linked to Agent Orange Exposure:
- Chronic B-cell Leukemia
- Hodgkin’s Disease
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Prostate Cancer
- Respiratory Cancers
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas
- Type-2 Diabetes
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- Peripheral Neuropathy
Symptoms of Agent Orange Exposure
Agent Orange exposure symptoms can vary widely, and no two veterans experience the same symptoms. These symptoms are generally related to the diseases that Agent Orange has been linked to in soldiers. The following symptoms are common to many diseases, so if you are experiencing them, be sure to see your doctor:
- Excessive fatigue
- Unintentional weight loss
- Swelling of lymph nodes
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Tremors in the hands, arms, legs, jaw, or face
- Numbness or prickling in the fingers and toes
- Urinary problems
- Cough that doesn’t go away
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
In many cases, veterans suffering from a condition linked to Agent Orange exposure are entitled to receive benefits. If you are a Vietnam Veteran and have been diagnosed with or are experiencing symptoms related to Agent Orange exposure, you may consider filing a claim with the Veterans Administration.